In the wake of this years many gaming disappointments, community fiascos and the ever growing disappearance of the sacred dollar menu at restaurants many wonder about the future of gaming and culture. Will the industry see a new wave of games that captivate us in the same way as the ones that came before? Or are we to be held in a creative limbo where everything created is the exact same as the things that came before? In a world of sequels, reboots and DLC packs some developers are taking the gaming basketball down the court and jumping up for a slam dunk. I was able to experience one such effort in developer Travis Newman's brand new game Animator's Nightmare. After experiencing the game I asked him if I could tap his creative energies and he was gracious enough to let us in on his process and creative vision.

I encourage you to experience the game first hand and you can do so by communing with the link below.

jdodson: So congratulations on the successful release of Animator’s Nightmare. We all know that lots of game development is crippled by slipped deadlines, bugs and unmet expectations. How were you able to release the game nearly bug-free so quickly?

Travis: Not only did it release on time, but I was able to launch a few days early! The final code wasn’t due to the publisher for another three days. But as for the bug-free quality of the game, I’d have to attribute that to myself. Being the smartest person in the room has it’s advantages.

jdodson: How is it working with Epic Software to license the Unreal Engine for the game? I know they recently switched to a new flat price model that seems to have gained them much attention from Indie Developers.

Travis: Epic are amazing people. Who knew that you could easily wrap a Flash SWF into the Unreal Engine? This is truly next-generation thinking on their parts.

jdodson: Animator's Nightmare starts with a view of someone sleeping and the player can clearly hear crickets in the background. Are we experiencing a creepy telepath watching the player from outside a window and then later uses his mental abilities to invade the Animator's mind?

Travis: You know, I had the idea of all the symbolism in my mind, but I think I’ll let the player decide on this one. I don’t want to tell you how you should feel about something, or what symbolism you should see in the game. If you think you’re playing as the animator, or if you think you’re playing as a telepath, it doesn’t matter to me as long as you love the game.

jdodson: After watching Indie Game the movie I realized a couple things. First off, I am just like them in that I am a guy that loves video games. I am also strange and quirky and can talk for hours about nerd things. Since I shared so much in common with the people in that movie that later went on to become quite rich doing the things they loved I expect to achieve that level of success. Since it will happen for me any moment you must feel similarly being a creative so I wonder what your plans are for spending your first million dollars? I don’t mean to say we will stop at just making a million dollars, I bet we will make like 50 million dollars I just mean what you will do with your first million?

Travis: The first mil goes toward fixing world hunger. That should only take a million to fix, right? Then, you’re right, I’ll make 50 easily. The next 49 is all yachts, planes, and mansions. I’m in talks with ISA to customize a Granturismo already.

jdodson: With the social and cultural impact of Animator's Nightmare being so large have you considered releasing the game as Open Source?

Travis: I had no idea how huge it would be. With the next release, I’m definitely shipping the source. The next release will be transcendent, genre-defining art. I’m just worried about making it too hard for future developers to follow this up.

jdodson: So the first place where the game started becoming truly great for me is the first time I had to jump over the first static alien graphic. Something about pressing any key to jump and seeing the character fly upwards was magical. It’s as if my spirits were lifted with the key press. As you consider game design elements, how do you try to imbibe these emotional elements as a gift to the player through your art?

Travis: Look, I don’t pretend to be a master at evoking emotion. I don’t have to pretend. You’ve seen it. Not many people have been animators before, and I wanted to really make the player feel like they’re the animator, trapped in their animation software, and being attacked by their former creations. It’s terrifying, and if the player isn’t terrified, what’s the point?

jdodson: The moment in Animator's Nightmare where we all approached the dancing baby is iconic. I think it really allowed generations of gaming history to payoff in a way I haven’t experienced before. What aspects of game history influenced you here?

Travis: Ah, yes. The dancing baby. An homage to the dancing baby gif of the 90’s, and a tribute to my friend’s son. But it takes on whole new meaning when the baby is a danger, and must be jumped over. To be honest, game history didn’t influence me in this moment; I’m making *new* history.

jdodson: I’ve played Animator's Nightmare for around 36 hours and I am still not done with it! I appreciate how much time and effort went into creating a game that rivals Skyrim in terms of hours spent. How long did you target the single player campaign to take the average person to beat and what are your thoughts on other games that simply offer a couple hours of gameplay?

Travis: This is the beauty of the game, and not to spoil it for you but… the game never ends. You can only ever escape by being killed by the former animations. It’s a statement on how stress affects us all, and the inevitable end that we all must face.

jdodson: Fallout 4 was panned by many for it’s lack of graphical fidelity. The level of clarity and artistic vision demonstrated in Animator's Nightmare is truly breathtaking and seen more so when you jump over a chicken with a plain paint bucket grey background and a Microsoft Paint styled window in view. I can’t help but this this style is a statement but I wish you could elaborate more here?

Travis: Fallout 4 is terrible. Weird physics glitches, and many textures that just look jagged up close. That grey background you mention: did you see any texture issues? Of course not.

jdodson: Is there anything you want us to say before we wrap things up here?

