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Level 17 Blank Slate
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Hey there. I've missed you. How are you? That's great to hear.
This week saw the release of The End, the final Eddsworld video. This comes 13 years after the very first video Edd uploaded online and 4 years after his death. I wanted to take the time to reflect on Edd, his World and his Legacy, and how he fundamentally changed who I am and what I want to do with my life. Now, I've touched on this in the past but out of respect for the Eddsworld Legacy team I haven't really talked about a lot of things that have happened recently. But now, with that project wrapping up nicely, I figured this was the perfect time to reminisce about my time in Edd's World.
I first met Edd in 2006 through a mutual friend. Edd was looking for someone to help make a game for Thomas “TomSka” Ridgewell's 16th birthday, and our mutual friend decided that with my practically zero coding knowledge at the time, I'd be perfect for the job. At this time I had released the first Bullet Bill game and was working on an Excitebike based game. These games, to put it mildly, were not coded well. In fact, the project file for these games ran more like movies, which were stitched together depending on what the player did. It wasn't pretty but, at the time, it got the job done.
Despite already working on another project at the time I happily agreed to talk to Edd and make a game for him. At this point I had never heard of him and didn't really know what to expect. After some small talk he told me what he wanted me to make, he sent me all the art for it and pretty much went “hey, make this an actual game”. From what I remember it was Tom in a small rectanglar area jumping for circles that exploded when you collected them. I think in the background it said “Happy Birthday Tom!” or something along those lines. It was super crude and all I really did to make it a 'game' so to speak was move Tom via the arrow keys and have him jump when you hit up. Edd, however, loved it, and got excited about what else we could do. This concept eventually turned into the game 'Quest for Bacon' where, ironically, Edd & Matt are jumping around collecting bacon, and Tom is nowhere to be seen. To this day I don't know if Tom liked his present, or if he even played it, it never really occurred to me to ask.
Since then we kept in touch, usually making dumb jokes on SheezyArt. For those who don't remember, SheezyArt was like DeviantArt but somehow even worse. We would joke that we both had so many people who love our content that we could just upload anything and it'd get on the featured section. And then shortly after we just upload anything and got on the featured section. I'd rip the art assets out of a video he uploaded in the morning and finish a parody of it by that night. It was all a lot of fun, and in fact I still have a .wav file of him saying “Psycosis you suck” which I used in a page banner at some point. This, weirdly enough, is actually how our other game projects got started.
Near the end of March 2007, Edd uploaded a small Sonic 2 Special Stage animation for his SheezyArt banner. Not really thinking too much of it I did what I always did, I downloaded it and proceeded to mess with it. I figured I could pretty easily make this into a game so I coded the full framework for the game in a few days. I decided against uploading it, however, because Edd only ever animated the top half of his character. The original animation just had Edd walk in place with music playing so it's not like he had to. I showed him what I had made and he was super ecstatic, and then I asked him to animated the legs and he was considerably less ecstatic. Still though, the next day he sent me a full Edd running animation and I went to work finishing up the game. Finally, 'Not-So Special Stage' was completed and uploaded. Much like the previous game the whole process took roughly a week or so, which was pretty good considering what we managed to put out there.
I'd say just over a year later the exact same thing happened. Edd uploaded a small Doom parody clip of him shooting red monsters, and I thought it'd be fun to turn that into a game. I made the first level and sent it over to Edd, saying “this is a cool idea how about we turn it into something bigger”. We blocked out the first four levels and haphazardly threw together a story mode to justify the silly levels. We was very close to releasing it with just that. While waiting for Edd to animate parts for the first 4 levels I added a Zombies Ate my Neighbours level, intended as a Easter egg if you beat the story mode. When Edd found this he loved it, and wanted to add even more to the game. We eventually came up with 10 levels, some maybe better thought out than others, and finally released 'Bang, Boom, Splat!', our most successful game.
