View Full Version : Whiplash Developer Diary

11-06-2003, 05:20 PM
How was Whiplash started and the story developed?
A weasel chained to a rabbit. Breaking the beep out of everything. Lighting the rabbit on fire, filling the rabbit with helium, dipping the little guy in toxic goo, beating the crap out of evil CEO Franklin D. Mann, and wreaking chaos all over the crazy product-testing lab of Genron.
“A what?!”
“A Hamster Cannon.”
It happened so many times during the development of this game, when we have been asked:
“How do you guys come up with such CRAZY ideas?!”
Well certainly not in Sunday School. But the truth is, it has been really easy to come up with new ideas for “Whiplash” – sometimes too many good ideas! Among the great strengths of CRYSTAL DYNAMICS is the creative soul of the company. When the team started to think about which product we were going to create after Mad Dash Racing, a lot of potential ideas were thrown around. There are so many talented developers that work at Crystal, it can be difficult to decide which great idea we should build. Trust me, it is not an easy decision. Additionally it is not entirely up to us here at Crystal about which product will be built as we are a wholly owned subsidiary of Eidos and they (for some odd reason) set some rules for us to follow. However, as far as publishers go, Eidos has always been incredibly encouraging from a developer’s standpoint by basically leaving the product concept phase in our hands as long as we followed some basic criteria.
Knowing that the decision means potentially 2+ years of blood, sweat and tears, we spent a lot of time combing through all the concepts. Some of the ideas related to doing something similar to Mad Dash Racing, some of the ideas were related to doing something similar to the Gex games CRYSTAL DYNAMICS used to make, but mostly we wanted to stay involved with making a game for everyone to be able to play. Of course I can’t mention any of the other ideas here, but one thing we as a team wanted to do for sure was to create something new, something fresh and something original. We were tired of seeing the same types of games hit the market. We wanted to stretch ourselves as developers to build something nobody else has ever built. Keyed by some major influences from “The Simpsons,” “Ren and Stimpy” and “South Park,” we went off to find something great to make.
Keeping these rules in place during our brainstorming meetings (which are some of the most entertaining “meetings” anyone will ever be involved in) we found “Spanx the Weasel,” an old product proposal that was hanging around CRYSTAL DYNAMICS since 1996. It centered around our weasel hero being chained to a rabbit and on the run. Just what we were looking for! Something truly original that fit our criteria for what we wanted to make. Moreover, Spanx was a star in Mad Dash Racing and was always a popular character, so the idea of Spanx chained to a funny, know-it-all rabbit named Redmond was exactly the canvas we were looking for our creation of a great game.
Since a few things have changed with the world since 1996, we took the essentials of the original idea – Spanx shackled to a rabbit, on the run – and modernized the story. The core aspect of the “Whiplash” story is based around Genron, an evil mega-corporation that is doing all sorts of crazy animal testing for their products. Our story begins when Genron no longer needs their test subjects; they send them off to the “Recombinator” to make “new” animals. So imagine a Weasel/Rabbit, is that a Weasit or a Rassel? Of course, everyone knows that Weasels and Rabbits are also natural born rivals in the wild. Luckily for Spanx and Redmond, they escape just before entering the Recombinator and start their adventure.
Almost immediately after escaping, Spanx and Redmond find some of the product testing areas. For the Crystal Team, one of the most entertaining pieces during the development of “Whiplash” was to create all of the fictional products and therefore the animal tests associated with the product. For example: Gencro, the super-strength voice-activated fastener. “So strong it will fasten any material, including fabric, metal, and even food. 200 colors, 200 flavors. For maximum bonding.” So what would be the best way for Genron to test Gencro? The Hamster Cannon. Need you have to ask. This is where stiff lab-coats fire hamsters at walls of Gencro all day long, grading the Gencro based on how long a hamster is fastened to the wall. Sounds ridiculous, but this is one of the tamest ideas we were able to come up with during the brainstorming phase. Other products included the Robo-Weasel, CosmetiExpress (which Redmond was a test subject), the Self-Op 2000, Binoculenses, etc. – essentially endless amounts of fun had by all.
At this point we had our main characters and our environment, so the last major piece of the puzzle in terms of the storyline was the characters. Rule #1 set up by the team: Animals are your friends, Adults are the enemy. Freeing your buddies along the way to escape is a great secondary reward structure and if you get to beat up a lot of cranky humans, so much the better. So we started to build our character set based on this rule. The most important feature regarding character design was to make it real, at least as real as can be in a cartoon-like environment. It was important for us to create a character set that fit our environment and seemed believable. In some sense this last piece came rather easily. Ask yourself, who would you want to beat up when you were in school? The Lunch Lady. The Big Bad Boss. The Angry Janitor. The Lame Rent-a-Cops. And who would you like to have as a pet? Monkeys. Everyone loves monkeys. Chihuahua. Platypus. Giraffe. Etc…
So that sums up the quick version of how we kicked off Whiplash. It has been a great game to build and we are now looking forward to playing it. Stay tuned for the next diary from Team Whiplash…

Source@ and Screens (http://www.gamersgallery.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=741&password=&page=)