Who is McZee?
3D Movie Maker is a pretty rockin' program. One might even say that it's rockin' enough to actually receive an intelligent word as a compliment, such as "incredible" or "majestic." It's got a remarkably simplistic interface that, although incredibly cumbersome from a modern point of view, is easy to understand and requires little thought in actually making something. All you need is the patience to drag people from part of the screen to the other and you can make anything happen!
Anyone who's played it is sure to remember McZee, the big-nosed, blue-faced host with a wide variety of costumes and a penchant for riding around on a unicycle at all times. Depending on your view he's either silly and slapstick or a frightening oddball, but he's endlessly supportive of your movie making facade, ending every film watched in the theatre with a hearty "hey-hey, that was excellent!" Yes, you could watch a childish display of meaningless violence, a drawn-out arthouse film of someone just walking down a street, or even a film all about insulting and degrading McZee himself, and he'll still happily praise it. You've got to admire how he totally ditches good taste in the name of offering support.
Naturally, since hating things is totally hip on the internet, it was popular to make movies of him suffering horrible deaths, mostly using the big-nosed, blue-skinned Willy in his place, despite otherwise not having much of a resemblance. All he wants to do is make you creative and you skewer him on spikes in return. Bastards! Not to mention how, much like everyone that's hated for little to no reason, he's often characterised as some kind of monster, whether it be a sexual predator, a psychotic murderer, a world-conquering tyrant, or the subject of an "Ate My Balls" site. My friends and my brother made a five-film epic wherein an investigative team would discover McZee's plans for world domination involving a robot army, an orbital base and a twin brother (with similar maniacal tendencies, though he explodes before he can enact them thoroughly), but was ultimately defeated by a magic-powered giant robot. Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime!
But did you know that McZee isn't just some weirdo on a unicycle, but actually has a genuine backstory? Yep, in his enigmatic debut in Fine Artist and Creative Writer, if prompted, he elaborates on his involvement in creative works, and reveals that he's had more involvement in the realm of art than you'd think.
But before we learn that, let's go to Imaginopolis, shall we? It should be a fun and exciting visit!
And by fun and exciting, I mean terrifying. That there is Imaginopolis. It's a pretty mysterious place, all things considered, as despite the multiple buildings, it seems to be implied that McZee is the only person there. It's not too bad in Artist/Writer since you only have one four-story building to explore, but in 3D Movie Maker he's running every job in a movie theatre/production studio all by himself, while his assistant Melanie sits on a couch the whole time throwing around half-hearted help if you prompt her. It's like if everyone in a grocery store was Dustin Hoffman with a Scottish accent and then you found a single Matt Damon in the bread aisle. Mind-bendingly scary.
Things aren't much better indoors. On the first two floors, in the gallery, in the elevator, McZee is waiting for you. Not only that, but in different costumes every time. McZee is not only a professional stalker, but a master of disguise. ... okay, a practitioner of disguise at best. Master of disguise or not, you just can't hide a giant schnozz like that.
The building is full of bizarre decorations and misshapen passageways; there are melting bins, dinosaurs lurking in the mouse holes and you can travel up a fire pole. Don't get me started on the basement. Oh, don't get me started on the basement.
A notable feature of the building is how it demonstrates how remarkably vain the blue-skinned freak is. He's completely ripped off various pieces of historical art and plastered himself and his stupid grinning face into each and every one of them. And this man is trying to get our youth to become creative.
When the teacher is no better than people who recolour Sonic the Hedgehog characters into supposedly "original" creations, and perhaps even worse than them by desecrating art with actual value, you begin to wonder why you should trust him. On the bright side, despite his undeniably kookiness, McZee does have an ample supply of painting and writing tools at his disposal, helping artists and writers of all levels of talent at achieving something. Okay, it's situated inside a house of mad, but it's worth it, right?
I mean, look at all those filters! Where else would you have gotten such top-notch image effects back in 1995? Nowhere, that's where! And for the folks who aren't quite as artistically inclined, there's a wide selection of clip-art of both the animated and non-animated variety to use, repaint and modify as you please.
I don't know what I was trying to prove with this image, though.
