Now, every once in a great while, as a game developer, you'll have what might only be described as an "experience so awesome that you need to tell it to everyone." Lot's of developers, including me, get really excited when their game is released, but there are these OTHER times where you'll be showing off your work, and something magical happens.
If you didn't read it recently, I had a really great time showing Thunder Gun off to a massive group of people at the Midwest Gaming Classic. But there was one particular gamer that I need to present, and be assured that this story is all true as well as I can remember...
About half way through the day, 30 minutes or so before Isaac and I were going to get lunch, another visitor dropped by with a group of his friends. One of his entourage sat down first; I asked him his preferred play device (he opted for the keyboard and mouse), I did my spiel, and he played an average beginner game: lived about thirty seconds, scored no points, and didn't really get the gun charging mechanic.
Then the group leader took his seat upon the Thunder-throne.
"Do you prefer controllers or mouse and keyboard?" I asked.
"Controllers. Definitely controllers," he replied.
"Alright, cool," I said. I quickly explained the controls, and gave my words of caution. "So the goal is to survive for five-minutes. Don't worry, it's not that easy: only two people have managed to do it today."
The first 5 seconds, I could tell that the charge mechanic was, again, a bit lost, so I mentioned it. "Press and hold the trigger and release to fire."
The seated leader quietly nodded, and then the match truly began.
His face lit up with the brightness of his first-fired lightning bolt. "Holy SHIT," he grinned. "I shoot... LIGHTNING!"
Everybody smiled, laughed, and oohed and awed. I'd seen this before; people like that damn lightning effect. But I had no idea just how special this match was going to be.
He started getting control, and then leader seemed to be a natural.
"I love how you can fly around with this gun! Weeeeeee!" he giggled.
I smiled, but quickly became nervous as I awaited his reaction to his first encounter with the infamously rotund, soul-seeking, Thunder Gun nemesis: Fat Mutant Cat-o-Nine-Tails.
"Wait? Is that Chumlee?"
I was... caught off guard. Chumlee? You mean THAT Chumlee? From Pawn Stars? I started laughing but before I could say something—
"SHIT! Chumlee's gonna get muh!"
* WHIP! *
"What the hell?! Chumlee just sumo-slapped the shit out of me!"
Slapped? Hahahahaha. What? That's a whip! I didn't care though, I was laughing with everyone else.
"Kill Chumlee, Jump-and-Shoot-man! Jump-and-Shoot-man!" he was shouting.
* MUTANT GORE EXPLOSION! *
I turned around for a brief moment. There had to be ten or twelve people smashed together into a 6 by 6 foot area, laughing their ASSES OFF with us: his entourage, other gamedevs in the room, people from the hall to see what the commotion was.
I was laughing so hard I could barely keep up with all the funny shit this guy was saying; Jump-and-Shoot-Man became a VERB and a PARODY OF Life-Alert.
"What the shit?! Help! It's raining and I can't Jump-and-Shoot-Man!"
You could feel it: the crowd became one with this guy. WE were Group Leader.
"TWO CHUMLEES?! Oh dear God: TWO CHUMLEES!" he screamed in realization of the horror.
Group Leader runs, Double Chumlee's gaining on him. An astoundingly well timed lightning bolt activates a Tesla Coil, and Group Leader huddles at the base of the savior beacon. One mutant explodes in gore. The second crash lands, its carcass being eviscerated by the bolts of justice.
Then it happens: A trypophobic-nightmare ascends from the once defeated corpse of the mutant, its birthing scream resonating throughout our now silent, still breath.
"Okay. FUCK. THAT!"
The silence was broken once again by our hysterical laughing fit as Group Leader dodged, weaved, and threaded needles like a beheaded chicken just to live out the last 20 seconds of the 5-Minute eternity dance of curiosity, surprise, and laughter.
5... 4... 3... 2... 1...
I never got Group Leader's name, even though he did write his address down on the emailing list. His five-minutes at play were the most fun of the entire day. The experience left me excited and hopeful for Thunder Gun's future; if someone could have so much fun and infect anyone else who was watching, the game has to be amazing to some extent, right?
The last thing he said before I proudly shook his hand and he left his throne?
"I am so going to buy this shit."