The Time Totem


Now that Time Tangle has been out for a few months, I feel like its a good time to shed some light on a unique character we created just for the game while also talking a bit about the development of the game's story line. These are all really important things and you should be taking notes along the way. Write that down.

When we started the game out, we imagined it being more of a random assortment of levels and characters all mashed into all the levels rather than a linear progression. The main idea was that the universe was broken and caused everything to be messed up and randomized. That was enough for us and we could easily depict such a simple story through the game play alone. I never thought we would be getting into actual story telling with this game! 

Our main contact from Cartoon Network, Chris Sumsky, thought that the game could use a more fleshed out story. Something to better fit its self into the Adventure Time universe. Tim and I came up with a story involving Abraham Lincoln, global chaos, and  time paradoxes. The idea here was that time somehow got messed up so Abraham came to set Finn on the mission to fix it all. We really liked the idea that after the mission was complete in the game, the world would still break and Finn would wake up right where he started. After all, the original name of the project was "Infinite Questing" and we wanted to let players feel like the game was never ending. If you take a look below at these storyboards that I made, you can see what I mean.


The story fit what we were going for pretty well. It was funny and random and justified our infinite gameplay pretty well. The only thing we didn't consider was the fact that this game had to be part of the AT universe and in this universe, Abraham is deceased. All that is left of him is the Lincoln Memorial statue. So unfortunately, we had to leave this concept behind. One of the saddest moments on development was having to let Abraham Lincoln out of our game.

The next iteration of the story called for a unique antagonist. In general, it had to be something that could throw the world of Ooo into chaos and give the player something to fight towards. Even though I didn't think of it at the time, it was a real privilege that the CN team gave me the responsibility to create this antagonist. Creating my own unique character for one of my favorite shows is basically an artist's dream come true! We talked it over a bit and ended up coming to the conclusion that this character would actually be a relic. Some kind of artifact that Finn breaks and in doing so, breaks the flow of time. I already had some ideas I wanted to go with for the character so I drew it up and sent it to CN to see how they liked it.


My first attempt on the left, was a general outline of the main ideas I wanted to portray with the character. I love horns so that was an easy in, and I wanted him to have a very evil presence so I gave him a goat skull type head. The idea that this was a relic that controls time contributed to the infinity shape in the horns, the third eye and the watch. I wasn't totally happy with that first concept for a few reasons. I didn't like that it left very little for me to work with as far as animation and portraying different emotions. This was necessary if this character was going to be part of animated cut scenes. In addition to that, I didn't think the design was really in the right style that AT is so I took another crack at it. 

On my second try, I went with a more vacant, human face by default. This way I had a lot more options for portraying emotions through facial animations and they would all be much more recognizable. The look takes a lot more from what you might see in the AT universe as well. I think that The Lich was one of my big inspirations for making this guy. I wanted to be sure that the player would find something evil about this character when they first meet him.

The second concept made it through and I used that to create the Time Totem. Even though he is just wood and bone, I made sure that he was still able to bend and move in a cartoony way to match what we had in mind for the cinematics. This also helps him seem more like a person rather than a prop floating around. A lot of the fun I had while story boarding the cinematics for Tim was writing lines and mocking up poses and expressions for the Time Totem. It is an amazing feeling to finally see this character brought to life and I hope everyone can enjoy seeing him in the game!

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