ETAO PODCAST, EPISODE 110.
Xalavier Nelson Jr. is an absurdly prolific artist and an inveterate collaborator, having left his creative stamp on Hypnospace Outlaw, We Are The Caretakers, Can Androids Pray, Mr. Bucket Told Me To, and so, so much else, from tabletop RPG systems to comics to games journalism. Currently he’s working on SkateBIRD and Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, plus something else that he’ll be announcing this week. [EDIT: Oh hey, El Paso Elsewhere!]
Just this past week, he unleashed (sorry-not-sorry) a ridiculous, beautiful adventure game called An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs. The game is exactly what it says on the tin, but it’s also a lot more thoughtful, heartfelt, and political than its goofy premise might suggest.
In the course of discussing his dog airport sci-fi opus with us, Xalavier talks about the sometimes-competing goals of consistency and continuity, how his interest in dogs is really more existential, and what Drew has been missing about Solo—not to mention the utopian impulse behind the Dog Occupied Galaxies (D.O.G. for short), and perhaps most importantly, how to steep the development process in joy rather than in an unsustainable series of grinds.
You can get An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs on Steam and in the Microsoft Store. You can also wishlist Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator and StakeBIRD on Steam. Hypnospace Outlaw and We Are the Caretakers come highly recommended as well, and a bunch of other Xalavier’s other games and comics and such are on Itch.
And you can follow Xalavier on Twitter.
• Xalavier’s work at PC Gamer included the utterly wonderful series Inside Development (originally pitched title: Making Games Is Really Fucking Hard).
• Here’s the “buck-wild launch trailer” for An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs.
• Andy Weir wrote The Martian (as well as, more recently, Project Hail Mary). The quote I was thinking of came from this episode of Imaginary Worlds.
• Xalavier’s talk from WordPlay isn’t available online, but, here’s “Reuse Everything,” from GDC 2019, and here’s “KILL YOUR DREAM GAME AND USE ITS BODY FOR PARTS” from GDoC 2020.
• I know I’ll be picking up the omnibus of Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine, and Jeff Lamire’s expansive series, The World of Black Hammer.
• Mr. Bucket Told Me To is part of the Dread X Collection.
• When I alluded to guests talking about making art without harming themselves, I was thinking primarily of Jeremy Warmsley and, even moreso, Anisa Sanusi (who put it so succinctly that we used her version of the idea in this clip).
• “I want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and I’m not kidding” is worthy as hell for reasons well beyond its snappy, tweet-length title.
• We only talk a very little bit about Hypnospace Outlaw in this episode, so if you’d like to go deeper on that one, check out our talk with Jay Tholen.
“All The People Say (Season 4)” by Drew Messinger-Michaels.
“dogtoggle” and “definitely marinara sauce (not blood) (marinara trench game loop version)” (and also the other version) from DOG MUSIC (An Album Made by a Human Currently Named RJ Lake That Makes Up the Official Soundtrack for a Game by Strange Scaffold Called “An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs” and is Good Music for Humans Who Like Music That Sounds Like the Kind Dogs Would Make If They Did That Kind of Thing) by RJ Lake.
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Logo by Aaron Perry-Zucker, using Icons by by Llisole, Dávid Gladiš, Atif Arshad, Daniel Nochta, Mike Rowe, Jakub Čaja, Raji Purcell and IconsGhost from the Noun Project.