Travis: Two things: First, why are you even reading this interview when you could be playing my game? Second, in case anyone read this far without realizing, all of this is for fun. I made a game for a class and Jon and I thought a faux interview would be funny. Any HR employee reading this considering whether to hire me, I promise I’m actually a very nice person.

Azurephile   Super Member wrote on 12/05/2015 at 07:12pm

This game is so hard, I only scored 5!! Is there any way you could possibly tone down the difficulty? I mean it said to press the ANY key to jump, but I can't find it!!!!! Do I need to upgrade my keyboard? Also, the my GTX 690 had severe issues with the graphics. I didn't see the amazing graphics Jon mentioned, should I upgrade my PC? I mean my computer could barely run it. It was kind of slow. This is a terrible game and you should be ashamed that you made it. I am going to call upon my fellow trolls and make you afraid to step outside of your hows!!!!!!

HAHAHAHA I'm kidding as much as you guys. Good job, Travis! Good interview, too!!! =)

Travis   Admin wrote on 12/05/2015 at 10:25pm

My high score is like 40 because I got bored. The next version will be harder. :D

But yeah this was fun to make. All the backgrounds and obstacles were from previous animations I've done throughout the semester. The plot, such as it is, I fall asleep at the PC and have a dream that I'm trapped in the Flash software with all my creations trying to kill me. The timeline and titlebar you see the player running on are parts of the Flash interface, and the panel with the score and health are the symbol properties for the player symbol. The title and game over screens are wrapped in the Flash interface, with a ton of the panels hidden so I could make it feasibly sized and still have the content show up.

I'm super proud of the concept, it works without any noticeable bugs (as mentioned in the interview :D) but I seriously might change it up a bit for a more general audience who hasn't seen all my previous animations, and make it actually have some difficulty.

Travis   Admin wrote on 12/05/2015 at 10:51pm

If you want the context of all those animations you see riddled throughout that make no sense:

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/05/2015 at 11:22pm

> Also, the my GTX 690 had severe issues with the graphics. I didn't see the amazing graphics Jon mentioned, should I upgrade my PC?

You don't ask if Animator's Nightmare should change to fit your PC, the proper reasoning is to change your PC to work better with Animator's Nightmare. smile

Azurephile   Super Member wrote on 12/06/2015 at 12:11am

That's what I said Jon, you even quoted me saying "...should I upgrade my PC?" Maybe if I upgraded my GTX 690 to a 3dfx Voodoo 2, it would look amazing! I'm not sure I'm ready to have a $1,300 graphics card though. Steam says I've spent 1,000 hours playing this game and I still think it sucks! Granite, I think the conpect is neice becuz who woold of thout to have a charakter jumping over thing?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Do you like what I did there? Seriously, good job, Travis! I hope you enjoy my humor as I've enjoyed the humor of your interview. Remember your good ol' roommate when you get rich! =)

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/06/2015 at 12:19am


scrypt   Supporter wrote on 12/06/2015 at 01:59am

I first played Animator's Nightmare back on 12/4/15, before it was cool, and it terrified me. Everything about it seemed so REAL, especially the horror. I'm glad there was a jump ability, because there was no way I was going to lose another fight to a dancing baby! No one should have to relive that moment...

My only complaint is that this game suffers from what I call "coercive nostalgia." The past is so present in such a way that it causes me to forget any recent knowledge I've acquired of video games, and how to play them. Granted, this works to the games advantage, but it really sucks when I then go on to play The Talos Principle, forgetting how to apply logic, or even push other non-jumping buttons.

I have to hand it to Newman, though. Only the bravest son-of-a-bitch could take those very personal, haunted dreams and push them on people in such a simple, yet not condescending way. A masterful stroke, almost frighteningly so, proving once again that Canadian game developers should definitely be taken seriously.

Timogorgon   Member wrote on 12/06/2015 at 05:23am

After awhile the level design starts to feel recycled. Also, I felt there were too many dancing babies and not enough Humping Robots. I also think it could have used more anime cat girls.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 12/06/2015 at 05:36am

**account deleted**

Azurephile   Super Member wrote on 12/06/2015 at 06:24am

After searching for a few hours on local a BBS, I found out that in order to run the game properly, I had to upgrade my Netscape Navigator to 2.0. I can't afford to buy the brand new 3dfx Voodoo 2 nor can I afford to upgrade my 14.4 modem. Luckily, I was able to play the game again and I got a better score. I did notice a significant boost in proformance of the game and golly, the graphics are amazing!!! I also found out that there's this gaming company called "Copcam" and they have this game called "Megamain" or something like that. Anyway, the karakter jumps just like yours in the game. You clearly made your game first and so you should sue them for cofyright infrengiment. I hope you'll hook me up with some of that money you get when you win that lawsuit, since I'm the furst to pont it out two your!!!!

Hahahaha I looked at your other work, too. Good job! Parallax Background was probably most notable to me because I remembered seeing that "Parallax" option in Terraria and didn't really know what it was about. I don't even think I looked it up.

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