Now at this point we had released a game together once a year since we met, and right on schedule in 2009 we did start working on a fourth game together. Newgrounds held a their 'Power of Three' event back in 2009 and Edd and I were eager to create something for it. So, along with the amazing musician Wolfgun, we created team 'Best Served Ice Cold', (named because the first letters of our first names spelled 'ICE'), and got to work. This was the first time Edd and I would actually scope out an idea together, as opposed to me just repurposing content he had already made. We settled on an idea called 'Kid Thulhu and the Jan Ken Bunch', the concept being a kid version of Cthulhu would be the main character, fighting Megaman style against the 'Jan Ken Bunch', which were Rock-Paper-Scissors based enemies. We got pretty far in this concept, with 3 out of the 6 levels actually finished, before the project ended up dying. If I recall correctly I had just started university at this point and couldn't work on the game as much as I would've liked. This combined with Edd focusing a lot more on his actual movies meant I was doing the brunt of the graphics. Honestly I keep a lot of Kid Thulhu to myself even now because I like to think I'll still work on this idea later on. We had a lot of really cool ideas for it and I still have a lot of Edd's sketches lying around for the bosses, so maybe this will actually see the light of day at some point.
Now back around 2006 all the way up to Edd's death, I was involved in Eddsworld. I believe starting with Eddie's Teddy, Edd would send me WIP files for critique. He did this so regularly that I had hundreds of small flash files from him, sometimes exact duplicates because he forgot he already asked me about them. This happened all the way up until Space Face Part 1, in which I still have the almost fully completed movie on my hard drive. I voiced a character in Zombeh Attack 3, animated the videogame portion of the 2007 Halloween Special and appeared in Spares. Starting with Ruined I also provided coding, music and sound effects for quite a number of movies, though in classic Edd fashion no matter how much or how little I contributed to each movie, I was only ever credited in the special thanks section as 'Ian', and that's if I was even credited at all. Edd also came to me when discussing the Eddsworld theme. He sent me a voice clip of himself humming a pretty flat version of what the theme is now, and asked me to transpose it for him. I sent him back the notes and a few versions of it playing to help him decide on how the theme should sound. I'm pretty sure he went with Tom's version of the humming and that's what he used for every movie since then.
The last time I talked to Edd was weird, we would usually talk a few times a week, even when he was in hospital he made it a point to still chat here and there. The very last conversation we had was him asking if I found him attractive. Now, Edd was the first online friend I told about me being gay, albeit accidentally when he was asking me for relationship advice, and I guess just wanted an honest conversation about it. We chatted, and I admitted I thought Bing was pretty cute at the time but that was about it. I ended up cutting the conversation short because, as it turned out, I was late for a math exam I had to sit at university. I told him I had to leave and that I'd speak to him again later, but later never came.
I found out Edd died via the announcement video, after a day out in St. Andrews with my university friends. It was weird not hearing it from anyone before hand but, then again, I had no contact with anyone outside of Edd himself. I used to have Matt on messenger at some point but we never shared a single word, and Tom blocked me pretty early on because I didn't follow some weird arbitrary rules he had set, according to Edd at the time. Of course I don't mind that I wasn't personally told, because I was just an online friend from Scotland and they wanted to keep the news from getting out there too fast. I've never been back to St. Andrews.
I didn't really know what to do honestly. This news came pretty fast after Randy Solem, the owner of VGDC, passed away, and shorter after this news my boyfriend at the time was admitted into hospital and I couldn't visit him. Now out of these three events, Edd's news hit me the hardest. I've mentioned this before but Randy is the one that first got me into animating, but Edd was for all intents and purposes my inspiration for animating. A lot of the stuff I made back then was influenced by him and what he was doing, so losing that all of a sudden was a huge blow that seemed impossible to recover from. Of course, nowadays I am happy married, and my lovely partner easily fills that inspiration role, but back then I had lost the most creative person in my life and I didn't really know what to do. I took my feelings and ended up animating my final sprite movie, Pacific, with music by Wolfgun.
