Sunday, April 21, 2013


So there's this children's flash game called Pyramid Pile Up that I worked on sometime in 2009. I created and animated the main character, which is a strange squirrel type monster that thwarts your attempts to balance your daily food pyramid with healthy things. It's part of the Playnormous branding where the company goal was the usual edutainment where games were made to get children to have the notion of health but not being hit over the head with it, so what you end up with on Pyramid Pile Up is just a fun puzzle game. I feel like it was pretty successful and for sure it's one of the projects I'm most proud about since I started working in video games.

Unfortunately the game has become somewhat irrelevant because the USDA changed from a Pyramid altogether to a strange plate set up for proportions, but it's still up there for play at any time!

So one thing that made this project a great challenge for me was the push of an art style I was not used to by my art director McKee Frazior. He generally has a very good iconic graphical sense that floats towards a more minimalist nature. Everything I had been working on with him before had been somewhat of a push in that direction on my part, but Pyramid Pile Up was very much a game where he was the lead in everyway: he did all the sounds and music, the majority if not all of the game design, and had this great idea for an art style with a paper cut out feel.

So he set me out to work to start concepting the monster:

It's pretty crazy, but I basically went from stranger concepts that were too detailed or silly for the look of the game to a more iconic and rounded character that would fit the detail needed for the size on the screen and not feel out of place in the game. I was way out of my comfort zone, but it was fun. McKee then me start with finals in Illustrator as we did vector for most things in the Playnormous universe, then exporting it all into PNG to get the shadows and not bog down Flash with vector and filter information. Here's some color passes I found lying around:

Oh yeah, his name is Chompy. At some point someone dubbed him that during a meeting but I don't necessarily recall who. Here's a test swf I have for all of the animations I did for him in game:

So this has been a very wordy post since I loved this project. But it reminds me why I love working as an artist. Also I ended up doing some unique animations for some of the Playnormous monsters where they move across the header of the website in various ways. So I'm going to end with an awesome swf of Chompy sneezing:

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