JULY 2007 ISSUE
 


The Secret History of the POSTAL Dude

Your chance to relive the evolution of the POSTAL Dude
By Postalmeister

It’s hard to believe that the Postal Dude is already ten years old! It’s been a fascinating experience to witness and participate in the quirky evolution of his design, especially considering the fact that he almost never existed at all! Some of the design history of this antiheroic videogame icon has been declassified at last and will be revealed here for the first time.

 

 Click to enlarge

The Postal Dude


In late 1995, Randy Briley, our art director at the time, set out to define a dark, brooding
art style for our new game POSTAL and designed a suitably dark, brooding protagonist.
The key concept was the idea that our main character would not have a name or a back
story or ever be seen clearly, so that the player was free to impose whatever worldview
they wanted onto him. Nearly all of the art generated for POSTAL 1 featured the protagonist in shadows and utilized filters and painterly effects to completely obscure the
character. Mostly he was seen in silhouette.


Cut scene image of the Postal Dude from
POSTAL I, 1996-97 (click to enlarge)

In the game itself, the character was only a handful of pixels tall, so it didn’t take any
extra effort to conceal his features. He was built based on one of the many diverse
character sketches by Randy. The drawing below is the only one that I know of that
included the sunglasses, trench coat and skeevy white trash aura that would become his
trademarks.


The Postal Dude debuts on the front page of the
Wall Street Journal, October 16, 1997.
(click to enlarge)

Also around this time, Vince was starting to do interviews and we soon realized the
disadvantages of having a player-character with no name or personality. How the fuck do
you talk about him? At some point in an interview Vince randomly spewed out the words
“Postal Dude” and they stuck. In retrospect the Dude clearly did need some kind of name,
because after all, even “The Man With No Name” is known as The Man With No Name.

"Running with Scissors has been the bad boy of video games long before the likes of Grand Theft Auto. Just as we have provocative writers, filmmakers and musicians, RWS will likely continue to push the boundaries for interactive entertainment for another decade."

Marc Saltzman, syndicated video game critic

 

Hearing Voices (and miscellaneous trivia)

Just to make one thing clear, in POSTAL 1, the Postal Dude never spoke. The voice you heard was actually supposed to be the “demon voice” inside his head taunting him to supplement the cheesy bystander dialog being voiced by the RWS team and some selected friends. Local Tucson TV-Radio voice personality Rick Hunter became the voice of the Postal Dude.

An interesting trivia note: originally, the Postal Dude’s jacket was black, but during playtesting we realized that the levels were so dark and there were so many tiny people walking around, that it was extremely difficult to locate the Dude onscreen. So we changed his jacket to red, which we all hated, but it definitely made him far easier to see.


Another interesting trivia note: when we launched POSTAL 1, our publisher (Ripcord Games, a then-new game division of Panasonic Interactive Media) released some promotional objects to the media including chocolate bullets and a set of postcards. One
of the postcards featured an image of “The Postal Dude” that the publisher created: a
photo of a troubled-looking, long-haired youth cradling his AK-47. The image was also
used on the inside flap of the first printing of POSTAL. (Later editions used a standard game box and with no cover flap this image was lost).

The Postal Dude, redux

A few years pass, and finally things are set in motion to develop a sequel and there were a few changes I wanted to make. It seemed clear that we really needed to make a more fully realized character out of the Postal Dude and by this time I was more than happy to flesh out his character and provide a background that could actually be used as the basis
for a legitimate character license in other media.

"They're all registered sex offenders who run meth labs."

Cliffy B, Lead Game Designer - GEARS OF WAR, Epic Games

 


The first decision we made was that the “demon voice” would now become the Postal
Dude’s actual voice. The demon thing never really came across anyway, so this probably
wasn’t really news to the fans. We all loved Rick Hunter’s voice acting so much that
none of us could imagine the Postal Dude sounding any other way.


Lead Designer Steve Wik’s early concept art for
POSTAL 2, circa 2001 (click to enlarge)

So I set about trying to define an updated design for him using the original Randy sketch
as a starting point. A few things were changed, like dropping the combat boots and
restoring the sleeves on his coat. I also toyed with ideas like chin-braids, tattoos and the
ubiquitous baseball cap (see image), but in the end scrapped them all.


Final concept for Postal Dude in POSTAL 2,
2001 (click to enlarge)

We Are Evo

 

 

 

 

 

Rare, no-glasses variant of the Postal Dude in action (click to enlarge)
Art by current Art Director Josh Leichliter, 2004.

Our current art director, Josh Leichliter was brought onboard about halfway through the
development of POSTAL 2 and immediately had an impact on the Dude’s design,
continuing to evolve him through the process of building and texturing the in-game
model and creating various marketing and box art. (More marginally interesting trivia:
Josh played the Postal Dude in a proof-of-concept test video for a proposed Gary
Coleman/Postal Babes DVD product, because he looked the part.)


Josh Leichliter as the Postal Dude shooting an UZI + Postal Babe
Naomi with Josh relaxing in background (click to enlarge)

The next design tweak occurred in Apocalypse Weekend in the form of a bloody bandage
predicated on the ending of POSTAL 2. The idea was that after everything the Dude had
been through, he finally arrived home, only to be immediately abused by his Hateful
Wife for forgetting to bring her Rocky Road ice cream. Overwhelmed by the sheer,
maddening irony of it all, the Dude shot himself in what amounted to our wacky punch
line ending.


Cover art from Apocalypse Weekend,
2005 (click to enlarge)

In Apocalypse Weekend we thought it would be cool to follow through with the
continuity and have the game begin in the hospital, the Dude waking from a coma with a
large bandage on his head. This head-injury approach also created possibilities for unique gameplay events such as demonic Gary Coleman appearances and mutant Mike J Cow Boss monsters, but that’s another story…

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world…


Licensing the publishing rights to foreign territories has always been a critical part of our
success. For the most part, the foreign publishers have just recycled the art we gave them. But in some instances they actually created their own original artwork, which we
generally never see until it’s too late. So here are a few interesting selections of the Postal Dude as interpreted by other artists.


Illustration by Akella’s artist (click to enlarge)

I guess this is also the appropriate place to include Zack Ward’s personification of The
Dude in Uwe Boll’s POSTAL feature film, scheduled for release in September 2007!


Actor Zack Ward from “A Christmas Story’ fame, stars as the
Postal Dude in Director Uwe Boll’s POSTAL movie (click either to enlarge)


The Future?

As I write this, we are fully engaged in developing POSTAL III. Josh is finalizing the
new Postal Dude model and has made many striking refinements to the look of the
character showcasing his age and his RWS attitude.

-The Postalmeister

"In 10 years Running With Scissors has made pissing off the videogame “establishment” an art form. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, you can’t ignore them, try as you might. Reveling in awards for worst game of all-time, most influential, most gratuitously sick, or most plain wrong, RWS and its Postal franchise have undoubtedly made a mark on the videogame landscape. What kind of mark? That’s for everyone to judge individually, but you know you’ll want to see what they do next!"

Rob Smith, Editor In Chief
Playstation Magazine

 

 




 

 




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