Interview 05

Sometimes things just seem to work out for you in the weirdest ways. For example, both of the Nightmare/Atmosfear creators emailed me seemingly out of the blue and agreed to answer any questions I had. It was like that feeling you get (or expect to get in some cases) when you win the lottery. Needless to say, I'm very proud that I've received any email from them, let alone an invitation for Q&A. Below, I've compiled the correspondence I've received for your convenience. I was told by both Brett Clements and Philip Tanner that it was alright to post these. However, I was asked not to give away their contact information. So, if you'd like to ask them something, please do so through me.

Phillip> Hi,Just thought I'd let you know that the reason we called it ATMOSFEAR in many countries was because we couldn't get the name NIGHTMARE cleared. NIGHTMARE was always called The game of Atmosfear so the name change was easy and to be honest, Atmosfear is a more appropriate name for the game. A Couple 'A Cowboys still owns and controls all the rights to ATMOSFEAR/Nightmare though Brett is no longer with the company.

MARR0W> Philip Tanner?! Unless my information is incorrect, aren't you the guy that created the game? Wow! It's an honor to hear from you. Thanks for clearing up the question about the name! I really appreciate that! I have to agree with you though, Atmosfear is a more appropriate name.

Phillip> Hi Jason, Yes Brett and I created the game and I am glad there are people like you out there still into it. Thought I'd let you know that we are in the negotiation phase to relaunch the game or a version of the game on DVD.

MARR0W> Do you have your own Website?

Phillip> No I don't have a website.

MARR0W> What happened to Xtraordinary Aliens?

Phillip> Extraordinary Aliens was Brett's company when he left Cowboys and moved to the States. He has since moved back to Australia and I suspect that Extraordinary Aliens no longer exists.

MARR0W> What happened to the "Atmosfear: the Source Book" that was advertised with Atmosfear: The Harbingers?

Phillip> I don't think we ever completed the source book. Many things were started but not necessarily finished as we tried to focus on the the things that really mattered.

MARR0W> Darkwolff and I where wondering, what's the deal with this "screenplay" you keep mentioning? If it's a movie or something, what can you tell us about it??

Phillip> The screenplay is a feature film script. I would like to try to launch the new game and film at the same time but this will all depend on whether or not we can raise the money required to make the film.

MARR0W> Has the Gatekeeper always been played by the same actor?

Phillip> The English Gatekeeper is always the same person but for the international version of the original games (Not The Harbingers) it was an actor from that specific territory.

MARR0W> All the Harbingers seem to be based on real people and\or myths. Who is Hellin based on??

Phillip> Hellin was the only character not based on a specific person/myth.

Another thing he told me, that I'd forgotten to copy down, was an answer to a question about his views of the use of his images on fan web sites. He replied that he didn't mind so long as they promoted the game and that they were not being used to make a profit.

MARR0W> Do you have any plans or further projects with the Nightmare/Atmosfear series of games?

Brett> After something like four years writing the Nightmare series, I'd reached the bottom of the pit in terms of creative, and when I left Cowboys for the US, after a decade plus with Phil - and again for much the same reasons - we agreed the future of the genre could be pursued by either Phillip or myself but it was Phil who really took the lead here, and has kept the thing turning and burning with movies and what not ever since, so it is Watershed's project now. I've a 40% interest which is more than fair and The Gatekeeper always new "fresh blood". I'm toying with a new interactive/shock/event game and its in "the things that go bump in the night" category but more like SCREAM on speed. In the interim, I'm looking forward to seeing Phil's spin on the DVD.

MARR0W> How do you feel about fans using the images, sound clips, and text from the games in the series in websites?

Brett> I'm absolutely fine with that; they bought the game. And Phil and I thank them for it. They're not, like, selling these assets, and I see this sort of distribution not only a compliment but as promotion. It is what the industry used to run on before everybody got too precious about intellectual property and dragged in all the legal eagles to work out was is and what's not material copyright. Having said, Phil is The Gatekeeper when it comes to this and, as a courtesy, I think he'd like to know if a site was taking more hits than Tyson because of it

MARR0W> What was the inspiration for the series?

Brett> (I was no good at Trivial Pursuit?). There's something actually in that but also, I had a Haunted House game when I was a kid - those spooks that glow in the dark - and it made an impression on me. I'm not a horror freak by any means - nor was Nightmare ever really horror - and I liked the idea of people interacting and getting the s%$t scared out of them with a loud noise; like a car back-firing. So I roughed up a box-top, name and a board design and we had an illustrator by the name of Daniel Burns (wild with a pencil) work up the plates and got them airbrushed. Then they sat there for a few months while I 'percolated' the concept. It hit me one day at the gym - literally on the bench-press. It would be quite a few years before I had the time to set foot in a gym again.

MARR0W> Did you already have an actor in mind when creating some of the characters?

Brett> I think Phil and I came to the same conclusion; back then we used to fire off each other, with one idea laid on the next. We'd both seen 'HIM' and we thought he was pretty twisted in those I LIKE TO WATCH ads. I can still here his voice. When I suggested the Guiness Guy (or when Phil suggested the Guiness Guy), we thought we'd never have a chance.

MARR0W> Where did Hellin's story come from?

Brett> My imagination (back then). And her name is 'IN' "HELL" reversed. There were subtle touches of evil in the game that crept up on you while you writing. I don't for the life of me know how Stephen King does it. I found it a constant battle trying to balance that.

MARR0W> What happened to A Couple 'A Cowboys?

