Saturday, September 02, 2006

Vince Cutting Room Floor #1: Toxic Alley

Setting a game in New Orleans just seemed like a cool idea since my first trip there in 1996. No other place in the US has that amazing sense of carefree creepiness. After we received the letter of intent from Microsoft, ten of us went down there. This was partly to celebrate finally landing a publisher after a year of shopping the concept, but most of our time was spent gathering an immense trove of visual reference.

Beepsters in New Orleans

We poked around in the bayou, various plantations and of course the city itself. Besides the usual touristy pictures we took many gigs of texture reference from walls, streets, puddles and trees. The textures you seen in Voodoo Vince really are from New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

Now where is that pesky Crawdad Jimmy?

This was taken near a backwoods hunting shack. The water was teeming with alligators. The fanboat driver/guide was kind enough to advise against trailing our fingers in the water, otherwise the gators might enjoy a "Fing-uh Mac-nugget."

We had to spend a lot of time in the French Quarter. It was strictly business. Yup. Uh-huh.

After we got back to the Northwest, and I dove into writing the design doc for Voodoo Vince. This was in the Spring of 2001. I was aware that flooding was a persistent issue with New Orleans. Even the first city engineer in 1718 advised against building a city there saying "Dudes, this place is gonna flood... a lot!" or something like that... only in French. I thought a flooded portion of the French Quarter would make sense as part of the destruction our villain levels against New Orleans. And no ordinary flood would do. I specified water oozing with toxic waste.

Copyright 2001 Microsoft Corporation

This segment of the French Quarter was to be called Toxic Alley. The idea was to have Vince use a frail hanglider to go from one end to the other, using updrafts and tiny landing places while avoiding powerlines and the toxic waters below.

Copyright 2001 Microsoft Corporation

In light of events a year ago in New Orleans, it is fortunate that this part of the game was cut, though there are some eerie parallels. This sub-level of the game never made beyond the first draft of the design document. Toxic Alley only exists today as pieces of concept art by the ridiculously talented Doug Williams.



Old Lady said...

What a treat to share in your research trip, and to see that great concept art. Thanks!

Somehow I never had to wonder "Now where is that pesky Crawdad Jimmy?" on MY last trip through the bayou -- he was always there, laughing as he cheated his way to win after win (dang him)! But I prevailed in the end.

Just wanted to alert you that Vince made it onto Play Magazine's "Top 25 3D Best Platformers" list (Sept issue)! Fans (there are more of you out there, aren't there?): run out and get your copy, and enjoy seeing Vince sitting in the very front of all the other platform stars!

Peter said...

Whatever happened to that nice Mr. Doug Williams?

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

As if you didn't know. You could probably hit him with an action figure from where you are sitting right now.

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

Oh, and thanks for the tip about Play Magazine, Old Lady. That's pretty nice. As you can see I did a post about it, which beats being creative and thinking up something to say.

Peter said...

Oh my goodness! Who's that delightful young man in the back row of that team picture, with the goatee?

Warlord Zsinj said...

I really like the style your drawings have, it's dripping with character. What media do you use? (I'm guessing, pencil/fineliner sketch, photoshop touch ups? or all 'hard' media?)

They have a great grungy 'Beneath a Steel Sky' feel about them.

Devin said...

Hello Clayton, how are you? :)

Cranky said...

Yeah, whatever did happen to that 'nice Mr. Doug Williams'? The bugger owes me lunch.

Devin said...

Mr. Kauzlaric,
That certainly seems like it would have been fun level to play through. Was it later part of the inspiration for Flying Leo? The two concepts seem very similar.

Keep up the good work on your games.

BTW-Wow. O.o Someone else who's commented here has the same name as me. Weird.

Anonymous said...

devin said...

Okay, okay, there is a difference the one without the hyperlink, and the one with the hyperlink. But yeah, that is weird O_o

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

Hello to both devins.

To non-link devin, I am fine.

To link-devin: I'm not sure. Some of the thinking behind Flying Leo may have had its roots the Toxic Alley concept, though reminiscing about a great old Mac game called Glider also got me thinking along those lines.

devin said...

You have no idea who I am do you?

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

I know who you are. Say hi to your pop.

Clayton Kauzlaric said...

Now that I've finally found the lost comments, I can answer warloard zsinj's question.

Doug Williams did all the hard work on these concept pieces. I think you've just about covered his process. He did fairly light blue pencil, followed by pretty straightforward ink. I keep thinking he used a Rapidograph, but you may be right about the fineliner. I desecrated his fine line work with some tinting in Photoshop.

For anyone who is interested, you can see a LOT of Doug's work in Guild Wars. I think he is a regular over on the forums. He also has a (very not-current) website:

You can find even more lost Voodoo Vince pieces there.