Monday, November 2, 2015

Sick Bricks! The Toy-Video Game Hybrid is Here.

SickBricks was one of my most exciting projects in 2014. I'm a little surprised more toy-video game hybrids like this haven't appeared already, but I guess it must require a lot of planning. Toy company + Video game company. There's Skylanders, of course. I worked on the original release back in 2011 (?) and it showed a lot of promise then and has become really big now.  The really neat thing about SickBricks, is that unlike Skylanders' original plan, its video game aspirations are on the mobile platform. I suppose this is largely due to the increased circulation of mobile devices amongst kids too. There's definitely an even greater proliferation now than there was 4 years ago. Anyway, to access a character, you buy the toy and then take a photo of it. Facial recognition technology identifies the character and logs it into the game on your device. How crazy is that!!?? The other really neat thing, is that since all the characters are made up of blocks, they can switch heads and mix and match abilities. You can see it in a couple of the webisodes. I think Driver's Ed Dread was one I worked on that did that. Jack Justice doesn't actually swap heads with another character, but his power is that he takes on another character's likeness and also powers.

It's not uncommon for the scripts I receive to have lots and lots of dialogue, but with very brief description of action, and so the greatest challenge is to keep the characters moving and interacting even though the script might make it seem like they just bumped into each other on the street and are carrying on nothing more than a conversation. To top it off, you don't always know what the environment will be and even the eventual voice acting can really affect pacing and tone. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get a scratch voiceover (stand in v.o. by other actors that will be replaced by the final), but even that can be misleading. This can be frustrating, but I actually prefer this approach since that usually means it's up to the storyboard artist to fill in the frame with some cool acting. I've found that a lot of times if the acting/action is too planned out ahead of time, particularly when there's a lot, it tends to feel overly scripted and looses any natural spontaneity.

I worked on about 12, 90ish  second episdoes for Sick Bricks, but I only included a couple pages  from some of my favorite ones.

Last Ninja Standing

Meditation Vacation

Rodent Rumble

All of the episodes I worked on can be found on Spindo's Youtube channel. There's kind of two seasons and I helped with season 02. The episodes I worked on were:
21 - Enter Overlord Omega
23 - Goth a Bad Feeling
26 - Driver's Ed Dread
27 - Sick Mix
30 - Shhh
32 - Rodent Rumble
33 - Rooster vs Rat
35 - Fool's Gold
36 - Meditation Vacation
37 - Last Ninja Standing
38 - Super Heroes?
40 - Blazin' Donuts

I also tweaked someone environment painting to be a more interactive matte painting for the opening sequence to the mobile game.  I added the clouds, some cars, waterfall and slime textures, floating bricks, etc. - that were animated. I also really tweaked the lighting to vignette the different locals and adding details here and there to make it a little more complicated. This isn't the greatest screen grab, but I'll replace it once I get the original work back.

You can catch a glimpse of this moving painting here. It's right at the beginning.

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