In my writing about games I have covered the beloved, the hated and unique titles that come across my desk, in an attempt to share experiences, to expose others to great stories or create memories, and in a hope to find out something new to share about the titles. There has always been a desire to do more. Readers have asked me to uncover information, discuss what happened behind-the-scenes, and find the unknown. Now, thanks to a random encounter through a professional wrestling forum, I may have stumbled onto the jackpot.
Women’s wrestling is a frequent topic with friends and colleagues, but in a recent back-and-forth about GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), we landed on Jeanne Basone, better known to her fans as incredible Hollywood. The former stuntwoman and athlete had several small roles on shows like Married with Children, In Living Color, and Saved by the Bell, but I couldn’t resist taking my shot and mentioning her most memorable and tragic work from my writing exploits, as Jane in the infamous Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties. I thought this would be a short joke, a good chuckle for later, and we would move on, but that was when one of the users began to talk about the game in detail, and I was hooked.
A forum user who gave himself the name SashaMollyHollyTrishShipper had caught my attention and soon it was only us responding to the long thread. His knowledge of the game was deep, more than mine, but I quickly noticed that his words came with sadness etched in their font. It wasn’t long before he confirmed that his information came from a personal place, because he himself had actually worked on the infamous 1994 3DO treasure, and was all too aware of the reputation it had acquired. The user was concerned that my knowing this might change my opinion of him, even after our wonderful conversation.
This really was all a lot to take in. I took some time to think on it, even watching some clips from the game on YouTube to remind me just what this man, this wrestling fan, former game developer, and collector of Tommy Wiseau paraphernalia had gone through. That night, close to 4:00 a.m. EST, I sent him a message over the forum to plead my case as a journalist, begging him for an interview. I needed to know more about the project, about how it could have happened, but his return missive said it clearly: he had spoken about that game more than he wanted to already. Obviously, I was disappointed, and tried to understand it from SashaMollyHollyTrishShipper’s perspective, because I’m not sure if I had worked on that game I would want to talk about it much either. A week later though, I received a surprise.
It was just a picture of a blank CD, at least that was what I thought at first. There was something scribbled on it though, “Project: PFL” and under that “Porn for Later.” Before I could think too long on what it all meant though, there was another message. Cleaning up he had found the disc, a relic thought lost, for a sequel that was never going to be given a chance, since the first one had almost singlehandedly sunk the 3DO console. I almost didn’t believe it, even when spelled out for me in one of his messages. I was looking at a prototype for Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties 2.
We spoke for hours that night, talking about what almost became a reality, how this game was going to make up for everything the first one got wrong, and how it would double the things it did right. His words captivated me, so as the sun pierced the blinds from off of my balcony, I squinted and tiredly typed my last request. Maybe it was because of the lack of sleep, or perhaps he had been drinking to forget the pain, but SashaMollyHollyTrishShipper (SMHTS) finally gave in and said that as long as he could remain anonymous, I could share his story, and the secrets of what would have been the most infamous sequel in gaming.
SMHTS: “I was brought on late to the development team to help with the original game’s engine, and to say that we were in crunch time would be putting it mildly, as they had me cutting corners on everything, taking out the puzzles, boss fights, and even some of the alternating paths. I really knew I was in trouble when we went to lunch that first day at a nearby Del Taco and they informed me I was saying the name of the company wrong. United Pictures, was actually United Pixtures, which they laughed at, because it was an actual typo they stuck with. I should have taken the hint.”
It was the only game United Pixtures would ever make, even though they tried for other projects. The sequel had been refused by their publisher, Kirin Entertainment, reportedly telling them, “learn to make a movie first, before trying to make that movie a bad game, that would have normally been based off of a much better movie.” The team was a bit confused, but thought that the comments were encouraging.
SMHTS: “The title screen was actually made in MS Paint, as far as I know, which is funny since everyone likes to make that joke. For the second one we decided to keep it simple, but chose a better tie. I remember trying to teach them the difference between .jpeg and .bmp, and exposing them to new tools MS Paint.”
That wasn’t the only thing the team was planning on keeping from their first love though.
SMHTS: “The new story was very similar to the original because the team wanted to keep it sexy, maybe a little sexist too, like the original, but we did learn from that one racist line we had in there. This would still capture the emotion from the first one—just with more randomness to make it look artsy fartsy. The biggest thing some of them fought for though was the narrators, having multiple scolding voiceovers again to chew players out and more people to fight over the spotlight. More the better they kept saying, characatures, no backstory required.”
Though some of the good elements would be retained, problems were already rearing their heads early on in development.
SMHTS: “Calling it a mess would be polite. They spent some money on music for the first one, so instead of doing that again the original tracks were just going to be reused. I thought they were a placeholder at first, waiting for the new stuff, until I overheard one of the other team members mention that it was a done deal. They had me fielding ideas of how to incorporate elements from other best-selling games, stuff like Super Mario World and Mortal Kombat II, but soon realized that they wanted to stick to the FMV format to stay under budget, and fatalities required mocap. Those reports of actual moving video throughout the whole game this time instead of still images excited the team, until we were told that someone had already just purchased seventeen unfinished B-Movies that we were expected to cut and paste all together to make one cohesive story, ala Power Rangers. They only wanted us to spend one actual day filming new material, since that was the shortest time all of the equipment could be rented for. I was amazed the lights stayed on in our building with how much cost cutting they were doing.”
Morale was down, and soon electricity was being siphoned from a neighboring pizza parlor, all leading to some abandoning the project, simply by not returning from lunch or turning off their pagers.
SMHTS: “We couldn’t find Director, Producer, and Lead Designer Michael Anderson one day, and I’m pretty sure he was the writer too, but not like you could tell. He was the one that said to leave in the blooper on the first game. That it was like a ‘bonus feature’ or something and we should do that again. Reshoots were out of the question, but apparently for him, so was just trying to do more than one take.”
I had wondered if either of the original actors would be returning, since our journey had started due to a chat about Jeanne Basone.
SMHTS: “Who cared? That acting was so bad, we just needed to find two really hot people and go from there. I had heard rumors that they were trying to get someone big, that they’d be willing to expand the budget. It was a bit exciting, since I knew there were meetings with agents, supposedly with Mark Paul Gosselaar. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Zack Morris in a video game? I think he was starting his racing career at the time though. I also heard there were some brief talks with Kirk Cameron [of Growing Pains fame], who was going to be an antagonist, but he kept just wanting to talk about the shapes of bananas or something.”
No matter who would have taken up the lead to be green screened into the already shot footage, the team felt they could truly redeem the series by sticking to its base themes.
SMHTS: “We heard the fans. We knew what they loved the most: the softcore porn vibe we had going, and we wanted to embrace that. We were worried though about Cinemax suing us for gimmick infringement and we learned that real porn requires licenses and stuff to film.”
But sadly, their art seems to be doomed to the abyss, unavailable, unless times get harder for the only man left holding the cards.
SMHTS: “We tried to release it, like how the last one was on the 3DO as well as PC. Turns out the 3DO market is dead, even with retro collectors, so we looked into getting it on Steam a couple of years ago, but were told that they had standards. What a joke, have you seen the recent dating sims? One of them is about screwing pigeons! They want you to date birds instead of broads! I think I have the only copy left of the prototype, and I’ve been looking at eBay, selling it on a rainy day for some beer money. Did you know people are paying sixty bucks and up for the original? I was shocked too.”