The making of ‘Ben Eath the Surf Ace’

Posted by
May 10th, 2014 11:02 am

(based on a true story)

It was early sunday morning  when Ben stormed into my house.

'Let's go to the beach!'

‘Let’s go to the beach!’

Hey man! You gotta come to the beach, there are some killer (hehe) waves!

I can’t this time Ben”, I answered. “I’m making a game this weekend”.
Hey, that’s cool too! Let’s see what you got”.

I showed Ben what I had made the day before. “You’ve got to control facial muscles to make appropriate expressions during a conversation”, I explained.

Yeah, yeah, I can see where you’re going with this: some sort of over the top QWOP kinda thing. But ehm . . where’s the FUN? You gotta have fun, ya know? It doesn’t matter if I’m out surfing, solving crimes or waxing my board,  I ALWAYS make sure there’s fun in it”.

I agreed “It was fun in my head, but now. . I don’t know . . maybe I should just pack it in”.

No way, dude. You’re no quitter! You just gotta quit fighting the waves, go with the flow, see? You gotta go with me!”.
I looked at him puzzled.

Can't go wrong with Ben

Can’t go wrong with Ben

Look, the theme is ‘beneath the surface’, right? I’m a surfer. You could say I’m a Surf Ace. Change my last name to ‘Eath’  and what ya got? ‘Ben Eath the Surf Ace’. So make a game about me!  I’ve had TONS of adventures and they were ALL fun!

Bens enthusiasm has always been infectious. I agreed. ‘Go with the flow’, right?

We immediately got to work. We only had one day and virtually no budget so, to quote Ben, we even had to ‘cut corners of friggin circles’.

 

We started with the music.  Ben knew a local band that played surf music and were willing to play for beer. Unfortunately they wanted to be  paid up front, so they were not as tight as they usually are ;).

the band "Smurf's Up!"

the band “Smurf’s Up!”

We also wanted the Bee Cheesees to sing on the songs but had no money for it. So I sampled the beginning of their song “Bend over ‘cause I dropped my pants” and made it sound as if they were singing ‘Ben’.

the Bee Cheesees

the Bee Cheesees

Uncle Vern

Uncle Vern

Aunt Nancy

Aunt Nancy

Next up were the actors. When you want cheap there’s no substitute for family. We cast Uncle Vern as the bad guy. He was a good sport and didn’t mind me shaving his head for the part.

His wife (actually his second wife) Nancy played the daughter.  Unbelievable, isn’t it? It took a sh*t load of makeup to make her look like the daughter (don’t ever tell her I said that!).
The set was made of cardboard and plywood. That’s the reason you don’t see any waves.
To make the boat appear to move we used a cement mixer as an engine and put in a bucket of water to make a splash.

I was afraid everybody would notice the ‘fakeness’ and so wanted to the keep the resolution really low, but Ben complained that the pixelized version made his moustache look weird. So we ended up with the version that is now online.

We chose a story from Bens adventures and started to shoot. We were off!

By evening we had a lot of footage but then I realized: “we got all this stuff, but we got no game, there has to be a game in it!”. Hey don’t worry about it”, Ben said. “Just throw some stuff at me and film me ducking and jumping, it’ll be fine.”

On set with Ben

On set with Ben

We made a bomb from a football and Uncle Vern had a rubber knife; we had our projectiles. We filmed Ben jumping and ducking on his board and I made the game react to the keys so the player could make Ben jump or duck. We had a game. Sort of.

Two hours before the deadline things still got tense when I noticed that that the bombs would keep hitting Ben’s board. At the last minute we had to re-cut the whole jumping  and ducking sequence. It was tight but we made it with one minute to spare!

And that’s it!
That’s the story how this little game got made.  I was a bit worried that there was not much game in it, but Ben reassured me: “What would you rather have: a way too hard game where you have to bash a zillion keys to put a smile on a virtual face or a game that’s simple but puts a smile on your own face?”.

Oh well, you just can’t argue with a man who’s part time surfer, part time private detective, full time cool dude.

Go with the flow . . right?

Play it here.


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