The Making of Zgloug's Capsule

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The Making of Zgloug's Capsule

Post#1 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:17 pm

moved over from
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“What the heck is that supposed to be?” Said BJ Cholewinski as he looked at the design document.

“This is the weirdest thing ever,” Said Mariana Sulcs. “I was expecting either glass or a book.”

That was the first conversation we had when we saw our challenge from creative community member Zgloug. He had an idea for a prop. It was weird, it was unlike anything we’d ever seen. But we were going to build it. Because it was the most amazing thing we’d seen, in a weird way.

Zgloug, hailing from France, won the Project Spark CreationJam, hands down. We challenged the Project Spark community to build a creation using only 10 unique props and 40 total props. Zgloug’s submission, Find the Forest was also something we’d classify as the most amazing thing we’d seen, in weird way.

“Video games have always attracted me because they are a means of expression,” says Zgloug. “I create soundtracks, design, scripts and dialogs, graphical environments, philosophical concepts. I use my own multimedia creations as a plan for writing stories.”

If you haven’t played Find the Forest, it’s more of an interactive experience than a game and your task is to travel a desolate and somewhat creepy landscape to make it to a forest. The experience though is what elevated this creation. It hit our team like wildfire, jumping from one developer’s desk to the next.

“Did you see that?” “Was this made in Spark?” “I have to tell X about this!”

Our task to Zgloug, winner of the CreationJam, was simple and very challenging at the same time. He would get to build a prop with us. We didn’t know what to expect.

Zgloug also didn’t know what to expect. He says, “I threw my ideas on paper as they came. I like clean design so I naturally sketched simple shapes. But I also like to laugh. The object was gaining strangeness by mixing a serious look with a curious feature. I guess the object I imagined is a good illustration of my personality.”

Once we received the design document from Zgloug, titled “Zgloug’s Wise'n Weird Thing” our team sat down to discuss. It really was a complex object with many layers and possibilities. But despite its “weirdness” we also saw how cool it could be.

(Click the image to see Zgloug's original design document)

There were certainly challenges, some ideas in Zgloug’s original design document that we knew we couldn’t do and others we thought we’d need to modify to fit into Project Spark. The CreationJam prize rules said we would develop one prop for the creator and initially, that’s what we were going to do. But the more we talked about the idea of moving sections and closing sections, we realized we needed to make three props. One for the wavy physics state and two of a top and bottom for its open/close state.

We needed to make three props when we had only planned our artists’ and designers’ time for making one. One of our top artists, Matt Musante, was tasked with the job of making Zgloug’s prop a reality. Matt decided to work on the prop directly from Zgloug’s design document. Typically, when we develop a prop at Team Dakota, it starts with a concept artist sketching and painting the different sides of the prop. But here, we decided to stick exactly to what we were sent. It was a remarkable design document, after all.

Putting Project Spark’s in-game tail physics on this “weird” springy character was something we had never tested. The shape was different than anything that we had built our tail physics for. And Matt particularly was worried that as soon as tail physics were added to the model, all sorts of things would go wrong. But late one night, he added on the physics and… it just worked! It worked perfectly. No hiccups, no game-crashing moments, just a waving springy prop that was brought to life.

The team proceeded to play around with the prop, chaining the capsule together, for days afterward. We were having almost as much fun with it as we were our new dragon character!

(Early test video we sent to Zgloug to see his Capsule in action)

We knew we had a winner here. Something very different from anything else in Project Spark, yet still familiar. Something that didn’t fit Spark and did at the same time. Something that we hoped would fit with the strangeness and humor that Zgloug was hoping we would create.

Now that Zgloug’s Capsule is out in the wild for others to play around with, we asked Zgloug about what people have said to him.

“My wife was really happy about this. She laughed out loud when she saw the video showing Capsules attached to each other flying around. She first didn’t understand and asked ‘What’s that thing? What have you done? Isn’t it to weird?’ And after a while she said, ‘So players can create jellyfish now!’ I hadn’t thought about that.”

There’s a lot we hadn’t thought about with Zgloug’s Capsule either. We’re excited to see what creators will make with it now that it’s in everyone’s hands.
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