In 2008, British part-time indie developer Dan Marshall and his roommate Ben Ward teamed up to design a point-and-click adventure game starring fictional characters loosely based on themselves. The product was Ben There, Dan That!
, a free-to-download donation supported game built using the freeware Adventure Game Studio tool. Released under the banner of Zombie Cow Studios
, the game generated a lot of buzz among indie-game enthusiasts, but failed to bring in much money from donations.
In June 2009, Zombie Cow Studios commercially released the sequel Time Gentlemen, Please!
which was met with high praise from many critics. Dan and Ben originally stated that Time Gentlemen, Please!
would likely be the last game in the series, but the critical success along with a moderately successful Steam release led the pair to announce that their video game counterparts would in fact star in future episodic content. It has been stated that these episodes will be far smaller in scope and length in comparison to the previous releases. The first episode is tentatively titled Revenge of the Balloon-Headed Mexican
and currently has no announced release date.
Gameplay Ben There, Dan That!
and Time Gentlemen, Please!
both are heavily inspired by LucasArts hits such as The Secret of Monkey Island
, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
, Day of the Tentacle
, and Sam and Max Hit the Road
. The adventures of Ben and Dan serve simultaneously as a tribute to those point-and-click classics and a parody of their often odd logic and mechanisms. Dan and Ben are both very self-aware of the fact that they are characters in an adventure game in much the same way as Guybrush Threepwood
. The pair of adventurers are also very big fans of the LucasArts games that inspired their adventures and as a result will frequently reference them.
The interaction between Ben and Dan is very similar to that of fellow point-and-click adventurers Sam and Max with the player largely only controlling Ben while Dan tags along commenting on Ben's actions. However, Time Gentlemen, Please!
does depart from this gameplay style rather largely at times putting the player in full control of Dan and his own personal inventory. Revenge of the Balloon-Headed Mexican
and following episodes will reportedly be more similar to Day of the Tentacle
with Dan and Ben being separated from each other and coordinating their actions in some way.
Ben Ward Ben Ward
is the primary player controlled character of Ben There, Dan That!
and Time Gentlemen, Please!
. He sports a Marty McFly
inspired blue shirt and red vest and tends to generally act as the Oscar Madison to Dan's Felix Unger. Ben's generally haphazard and sloppy approach to life, while it may make him a bum in day-to-day life, tends to make him the better point-and-click adventurer of the pair. He possesses a general lack of inhibition when it comes to picking up and combining seemingly worthless objects which tends to serve him and his compatriots very well in their many misadventures. Ben is very aware of his superior adventuring skills and tends to flaunt them in an overly confident manner. In spite of their differences though, Ben and Dan share a love of PC games, Magnum P.I., and general nerdery that make them great friends and a perfect adventuring duo.
Dan Marshall Dan Marshall
is a well-read and fastidious computer programmer. He may look like Indiana Jones
with his brown leather jacket, but he generally lacks any confidence in his adventuring abilities. As a result, Dan typically just lets Ben take the lead, only doing some occasional switch flipping or computer programming when Ben asks it of him. However, when put in a situation where he has to act on his own without Ben, Dan tends to be able to overcome his lack of confidence and adventuring experience and pull through for his friend.