My sister introduced me to Homestar Runner via Strong Bad Email #48 “Ghosts.” That was back in 2002, and I remember spending the rest of the evening watching everything else on the site. Then, I watched basically everything that The Brothers Chaps, Mike and Matt Chapman, put on the site from then on. Homestarrunner.com became as much of a friend to me as any of the actual humans who surrounded me during my high school days.
But, exactly like my high school friends, we went on to do our own thing. Homestar Runner gradually became more and more sporadic, as did I. Every once in a while, however, The Brothers Chaps would emerge to release something new for fans. At one point, there was nearly five years of silence before it was broken by Fish Eye Lens. We check in on each other, you know? Show we still care. Whenever we reconnect, it’s just like the old days.
It’s always nice seeing my old friend, so I became extra-interested when Mike and Matt reunited Videlectrix to start putting out some really real money-cost games like Dangeresque: The Roomisode Triungulate. More importantly, it made me realize I could use my tremendous press influence as an excuse to trick them into talking to me. Sure enough, after I snuck through some back channels to contact them, they agreed to an interview.
This is really just for me, but maybe it will interest you too. Just note that we discuss a lot of inside references here. I’ll try to add context through the magic of hyperlinks (and the Homestar Runner Wiki).
We will gladly take full responsibility for spreading any 2600 love. We have an assorted pile of consoles in our office/studio, and the 2600 is the only one that works consistently. We go through phases of which consoles are hooked up to our big wood-paneled floor model TV, but the 2600 is always plugged in. We use it like a screensaver and will just put the title screen of SwordQuest or Joust or Moon Patrol on to have in the background.
As for recent games, we’ve been playing and really digging Secret Quest, thanks to the Atari 50 collection. We never got a physical cartridge copy, sadly. But we do have like 8 copies each of Asteroids, Combat and E.T., the extras of which we use to prop up the legs of our work table so it’s tall enough to be a standing desk.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People was an unprecedented cultural shift. We can’t buy it anymore. Is there any possibility that future children will be able to experience it, or is it fated to lie at the bottom of the ocean next to the wreckage of the good ship Telltale?
Oh, man! “Unprecedented cultural shift!?!” We kinda always thought SBCG4AP was a relative failure, so it’s good to hear someone thinks that. I mean, we liked how it turned out, but as far as video game success stories go… are you sure you’re not thinking of “World of Goo?” Anyways, part of us likes that it’s become one of those titles you kinda had to be there for, but it would prolly also be okay if it got remastered one day.
That being said, it’s really cool when we hear that someone’s first exposure to Homestar Runner was playing SBCG4AP on the Wii. So, it clearly reached some folks we otherwise wouldn’t have. What a weird way to discover an obscure web cartoon! Do you think anyone became a G.I. Joe fan after playing Cobra Strike for the 2600? They’d probably watch the cartoons and be disappointed at the lack of giant cobras shooting lasers from their eyes.
Has anything changed when it comes to your creative process? Are you still two guys in a small office with stripèd walls?
Stripes are gone, but we’ve managed to retain walls. As for our creative process, it’s pretty much the same. We throw ideas around until there’s one that we just keep talking about. Then, we work on it off and on in the background until it gets close. Then, finally, we force ourselves to finish because it’s probably been too long since we made something new.
Actually, do you still use that office in the basement of a depressing strip mall?
That’s amazing that you know about that. Sadly, that place got un-depressio’d several years ago, and we had to move out. It used to have an adult diaper wholesaler, a hearing aid store, a Piccadilly Cafeteria, and a Big Lots. Now, it’s all LA Fitness, Jo Ann Fabrics, and Starbucks. Who in their right mind could do good creative work in an environment like that?
Do you still have real jobs, or are video games the future of the Brothers Chaps?
We are always wandering in and out of various film and TV projects. We’re definitely enjoying working on and developing video games right now but the downside is that it’s such a time-consuming process that it becomes hard to simultaneously make other Homestar content. And then a year goes by and no one remembers who “Stong Band” is anymore. So we’re trying to find a balance.
Do you have any aspirations to build Videlectrix into a massive, industry-elipsing brand with its own slice of an office skyscraper? Or, at the very least, a developer with deadlines and a PR budget? Or will it always just be the pair of you and “additional programming by?”
We definitely plan to make more games, but given the state of the industry, keepin’ it small is probably a good idea. But I do hope someday we can grow big enough to achieve “deadline-have.” Also, we should probably just learn that “additional programming” part ourselves one of these days.
Is Videlectrix going to remain focused on saving (and expanding) the substantial back catalog of Homestar Flash games, or will we get brand-new games in the future?
We have a buncha ideas for both approaches. It was really fun making and expanding Dangeresque: The Roomisode Triungulate for Steam/Itch. And it’d be cool to make Peasant’s Quest 2 or a console-playable version of Stinkoman 20X6. But it would be equally cool to make something totally new like Blistergeist 3D or a Thy Dungeonkid platformer.
Do you want to tease us with anything? Like, maybe a fancy HD remaster of Peasant’s Quest?
Here’s a few in-progress nuggets that might become our next releasable project.
–Thy Dungeonkid – a Gameboy-style textroidvania platformer/point n’ click hybrid.
–Peasant’s Quest 2 – CGA sequel to Peasant’s Quest featuring Rather Dashing’s sister Fairly
–Some Kinda 3D Powered By The Cheat First Person Horror-ish Game
-A bonus Roomisode/Elevatorsode featuring Dangeresque Too
Wasn’t that thrilling? This is easily the best thing that has happened to me all year. Normally, when I ask someone what they’re working on, I get a coy response like, “Wait and see,” not an early Destructoid-exclusive look at four games that might one day exist. I could pee.
While Homestar Runner isn’t the unstoppable force that it once was, I’m glad it still exists in some form. The old flash games and cartoons are still available, and the Brothers Chaps still add to the pile every once in a while. Plus, they explore their creation in other ways, like with the recent (and excellent) Trogdor the Board Game.
My hope is that Videlectrix continues its meteoric rise as a creepy basement developer. Throughout the site’s history, The Brothers Chaps have always expressed their love of old games, and if their output of actual real games is any indication (and I imagine it would be), they’re quite good at it. But, more importantly, video games is where I work, and I’ll take any excuse I can get to write about an old friend.