Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist

Making of

The Freddy Pharkas design document.

About Freddy (from designer Al Lowe's web site

"In 1992, I noticed that there wasn't a single Western computer game, even though Western movies had been popular off and on for years. But I wanted to make a humorous Western. What sort of Western could be funny? While discussing this with Roberta Williams, I started to say "farmer" but my mouth tried to say "rancher"and out came a tangled mess that kind of sounded like, "farmer-cist." Hey! A pharmacist? Why not? Thus was born Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist!

I think it may well be my funniest game, due in great part to the wit of Josh Mandel. Computer Gaming World called it "The Blazing Saddles of computer games" (see box cover below) which I considered perfect praise since that movie was my inspiration.

I had quite a bit of "back story" in order to explain the plot, so Josh wrote a brilliant set of lyrics to go with a theme song that I knocked out. You can read his lyrics and listen to me sing the "Ballad of Freddy Pharkas" and the "Closing Ballad of Freddy Pharkas." And don't forget the brilliant "Outtakes," written by Josh Mandel.

Where did it really come from? (written by Josh Mandel. Source: Freddy Pharkas hint book)

How did we pull Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist, together? We organized a crack team of artists, programmers, and other assorted nuts: we call this posse Screw Loose Amusements. Al Lowe is at front and center, being the main designer and inspiration behind the Pharkas legend. Bob Gleason leads the art team (which is possibly more talented than the programmers); he was the lead artist who created the fabulously atmospheric Laura Bow in the Dagger of Amon Ra and, among numerous other things, painted our magnificent 6-foot-long Main Street.

The original color comp of Main Street painted to work out the color feeling. (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Ruben Huante is another ex-Dagger artist, and for Freddy Pharkas, Ruben created over thirty hilarious characters including Freddy himself, Srini Lalkaka Bagdnish (the Indian sidekick), Madame Sadie Ovaree, Whittlin' Willy, Sam Andreas the Bartender, and dozens more. They're outrageous and demented and thus a perfect match for Al's bizarro sense of humor.

Freddy Pharkas characters (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Freddy Pharkas town folk pencils (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Freddy Pharkas wanted posters (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Ruben Huante: "These were Townfolk waiting in line for the backstreet outhouse. This was one of my favorite times at Sierra for me because when I was done with backgrounds and character design they let us help out Karin with the animation. When u opened the outhouse door Leisure Suit Larry's Grandfather was sittin' in there looking at a girlie magazine. Fun to animate."

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Freddy Pharkas character pencil turnaround, Sirini (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Karin Young is Freddy's lead animator, and she single-handedly did all... well, mostly nearly... of those thousands upon thousands of hand-painted animation cells which aren't easy to paint with a single hand. And Phy Williams, who loves to say she's absolutely no relation to you-know-who, did it all: animation, illustration, scanning, touch-up and chocolate (yes, we lived on chocolate throughout this project). Plus we stole a little of the awesome art talent from the King's Quest 6 and EcoQuest 2 team.

The programming faction of the team is equally talented (maybe even more talented than the artists): Senior programmer Steve Conrad, who cut his teeth on Leisure Suit Larry 5, Cindy Swafford (of Dagger of Amon Ra fame) and tall foreign language translation genius Bill Shockley banded together to create numerous new special effects and improvements to accommodate Al's ambitious design. Aubrey Hodges, composer of much of the authentic period music in Conquests of the Longbow, wanted to be authentic in this setting as well, so he immersed himself in Westerns, lots of Westerns, mostly nauseatingly bad Westerns, in order to capture the flavor of authentic Hollywood. We had to hose him down afterwards. And Mike Pickhinke, veteran of dozens of crunch-mode Quality Assurance projects and a true anal-retentive personality (you HAVE to be if you're going to pick these games to shreds), heads up our QA team.

And me, well, I'm what you call your director/producer, and when Al's in the john, co-designer. so have fun. Enjoy all the puns and bad jokes and sight gags. Find all the little nasty insults and disgusting double-entendres. Try all the stuff at the end of the hint book under the heading "HAVE YOU TRIED...?". Groan all you want, we'll make more.

Josh Mandel

The Freddy Pharkas team

The original Freddy. Without his chrome ear. (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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Freddy Pharkas T-shirt blackline (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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The first color comp Ruben Huante did of the cemetary to work out any color issues. Below it, the final painting with all the detail. (courtesy Ruben Huante)

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