Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Monkey Magic

I worked on this PlayStation game between 1998 and 1999. I worked for a multimedia company called "Music Pen", which eventually became "MPen". We developed a number of CD-ROM edutainment titles and somehow landed the contract to turn this anime series into a SONY Playstation game.

The game went through two distinct teams during the development of the game. The first team tried to develop the game using some very rudimentary development tools. They must have worked around the clock for months on ther concept of a free-flowing exploration type of game. Our in-house game engine really wasn't up to the task because it was built on the concept of manipulating flat planes of artwork in 3D space. The game looked interesting but that initial team burned out quickly. There was no real leadership and everyone seemed to throw whatever they thought would work into the mix.

After a dreadful presentation to the owners of the property, the game was put on hold for a short period of time. For various reasons, most of the people who worked on the first version left for greener pastures and a second team was created to help save the day.

Conceptually, the game turned into a platform game and I believe I came up with the idea of building the game out of predefined blocks so that the level designers could build their levels and environments and the artists could come in afterwards and replace the blocks with textured 3D artwork.

I was responsible for most of the 2D sprite animation, including the main character and most of his opponents. I also did a lot of concept art based on screen shots of the basic level layouts, trying to turn them into interesting environments.

John Schnell was responsible for most of the 3D assets (with the help of Vivian Luke). John was a brilliant 3D artist and really did some amazing 3D environments and texture work.

I know that Richard Guy is listed in the credits as a designer and art production co-ordinator. I remember he did an awful lot of texture design and I think he must have worked with the programming and 3D teams to turn our hopeless game engine into something usable. I don't really remember interacting with him a great deal, though I do remember him to be a very nice person to work with.

Finally, I have to thank Yee Ping and Philip who ran MPen and really were wonderful people to work for. I had a great time for the six years I worked there!

No comments: