Had an AMAZING time demo-ing Paint the Line with all of the people who came out to Beta test with us out at PAX EAST this weekend! Kiko and I are eternally grateful for all of the support everyone showed for the game we’ve both been working on now for the better part of, well, a lot of time.
The Paint the Line: Making the Game panel seemed to be a pretty big hit with the attendees, and I promised that I’d finally unveil what The Case looked like when I brought it up to Seattle for the very first time I pitched the game to them, so here’s the case video (and then a long and hopefully interesting explanation on how I made it):
First, a little background history on the pitch itself. I knew I had a fairly fun game on my hands, and figured it could stand on its own, but I wanted to make sure that my friends at Penny Arcade understood that I get it. So I set out making the most epic game pitch in the history of game pitches.
I started by recruiting the help of two of my best friends: Rocky and Gregg. They were already huge supporters of the project and wanted to help out however they could, so I asked them to come up to Seattle with me and bring their best black suit, white shirt, and I’d buy them both matching black ties. That’s right. They were going to be my flanking CIA agents.
I then began work on The Case. I wanted to carry the game into the Penny Arcade offices in what appeared to be the Nuclear Football Case made famous by Ronald Reagan. I purchased a nice camera case that already had the foam pre-cut (for easier removal), and started working on making custom card cases out of hard plastic cases. I had a problem fitting the clear sleeved cards in them and had to improvise by doing some plastic cutting, and wound up having to superglue some metal hinges on to hold the cases together when they were closed, which only added to the “military” theming I was going for.
The logo was probably the most involved and difficult part. I wanted the flags on the paddles to look absolutely amazing, and after finding out that ping pong rubber only comes in black and red sheets (the blue/green stuff is purely basement grade recreational ping pong and nobody sells it individually), I had to go with plan B. I found a website that makes custom mousepads which lets you upload an image to print out on them, and had to recreate Kiko’s flags in Photoshop, with a template for the size of a ping pong paddle (so I knew to cut it out properly). Let me tell you something: stripping ping pong foam and rubber off of a store grade paddle is a pain in the ass (I’ve since learned that pro grade equipment makes this super easy, but they’re way too expensive to sacrifice to a logo project like this). I glued the mousepads on the stripped paddles and then cut them to fit, but only after figuring out how to cross-cut the paddle handles so that they would dove-tail together (I had to do this because the lid they would be suspended in isn’t deep enough to have two handles stacked together; they had to be inset into each other so they were only one handle thick).
The music was the final touch. I had tried a Radio Shack solution, but their speaker and switch were just WAY too thick and wouldn’t slip behind the foam in the case very elegantly. I scoured the net for a bit, and found a greeting card company that would take an .mp3 you sent in and create three custom card inserts for you for a handfull of cash, and I was in business (thanks to Rocky for sending me an .mp3 from The Theme from the Hunt for Red October! What, he owns the soundtrack!). I had to superglue in a special L-bar (and covered it in black electrical tape so you wouldn’t see it against the black foam) to assist in the operation of the switch, since opening the case isn’t quite the right angle a card switch wants to be at when it’s opened, and after re-cutting the plastic in the switch to be a bit looser (and even installing some plastic sleeves so that the switch wouldn’t get hooked on the foam), it FINALLY came together.
When I showed up at the pitch meeting, I came in by myself, and asked everyone to gather in the conference room. Once everyone was in place, I called my CIA agents, and used our pre-arranged codephrase: “The Rooster is in the Henhouse,” which already got the meeting started with lots of laughs, and questions asking if Penny Arcade were hens.
My agents came upstairs, and Rocky began asking for Mr Holkins’ and Krahulik’s finger scans on their iPad Finger Scanning Devices (there’s an app for that) while I unlocked the Nuclear Football Case from Gregg’s wrist, where it was handcuffed to.
At this point, I did a relatively quick pitch speech which was intended to sound like I was a CIA spook myself, attempting to recruit Penny Arcade to join their own fictional universe of American Ping Pong Agents. While I forget most of what I said, I do remember my favorite line, which was “Many reverse penholders died to bring us the information in this case.”
My CIA agents then handed Mike and Jerry two keys that had special “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” flags on them (Gregg grabbed them from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. which look just like the same flags that come on missiles attached to Air Force fighter jets), so they could unlock the case together, in true 80’s nuclear missile style.
Their faces were priceless when I opened it. I wish I had a photo of the moment. I don’t even think they heard the music until maybe a good five seconds in; it was drowned out from all of the ooohs and ahhhhs.
I’m told it’s still the most amazing pitch they’ve ever seen.