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Tycho / 2 hours ago

Grace, Part Five can be found here.

Erik Wolpaw, from Old Man Murray to Portal and Portal 2, you must certainly be considered the world’s foremost writer of gaming humor - both inside and outside games themselves.  And your last name is just pronounced regular old Wolpaw, which is way easier to pronounce than Chmielarz.  It’s a much more considerate name.  But, back to the other thing: why is the best in the Goddamn business writing Team Fortress comics exclusively, and only those, forever?

Jesus, Jerry, you’re making it sound like I don’t do anything at work. I doubt Gabe Newell reads your (stupid) website, but somebody might tell him about your website and say “you better read this website,” and the first article he’d read is all about Wolpaw not doing any work at work. So to answer your question: I am doing a lot of work.  I come in every day and think about how I can add value to Valve and its customers. I don’t always just think about it, either. My writing partner Jay Pinkerton and I are writing a novel. Don’t believe me? Well, I guess I’m screwed then oh no wait how do you explain this:

And that’s just a small excerpt of the hundreds of pages we plan to write. I should also mention that, if you look closely at the excerpt, you’ll notice it’s not just plain text. We made it into an actual webpage image, which doesn’t just magically happen with no work. When Gabe asked me and Jay what we’d been doing since Portal 2, we triumphantly slammed down our novel.  And even before its single, post-it-note sized page had finished floating gently to his desk, Gabe pointed out that we were fired. I quickly refined our pitch to include the fact that Jay was crying, and then Gabe sighed and let us stop being fired. That was two years ago, and while The Great Greatsby hasn’t technically grown in word count, it has ballooned in ambition, because given four or five years any motivated pair of talented writers can write a novel excerpt, but not everyone can (plan to) turn their novel (excerpt) into a (butt hospital) room-scale VR experience.

Would we like to write a big AAA story game? Sure. But funny, big-budget story games aren’t really in demand lately. It’s grim survival dinosaur underage haunted house lesbians all the time now. Jay and I tried to write some serious literary fiction and couldn’t get through the first sentence without something getting jammed up somebody’s butt, so the odds of us writing The Last of Us is mostly zero.

Between our cross-medium Great Greatsby franchise planning, the Aperture VR demo, TF and DOTA updates, plus a bunch of unannounced Valve projects, we’re keeping pretty busy. And that’s not even counting the massive, ongoing, Eisner Award-winning someday probably, seven-part TF comic opus (#1, #2, #3, #4) that Jay and I are making with Heather Campbell. Issue #5 ships in August, which gives you just enough time to catch up on the eagle attacks, Australian supermen, immortality machines, Tom Jones murders, naked bear fights, public execution scrapbooking and shocking major character deaths in what has become Valve’s most story-heavy game. We even made an easy-reader comic to gently usher you into the big players and plotlines of the TF Universe.

And that’s what we’re up to, Gabe, if you’re reading this. Okay, well, we know you’re a busy man just like us and all that’s left is some boring legal disclaimer stuff so you should stop reading now so we can all get back to being busy. Penny Arcade LLC and its laws and jurisdictions are not responsible for the habeus corpus - Alright, he’s gone. And to (stupid) Jerry, thanks for Frost Nixoning us about what we do all day. Go to Hell, Jerry. Anyway, this post is over for real now. Turn off your computer, Jerry. Show’s over.


Okay, Jerry’s gone. Neil Druckmann, if you’re reading Jerry’s (stupid) website, all that stuff we said earlier about us being bad at writing Last of Us was just jokes. But jokes aren’t all we do, Neil. Don’t believe us? Why don’t you ask THE SKELETON THAT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Horror writing, Neil. By us. Now take a closer at that skeleton. Maybe it makes you think of your own mortality, and how we’re all just skeletons on the inside? Or maybe that last sentence was just great drama writing. Great drama writing that could be in The Last of Us 2 if you play your cards right. Or at all. We do all the genres, Neil. Including sex, if that’s what it takes to get this deal done. One non-negotiable: Jay and I are a package. We get this job as a team or not at all. Say! Is that a knock at the door? Jay, maybe it’s Neil with some jobs! You better go see.


Okay, no-talent Jay is gone. This ruse isn’t going to hold together long, so I’ll have to be quick. Neil, I will drive over Jay’s dead body for this gig. I was BORN to write Last of Us 2. On my birth certificate it says Erik Wolpaw, The Last of Us 2 Writer. Or whatever other game you want me to write, I’m not picky. I just need to be paid in cash, Neil. In advance. I lied to everybody else about this blog post being over, but I’ll never lie to you, Neil. This is the actual end. I love you. Wait, maybe that’s too much too soon. I intend to love you.

- Erik

Gabe / 17 hours ago

Automata Kickstarter!

Our Automata Kickstarter is just about funded and we have just posted a new update over on the site. We’ve added another pin design as an optional ADD-ON. Here’s the design:

This is going to a be a really slick pin. We’re gonna do it in two layers so that Carl’s mask sits on top of his face. Similar to the 15 year anniversary pin.

Thanks so much for your support of this Kickstarter. We’ve just got a little bit more to go!

-Gabe out

PAX Australia!

This Friday is the last day to get the early bird discount on your PAX Aus tickets. Three day badges are 100% sold out now but you can still pick up individual day badges. I’ve flown to Australia twice now and I have to say, 20 hours in the air is not my favorite thing in the world. With that said, I absolutely love Melbourne. If you have any tips for making the flight more humane I’d love to hear them. Right now I pass the time by alternating between trying unsuccessfully to sleep and watching movies I didn’t want to watch when they were in theaters.

