Anyone who gets a bit too into their games should be able to relate to Co-Op Life, a new Seeco Films series on Machinima about two guys in their apartment where games and reality seamlessly merge into series of odd adventures.
“It was a lot of fun coming up with worlds for our characters to interact in,” Shane English, creator of Co-Op Life, said via e-mail.
English and co-writer/actor, Jake Hames, spent nearly two months writing and rewriting episodes for the series. “The basic idea for the show was to have a different video game come into a living room each week,” he said.
Creating an episode goes beyond just writing a script and acting it out. They try to recreate the look and feel of each game as it comes to life in the apartment, which includes replicating effects and costumes.
In the first episode, BioShock, a Big Daddy stomps around the apartment, battling one of the two characters, and after smiting its ruin on their living room floor, the characters decide what to do with the creepy Little Sister found crying next to their couch—a decision, which anyone who played BioShock knows, means either saving or harvesting them.
One of the guys just doesn’t have the heart, and so it switches to a short montage of life with one of the creepy, ADAM harvesting, girls with glowing eyes—while the other character eggs him on to get it over with.
“We loved the idea of having these two guys that have no fathering experience deal with a Little Sister, or having one being chased around by a Big Daddy,” English said.
He added that a lot of thought went into the roommates and their friendship—since he and Hames “wanted to make sure that the show still feels like a series as apposed to a bunch of different shorts.”
The idea behind the series began with a Web video English and his team did back in April, PWN3D, about two guys playing a FPS online, blasting shots from their controllers, and taking cover behind pillows and walls as their apartment gets riddled with bullets and set ablaze by their opponent on the other end.
PWN3D was a hit, by regular YouTube standards, with close to 110,000 views. But since its debut over the weekend, Co-Op Life has already gone far beyond that, with more than 163,000 views and counting—a good sign to English and his team that the series has good things in store.
Even though the videos are somewhat short (the BioShock episode was just under four minutes), a lot of work goes into them. “For the entire series of Co-Op Life the production was 7 days over 3 weekends. It was basically one episode a day plus a green screen day,” English said.
They tried keeping work days at 10 hours, “but we had a couple of longer ones,” he said.
A lot of the work went into making the special effects—something that English has been learning as he goes (which you’d never guess by watching the videos). “I’ve been teaching myself how to do post for a little under a year now,” he said.
The BioShock episode was particularly difficult, since English had to create a walk cycle for a computer-generated Big Daddy. He said the Internet has been a huge help, given that for nearly any effect “usually some kind person has done a tutorial.”
The series has just started, and English said finding which game to bring to life in each episode has been interesting.
“There is a lot to work with out there, which I didn’t think at first,” he said. “I thought Jake and I might have been locked into different types of first person shooters, but we’ve found out that any game is on the table.”
“There is so much material (video games) out there, but sometimes my favorite games don’t make it into a script because it just doesn’t fit in our world,” he said, noting that this may change as they move forward, since “More likely its because we haven’t found out how to put it into this world yet.”
(Images courtesy of Shane English)