So fresh off production of The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes and Emergency Room: Real Life Rescues, it seemed like a natural fit to combine the two elements and start on a game based on the TV series House M.D. I was very enthusiastic to start working on the project because I was a fan of the show, which is saying a lot because I don’t watch very much television (I’m more of a movies-kind-of-guy) so finding a show that I’ve actually seen, let alone enjoy, is pretty challenging. (Nothing against TV programs per se, I just generally prefer to play games and watch movies.)
Coops (Producer Jonathan Cooperson), and House (Hugh Laurie)
All that aside, House M.D. has been one of the shows in recent years that has caught my loyalty. Perhaps it was the fact that there are many deliberate Sherlock Holmes references in the show (the number of House’s apartment is 221B, for example). Or perhaps it was the amazing casting of Hugh Laurie, who has been in my sights as a comedic actor since the 70s (wow, that makes me sound old). I think it was all these things together that make it such a personally connected drama for me; I mean who can resist a sarcastic, genius with salt-and-pepper hair, beautiful blue eyes and a sexy, scruffy chin (or what I like to call: "The European Beard")?
Once I had worked myself into a frenzy of enthusiasm for the project, it was time to get back to reality and see just what it meant to embark on this daunting mission. First, it meant handing off the sequel to my Sherlock game to another producer. As painful as that was to do, there was no way to do both games at the same time. Fortunately my colleague Ryan Modjeski was willing to take over on it so I have no worries; the game is in good hands.
Next was to find a good writer that could handle the snarky witticism of House with a great mix of Sherlockian mystery and medical drama. Lucky for me, at the time, my assistant producer, Genaro Avila, and I happened to be attending the San Diego Comic Con working the IDW party for our release of the Igor game when he introduces me to a freelance writer for IDW who also happened to be the roommate of one of my best friends in college, Arie Kaplan.
Arie is an accomplished writer and comedian and has done a lot of great satirical work for Mad magazine over the years but I was happy to learn that he was also a big Sherlock fan. Well, when I casually mentioned House in conversation with him, he lit up like a Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The rest is, as they say, history and Arie has come up with five great original "episodes" for the game and has honed the silly, misanthropic, sarcasm of Dr. Gregory House to an art form.
For example, in one of the earlier scenes in the game Taub and Thirteen are arguing of the correct diagnosis and after Taub suggest one diagnosis Thirteen cuts in by saying, "They [the symptoms] match Lyme Disease even more!" Taub rebuts with, "’Even more’ what are you, eight?" And without missing a beat , in classic House style he cuts in with, "No, she’s Thirteen. Keep up!" But, as with many Housisms, the best have to be taken in context (alas some of the best quips from the game are probably a bit too racy to print here also so I will leave plenty for you to look forward to). You know it’s good when you find yourself laughing out loud when reading the script – for the third time!
Next up on the list is to find the right look and feel for the game. The balancing act has been figuring out how to create great gameplay, staying true to the essence of the show, all while avoiding the dreaded "M" rating (for Mature audiences only). The series tends to push the envelope on what kind of content they can get away with on TV but the folks on the ratings board at the ESRB seems to be a little more strict with video game content. Hopefully we can find a balance that is faithful to the show and doesn’t make the game feel too "toned down" to the fans.
Speaking of the fans of the show (all 82 million of them across the globe), you gotta love them and fear them at the same time. After our first official announcement of the project we got all kinds of responses about the possibilities of the game and the fans’ questions and concerns; my favorite being the request to be able to choose which season’s hair style you want for Chase. Oh man, I love these guys!
That is also why I fear them at times. They can be so wonderfully engrossed in the world of the show that they leave designers like me very little room for creative license. All I ask of you fans is to please understand there are many difficulties when it comes to taking a licensed art medium and making it work for a completely different medium. But rest assured I will do my best, as always, since in reality I am just the same as you; a rabid fan doing my best with what I got.
There is one more thing I’d like to set the record on for you fans out there. I would like to reassure anyone who still had any questions on the matter of which characters from the show will be included in the game (we got a ton of worried responses on this since the press release couldn’t mention everyone); all eight main characters currently in the show (that would be at. Alas, I’m sorry to inform that wonderful person mentioned above that all eight hairstyles of Chase will not be included. We must opt to spend our money and resources on much more fun and diverse gameplay options rather than hairstyles. the end of season 5) will be included
Well I must get back to the E.R. I promise more info and screenshots to come from the interactive department at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Am I getting to into this project?
P.S. Coop is also a synonym for a type of house – Coincidence? Probably, but it’s still kinda cool…