Sometimes it’s great to have some extra help. It’s more than great when the help comes from super talented people like cartoonist Zach Weinersmith, known for his web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. So, we just had to do a little Q&A to hear his thought about working with us and writing for Zombie Vikings. Enjoy!
Hi! How are ya?
Busy, slightly insane, but good!
For people that are new to Zombie Vikings and Zach Weinersmith, tell us a little bit yourself and what you usually do.
Too many things. I’m mostly known for my webcomic, SMBC. I also run a science-comedy event called BAHFest. And, I recently published a kids’ book called Augie and the Green Knight.
“Video games are much more of a team effort. So, there was a fun back and forth.”
How is it working on a project like Zombie Vikings? Have you written for any other video games before?
It’s been a totally new experience for me. The most similar work I’ve ever done is writing choose-your-own-adventure novels. But, it’s not really the same. It’s been really interesting to work with the Zombie Vikings team. Cartooning is a very isolated form of art, since one person can do the whole thing. Video games are much more of a team effort. So, there was a fun back and forth.
It’s also different for me because I don’t generally do character-driven content. My comics don’t really have a cast of characters, so one thing that was hard for me at first was making sure the characters were consistent. But, once I got to know them it was a lot easier.
“I think Zoink has a thing for red-haired American cartoonists.”
How did you come in contact with Zoink?
Klaus got in touch with me after having a good experience with Ryan North on Zoink’s previous game Stick It to the Man. I think he has a thing for red-haired American cartoonists. I like to work on new projects to keep myself from getting stale, and this sounded like a fun challenge.
You’re the creator of SMBC (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) – How does writing a comic compare to writing for a videogame?
It’s very different! The comics I make are very short. And, when I write stories, they’re simple linear stories. For a video game, you have to consider multiple possibilities for a single moment. I have acquired a lot of respect for video game writers. It’s an extremely tough job.
Another thing that’s tough is that sometimes you’ll need a little more dialog for a scene you wrote a long time ago. With a story or comic this is relatively easy. For a video game you have to really really watch continuity carefully. Since the story can branch a bit, if you screw up in one place, it might create problems in a million other place. Fortunately, I had a lot of help from Klaus and Creative Director Andreas.
“Every time you stab the troll, he needs to say something.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing the script for Zombie Vikings?
My main job is to add humor and dialog. So, Klaus sends me rough breakdowns of what happens in a level, and then I go through and write scenes. There are also a lot of sections where there’ll be a need for a lot of optional dialog for a character (along the lines of “every time you stab the troll, he needs to say something”). In short, Klaus structures the levels, and then I fill in the jokes and chatter.
For me, the hardest part is writing short bits of dialog so that the characters have something to say in lots of situations. Because it’s a video game, you might have to repeat an action a bunch of times to complete a quest. And, you have to have something new and non-repetitive each time. That’s very hard to write! So, I do a trick I learned in comics, where I say “You have to write X ideas by this time.” That usually agitates you into some good ideas. Or, at least, you have a good number of ideas, and then you can cut down.
“The witchdoctor who’s constantly killing patients and doesn’t care was just really fun.”
Do you have a favorite part of the story?
The part that was most fun to write was the factory scene. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it was a really clever setup, and the scene-writing came very naturally. That scene’s sense of humor was also fairly similar to the humor I do in the comics. It turns out I’m much more at ease writing horrible people than writing nice well-meaning people. I’m not sure what that says about me…
One of my favorite scenes is actually the opening scene between Loki and the witch. It’s a very simple scene in terms of having two people at cross-purposes. But, like a lot of stuff in this game, because the characters are so horrifying and weird, there’s another layer of humor.
My favorite character to write was probably the witchdoctor. Of course, the main characters have a lot more depth, but the witchdoctor who’s constantly killing patients and doesn’t care was just really fun.
Tell us something people might not know about Zach Weinersmith?
I’m really into cellular slime molds. They can solve mazes! How cool is that?
If you had to make a video game, what would it be about?
There should be a fighting video game, where you do battle with all the politicians who think video games cause violence. It’d be cool if you could rip out their spines or something.
Lastly, here’s your chance to shamelessly promote whatever you want. Go!
OH MAN. Did you know that I recently invented the world’s first Disposable Monocle? Seriously! It’s a real thing you can buy!
So, you feel exited about this? ‘Cause we surely do!