Quoted from Aurich:
Alright, story time, strap in.
By the time I was really doing the playfield seriously the freedom lockdown had already happened. I was told I could use the assets I was given, and that was it, and if I did something 'original' it would be rejected and create problems. So I basically squeezed blood from a stone and did the best I could with what I had.
I should note that this was my first playfield design, and I never saw an assembled white wood, because one didn't exist, not to mention I'm here in Southern California and the game development was in Wales. So it was pretty challenging, I was flying a bit blind. If I did another playfield design I'd definitely lean on my first experience, and hopefully be better at some things. But what that means is hard to say, keep in mind that aside from the Expo prototype I've still never stood in front of the machine, let alone played it and gotten a sense of what might have helped players. I don't think I've really finished learning even the first lessons, if that makes sense.
Well lesson one, don't do remote pinball development.
Anyways, I figured Fox would come back with comments, and that at least in the give and take I'd get some sense of things and could hopefully push some things in directions. I wanted to see some more biomechanical stuff, you can see where I was trying to experiment with the slingshot plastics. But I didn't think I could really draw my own and have it approved with the way Andrew was telling me things.
What happened instead was Fox sat on the design for 2 months (well it seemed they did, remember I wasn't allowed to talk to them, and can only count on what Andrew told me, and I don't trust him for shit anymore, so who knows). And then the word came back, approved, don't need to change a thing.
Okay? So first thing I'm thinking is "shit, they don't want a single dinky change? What else could I have gotten away with?!" Like, I was bracing for a long ass back and forth, seems like that's what happened with all the Stern stories I'd heard. I know that was the story with GOT, Keith Elwin has talked about Maiden wanting all kinds of changes. It was weird.
It's funny, but I was almost disappointed they approved it, if that makes sense. I thought there'd be a process, and we could grow it during it. And then I finally did see the game at Expo, and I could see what was covered by ramps or whatever that I couldn't before. And I would have loved to have a stab at revising some things, nothing specific I can name, just take some pics, sit down with it all, see what I could push a little further. But Andrew said nope, we can't risk them throwing a wrench in things, it's approved, it's done.
So that was basically that. And look, I'm just gonna be blunt about this part, around this point in time a lot of bullshit was becoming clear. This was before Andrew stabbed me in the back by hiring that artist without telling me to do that weird off model comic book backglass, that was some final straw shit, but even before that our relationship was dissolving. It's clear now I was just getting more of the 'real Andrew', but I didn't realize at the time just how f$&^d things really were, just that I was unhappy and it was getting shitty.
Keep in mind I'm in this for a couple years worth of time now. Not just doing art, but on weekly calls, trying to help manage the US team, in our Slack channels every day doing what I could to help this game come along. It wasn't just a 'hired gun' thing, do a couple photoshoppy things and call it a day, I was really emotionally invested. And I hadn't been paid a dime. I was out my costs from buying reference models, I had a Big Chap bust, I had a box full of toys and shit (this is when I thought I would be allowed to do my own original work), I bought my own plane tickets and hotel rooms for Expo two years in a row when I was there talking in front of audiences as a Heighway rep, it was starting to feel like some bullshit. My contract says that stuff should have been paid for, but I think everyone knows how that went.
Anyways, the blunt part was I was done. F— all this, I'm tired, I'm burned out, I'm not seeing shit for this, I'm not even getting to do my own process, WTF was I doing? And I checked out. I did what I could to see the rest of the game through, at this point I was just in it to support the US team, love those guys. I was the one who created the airlock LCD concept, I hated the stupid Queen Coffee Can. After Expo I fought to kill it and won that battle. I did the LE backglass, that Andrew then tried to screw me on by having that guy basically redraw it. And then of course it all went stupid when the LE switched to having the big LCD by default and the full backglass art became useless.
People might remember that I just stopped posting in this thread for months. I drained the thread, I couldn't deal, I was just depressed by it all, and bound by an NDA that meant I couldn't even speak up. I give two shits about any of that now, if Andrew is reading this I wouldn't wipe my ass with the contract you never honored. But at the time I was trying to stay professional in a jacked up situation.
Anyways, that's probably enough typing. Here, I went back through my old photo shoots, I've got tons of stuff like this. This was that bust I bought for reference, with polyvinyl slime dripping off it, was going to use stuff like this to paint over in Photoshop. Only thing that ever survived from all of that is if you check the LE art carefully there's Kane in his spacesuit amongst the eggs, that's an action figure, heh.