An Exclusive Interview with Jack Packard and Rich Evans
Rich Evans and Jack Packard are well-known for co-hosting Previously Recorded -- a popular show which features thoughtful game reviews and hilarious Twitch streams. But they are perhaps most famous for their work in other programs under the Red Letter Media umbrella, such as Best of the Worst, Half in the Bag, ReView, and the full-length comedy film Space Cop.
Both also participated in the hugely popular Mr. Plinkett reviews of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Last week, I reached out to Rich and Jack for an exclusive interview, to which they graciously agreed. Within, they discuss the origins of Previously Recorded, their best (and worst) experiences on the show, and much more:
Jared Elliott: How did Previously Recorded get started?
Jack Packard: The show started as Gamestation 2.0, a Rich Evans solo show where he talked about video games. Rich would write and star in the show and it would be edited by Mike [Stoklasa] or Jay [Bauman]. Rich hated doing that show as he didn’t have anyone to bounce off of. He didn’t like JUST talking to the camera. Also Mike and Jay aren’t video game guys so they didn’t enjoy editing the episodes.
[Rich and I] would always gravitate together during filming of Best of the Worst or other Red Letter Media productions, and conversation would usually end up on games, as we are the only two gamers at Red Letter Media.
With a little pressure from Red Letter Media to make some video game content, we started the show half-assed and under-prepared, filming the first episode in Jack’s Kitchen.
JE: What has been your favorite episode to record?
Rich Evans: The Order 1886. Because the game was so short we really had time to direct exactly why it failed so hard. Also lighting it on fire with hundreds of matches that spelled “F*CK YOU” was very cathartic.
JE: What is the worst experience you've had with a game that you played for the show? The best?
Both: The worst was Alien: Isolation. We don’t get the horror stealth genre. We thought that game was incredibly lame and therefore not enjoyable to play. Then after the episode came out we were inundated with “you played it wrong” comments.
The best was Bloodborne. We stumbled in our first attempt at playing Dark Souls so we were nervous playing another FromSoftware game. But the journey of figuring out the rules of Bloodborne’s world has been unparalleled. These games are packed deep with lore and more importantly emergent storytelling.
JE: What is your process when reviewing a game? How long does the review process take?
RE: The only process is playing the game… though Jack has a notebook because he has a bad memory, and he usually records the gameplay footage. After we get enough play time (about 20-30 hours) we sit down and film the discussion, which usually takes an hour. Then Jack edits the episode, which takes another 15 to 20 hours.
JE: Do you still enjoy playing games as much as you did before starting Previously Recorded?
Both: Of course we still enjoy games, and playing for the show or streaming often allows us to discover games we wouldn’t normally play. We do get a lot of suggestions for games to play, and that can get overwhelming.
JE: You've reviewed quite a few indie titles on the show. How do you feel about the current state of indie games in general?
JP: Rich thinks that we are in the dark dystopian future of gaming with things like DRM, always-online, and the over-abundance of walking simulators. I think we’re in a god damned golden age of entertainment, with more options than ever.
Though with the over use of things like Kickstarter, early access, and consumer beta testing we’re seeing a lot of half finished games. The up-side is we’re seeing games that might not have been made without these tools.
JE: What are your favorite games? What's great about them?
Both: That’s too vague a question, there are so many that we love.
RE: I am replaying the Thief games now, which I love for their slow and tight stealth gameplay mixed with impressive world building.
JP: I'm obsessed with Overwatch at the moment because of its great characters, good balance, and the constant challenge of online multiplayer.
JE: If you could apply any game mechanic to real life, what would it be?
JP: The Konami code for extra lives of course.
JE: What can fans of the show look forward to soon?
JP: I am almost done with the Gears of War 4 episode and Rich wants to do a look back at the Thief games (I have never played them). Also, we are working on something that doesn’t involve them playing games… super secret #ProjectHornet.
We can’t give too much away about #ProjectHornet, but it’ll either be a mild success or a HUGE failure, so either way you’ll want to watch.
JE: Any final thoughts for our readers?
RE: Try your best, every day, not to be a horrible asshole.
To catch up with the latest gaming streams and reviews, follow Previously Recorded on Youtube and Twitter (@PreviouslyRec). Special thanks to Rich Evans, Jack Packard, and Red Letter Media for making this interview possible!