It’s sharp and funny enough to keep non-gamers hooked; it actually tackles major issues facing the industry; and at times, it’s surprisingly sweet and poignant. Mythic Quest, which premieres on Apple TV+ today, is like a cross between Office Space, HBO’s Silicon Valley (RIP), and Comedy Central’s excellent series Corporate. It has everything you’d expect from a standard workplace comedy, except it just so happens to be centered on the world of video games. The show, created by Rob McElhenney (who also stars as the ego-driven creative director Ian), Megan Ganz and Charlie Day, is also in many ways the polar opposite of their work on It’s Always Sunny.
Instead of focusing on a group of losers bound by failure, Mythic Quest’s characters are all (for the most part) smart, driven people working together to make their game a success. There’s Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), the game’s head of engineering who’s constantly being overshadowed by the cocky Ian. Brad (Danny Pudi, Community) handles the money side of things, while David (David Hornsby) is the executive producer in charge of the whole project (not that you’d know it). F. Murray Abraham brings some Oscar prestige to the show as CW Longbottom, the studio’s head writer whose sci-fi writing career clearly peaked in the ’70s. And voice-over artist Ashly Burch, who’s also on the writing staff is a resident tester who lends some real-world gaming credibility to the entire series. (She’s the star of the long-running video series Hey Ash, Watcha Playin’ and been involved with high-profile series like Horizon Zero Dawn.)
We follow as they develop new tools and content expansions; try to balance their business and artistic goals; and keep annoying pre-teen streamers happy. You know, the things every studio is actually dealing with today. The first episode centers on the seemingly minor addition of a shovel. Poppy wants to use it to add a Minecraft-esque digging mechanic to the MMO, but Ian (pronounced eye-an, for some reason) thinks it’s better as another weapon for smashing skulls. As the money guy, Brad clearly sees violence as the better money-making angle. By the end of the pilot, everyone agrees to compromise a bit to get the shovel in the game.
Poppy loses most of all though — her frustration with seeing a non-violent feature co-opted by the base desires of a male-driven gaming industry is something any creative professional can identify with. How exactly do you balance your artistic desires with the need to satisfy your Montreal-based corporate overlords? That’s a running theme throughout Mythic Quest. It pops up again when the team debates adding a casino to their fantasy world — another suggestion from corporate. It’s not far removed from the struggles developers faced when deciding whether to embrace and then how to implement micro-transactions in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Destiny 2.