"They really pushed for, 'Oh, this is shockumentary material! You could make this all about World of Warcraft destroying society.' You know, we didn't see that at all in the two years we've spent making this movie."
- Victor Piñeiro, Producer / Writer
Cody, Ten Ton Hammer - Is it hard to make an interesting film that shows both sides of these issues, being that the common gamer may not be as interesting as some of the subjects you've chosen for the film?
Victor - "We got a lot of pressure from early audiences and especially people in the film industry that made documentaries. They really pushed for, 'Oh, this is shockumentary material! You could make this all about World of Warcraft destroying society.' You know, we didn't see that at all in the two years we've spent making this movie. If anything, we saw these worlds build community. Sure, we have a really fascinating story of a guy that lost everything to these games. I think it's one of my favorite stories in the movie.
"But alongside that, we've definitely found a lot of interesting stories in the idea that, like, this couple courted in the game, and we have a lot of great machinima of them courting in the game before they meet. We've got a lot of great machinima of these guys kind of explaining where MMOs are in their life."
Jeff, Ten Ton Hammer - "Of all the types of games, MMORPGs have to be among the least spectator friendly. It's just not as much fun to watch someone play World of Warcraft than, say, Madden or Halo 3, owing to the dead time in raid planning, etc. How did you capture the social aspects and humanity of these games in the in-game segments?"
Juan Carlos - "Obviously the people are stuck in front of their computers playing these games, so how do you make that interesting? We worried about this in the beginning, and then all of the sudden, the amount of things that happen in anyone's life over a year really just took over the film. Their life exists, and from people's lives, breathe life into the film naturally."
Peter - "I would also say that obviously we're not showing people waiting a half hour for their guild to show up. There's obviously a lot of stuff that ends up on the editing room floor in terms of getting ready for a raid and whatnot. We try to explain exactly what a raid is, we explain the importance of it, but what we really focus on is the community that all that downtime and cooperation takes. The real sense of camaraderie and brother- and sisterhood that happens in these games, I think we really try and focus on that to a large extent."
Jeff, Ten Ton Hammer - "In terms of the game communities you're dealing with, do you mainly focus on World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2?"
Victor - "We talked to some guys with Asheron's Call and EVE Online, but over time the subjects we ended up using; those that had the most interesting stories were all from either WoW or EverQuest 2."
Peter - "But we all have some Second Life players. We certainly tried to do a picture of all MMOs, not just WoW and EQ2, in terms of how we explain the games and the phenomenon. It's definitely bigger than just two games."
Jeff, Ten Ton Hammer - "Moving to the more technical demands of this project, was any one game easier to film than others?"
Peter - "World of Warcraft is definitely the easiest to machinima. In terms of graphics, it's probably one of the more streamlined games. We work a fair amount with EverQuest 2 and EverQuest 2 is a beautiful game, but the graphics are very intense. It's hard to get enough computing power to see them to their full potential. But World of Warcraft truly is amazing, I mean, WoW Model Builder is the most incredible machinima program. It really frees you to do a lot of stuff that I don't think you can really do with any other machinima. I really enjoy working with Model Builder and I'm thankful that it exists; it just makes our lives a lot easier."
Jeff, Ten Ton Hammer - And for the budding documentarians out there, did you use any sort of special software to capture in-game video?
Peter - "We use really what anyone would use, we use Fraps. And then with WoW Model Builder I'll also go and do a lot more detailed-oriented stuff. It's really painstaking but I export lots of high-resolution bitmaps and make very high resolution animations of the characters."
In part 2, we'll talk with Pure West in detail about their trip to an actual gold farm in China and their portrayal of these secondary market dealings, reactions to the film from game developers like SOE, and much more. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, swing by the Ten Ton Hammer forums to share your views on Second Skin.