Loosing oneself into a character is a truly liberating experience for an artist- Under the self imposed guise of an alternate reality I find myself creating and envisioning things through their imagined eyes, they tend to get away a whole lot more than I do.
The object of Too Many Chefs is to create a full day of delectable meals from ingredient cards including dessert and midnight snack. You can expand your own recipes or play off your opponents designing signature dishes for more points. Be the 1st player to reach 100 to win or be voted to head chef by fellow foodies and you win. Too Many Chefs challenges players to get creative with their ingredients and with luck game play translates back into the kitchen inspiring real life menu and recipe design.
Hands down, my favorite project this spring was a custom job for Blue Isle Studios creating 60 hand made journals as press kits for their release of Slenderman the Arrival on Xbox 360 and PS3. My client wanted each book to feel like a special discovery, a chronicle of events and clues in the game and expansion of the narrative back story for many of the characters. Along with notes and pages that players need to collect during game play, I included photo "sightings" of Slenderman from internet memes, clippings from forums, original photography and easter eggs like QR codes on a doctor's stationary which led back to the game site and a phone number on the inside of a matchbook for a very creepy voice mail account.
The thing which makes Slenderman so interesting to me is how he came into being, created by unaffiliated authors, bloggers and filmmakers, a crowd sourced child of the internet and collective ghost story. If you aren't fully up on his origins check out his wikipedia entry or even more fun the Slenderman Wiki on Creepy Pasta. Creating real tangible things from fictional characters is exactly the kind of job I love doing and a great follow up project to the work I did for the Dragon Eternity game release last year.
To make the books feel authentic I used different types of photo paper and distressing techniques to age many of the pictures. Many of the letters I wrote by hand, which was a bit nuts but really added to the feeling of legitimacy with the whole piece. The Escapist did an awesome re-cap of the copy they received and went through all the pages of the journal here .
Since many of the documents were supposedly sourced from different authors I needed to come up with several different types of handwriting which was trickier than I'd anticipated. Fortunately it wasn't to hard to talk the kids into helping and my daughter was all over the idea of leaving mud smeared hand prints on the book covers. Aging the books themselves was actually the 1st thing I did to the journals, throwing them into my dryer in batches of 10 at a time along with wet towels. The noise was horrible, but I got clean towels out of the deal so that was an unexpected bonus.
Creating fake news clippings was definitely a creative challenge. The game designers did an awesome job including old papers in the game but the images were created in photoshop and only exist in virtual environments. To make these into real pages with the look and feel of newsprint I copied the stories onto kids drawing paper sketch pads, the dark recycled paper that you might find at the Dollar Store, then printed real news stories on the backside and finally crumpled the pages. There are also a number of burned notes in the book which were also fun to recreate. I tried actually burning a few notes but the look wasn't consistent and some of the pages burned entirely. It definitely wasn't a process that made sense to duplicate 60 times. Instead I found some burned paper images on line and doctored them in photoshop superimposing my hand written text on top and then went through some time consuming work of cutting the burned edges, the results were super cool. Though I don't have a picture of it here...
In one level of the game players run through the woods collecting eight notes which have been left behind on trees and buildings. Rather than duplicate those notes individually I made one copy of each and staged them in photographs in the woods by my house, at night. This part of the job was super fun and super creepy all at once. My husband helped out by holding flashlights and moving branches around and keeping me from getting too spooked out, because you never know who might be right behind you....