While the code of Wonderland Adventures was being written and re-written, a new set of graphics and 3d models were being created for the game. Some of this was done in house (such as the level textures), while most of the 3d models were contracted out to artist James Abraham. We had previously worked with James on Wonderland Secret Worlds (where he did the Story Illustrations) and SpongeBob SquarePants Krabby Quest (his work included many of the game’s 3d models). James was easy to work with, with great communication and top-notch end results, so it was an easy decision for us to have him work on the lion’s share of the Wonderland Adventures’ brand new 3d visuals.
Each model tended to go through a number of steps. From our original description, doodle, or reference picture, James would provide us with a pencil sketch and/or a wire-frame model. Once the model was textured we would place it into the game to see how it looked at that particular visual angle and distance and to see if other adjustments had to be made. The sequence below illustrates this work on the “Thwart” model, from an original pencil sketch to a wire-frame and then a first textured model. The first version of the Thwart seemed to be too menacing to fit the world of Wonderland, so the model was made “goofier” for the final game (by adjusting the shape of the eyes/brows, turning the mouth into a it of a smile, and adding a big round nose).
Of course, the most important model was the basic Stinker model, and as a result this model went through the highest number of iterations and adjustments. Early designs were for four distinct models - Stinky, Loof, Qookie, and Peegue (the latter two are pictured below). But once we decided to give the player the freedom to design their own Stinker, complete with choice of headgear, we ended up splitting the model into a basic Stinker body shape and a number of separate hats, which the game program would attach automatically (or control separately, in case of some of the game’s “death” animations).
The Sound of Music
We decided to give Adventures a more orchestral sound than previous Wonderland games, as we felt it would better fit the more “epic” feel of the new game.
Our choice of musician was easy. We had first come across the work of Finnish composer Jonne Valtonen when he was working with the “Future Crew”, one of the most popular groups of the PC-Demo scene in the 1990s. (For those unaware of the demo scene - these are programmers specializing in producing non-interactive audiovisual demos to show off particularly difficult programming and artistic skills. The best known Future Crew demo is probably Second Reality, although to fully appreciate its technical merits today, you have to keep in mind that this demo was capable of running on very low-tech hardware compared to modern computer systems).
When we first started work on the original (classic) Wonderland, we approached Jonne to work on the game’s soundtrack, and couldn’t believe our luck when he said “Yes!” When we started work on Wonderland Adventures, we knew we would want to once again work with him on the new game.
Finally, with the game’s code, art, and music coming together, the last big hurdle was the creation of the game’s many, many, many levels. In the next issue we’ll have a look at some of the considerations that went into the level creation process, and we’ll take a peek at some of the game elements that didn’t make it into the final release.
Until then, happy adventuring!