Kid Radd Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is this a sprite comic? / Where can I get a ROM of Kid Radd? / Where are these sprites from?
A: All the Kid Radd characters were created by me, Dan Miller, and crudely drawn/animated by Paint Shop Pro. So no, there was never a Kid Radd game on the NES or any other console, and this isn't really a sprite comic. Still, once in a great while you'll see a cameo sprite, like the power-ups being eaten in Itty Bitty's diner.
Q: Why would you want to create a "fake" sprite comic? Aren't you gonna scare away everyone who thinks sprite comics are crappy?
A: I dunno, maybe I'm a masochist. Seriously, I recognize that for the handful of decent and funny sprite comics out there, there are hundreds of crappy imitators, and that's given the artform a bad reputation. But I like the artform, even though I don't like using other people's creations. So I made a comic using my own characters, so they could be exactly who I wanted them to be without having to fit into established characters (i.e. Sonic's a snob, Mario's an idiot, Crash Bandicoot's my father and so on).
Plus, I could eventually sell merchandise without violating copyrights. (Insert capitalist pig laughter)
Q: Why won't this comic work in Netscape/Opera/Firefox etc.?
A: For a number of different reasons, most of which I don't understand myself. So for now I've given up and just asked people to use Explorer, since it's used ten times more often than anything else anyways. However, muddasheep is kindly working on a fix to some of the cross-compatibility problems, for which I'm very grateful. Til then, looks like we're stuck with Explorer.
Q: Who are you, anyway?
A: I'm a twenty-eight year old geek who lives in Cleveland and works as a manager at an ice cream shop. I used to like programming BASIC games on the Apple IIe, but in recent years playing around with HTML has become my hobby. Thus, this comic became my hobby.
Q: Will there ever be any real Kid Radd games?
Q: How does your comic's viewer-thingy work?
A: It's simpler than it looks, but tough to explain. Every page has five or six panels, each consisting of an identical table that looks like a "viewer.". The "next" and "previous" buttons are really internal links that take you to another panel on the page. Because all the viewers look the same, when you jump between the panels on the page, it looks like there's only one viewer and gives the illusion that the viewer's "screen" is all that changes.
There's a slightly more thorough explanation of it all here.
From here on, the faq becomes a commentary on the weird physics of the cyberworld. Be warned that the following contains minor spoilers to early strips. This stuff is merely extra ramblage, not necessary knowledge to enjoy KR. It's also probably not too interesting if you haven't read far into the comic yet.
Q: The story frequently brings up sprites' tendency to act like humans. Why do they behave that way? For that matter, is there any reason why they're even alive?
In the KR universe, there's a sort of magic to what humans do. Everything made by humans carries an unseen force imparted by them. The very act of creation imprints part of the creator onto its creation, giving a vague sort of soul to it. The characters in a human-written book for example, take on a limited life in their own sort of mini-universe. However, these inanimate characters will only experience exactly what's written of them, "living" the life of their story, never aware of its unreality or anything outside of their novel. Their universe is closed and under the complete control of the author, subject to his or her whim.
But a strange case arises with computer games. The video game characters start out much like the characters in a novel, unaware of anything outside their world. But lo, they can move on their own, and thanks to the intervention of some kid with a joystick they quickly realize the artificial nature of their world. They have the opportunity to think thoughts other than the ones scripted for them. They still live their roles, but realize at least vaguely that they're not "real." And when opportunities arise for these characters to escape their games, well... you get the story told in this comic.
And so, a mystical power that most humans are unaware they possess causes sprites to become sentient, and to think of themselves as the characters they were written to be. Spooky. Since I'll be referring to this phenomenon a lot, I'd do well to name it. From here on I'll call it "the imprint," which sounds rather generic but will suit this article well enough.
Q: So this "imprint" makes sprites act like humans?
Often, but not always. It really makes the humans' creations into whatever they were intended to be. A human programmer meant Radd to be a brash young hero so that's how Radd viewed himself and behaved, at first anyway. Sprites tend to act like their characters, i.e. human-type sprites like humans, and animals and monsters like their particular roles, etc.
Q: But Bogey's not a human-type sprite. And Julie, whatever the heck she is, seems questionable too. Why should they be interested in human-type sprites and generally behave like them?
There's some weird gray area here, but in general anthropomorphic characters are more "human" than animal in the games they come from, and will act accordingly. Be they catgirls or, uh, beegirls they'll walk upright and hang out with the human types.
But Bogey, he's admittedly further out on the scale of nonhuman-ness. He's a strange case, as he's rebelled a little against his nature and isn't quite like the other Bogies anymore. Constant exposure to human-type sprites seems to have molded him and certain others closer to the human way of thinking. Though he would never admit it, Bogey has Radd more than anyone else to thank/curse for making him what he is.
Q: Are all sprites self-aware?
No. The imprint causes a sprite to see itself as whatever its programmers made it to be and to think and act accordingly.
