Writer Adam de la Pena loves old school video games. Not only does he still play them, but he writes comedies within them. Having written on the Comedy Central programs The Man Show and Crank Yankers as well as for Jimmy Kimmel Live and starred in his own pseudo-reality series I’m with Busey, he’s been spending a lot of his time making animated shows in video game style, such as G4’s Code Monkeys and Xbox Live Network’s Your Dungeon, My Dragon. Now, he’s back with the 16-bit comedy Outlands, starring Felicia Day and Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) for the Geek & Sundry Channel premiering today. He spoke to us about writing for the gaming world, and surviving Gary Busey.
NERDIST: How did you come to do Outlands with Geek & Sundry?
ADAM DE LA PENA: Geek & Sundry contacted me saying they liked my work, and asked if I would come in and talk about doing a show with them. I loved The Guild. Felicia’s writing was outstanding, and it was groundbreaking in all the ways it spoke to gamers. For me, it was a tremendous opportunity to work with Felicia. So I told them about Outlands, and they called me the next day and said, “Let’s do it.” And that is why Felicia Day and Geek & Sundry are awesome.
N: Felicia is a voice on the show as well; have you ever in the past had the founder of a network want to be in a show you’ve written?
ADP: Does Oprah count? If not, then Felicia’s the first. I only wanted to do the show if Felicia did the voice of “84.” She has a really cool, versatile voice, as I’m sure everyone heard in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Thankfully, she agreed. Otherwise, the world would’ve lost another 16-bit space masterpiece.
N: What is it about 16-bit games that speak to you?
ADP: When I was in college I worked in an arcade – one of the biggest arcades in California. I worked there for five years. I only went to college for two. Many people would say I was wasting my time at that job, but I swore that one day, this would pay off. So I really had to make 16-bit animated shows or five years of my life would’ve been wasted.
N: Are there any specific games you were using as a basis for Outlands?
ADP: It’s not based on any game in particular. All the characters and objects in the show are hyper 16-bit. The backgrounds are actually drawn, which is different from games.
N: In your shows, do you like each scene to be performed as written or do you give room for ad-libbing?
ADP: For the most part, performers say the lines very close to written. But it really depends. I voice the character of Hutch, so I’m allowed to ad-lib, because I’m in charge. But the real key is getting people with distinct voices to help take the characters to another level.
N: Speaking of, Dana Snyder has such a funny and unique voice, do you write differently for him knowing how he might read it?
ADP: Dana and I are friends, so I’ve been hearing his voice for a very long time. Sometimes, it haunts me. So when I write his character, I do write with his voice specifically in my head. I know there are some things that only Dana can say, that only he can make funny. I will say this: Dana has been in every one of the animated shows that I have ever done, which means he owes me a lot of favors.
N: I was a big fan of I’m With Busey; how much of his craziness was scripted? My guess would be 0.46%. Similarly, did you ever fear for your life?
ADP: Close. It was .5876% (with the 6 repeating), but, man, you came close. I never feared for my life. I only feared that we wouldn’t finish each episode in time. Some of our adventures were a little long and crazy.
N: What games are you playing currently and nerding out over most?
ADP: This is super nerdy, but I’ve been playing Castlevania for the last three months on my old Nintendo, which broke, forcing me to order an emulator so I could continue playing. The good news is that I was able to use the original Nintendo controllers with the emulator, so my gameplay was not affect too badly. More importantly, if anybody knows a good shop I can take my Super Nintendo to for repairs, give me a shout @adamdelapena.
Watch the first episode of Outlands today.