-Gabe out

Monday Sketchdump!

I’m back from almost two weeks of vacation and I feel great. we spent a few days camping here in Washington and then drove over to Idaho and spent another week at a lake cabin in Coeur D’Alene. I drew the first three Nightlight strips before I left but left the fourth for when I got home. I was struggling with the fourth comic because I wasn’t sure what I wanted the monsters in this world to look like. I knew I wanted them to come in all shapes and sizes but I was looking for some theme to tie them all together. When I left for my vacation I had no clue what that theme would be.

Our cabin in Coeur D’Alene had a little dock behind it and the kids loved jumping off it and swimming in the lake. I was sitting on the edge of the dock one day fishing while the kids swam around. I ended up pulling a fish right out from under the dock. I explained that the fish like to hide under the dock and the kids got a little spooked. All of a sudden they were wondering what lived in the darkness under this dock. Then I started to think…beds are kind of like docks. I ran inside and grabbed my sketchbook.

The monsters I started doodling had scales and gills. We caught a catfish that night and the boys thought it was the most disgusting thing they’d ever seen. We pulled out something with sharp fins like thorns on its back. Everything we reeled in just gave me more ideas. I decided the shadows under the bed were like dark, still water and I let that inform my monster designs.

Finally I asked my boys to each draw me a scary monster. Gabe’s was a snake-like thing with scales and gills.

Noah’s had four arms and sharp teeth.

I took the ideas I had about shadows like water, added in some of the stuff from my boys and cooked up the monster in today’s strip.

There’s just two more strips after this one and then we’ll be back to video games. If you can’t wait that long you might want to check out the strips we did for Bungie and the Taken King expansion. They came out during E3 and maybe you missed them. We created a comic for each of the new sub-classes and you can read all of them over on the official Taken King page.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 days ago

Grace, Part 4 can be found here.

I don’t KNOW know Adrian Chmielarz, partly because he lives super far away in Poland.  I’ve just played his games - mainly Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter - and liked all three of them.  The last one there - the Vanishing one - just came out on PS4.  But you already beat it when came out on PC months ago, like a cool person.  Right?  Here we go.

Adrian, before we continue, I have always wanted to know how to pronounce Chmielarz.  I’m going to write out how I think it would sound, just so you can laugh at me:  Cha-mee-larz.  I assume that’s incorrect.

Yes, that’s incorrect ;) Do this:

1. Go to
2. (Right side translation should be set to Polish)
3.  Click on the speaker icon to listen to the voice.
4.  (Should be something like Hmye-lash)
5.  (Yes it’s weird, but in Polish “Ch” and “H” are the same)

I don’t know if it’s still traumatic to talk about, but can we talk about Bulletstorm?  I’ll go, and then you.  Bulletstorm is one of my favorite games of all time, and one of the reasons I still have a 360 plugged in is just in case I want to play Bulletstorm.  I feel like I’m the only one who understands this game.  I want to call out the Anarchy multiplayer in particular, as there’s simply nothing else like it.  Years later, I still think about it.  I try to get people to plug their own 360s back in.  I offer to buy them a copy.  It’s like that.

One of my favorite things in creative work is the “Satire That Also Functions As A Solid Example Of The Form.”  It’s my opinion that Bulletstorm does this: it subverts action games pretty hard, while simultaneously acting as an innovative exemplar.  There’s a moment near the end of the campaign where the sustained, sort of goofy mask drops completely off - and it was all the more stark because of it.  Basically what I’m saying is that I still really like Bulletstorm.  Whatever else it might have meant, do you still like Bulletstorm?

Bulletstorm is to me like an ex you’re still in love with. So many great memories, so much pain.

The game was nearly four years of hard work. Every developer works hard, but I and some other people worked on it hard even by game development standards. It’s not just the hours, it’s the mental investment. You live and breathe the project for almost four years.

It all seemed worth it. We had financial analysts arguing if it sells 4M or “only” 3M, and we got amazing reviews. The game was ready. It’s PCF, it’s Epic, it’s EA, it’s Rick Remender, it’s a damn fun game to experience. It couldn’t fail.

But then, of course, it did. First day (or was it a week?) sales data came in, and pfffffffffffprt. Lukewarm is the word. Not a disaster, but far away from ever seeing the sequel.

For months I obsessed over what happened. I think I know. But it doesn’t matter, the game just didn’t sell enough and that’s it.

I also kept second guessing myself after the release. I loved our dialogue. I fought for our dialogue. But then you read some people claim it’s a “bro game” and you start doubting yourself. Is it that they didn’t get it, or did you just make a bro game?

I like to think it was not all in vain, though. The experience, the know-how, the contacts, the press. Lots of lessons learned. And ultimately people got the game. Suddenly almost everybody loves it. I mention Bulletstorm and I get flooded with messages on how it’s the greatest shooter of the last generation or how it’s a shame not enough people bought it. If we did a better job and got to all these people earlier, we’d be discussing Bulletstorm 3 today.

Do I like Bulletstorm? Yes. It frustrates me the game is out of my hands, even if I never really owned it. I’d remove the GFWL and re-release it as $20 HD remake for the current gen. I don’t think it deserves to stay abandoned like it is now.


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