Besides our FWA win, I’d say winning a Webby award and attending the award show in New York takes the cake. There’s not many other places where you can run into Buzz Aldrin and Jason Bateman on the way to the restroom.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

John: Dan and I are twin brothers from South Jersey. We’ve worked together at several interactive agencies in the Philadelphia area, but outside of work is where we collaborate to create our independent projects. Last year was pretty crazy with the release of Record Tripping, which didn’t leave us much time to work on our next project. My wife and I are expecting our first baby in May, so it doesn’t seem like things will be slowing down any time soon.

Dan:  John and I have gone to school together from pre-school all the way through college, so we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with one another.  I’m slightly shorter than my brother, which is an easy way to tell us apart... it also stops me from storing things on my top shelves.

What do you do for inspiration?

Dan: I’m a Netflix addict. I go through movies and entire TV series quicker than they can send me the DVDs. You’d be surprised how much a good film or TV show can inspire you to create something in a completely different medium.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

ffffound.com  (Great for random bits of inspiration)
newgrounds.com (Where we first started using Flash)
istockphoto.com  (Cheap stock photos, but you have to do some digging)

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

John: I think the release of Record Tripping was our biggest achievement. We spent over two years putting it together from concept to completion. Most of the time we spent was in our free time at night and over the weekends, so it was great to see everything come together after all that time.

Dan: Besides our FWA win, I’d say winning a Webby award and attending the award show in New York takes the cake. There’s not many other places where you can run into Buzz Aldrin and Jason Bateman on the way to the restroom. The success of Record Tripping also gave us the opportunity to travel to Japan where we were invited to present our game at the Tokyo Game Show.

How many hours do you work each week?

John: As little as possible.

Dan: Slightly less than my brother.

How do you relax or unwind?

John: I don’t know whether it’s from watching Twin Peaks or having just finished reading the Millennium Trilogy, but I love a good cup of coffee to help me unwind.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

Dan: I took a screenwriting course in college that I really enjoyed. I would really like to pursue that. Crafting a story felt very similar to how I approach an interactive project. Starting with nothing, and then slowly shaping my ideas together into something cohesive.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

John: I really enjoy getting to a point in a project where I can start to see things come together, like when I’m finishing up a design or starting animation. I guess the most frustrating part is when I can see everything perfectly in my head, but the pieces aren't necessarily fitting together onscreen. When I get in situations like that, I usually waste a bunch of time sitting there making small adjustments. Sometimes things will just start to fall into place, but most of the time I’ll have to take a break and come back to it later.

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

John: I’ve come close to pulling all-nighters, but I always wuss out and pass out for at least an hour or two.

Dan: Just last month, we stayed so late at the office that we ended up sleeping on the floor in an empty conference room. We kept getting spooked out by these weird creaking sounds, and I could swear I saw someone in the hallway at 3am when I got up to take a leak.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

John: We wanted to work together at the same interactive agency when we got out of college, so we bit the bullet and started as interns to get our foot in the door. Within a few months, we were promoted to full-time designers and were working together with a great group of people.

What software could you not live without?

Dan: I use a good amount of software throughout the day, but I’d have to say that Photoshop and Flash sit at the top of my list. I spend just as much time designing in Photoshop as I do animating and coding in Flash.

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

John: For our independent projects, we’ve been taking the one-at-a-time model, but we’ve got to start branching out a bit if we want to release our projects with any kind of regularity.

Dan: We’d like to get into a work-flow where we actually begin working on our next project when we’re halfway through our current one. That way once we’ve completed a project, we’re already knee deep into the next.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

John: I know I’m a little late to the party, but recently I’ve been playing around with the iPhone SDK. I don’t have a verdict yet. I also don’t have an iPhone yet.

Who is your target audience?

Dan: With Record Tripping, our target audience was causal online gamers. Since we’d found that most people aren’t willing to invest more than a few minutes into a web game, we tailored Record Tripping to have a diverse set of environments and game play mechanics that would keep the player’s interest throughout the game.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

John: Having the FWA Site of the Day badge gives our website credibility even before the page has finished loading. It also helped keep Record Tripping’s momentum going with a boost of traffic and a good amount of Twitter chatter within the creative community.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

Dan: I made a site back in high school using some crappy website builder. It was called “Dan-Man’s Superhero Squad”. I’ll spare you the details.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

Dan: Having a creative outlet outside of work is very important to me. After spending a long night on Record Tripping, I found that I was inspired to do some things at work the next morning using some of the ideas I had come up with the night before.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Dan: The taxi from The Fifth Element.

John: The DeLorean from Back to the Future.

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

John: We’ve always wanted to create something that could be played on a platform other than the computer, like maybe something for a video game console or a mobile device. I guess the only reason we haven’t yet is because we’d have to take a huge step outside our comfort zone. We’re getting there.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

John: I totaled my wife’s car right before Christmas, so we went out last week and bought her a brand new one. Meanwhile, I’m left driving the old car with manual locks and windows.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you. It was a pleasure.


John Bell and Dan Bell
John Bell and Dan Bell

On the red carpet at the Webby Awards
On the red carpet at the Webby Awards

Record Tripping - Instructions
Record Tripping - Instructions

Record Tripping - Barrel on a Hill
Record Tripping - Barrel on a Hill

Record Tripping - Down the Factory Line
Record Tripping - Down the Factory Line

Record Tripping - Trailer

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