Eric Fulton, Eric Ackerman – Voodoo Detective


voodoo detective is a lovingly made point-and-click adventure that almost feels like a recently discovered lost classic of the genre. The writing, voice acting, music, and visual feel made my limited time playing the opening hours a total delight. I was looking forward to chatting with Short Sleeve Studio co-founders (and longtime friends) Eric Fulton and Eric Ackerman, who talked about the history of their partnership, their design philosophy, their approach to comic writing and how they managed to collaborate with beloved composer Peter McConnell on the soundtrack.

Eric and Eric, how did you meet and start your creative partnership? What other projects have you undertaken before voodoo detective?

Eric F.:

We both attended Santa Clara University and lived in the same freshman year. I’m a little introverted, but that didn’t stop Eric A. from befriending me. It turns out we have a lot in common and our casual acquaintance quickly turned into a friendship which I think has become one of the highlights of my life. Spicy and sentimental. But I can only speak for myself.

Eric A.:

Eric F. and I met the freshman year of college. We lived down the hall from each other and I distinctly remember seeing him repeatedly hitting someone on the head with a wrench and thinking, “I’ll be friends with this man.”

[Note from Eric F.]

To be clear, Eric A. is referring to BioShock, the game Eric F. was playing when we met.

Eric A.:

Prior to voodoo detective, we had been writing together, on and off, for years. We had a sort of weekly “peer review” session where we both exchanged our writings from that week for criticism and compliments. One of Eric F.’s short stories from this period of creative exchange was titled “voodoo detective.”

The first puzzle voodoo detective involves a goofy gag with the game credits. Do you remember when and how you came up with this idea?

Eric and Eric:

Our philosophy with voodoo detective was to try to let the game teach you as much as possible without our explicit intervention. We didn’t want to force people to read instructions or play tutorials if possible.

To that end, we decided that the first level would be a room you couldn’t escape from without first exploring most of the game’s core mechanics. does the de facto tutorial of the game.

Right off the bat, the game isn’t afraid to go to wonderfully silly places, even as the characters deliver every line with an incredibly straight face. Do you have any personal “comedy rules” that you strive to achieve in your work?

Eric F.:

I don’t think we’ve had hard and fast rules. Generally, if one of us came up with an idea that made us laugh, we put it in the game. Although there were a few ideas that made us laugh that wouldn’t have been appropriate for the game. So , I guess that’s a rule we followed. We did not allow in-game content that would have embarrassed us in front of our respective grandmothers.

Eric A.:

I have extremely strict “comedy rules”. I haven’t applied any to this game. (Although I’m a firm believer in “never hitting”!)

Picture #2

voodoo detectiveThe setting and themes of feel quite unique in the gaming sphere. Has bringing something so new to the table fueled your team’s passion for creating this?

Eric and Eric:

I know there are other games that contain voodoo themes, or at least borrow from the voodoo stereotypes that are prevalent in the United States. But for voodoo detectivewe tried hard not to cling to these stereotypes.

Instead, we attempted to dig a little deeper and what we found was an active religion. That’s what voodoo really is. It is a monotheistic religion with a pantheon of demi-gods called the lwa. Perhaps my own ignorance is showing here, but I don’t think the information has entered the realm of common knowledge here in the United States.

When we realized this, we were both excited and worried. We wanted to be respectful, but also to share the incredible richness of culture, traditions, traditions and art that we have learned.

So, to answer the question, I would say that the themes we chose definitely fueled our passions!

You’ve been quite open about the sheer giddiness you felt about working with legendary composer Peter McConnell. How did you connect and what interested him in the project?

Eric and Eric:

We actually met Peter McConnell through another Peter; Chan last name. He also worked on a number of LucasArts adventure games and although he was too busy at the time to work on voodoo detectivehe introduced us to both Peter McConnell and one of our amazing background artists, Soi Che.

It turns out that Peter McConnell is a huge fan of the same noir books and movies as we are. When we mentioned that Raymond Chandler was a big inspiration to us, what had been a productive chain-mail quickly turned into a discussion of our favorite black stories.

So I think what interested Peter in the project was the black theme as much as anything. But also, music specific to the black genre is an area where Peter shines with an eye-watering incandescence. Just check sinister fandango. Better yet, just check voodoo detective.

Mary’s Theme (Rooftop) – Peter McConnell

I read on your production blog that the large amount of character animations only started at the end of 2021, while the voice acting and soundtrack started just at the beginning of this year. The game was released on May 24, and it’s really, really good – so my question is: what kind of voodoo magic did you have to do to get to a finished product so quickly over the past few months?

Eric and Eric:

First of all, thank you very much for the kind words!

After reading your question I had to go back and look at our contract with Little Blackstone to make sure the dates were correct. And, of course, they absolutely are!

But the reason I was so surprised by these dates is that I thought Little Blackstone had been working on animations longer than that. Impressive! The animation was BY FAR the longest and most expensive part of this project. The only reason “we” were able to do it so quickly was because a team of good people worked on it for about a year and a half. And Little Blackstone wasn’t alone either. We brought in very talented individual contractors to do a number of FX animations for us. John MacFarlane, Noe Garcia, Matthieu Petit and Josh Haberman all did an incredible job.

Music and voice acting didn’t take as long as animations, which doesn’t mean voice acting and music were easy! They just didn’t require as many hours of raw work as animation.

Looking back, it’s almost inconceivable how much effort has gone into the animation.

What’s a lesser-known game that you love that you think deserves more attention?

Eric F.

My favorite games are mostly the ones people have heard of. So instead of giving you a game that I think deserves more attention, I’m going to give you a game soundtrack that I think deserves more attention. Check The Neverhood soundtrack.

Eric A.

Cartoons: Summer Resort. I don’t know if a person can still find, let alone play this game. So maybe it’s a dead end of a recommendation, but no one ever talks about this game and its rules.

Are you tired of people asking you what you can tell them about voodoo?

Eric and Eric:

Like lobsters, some things never get old. At least I think I heard that somewhere… Lobsters are immortal, right? I must add that neither of us played Gabriel Knight.

We greatly appreciate the time Eric and Eric have taken to provide us with further information on voodoo detective and their origins. You can now experience voodoo detective for yourself, it is available on Steam, Epic, Mac/iOS App Store and Play Store.


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