[Though they'd never developed a more sophisticated story-based game game before, Australian independent developer Torus Games took on the challenge of working with Warner Bros. on Scooby-Doo! First Frights -- and in this postmortem, outlines how the small team delivered a Wii game that lives up to the ideas and ideals it started with.]
It's natural when trying to make a good impression to go that extra mile and overexert yourself, particularly when you're feeling a little uncertain about what lies ahead. We tend to overcompensate for fear of failure, and in doing so, often make the situation more complicated than what it should've been. This was the underlying tone for the Torus Games team going into Scooby-Doo! First Frights.
From day one right through to the day the title went gold, the Scooby-Doo! First Frights team were extremely passionate and enthusiastic about this great opportunity to work on an IP that for generations has been a part of a kid's diet of morning cartoons around the world. We were so proud to have been chosen by Warner Bros. to create the next iteration of Scooby-Doo! games and were determined to make it the best to date.
Warner Bros.' directions to us were quite clear: make a cooperative game for kids that they can play with their parents; give a fresh, younger representation of the Mystery Inc. gang in their early years of the sleuthing; and implement a blend of light combat and puzzle gameplay.
This seemed straight-forward enough -- but for most of us on the team, this genre of game was all new territory.
If not for the security of a solid team, many of whom have been at Torus for over 10 years, this challenge would've been a more daunting prospect.
At the height of development, a team of 64 (the largest in Torus' history) were heads down, tirelessly devoting every second into creating not just content, but in most part, new technology and asset pipelines to achieve what we see today on the shelves.
It's a mammoth effort on their part, and one that we look back on today with much pride. Scooby-Doo! First Frights is a great game. It's made for kids, and the kids absolutely love it, and that's what matters most to us -- our audience. The team learned a lot of lessons, and not just in the way we make games, but the essence of gaming itself -- that is, what makes a game fun. For these lessons learned we will all be very grateful, as we confidently venture into new projects armed with the knowledge gained from making Scooby-Doo! First Frights.
So herein lies some of those lessons and achievements gained during the course of development. These are a snapshot of the most pressing issues raised during our internal post-mortems on Scooby-Doo! First Frights. So let's start with the positives!
1. Given a long rope...
It's not often that a license owner of a highly valued IP allows a developer as much creative freedom as we had with Scooby-Doo! First Frights. Obviously, we had to stick to the core fundamentals of what makes Scooby-Doo! Scooby-Doo!, and to do this, countless hours of Scooby-Doo! TV series and movie viewing, reading and researching went in before setting pen to paper.
But for the environments, storyline, enemies and the direction of the game, Torus were given quite a long rope in creative license. This was a fantastic opportunity that the team relished. We were given strong support by Warner Bros. to ensure the spirit of Scooby-Doo! was genuine in all art, design and corny one-liners created for the title.
The prime objective from Warner Bros. was to present the Mystery Inc. gang in their earlier years. Our artists' younger character impressions, coupled with toon rendering within an exaggerated and stylized game world, created a new, unique setting for the Mystery Inc. gang without losing its ties to the original series.
We studied games of similar genre and game play direction to ours quite closely and picked out the pieces that we felt worked well, and were the main appeal to our target audience, particularly co-operative play, simple button mashing combat, destructible world objects and light puzzle. This became the essence of the Scooby-Doo! First Frights design, and is a success in that it reached our young audience (and Scooby-Doo! fans) as intended.
Concept for the younger Mystery Gang
Concept for Giant Toy Robot Boss in Amusement Town