Deviated Discharge Game From "The Heartbreak Kid"

The agency that was putting together the website for the Ben Stiller movie "The Heartbreak Kid" needed a little help with one of the pieces for the site - a game concept they'd sold the studio on called Deviated Discharge. If you haven't seen the film, Malin Akerman's character Lila reveals that she once had a problem with the nose candy, and as a result she developed a deviated septum, from which she inadvertently shoots a beverage while Ben's character looks on in horror. It's a funny scene. I laughed when I saw it in the movie, even though I'd seen it in the preview dozens of times already. That's humor.

And based on that scene, the lead agency created the concept for the game and asked me to develop it into an interactive Flash piece as a fun addition to the movie's website. It was a fairly straightforward project, but I was only given a couple weeks from when the project was assigned until it needed to launch - pretty short timeframe, but most of the graphics had already been supplied by the studio, so that sped things up.

Click above to play Deviated Discharge.

The client didn't have a solid concept of how they wanted the actual game to work - that was for me to figure out, of course. On my first pass, the player merely clicked on the objects at the bottom of the screen and they'd launch directly from Lila's nose. That wound up being too easy, though, so the Art Director asked me to change it to a two-phase load/launch system - click to load the object into her nose, then press the space ar to launch it. Allowing the user to only load one object at a time, plus speeding up Lila's head rotation and the targets characters' movements as the time progressed made the game a bit more challenging.

I think the game wound up more funny than fun - the gameplay is pretty limited, but to be honest, these tie-in games aren't meant to provide hundreds of hours of play. They tend to be simple novelties, more notable for their concept and the way they pull elements from the original movie than long-term diversions themselves. What I'm saying is, if you wanted to play more than two or three games, I'd be surprised. It takes a lot longer than a few weeks to make a deeply addictive video game.

I also got to do research for the different status lines at the end of the game. Based on your score, your septum can be rated "dense", "stiff", "perforated" or several other medical terms related to that particular body part, ultimately ranking you "deviated"... if you can meet the challenge (I got it twice!)

My claim to fame, and I'll forever be proud of this, is one of the sound effects. I supplied all the sounds, some created from scratch, but there needed to be a sniffle sound for Lila to make when she shoots the objects from her shnoz. So I did some rehearsing, created a bunch of options, selected the one that worked best and pitched it up a bit, to (I guess) make it more feminine. If I ever meet Malin Akerman, I'm telling her that we essentially collaborated on one of her roles. Hey, it's kind of true, isn't it?!

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