The ballet of not gay Tony

Well it’s time for me to unzip my flies and flop out the next instalment of the Batwick blog.

What’s cooking today boys and girls? Well, let me tell you a story. One that has been recounted in many a pub over the years by original Stainless employees and by madman Tony – but which nobody really ever believes is true. But it is, and I have the videos to prove it.

When we started developing Carma, we decided that we needed to know what it looked like when somebody was run over. We weren’t using motion capture as we couldn’t afford that, or rotoscoping, or anything fancy. But them there artists wanted what they call ‘Reference’.

In reality I think we all knew that it was just an excuse to piss about rather than work for a day, but nobody was willing to admit this to anybody else and thus spoil the fun.

At the time I was driving a two-and-a-half ton Chevrolet Caprice station wagon – 5.7 litres of American style-assassination. (Which of course made it into the game too.) So we politely asked Tony if he would mind awfully if we went into the large empty coach park across the road from our office. And repeatedly run him over with the yank tank whilst filming it.

Naturally Tony didn’t hesitate for a moment before agreeing. However being such a sane and safety-conscious individual, he did insist on a fully professional level of body protection before proceeding: He stuffed a few pieces of corrugated cardboard down his sleeves and trousers. No he actually did this. See what I mean about the story not sounding believable?

Anyway, off we trotted into the car park, fired-up the beast and started laying down footage of various Stainless employees running through the script of animation reactions required by our pedestrians: Panicking, trying to decide which way to run, running, shitting themselves, getting run over, etc. Of course Tony whole-heartedly threw himself into this, by way of a warm-up…

All seemed to be working well – we got some nice footage of him tumbling off the bonnet of the car, then Nobby wanted one of him going underneath, which of course he duly agreed too. When Nobby stopped the car for the photos, Tony politely waited, and then cleared his throat and matter-of-factly asked if it would be at all possible to reverse the car now, as it was on his foot. All two-and-a-half tons of it...

At this point a police car turned up. The car park was overlooked by some houses a few hundred yards away, and somebody had called the police to report “There’s a car in the car park running somebody over! Again and again!”. The police, who of course in 1997 knew about as much about the existence of video games as they did about general relativity and the struggle for convergence with quantum theory, really didn’t know how to handle it. But the camera on a tripod seemed to placate them – as well as the ‘victim’ insisting that he was absolutely fine with continuing to be run over. So off they crept in their jam sandwich to try to find one of the Isle of Wight’s five black men to frame for cow molesting or something.

So, back to filming it was, with an array of net curtains twitching on the horizon. Now came the golden moment though, as Tony said to Nobby, who was driving my tank, “Hit me harder – I want to try to clear the roof”. Not a sensible thing to say really. So Nobby took a run up, and hit him at 35mph.

Unfortunately, due to the laws of physics, this did not send Tony flying over the top of the car, but instead, he went straight through the windscreen. Much to the surprise of Tez, who was sat in the passenger seat filming at the time. Clean underwear please!

Of course Tony was completely unfazed, but the car’s screen looked like it had been hit by a.... well.... by a person to be honest. At this point the Lead Programmer of Argonaut turned up who was coming down to work on-site on the rendering tech we had licensed from them. He got out of his car to find himself trapped in a Roger Corman dream sequence – it wasn’t the scene he was used to when coming to developers, which usually consisted of Unix printouts and cold pizza...

Eventually we trotted back into the office to review the footage – only to find to our horror that the exposure setting on the video camera had been knocked off of auto and all the footage was next to useless – including the classic clip of Tony coming through the screen! Fortunately through the magic of those new-fangled computer-thingies, Nobby was able to recover enough quality to at least demonstrate that no, the story actually isn’t bullshit:

On the day though, all seemed lost, so, Tony said “No problem, let’s go back out and do it all again!”. So we taped some more of our trusty cardboard over the broken side of the screen, and did it all again.

At the end of the day, I thought I’d better take the car up to the windscreen place just up the road, so I went back outside, only to find a police bike parked alongside the Caprice, with Mr Plod snouting around the broken glass. Me: “I’m about to get it fixed officer”. Porky, vibrating slightly and turning purple: “You can’t drive it on the road like that!”. Me: “No sir, of course not, I’ll get it recovered sir”. So we waited until he’d fucked off, and then drove it anyway. Luckily the cardboard was also obscuring the tax disc that was two months out of date...

Up at the windscreen place, they looked at it aghast and said “What the hell did you hit?!”, to which I simply answered “Don’t ask!”. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t phone the cops at that moment, as it screamed “Hit and run” all of over it. Would have been quite funny actually if we’d scored a holy trinity of fuzz in one day.

So, there you have it – that’s what we used for reference for Carma. We ran somebody over. Quite a lot.

But that wasn’t the end of Tony’s pain. He suffered just as badly on the day of the PratCam shooting. When asked to do the whiplash sequence, he said “Hit me in the back of the head”. Which we did. But it was too soft. Being in the room with the pool table, he picked up a pool cue, handed it to me thin-end first and said “Right, now hit me properly”. So I did – next time you look at the head flying forward sequence in the PratCam, imagine me belting him around the back of the bonce with the thick end of a pool cue! Well it did the trick don’t you think?

Good old Tony. And he’ll be back in Carmageddon: Reincarnation, along with another pool cue and some more corrugated cardboard (if he asks us really nicely).

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