Super Monkey Ball Adventure Developer Diary #4
A insightful musing on development of the game's wide range of characters.
Article by TNL Staff (Email)
April 22nd 2006, 08:48AM
Monkey See, Monkey Do
One of the most recognised aspects of the game are the monkeys themselves. We wanted to portray the actual world in which Aiai and his friends inhabited which meant coming up with a style guide for the development of the monkeys. Initially this was a little perplexing but we eventually narrowed it down to a number of characteristics that we could carry through in to the design of the other characters; curly ears, design of the eyes, etc. Once we had each of the characters designed they were sent over to Nagoshi-san with notes as to who they were within the world and over a number of iterations they were approved with some small amendments.
We knew where each of the characters would be in the world and the kind of job they were employed to do as this was driven by the tasks that they would give the player.
The bigger problem we had was the Naysayers. We were asked to add in a form of antagonist to appeal to a wider audience. The nature of the game from the very beginning was somewhere that was pleasant to be albeit that each world had its own set of problems and it was felt that these characters would help emphasise these issues.
The Naysayers became a facet of the sorrow that existed within the world and not the reason that the sorrow was there. However, trying to get the right look for the Naysayers was extremely problematic and it ended up taking about three months to get these characters correct. Ideally SEGA wanted ghostly type characters which caused massive problems as the engine was never designed to handle this type of character. We tried various methods of achieving this aim with different uses of alpha channels and blending techniques but these never really worked properly. We also tried making the characters out of particle effects and no matter what we tried either we weren't happy with them or SEGA disliked the look.
The other problem with the Naysayers was that there was not mechanic within the game for combat as these types of character were never envisaged from the game brief. We looked at different ways of allowing the characters to inhabit the world and the way in which each Naysayer could be defeated. As previously mentioned one of the biggest design considerations was the use of the minigame mechanics and their crossover in to the adventure world. Considering these mechanics we looked at how they could be used to defeat each of the Naysayers. This was prototyped relatively quickly and we had the game mechanic for the Naysayers completed way before we even knew what they looked like! Eventually we ended up with the characters not being ghostly but rather reflective of the ability that was needed to defeat them.