So a chair sprite "thinks" of itself as a chair. Which is to say it doesn't.
Q: In the Bunny and Chick Playland story, Radd seems tired. In fact, he appears to be breathing heavily, which is odd considering that sprites have no lungs and live in a cyberworld without air. What gives?
Yep, Radd's tired, despite the fact that he could run full speed for an infinite amount of time without hurting himself. Sprites have also been known to get hungry despite never needing to "eat," and they even sleep although it's completely unneccessary. What's going on here?
Again, sprites are acting out their innate tendencies to behave like their creators. The imprint creates all sorts of desires that they don't really understand but still act upon, usually without question. Being tired or hungry is really a mental state rather than a physical one for sprites, and "eating" or "sleeping" to placate those conditions is merely a psychological cure. Despite the unreality of these situations, it feels quite real to them and most sprites would be uncomfortable not quelling these conditions the human way. Thus you'll find sprites partaking in all forms of human activity.
Q: All forms? Uh, can they...
Q: But how? Most sprites seem, uh, unequipped to -
Geez, this is a PG-level site, you expect graphic descriptions? Er, not that I've thought of any. Okay, I'm removing my mind from gutter now, and... Let's just say again that all human behavior facsimiles are more mental than physical. Now might be a good time to move on to talking about the sprites' world.
Q: Okay, the Seer mentioned that the cyberworld was physicsless. How does that work?
Well, the computer networks that these artificial entities have come to live in was never intended to be a "world." When emulator glitches in various computers started letting sprites out of their games, they ended up floating in empty cyberspace where they could do almost nothing. But fortunately these glitches tended to happen repeatedly to the same emulators, and large portions of games were soon dumped into the emptiness. "Islands" of game debris were formed into haphazard cities. Game materials and non-sentient sprites were recycled into useful items, and cleverer sprites like Amp tinkered with code to devise ways of transforming materials when necessary. Sprites literally built their world.
Q: So sprites created their own physics when making their cities?
Not really, they just created places where they could exercise their own personal physics. There is no universal set of physics in the cyberworld, rather each sprite obeys the physical rules programmed into him or her. As mentioned by the Seer, there's no gravity in cyberspace. But since most sprites are programmed to "fall" downward when there's nothing beneath them, the illusion of a universal gravity is created. Creating a city to interact in just establishes which direction is "down" well enough to fool a sprite's programming into using its gravity subroutine.
Q: Wait, they're "fooling" their programming?
For the most part. When thousands of sprites who were never meant to interact with each other come together, you get countless situations that were never programmed for. Nevertheless, the sprites' programs' try to carry out their personal directives. So when a hero sprite bumps into an enemy sprite, it "knows" its damage subroutine should get activated, so it does. This happens even though the enemy is from a completely different game and probably has programming incompatible with its own. As has been seen in the comic strip, interactions between sprites from very different games can cause weird things to happen, but the sprite's programming will try to react how it "thinks" it should. Sometimes more than one outcome is possible, because it's again more mental than physical.
Q: So couldn't a sprite learn to disobey its programming?
That's a tough one. Technically yes, but practically no. Sprites have a hard enough time resisting their imprint, but it's malleable enough that they can manage to change it over time. But their code is different - unless some outside force alters it, sprites' programming doesn't change. They can't get rid of their subroutines. And unfortunately for sprites, their subroutines are instinctive reactions that are nearly impossible to supress, much like blinking or sneezing.
Here's a crappy metaphor to illustrate: When you're cold, you get goosebumps on your skin. However, goosebumps don't accomplish anything for us, because we don't have a thick coat like most other mammals. Getting goosebumps fails to raise our fur and protect us against the chill. It's just a useless reaction.
So now that you know goosebumps are pointless, you'll never get them again, right? Wrong. I doubt that even a person with zen-like concentration could permanently overcome them. Even if they could learn to supress it for a moment ("I will not get goosebumps, I will not get goosebumps, I will not..."), the other 99.9% of the time if a cold breeze comes along the goosebumps are back.
Same goes for a sprite trying to resist his damage subroutine. With superhuman effort, he may be able to train himself to resist the Touch of Death for a second or two. But if a Goomba accidentally bumps into him on the street, he still takes damage. Such program-resisting tricks would be much like those shows at karate expos where people break cinderblocks. Nifty, but requires a level of preparation and concentration you probably won't have time for in a real battle.
Q: This is all very confusing...
That wasn't a question. But yes, I admit there's a ton of room for b.s. in my world's physics. That's the fun thing about being the author, you get to have the final say on countless questionable circumstances. Especially if it's for humor's sake; I'll claim double artistic licence on that. :)
Q: Oh, that's really convenient. So if I question whether NPCs should be able to catch on fire?...
I'll say, of course they can. Cuz it's funny.
And thus comes a rather arbitrary point for the commentary to stop. If you have any questions not covered here, drop me some mail. Have a great day!