Brett> Like everything, things come to an end. School. Marriages. Life. Companies. A Couple 'A Cowboys ran its course and it was an exciting, production one and Phil stands as the best Producer I have ever had, and probably ever will. It was like a singer/songwriter combination. I'm working on a new project at the moment and, initially, bounced the idea of working together again off Phil but he knocked me back. Can't say I blame him. I'm as mad as a loon and most people think I came from another planet. But yeah. It just ran out of steam and unfortunately, 'uncertainty' is the catalyst for creativity and I needed to take risks again and get back out there on the edge and explore the US and interactive. I'm a long way from the creature comforts I enjoyed in those days but I think "the road less traveled" has knocked a lot of the 'unreasonable creative' out of me. And that was necessary.

MARR0W> How do you feel about fans of the series trying to contact you? Do you mind having your email address posted on-line, or a contact address so fans can reach you?

Brett> I'd appreciate if you kept my email between you and me; I don't mind answering your questions know.

MARR0W> Do you have any information regarding the new DVD series or the Motion Picture project that Philip Tanner spoke of?

Brett> Not a clue. Phil's the best person.

MARR0W> What is the meaning of life?

Brett> Yeah right! You're asking me? Live a full life and do what you're really scared to do (and I'm not talking Nightmare here), I'm talking the one thing that REALLY lights you up - and then go and JUST DO IT because you are going to die one day and I'm going to die trying. Like. What else is there to do? Maybe surf. Which is what I'm going to do right now.

MARR0W> Between you and Philip Tanner, how much involvement did the two of you contribute to the games?

Brett> I dreamed up the characters; researched them (most are based on historical characters, with the exception of Hellin) designed them up in a 'cartoon' style, briefed the team of illustrators (Daniel Burns on pencil/ink and Richard McKenna airbrush) and prosthetic make-up artists (Bob McClaren, assisted by Marilyn McPherson) and our lighting wizard and game tape Director of Photography (Sam Bienstock). John Brock was cinematographer on all the ads but the creative had basically been realized by the time we started marketing. Many other people also contributed ideas. The actors then brought the characters to life based on scripts I wrote. I directed all English-language versions. I was the writer, creative director and director, with Phil producing everything.

MARR0W> Did one person create the characters alone or was it a group effort?

Brett> I alone created the characters but as I said, five of the six were historical; I just invented the look and their character traits.

MARR0W> Did you have the province's in mind when you created the original Nightmare board?

Brett> No. Funny story; I'd always wanted to do a horror game but the game play had eluded me. I had the board and the box art for Nightmare commissioned before I came up with the idea of including the tape as a timer and a means through which to deliver sudden and sharp audio 'shocks', which are one of the key ingredients of any good horror film. I then mixed the heart-beat under the 60-minute tape. When people played, their hearts locked into this beat, which we sped up in 10-minute sections. That's one of the main reasons everybody's hearts started racing in the last ten minutes.

MARR0W> Where there any rejected characters from the original games?

Brett> No.

MARR0W> What inspired Dr Mastiff?

Brett> A dentist who have me seven fillings without gas when I was about 7 years old.

MARR0W> Are there any guidelines you'd like to set for people creating their own add-on tapes?

Brett> Providing they don't sell the ad-on tapes or distribute the materials in a commercial marketplace, I've no problem personally but Phil, who is in charge of the genre, may have other ideas. If you crack on a great ad-on, I'm sure Phil would love to hear about it.

MARR0W> Do you know of any plans for a role playing game being produced in the future?

Brett> I am working on a role playing game at the moment; it will be released at the UK and USA toy fairs next year.

MARR0W> Any advice to people creating their own RPG based on the series?

Brett> Yep. Don't have characters kill or main anybody. Nightmare wasn't a horror/blood and guts game. I canned a Nintendo game because the lead character was going around shooting people and I never wanted this for the game. I've a strong opinion on this; if we reward children with points for blowing heads off, in a sense, we're sanctioning its application in the real world. While most people know the difference, many don't. No was there any swearing in Nightmare. I think its harder to create a horror concept with no swearing and blood and guts than it is to rip and tear and swear. My advice is the characters are warped and bent and twisted but all have a good sense of humor. You stay safe.

Brett> I've just launched my new TV series in Australia at It will soon be launched in the United States. Best regards and love and thanks to all who bought the game and who care enough to keep the candle burning. As we say "Turn the lights down and the volume UP!" BC

MARR0W> Recently some of the members of the Nightmare/Atmosfear mailing list began to debate a subject that we'd love to get your input on. If someone where to purchase an item and duplicate it on a different form of media, for example transferring copies of the Nightmare video tapes to CD or DVD, would that be considered an infringement of copyright laws? Secondly, would it or would it not be an infringement to send money to someone to transfer said object for you? Were do you feel the border between piracy and preservation rests? As always, thanks for any input you have!

Philip> Brett passed this message onto me. The quick answer is yes this is an infringement. You have to understand that we spend a lot of money creating and producing these games and we make our money out of selling the units so therefore by copying the contents you are infringing our rights and doing us out of money. You will see the restrictions on the front of the tape and also on the box. The laws are the same as for films or music. Hope this helps.

MARR0W>What is the "full" story on Hellin? Is there anymore to her back-story, or if there is not, would you be willing to add to it?

Brett> Hellin is the most evil character I created for Nightmare. Her name, a play on "in hell". I can't imagine what that would be like (hell that is) nor would I like to. And so she remains unfinished; leaving her to your imagination. I think the unknown is scarier than reality. You can see in the light. I only just found out Phillip Tanner has contracted a new writer for the Nightmare/Atmosfear series so if there is to be any completing done, it will be in his words not mine.

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