Okay, so we know that this isn’t usually the domain of an official game blog. However, there was an individual on the PZ subreddit who, for a full hundred days, consistently brought joy to both the dev team and the assembled throngs of redditors. Normal service will be resumed next time, we’re sure, but until then we decided to find the person responsible for…
“Posting a Simpsons related Project Zomboid meme every day until I don’t feel like it anymore.”
A young whippersnapper by the name of Galatea recently caught our eye by posting a series of cromulent Simpsons memes on the PZ subreddit, each with an intimate understanding of both the show itself, and our game.
One hundred images, each more intricate and fiendish than the last – but to what end? Who was this mysterious benefactor giving us thousands of hours of entertainment for free? Do they live in a golden mansion and drive a rocket car? Or in an apartment above a bowling alley and below another bowling alley? Do they get their meme-ing powers by sleeping nude in an oxygen tent?
We were able to track Galatea down to a dark parking garage and, by working out a system of blinks, get some answers to our many questions!
Galatea, your Simpsons memes series seemed to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Who the devil are you?
“That’s Galatea, sir. One of your organ banks from Patch 41.1.”
“…But really, there’s not much to me. I’m not a frequent Reddit user or content creator in general. I don’t mod or otherwise contribute to the community outside these memes.”
“In day-to-day life I’m a 30-year-old Midwestern transplant doing work with process optimization for large-scale consumer goods manufacturers. My career is stressful enough that coming home to a zombie apocalypse simulator counts as unwinding! It leaves me with much less time for hobbies than I’d like, so I don’t play many video games. A game has to be pretty special to capture as much of my time as PZ has. The only other one to take hold of me the same way in the past couple years is Satisfactory, which I’d recommend to anyone who likes the base building aspects of PZ.”
“I don’t watch as much Simpsons these days as you might imagine, not even reruns. Nowadays my taste in TV runs more towards prestige drama: Better Call Saul and Ozark are my latest obsessions. Beyond that, I love literature and I’m an amateur author myself. Maybe one day I’ll post a PZ-based short story I’m working on. A certain survivor of mine captured my imagination so much that I just had to document her story. Folks on the subreddit seem to like those types of posts, since PZ is after all a ‘story generator.’”
Why and how did this all happen? At which point did you realise that you had become a true PZ community hero?
“I was playing MP with a friend of mine and we were running from a horde. I quoted the ‘do yourself a favor, don’t turn around’ gag from the episode where Springfield has to move five miles down the road (Trash of the Titans, for you nerds out there). I wanted to make a post based on that, but it was hard for me to figure how I’d make it work. I wanted it to be just right, not some low-effort thing. While thinking about that, I realized there’s a treasure trove of PZ-relevant quotes and moments from the series. So I decided I could squeeze a couple weeks of daily posts from that. Eventually I even circled back to the ‘don’t turn around’ bit!”
“One day I checked the sub to find tons of people pinging me that the Thursdoid update mentioned me. That was such a head trip! After getting attention from the dev team themselves, I realized that my posts were resonating in a big way.”
How long did you think you could carry on with it, and how did you keep the quality bar so consistently high?
“I challenged myself to last until April 2nd. My intent was to post an album of non-Simpsons-related memes for April Fools’ Day, then post a final meme the next day. That plan fell through because I didn’t have the April 2nd post ready. So I had to keep going. Eventually I was close enough to 100 that I felt it would be a shame not to hit that milestone.”
“Quality was easy to maintain because The Simpsons is quality material to work with. I mean, this is a show that fired on all cylinders for close to a decade, about ten seasons’ worth of episodes with not a single bad one in among them. There’s never been anything like that on TV before or since. And even in its current much-diminished state, there’s still worthwhile content. The sheer wealth of material makes combing through it for relevant moments a breeze.”
“To help myself out, I browsed Simpsons-related subs, trawled Frinkiac (a database of screencaps from all Simpsons episodes along with full scripts), and watched YouTube clips for inspiration. Of course I also leaned on my own memory of the show.”
“When putting a post together, I paid attention to details and was willing to spend sometimes-absurd amounts of time on editing the tiny things that people don’t notice, at least not consciously or immediately. A good example here is Day 58. This is the “mmmm, sixty-four slices of American cheese” gag. In the original episode, Mr. Burns and Smithers are clinging to the ceiling with suction cups. That’s a brilliant gag in the show, but distracts from the gag when reappropriated for its relevance to PZ. So I had to do some finagling to edit them out. I also spent more than a little time getting the fade on the moodles just right to pair with the time lapse in the scene. None of this is mindblowing. It’s just way too much effort for a meme. But I think my willingness to go a little overboard with it is what made them so popular. Unlike Homer, I don’t go in every day and do it really half-assed!”