Pacific is a weird beast of a movie. I knew when Wolfgun released his new album at the time, Sundisk, that I'd want to make another animation for it. After all, I had previously made two Wolfgun animations in Salmon Ok and Two Slices of Pie, and I really wanted to create another. Pacific was one of two songs that I decided between, the other being Stranger. After the news I picked Pacific, despite, at the time, having a clearer idea on what I wanted with Stranger. Regardless, I set to work, and wanting to make it a Kirby animation thanks to the opening. I wanted to focus on Lololo and Lalala thanks to my love of the anime, and include custom Tiff and Tuff sprites there as well. Things were going well! I animated everything up until the bottle throwing scene and then, stopped. You see, at this point the story was very different. The original planhad the perspective switch to Lalala finding the bottle, and making her way back to Lololo. But, I couldn't. I couldn't make a happy animation after what had happened. It just didn't feel right. When Lololo is writing his bottle message, I had it in my head that he just simply writes 'I miss you', and considering how much I missed Edd, I couldn't possibly animate a happy reunion between the two. Looking back, Pacific is the animation I'm the most proud of. It's not my most well known or even my most liked, but in terms of what I want to create and what I want to do with my projects, I could not be happier with what I did. Bittersweet, but still happy.
Now, Eddsworld Legacy. I do want to preface this by saying I mean no ill will towards any of the staff of Eddsworld Legacy. I know a fair number of people on the team, some just as a fan and some as acquaintances, and I know how talented that group of people are. If you're interested in a more broad look at the Eddsworld Legacy stuff, they released a pretty comprehensive documentary about it, which I highly recommend.
After his death, Eddsworld Legacy was started by Tom to produce more Eddsworld movies. I luckily found myself with some cash so I was able to pledge $200 to the cause. Out of that I got a pretty sweet drawing of my Eddsworld character and Tom, which I still have displayed on my desk, despite how weirdly removed it is from a true symbol of friendship with Edd. I pledged this knowing full well I didn't really expect or want much from the project itself. The idea of new Eddsworld movies got me rather depressed, but at the same time I knew that Space Face should be released in some capacity, so the idea seemed pretty solid. However, I'll admit it took me until this week to watch all of the new Eddsworld movies.
They're good, like, don't get me wrong, all of the new movies are pretty good. Mirror Mirror might be my favourite of the bunch. My problem is it's just all very melancholic in a odd way. It's easy to say “this isn't like Edd's work” because well of course it isn't. It's also very disgusting to say “this isn't what Edd would have wanted” because speaking for someone who has passed away might be one of the worst things you could do in their memory. No. What breaks it for me is that it all feels too, I guess, well made. Like, Edd's 'style' if you can call it that was mostly “I don't know what I'm doing but I'm doing it anyway”. Edd wasn't a particularly good voice actor, he wasn't a particularly good artist or animator, but what Edd excelled at the most was his determination and his ability to get his ideas out there. I mean I spent a lot of our friendship dissecting his animations and if there was an easy way to do something by god he'd do it. I don't think there was a single 5 second segment of any of his animations that was done frame-by-frame. I tried to teach him a simple lip syncing solution back when he still used a single movie clip for all speech and he wouldn't take my advice because what he was doing 'was good enough already'.
With that in mind, going from that to the amazing animation of Paul ter Voorde is, kind of weird. I'm saying this knowing full well that Paul ter Voorde actually did a bit of animating for Edd when he was alive. Every part of the new Eddsworld movies have such a jump in quality that it throws everything off. The music is custom, something Edd only did for Moviemakers and even then to challenge himself. The animation is superb, I mean all the animators did a fantastic job with the new movies. The only thing that was very similar to Edd's style was the writing, and that's of course thanks to Tom and Eddache doing a great job with it. Unfortunately, even that feels a little bit off thanks to the timing. There is a lot of 'Mickey Mousing' (syncing actions on screen with musical stings) in the new movies that feels very much like Tom's style, which I will say works wonders for his live action sketches but weirdly enough not so much for the animation. (On a side note I feel like Crash Zoom, Tom's original animation series, suffers in this regard as well.) It's weird to say this is even a flaw because, on all accounts, it's a consequence of the production quality being a lot higher. It just, at a point, feels a little forced.
