By King Padmore / March 29, 2021  

An Interview with Barry Aldridge

The interactive film producer discusses his favorite FMV games and his work on DARK NIGHTS WITH POE AND MUNRO and THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

FMV WORLD: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Barry. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Barry Aldridge: Thank you very much, guys. It is a pleasure to do this interview with you. I am 38 years old and was born in London, England. I've been living on the south coast of England since 2013 and love watching comedy films and television. I became a fan of FMV Games during 1994 and love watching anything with Full Motion Video. FMV helps video games be more real, silly, funny, goofy or serious to the audience. When FMV came back in 2014/15 with FMVs like Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect and Her Story, that made me love the genre all over again.

What was the first FMV game you ever played?

It was Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon which is one of the best FMV games I've ever played. All the scenes they shot separately with the green screen look very dated nowadays, but they did put in the effort of the performances and I love the story. The Moon Child in space reminds me of the Ark from Doctor Who's The Ark In Space , which is really interesting. James Earl Jones' performance as God was amazing and I loved how he would bash Tex when you die in the game. The acting can be cheesy, but it's a good type of cheese. Chris Jones had a vision behind his game and, like what writer/director Darren Hall did with The Dark Side Of The Moon, he is an auteur. It is worth checking out if you have the time and love FMV games.

You say Under a Killing Moon is one of the best FMV games you've ever played. What are some other games you would consider the best? Do you have a number one favourite?

I could praise the hell out of a few games. One of the most underrated in my view is Toonstruck. It has an all-star cast with Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Dan Castellana, Tress Macnelle and more. It features a lot of talent while mixing live-action and animation similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which had Lloyd in that one too. I think there was meant to be a sequel, but I don't think it sold well.

Another favourite is The Dame Was Loaded which I got on PC and was available on the CD-i. I love the idea of being a detective trying to find out what happened with Dan Small. I remember getting this as a birthday present when I was 14. It may have been the second FMV game I played that had more than one ending (the first one is Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive).

I love Late Shift and Contradiction too. I am a Doctor Who fan myself and love Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins. I'm glad they brought Simulacra elements into the game. I love the work from Wales Interactive, D'Avekki Studios, Superstring, 15 Bit Games and of course Tayanna Studios. I would definitely add The Dark Side Of The Moon and Dark Nights With Poe and Munro, and I'm sure you know why (laughs). It's really hard to nail down just one, but if you love FMV games and the genre I would say it's not a bad thing to say you have more than one favourite :)

How did you get the role of "Caller Two" in Dark Nights with Poe and Munro?

Well, it was really easy and really quite fun. When I auditioned for the part of Beck in Episode 5 I mentioned to the director, Tim Cowles of D'Avekki Studios, that this is my first ever audition. Tim told me a story about how he studied law in university and never used it for his career. He said we can achieve what we want even if it isn't what we studied for. It was like saying anyone can achieve their dreams.

Once I finished the audition, Tim told me he had a part for me which is Caller Two — an obsessive fan who wants to be part of something. I thought it would be nice to take the mick out of myself. I think being a part of FMV history is an amazing thing because the audience is very niche and FMV is more for the indie crowd.

How was your experience recording voiceover for that game?

I really enjoyed working with Tim and Lynda Cowles. They are really friendly, warm, kind and great game developers. I became a big fan of theirs after The Shapeshifting Detective. I played it so many times they sent me a tarot card with Rupert Booth's signature on it. I've kept it in a sealed bag for two years.

As for recording the voiceover, it was only 3 lines and the experience was great. Tim gave really good direction for my character which was basic and easy to understand. The character I played is a little bit pervy, as he is asking Munro for a date. I saw an episode of Angry Video Game Nerd which featured the bad Beavis & Butthead games and their voices were an influence on that character.

The sound effect at the end to show my character had died was actually a sound effect of me using my fist to knock on the table. Looking back I think I could have done better, but once I played the game I think it does have comedy elements and went good. Also I loved how Jesse Cox did a playthrough of the game and loved all the different accents in the game.

Once I saw my name in the Episode 6 titles and closing credits, I was like, "Job done fantastic."

I noticed your cameo appearance in The Dark Side of the Moon! Please tell us about your experience working on that game?

Thanks very much and I really appreciate it. When I helped to back The Dark Side Of The Moon on Kickstarter, I was able to send a photo of myself into the game and was really surprised how it was used. I never saw my picture in the original trailer until Darren pointed it out and I was like, 'Holy Shit.' I think it is a really nice cameo and I can say my picture is in an FMV Game (laughs).

...and you're also a producer on that game.

Fun fact: I was producer for The Dark Side Of The Moon before I got the voiceover role for Dark Nights with Poe and Munro and that game came out 10 months prior... Strange world.

Anyway, I had never been a producer before on a video game. I had done an associate producer role on a web series and an executive producer role on a film — which sadly didn't end well with one of the producers but I'm still friends with the director to this day. Dark Side director Darren Hall is different from other guys I have worked with. Darren knew what he wanted and knew how to get it done but he was new at doing an FMV project. He knew how to do a point-and-click game through his experience making his previous title Calm Waters (2017). I remember having a chat with him and he thought he could do a lot better with Dark Side which made me respect him even more as a person. I realise Darren is passionate about his projects and that made me want to help more whether it is producing advice or other things.

I would get clips of the game up to a year before its release, including the opening of the game — which I will admit I didn't like at first but glad it grew on me — and I'm glad Darren was vindicated when we saw the positive reactions of different streamers on launch day.

The great thing is our partnership started very business-like about the game but once we got to know each other we liked similar things like the British Sitcom Only Fools & Horses and have sort of the same sense of humour. So we got more personal and it helped to make certain decisions when the time was right. We never had any bad days with each other and the rest of the team.

I thought The Dark Side of the Moon was an incredibly entertaining game and a remarkable achievement. It had all the elements you'd expect to find in a classic 1990s FMV game. I absolutely loved it. What were your initial thoughts the first time you played through the game?

Thank you and I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I think Darren would think the same too. My first thoughts were, "HOLY SHIT, I am going to be in an FMV game as a photograph." I thought it had a great story and simple ideas. I liked the over-the-topness with some serious issues in the game. I felt it was really fun and easy to get into. There are shades of Doctor Who too, especially with the game having those types of cliffhangers, if you know what I mean.

It's not my favourite game of all time, speaking as a fan of video games, but I was really pleased with it and thought it was a job well done.

Will you be working on any more FMV games in the future?

At the moment none yet, but I remember when I asked around there were a couple of interested parties. I would love to work with Tayanna Studios again and if Darren asked me for a scene, I would travel 5 hours up to North Yorkshire to show I have passion for his work. If Tim and Lynda Cowles needed something for a future project I would do the same. I would travel to their place and help out :)

I would love to be part of a Wales Interactive FMV too in the future. I feel people forget they were one of the ones that helped to bring back the FMV genre. I won a competition from them and even got a T-shirt saying thanks for supporting their FMV Games. I would do the same for them, like for Tayanna Studios and D'Avekki Studios, if they needed me for a project. Even if the project was in Wales, I would go there and help them out :)   ★

Barry Aldridge is featured in the games The Dark Side of the Moon and Dark Nights with Poe and Munro.

Follow Barry on Twitter and find him on Discord's FMV Heaven where the members respect the genre of FMV Games!

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