Why, at 100 Simpsons memes, was it time to call it a day? Out of the hundred available, which were your top three PZ Simpsons memes?
“I could have kept going, but I’ve had some personal upheavals that get in the way of a daily commitment like this, and 100 was a nice round number to stop at. But I’m not done for good. I ask you: do these posts look like the actions of a man who had all he could meme?”
“There’s one more Simpsons meme for me to post, but it’ll take a lot more effort to create. Stay tuned.”
“Honestly I feel it peaked on Day 7. That scene is bizarrely pitch-perfect and relevant to the game, so it kind of stands in a league of its own. Days 41, 51, and 68 were the top three for me besides that.”
How do you know so much about The Simpsons, purple monkey dishwasher?
“Simpsons was pretty much my childhood. I watched it every single day on syndication literally from about the age of three through seventeen. I used to have this Simpsons trivia game that no-one in my family wanted to play with me because it would be like agreeing to play one-on-one hoops against LeBron. But I haven’t watched (or rewatched) regularly in years, so I’m not as much of a buff as I was. You know, within my friend group, we’re big into social deduction games with hidden roles and/or concealed information, games like The Chameleon, Decrypto, etc. Another huge Simpsons nerd in that group sometimes uses Simpsons-related clues to scum-check me. And I often find myself shamefacedly going, ‘what episode was that again?’ So on a scale of one to Comic Book Guy, I guess I’m Milhouse. Which is awful, because no one likes Milhouse.”
How did you first learn of Project Zomboid? Why do you like it? And please speak up, I’m wearing a towel.
“I first played it during one of the alpha releases with Kate and Baldspot back in 2011 or so. Early enough in the game’s history that it was free to download, which was a bonus for me during my days as a starving college student. I found it by chance, because I’ve always loved zombie fiction and would occasionally seek out zombie-themed games. Honestly I found PZ kind of lacking at that time – it was barely more than a tech demo, after all – and I distinctly remember turning to the buddy I was playing with and being like, ‘okay, I think I’m done with this now.’”
“But I couldn’t put PZ out of my mind. Like I said, I love zombie fiction. Ever since I was a little kid I’d wanted an open-world game that was true to the rules of zombie movies. A game with normal Romero-style shamblers whose danger comes from their sheer numbers. Where one bite means you are doomed. With no frills or distractions from that conceit. No special infected or virus-reversing miracle cure to pursue, no plot about saving the world. Just a harrowing struggle to survive as a normal person during the end of the world, up against endless seas of the undead. Project Zomboid’s concept is exactly that. It held so much promise to be the game I’d always dreamed of. So every once in a while over the following years I’d check on how development was going. When the big Louisville update came in December, I decided it was time to dip my toes in again.”
“I got hooked. I’ve put a couple hundred hours into the game over the months since then. PZ has come so far since 2011 – and somewhere in there, it became that game I’d always dreamed of. The monkey’s paw worked!”
Would you like to give a shout-out to anyone in or outside the PZ community? Chums, cronies, acquaintances, well-wishers (people who wish you no specific harm)?
“I don’t know many (any) names in the community personally, but I am addicted to the content AmbiguousAmphibian creates. Man’s got a voice like butter, and his pseudo-philosophical rambling is always amusing, occasionally profound. I even got his name tattooed on my chest: Die, AmbiguousAmphibian, Die.”
Are you aware of how consistently you improved the day-to-day lives of folks, and devs, on the PZ subreddit?
“I made a point of not responding to comments or doing any other posting on the Reddit account, so that anyone could click on my profile and just scroll through the memes themselves. That may have made me seem cold or stuck-up or something, but I did read every comment on my posts, and I also got a lot of PMs with praise and thanks. Folks had almost nothing but kind words, and the ones who did hate it were at least amusingly snarky about it. It always made me smile to hear that I was, even if only for 100 days, the highlight of someone’s morning or evening. That was worth it all.”
“If anyone wants me, I’ll be in my room.”
Thanks to Galatea for taking time to answer our questions! You can find all their memes here.