Eddsworld of old was never about the production, the high quality animation or anything of the sort. The jokes were very hit and miss, the characters, besides having a few running jokes each, acted very similarly. There wasn't really much conflict as most stories would just be “the gang go on an adventure” with everyone being weirdly ok with it. It was Hellucard being asked to record himself saying “Hey, Edd!” and instead sounding like he's saying “Ey Head” and everyone involved thinking it's so funny that not only is that line used, but it's used again as a callback joke. It's Edd writing in the newspaper of Bang, Boom, Splat! “Psycosis is a fabulous homo sapien” in the top right but when the actual file is exported it cuts to “Psycosis is a fa- homo-”. When the production grows and more people are involved in overseeing it and making sure it's as good as it can possibly be, it ends up losing that weird kind of awkward but lovable charm it once had. Is this a bad thing? Not really. Would I have preferred the new movies if they tried to replicate that? God no. But the new movies changes my viewpoint dramatically. Before it was a friend of mine making animation and wanting to show the world what he can do. Now, it's a large group of people, very highly skilled in each of their respective fields, all coming together to pay a tribute to a very special person. It's different, but that's ok. In light of the task they gave themselves, I think they did the best job they could have possibly done.
I didn't really get involved with Eddsworld Legacy besides backing the project. I felt that was enough for me. I wasn't going to try and make another Eddsworld game because what would be the point? Ultimately, my contributions to Eddsworld were side projects, Eddsworld Extended Universe if you will. I've enjoyed a few little mentions here and there which was more than enough for me. The original Eddsworld Legacy video had a drawing of me when talking about Edd's friends. Fun Dead had the very talented Michafrar animate a Bang, Boom, Splat! arcade game. I managed to contribute a few of the tracks I made over the years to the album, and finally I made a Bang, Boom, Splat! Animation for The End Part 2. It was a small thing, and initially I wanted to do more but, unfortunately life got the better of me. However, I feel that a small something that's pretty easy to miss is the most fitting contribution I could have made to Eddsworld. Considering all the credit I got was my first name in the special thanks, it is very fitting. As much as Edd influenced me and what I do, I was ultimately a small part of his life. I don't think he ever thought that, of course, but there were a lot of people who Edd influenced and because he was so nice, a lot of people who he would regularly talk to. I'm sure there are many people out there who have stories about Edd, after all he'd try to talk to and work with as many people as possible, I'm just very luckily to be one of those people.
Eddsworld Legacy has come to an end, and as a result, so has Eddsworld. It's bittersweet sure but I'm pretty relieved. I still think Eddsworld Legacy was, in the long run, a good idea. While the core of the show changed, the show itself ended rather satisfactorily. If you watch the documentary many people are pretty apologetic about how it all went, and while it's nice to see them admit the problems they had with this project, I do feel they are being incredibly hard on themselves. They provided everyone with another round of wacky adventures for the gang and ended the show when they knew that it would be too much for them to keep going. I want to thank the Legacy team for, not only providing these new movies and easing the pain of losing someone so important to them, but for also introducing new people to Eddsworld and Edd's weird pun soaked ridiculous humour that we all enjoy. The project was started with the hopes to keep Edd's World spinning and that's exactly what they did. Edd's World, thanks to the Legacy team and of course Edd himself, will keep spinning indefinitely, only now it's powered by all the people around the world that were inspired by Edd and his movies, myself included. After all, it's Eddsworld, we just live in it.
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