Saturday, January 30, 2021

Maximo: Ghost to Glory Storyboards - Part 1

Back in 1999-2000, I was working as a game designer on Capcom's game Maximo: Ghosts to Glory. The game had already been in production awhile (It might have been as long as two years as the game was "restarted" when it was "moved" from the N64 to the PS2) but the framework of the story and the game's main characters were in place by the time I arrived.

One of my first jobs on the game was to help get the story into shape. I have an education in screenwriting and had been storyboarding since I was 15, so I was eager to help tell the story of Maximo - a king who is betrayed by his magical advisor and (seemingly) Queen and comes back from the dead to avenge himself. 

The character designs for Maximo, Sophia, King Achille and the Demon Monster (seen at the end of the game) had already been created by Capcom Studio 8's director David Siller and drawn by famed Fatmitsu cover artist Susumu Matsushita - which is why you will see photo-copied images of Matsushita's drawings used in some of these storyboards. 

If you've ever wondered why the lips in the cinematics don't match the English dialogue, it's because the characters were animated by a Japanese team. The characters in the cinematics are all speaking Japanese! The game's budget prohibited us from going back to re-animate the characters speaking English!

On to the storyboards!

1. The opening of the game. Maximo bursts in and gets killed. One of the things left out of the final cinematic was the "knowing look" between Achilles and Sophia. I wanted to indicate that something was already up between these two and that the audience wouldn't catch it unless they played through the game and then watched it again. Also note, that Achilles shoves Sophia. The Japanese animators turned it into the "pimp slap" in the final game.

2. Having been blasted by Achille, Maximo ends up in the underworld, where he meets the Grim Reaper. Grim offers him a deal to help him take down Achille.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the storyboards for Maximo: Ghosts to Glory. I'll be posting more soon and you can watch the final Cutscenes Here!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee game play storyboards

This semester, I teach a new class: Storyboarding! 

I've been storyboarding video games since the 90's but I haven't really publicly shared any my artwork. These are storyboards that I drew for game play for the Playstation One classic game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.

At the time, I was working for Alexandria Studios as an artist, but along the way, I realized that game design was much more interesting and more suited to my talents. Thanks to design director Bill Anderson, he took me under his wing and started showing me "the ropes" of game design. 

In exchange, I would draw level design maps and storyboard game play. It was around this time that Alexandria partnered up with a new company called Oddworld Inhabitants - they were a group of special effects artists from Los Angeles (we were near San Luis Obispo). The company was only three people at the time - President Sherry McKenna, Creative lead Loren Lanning and concept artist Steve Olds. Many of the games characters had been designed but very little game play or level designs were made.

Bill was brought on to design the game but soon he realized he needed some help, so I was brought onboard to storyboard game play. I remember playing lots of games that were similar to the game we were making - games like Black Thorne and Out of This World. Back then our game was called "Soulstorm" - you can see it's logo on my storyboard pages.

These storyboards were created to determine the pacing of the game play and the relationship of the encounters to the level design - which I created in a more traditional map form such as these:

These storyboards resemble those used in animated films and for video game cutscenes but since the majority of the Oddworld team came from an animation background, they were much more familiar with this format. In retrospect, doing these served me well when it came to illustrating game play concepts on my future games.

I remember doing more of these game play storyboards, but these appear to be the only ones I could find to scan.

In this storyboard, Abe encounters a dangerous rock:

In this partial storyboard, Abe swims:

In this storyboard, Abe tries to free some friends: 

Abe encounters some Sligs and deadly spikey balls:

I hope you enjoyed looking at my contribution to this classic game!