Episode - 18: Master Chief VS Doomguy
After an episode as goofy as Starscream VS Rainbow Dash, I figured the next one should look at the opposite end of the spectrum with two of the most hardcore, badass space marines in gaming history!
Do you recall how I was annoyed at my previous script for Kratos’ rundown? How it read like a list, or like Wiz and Boomstick were just reading a Wikipedia article? That was very much in my head when I sat down to write the rundowns for Master Chief and Doomguy. Similar to Kratos, they both had a lot of different weapons to cover. It would be difficult to go through the entirety of their arsenals in less than 10 minutes.
Oh right, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before. You may have noticed all the early Death Battle episodes are under 10 minutes. That’s because back then we were mandated to make any ScrewAttack videos as quick as possible in an attempt to supposedly keep people’s attention. Yeah, it sounds fishy, but it actually wasn’t a totally stupid idea. Nowadays, YouTube statistics are heavily dependent on something called “Watch Time,” which is basically the accumulated amount of time a viewer spends in total watching your videos. However, this didn’t come into effect until late 2012. Back when Death Battle first started, view count numbers were all that mattered! Clickbait was king, baby! Getting people through one video and onto the next was the top priority to becoming successful on YouTube. I went along with this concept for awhile, but every Death Battle always felt so fast-paced and rushed just by listening to Wiz and Boomstick. There wasn’t a lot of time for jokes to stick, or for information to sink in, and when we had to cover someone like Kratos, things got boring fast.
So I decided to not give a shit about time limits and just make the script as good as I could.
Another new strategy I implemented was compartmentalizing the information. Instead of listing all of, say, Master Chief’s weapons one by one, we’d describe them by categories. This flowed so much better, and allowed a lot more room for fun and jokes. We still use this writing strategy today!
My only real issue with this one was the animation. I ran into a lot of hurdles putting it together. A lot of people criticized how Doomguy moved so slowly, which I did because my available sprites for him were extremely limited. There were no ‘running’ sprites, and I thought it looked really weird when I made him shuffle along the floor at running speeds. I had actually been lobbying for us to start hiring a professional animator to help me out for some time, now. Death Battle was becoming a consistently successful show, so I figured we should up its budget and manpower up a bit to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, after several months of pitching and debating, I was no closer to getting the money and approval I needed to hire an animator. No matter how much I wanted to push Death Battle to become something bigger and better with every episode, I was always hit by a roadblock.
That’s why I decided the next episode would be something so challenging, so grueling, that it just might kill me.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. If Master Chief or Doomguy were to return to Death Battle, who would you have them fight?