There's a variety of arty things you can do; these examples were made simply using the regular painting canvas, but you can also try your hand at making a four-panel newspaper-style comic strip! The program comes supplied with a variety of examples to show you what's possible, utilizing the default clipart, simple backgrounds and dreadful jokes.
The art style between the comics varies; some use this rather traditional cartoon approach with bolded lines, a couple use a rather ugly style featuring no details and the thinnest of thin lines, and there's one that uses a vaguely realistic approach.
The artist for this and the previous comic is pretty good, I'd say - the colours in the game are fairly limited (I'd estimate about 64 at most) and most of the graphics have rough edges, but the work of this guy carries across pretty well to the digital realm.
And, hey, even if you can't read the jokes, the expressions can make up for that!
hurr hurr dogs are gross
Did you know that the Wikipedia article on elephants is still locked (as of this writing, January 2010!) because of a Stephen Colbert joke way back in June 2008? True story.
Also, this art style freaks me out. THOSE TEEEEEETH
Much like Melanie's unfinished films in 3D Movie Maker, a few comics leave panels with no word balloons or even any artwork at all to inspire the user's attempt to finish them off. All of the comics can be edited, so you can spin them all out of context to provide wacky inappropriate ramblings, or just throw in a quick anti-punchline.
By the same concept, Creative Writer supplies the Splot Machine - a roulette that supplies a character with a random occupation and adjective, an action that person is doing, and where and when it takes place.
Sometimes it throws in pictures into one of the categories, which can really mix things up. Yes, a spider hanging from a web at a window sill is not impossible to comprehend, but what do you do when it's in the "action" category? WHAT DO YOU DO
I also love the one with the helpful thug. He is a bold man living in oppressive times.
So... yes. This has been aimless enough as it is, and although we know more about McZee's residence and what he does, we know nothing about the mysterious man and his enigmatic history. Just who is McZee? Is he animal, vegetable or mineral? And can he be used in the garden? Well, one of the very first options on the main menu is, indeed, to learn about the history of McZee and Imaginopolis. I'd dare say it's eye-opening, but only because I like exaggerating.
Hi. I'm McZee! Welcome to my world! You probably want to know something about me and why Iím here. My story begins with two kids like you: an artist named Maggie and a writer named Max. They moved into the neighbourhood on the same day, right next door to each other. They became best friends!
All of the books in my library were different from the
books Max had seen. That's because they were my own versions of old stories.
"'You knew those
artists, for real?" Maggie asked.
So, let's get a run-down of the facts.
● McZee is a creature of frightening physical power, usually used in a slapstick cartoon manner, judging by his entrance via whirling like a tornado out of nowhere (not to mention his spontaneous costume changes). He doesn't appear to use it for anything practical, mind you.
● McZee owns a friggin' metropolis. How does a blue-skinned supernatural freak get his hands on a personal metropolis, and where do I sign up?
● Unless he owns a time machine, is a supernatural being unaffected by the forces of time or he's just pulling stuff out of his ass, McZee is four hundred or five hundred years old at the very least. Or he could be all at once which would classify him as a Time Lord. I mean, face it - kooky fashion sense, odd and often obnoxious mannerisms, the need for companions - McZee is The Doctor!
I'd say that explains everything. McZee is a Time Lord. The vanity, the range of costumes, the bizarre attitude, the many tools at his disposal, he's a goddamned Time Lord. I cannot define him in any other way, and that occupation explains all that we need to know about the Scottish enigma.
Besides, it's better than my original idea that he was a ghost.
But what's happened to McZee? Well, obviously, he appeared prominently in 3D Movie Maker afterwards in 1995 which is where most people remember him from, and Microsoft Kids, the developer of these fine programs went onto make a few other products, but as far as I know they didn't incorporate McZee into them from that point on. Microsoft Kids went under not long after, and McZee has made no appearances at all since then. The bastard's just disappeared off the face of the Earth. Microsoft had the guff to give friggin' Clippy of all things a second chance to shine in a promotional campaign for the version of Office that removed him, but has McZee been seen since then? No sir, not at all. He left this Earth before his prime and he's likely living it up on greener pastures by now, leaving us naught but the good times from years and years ago.
At least we have the font.