21 May 2010

‘Turbo! Pack’ Development Diary 12: ‘Plane Stupid’

As with all the other vehicles we designed what the jump jet looked like before we designed the level, because its capabilities really defined what sort of gameplay we could use. This one took a little more thought than most of the others however. The first major decision we made was to build the jet from a front-on perspective, whereas all the other vehicles (barring the pogostick) are portrayed from the side. This was because it had to be very balanced in order to have as much control over flight as possible – the solution to this was to make it symmetrical, and enclose Sackboy in a small space so that his weight wouldn’t upset the balance as he moved from side to side. Originally it only took up two thin planes and one thick plane, but fairly early on we decided to make it use two thick planes and two thin planes, so that it had space for a cockpit that could be reached by running up the wings.

Recreating the jet out of 3D meshes was simple because the design was so dependent on its shape to start with that all we needed to do was give it a splash of colour. Actually this was probably the easiest part of the whole level! Did you know you can manually alter how big the bevel on a material is? Using the Corner Editor tool, move one point (one near a corner usually works best) really close to another and you should see the bevel get smaller. If it doesn’t work at first, try picking another point to move. Since our stickers only cover the front of an object, this is really useful for using stickers to disguise materials that have a noticeable bevel, such as dissolve, pink and peach floaty.

From an artistic point of view, the main problem that we’ve had while building this level is that the jump jet’s flight is blocked by objects in any plane except the front thin (unless they’re made of gas). In addition, we’ve had to be careful that there aren’t any weird nooks and crannies that the jet could get snagged on. To maintain the freedom of flying we’ve had to leave as much open space as possible without allowing you to wander off and get completely lost (eek!), whilst at the same time providing enough interestingly shaped landscape to let you know exactly where you are in the level. This means being really cunning with our materials in order to signpost the different areas of the level as much as possible, and the stickers have to be really punchy and stand out. As Andy said, headaches all round. Since this is the last level in the ‘Turbo! Pack’ we won’t give too much more away. Those tricksy toy soldiers are up to something though, so expect big explosions and tons of destruction. Oh, and a nice happy ending. :)
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