Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lure of the Labyrinth

My company, FableVision, recently launched an educational game called Lure of the Labyrinth in collaboration with MIT and Maryland Public Television. It's a story-based game grounded in logic puzzles where students work to find their lost pet and save the world from monsters. It's currently being tested in schools across the country, but it's also open to everyone online for FREE. And its super easy to sign up. Click on the link below to take it for a spin:

--> Lure of the Labyrinth

Okay, on to the post. I should apologize ahead of time because this is gonna be a huge dump of concept art I created for the game. One of the things that made this project so amazing is that we had a ton of time up front to hammer out the look and feel. My bud Keith Zulawnik and I spent a good month or two just drawing and experimenting. Which might not sound a lot, but we normally have to hit the ground running at FableVision. We knew the game would be full of monsters, so that's where we started. Here are some of my weirder concoctions.

As is the case with concept art, none of these made it into the game. Keith ended up taking the visual lead, so Labyrinth is not a cartoony landscape. It's more a dark fantasy dreamscape, which fits the story perfectly. Still, we drew a ton, and fed off each other.

Here is a monster I drew when one possible story arc involved monsters who secretly loved and cared for the kidnapped pets.

When we started getting more specific, character design was the next big thing to tackle. Iris is a mysterious fairy companion who you meet early in the game. She's someone you're not sure you can trust, but you don't have much of a choice.

Keith and I riffed off each other throughout the project. It was at this point in Iris's development that Keith made a significant breakthrough. I love his design.

I played a larger role defining the look of the comics in the game (as I was going to be the one drawing them). So, Keith's version needed to be translated into a comic book style that could be drawn in Flash.

We bounced around designs and concepts like this all the time. It was the perfect collaboration. Here's a case of another primary character, the Minotaur, in a very early sketch I drew up:

Followed by Keith's more complete designs:

And some comic pages of both the Minotaur and Iris that I drew:

In another instance, we needed a group of monsters of varying types and sizes for the Cafeteria game. Here's one line-up I created:

And here's where Keith landed for the final game design:

As we ramped up on production, we each plowed ahead in our own directions. I created a character called "Muck Thing" on my own, because Keith trusted my knack for grossness.

Here's the entrance pipe to the monster world I doodled with a brush pen on paper. It stuck, and made it into the comic.

Some of the comics I drew never made it into the final game...weren't even colored, for that matter. We decided early on that we needed to edit back the number of pages in the story so we could get it all done on time with some semblance of sanity. I really enjoyed drawing a "lunch lady" version of Medusa. These were supposed to appear after you beat each successive level of the Cafeteria game.

That's a good enough dump for now. Definitely check out the game when you get a chance. And be sure to hop on over to Keith's blog for more things Labyrinth-related.

Also, I've posted about Labyrinth before. Here are some related links:

Final Battle
Customized Comics
Dweebs and Guards


David DeGrand said...

Man oh man, where to start? Of course I dig your monster designs, especially the amphibious looking dude with the trunk, and Muck Thing is just screaming for his own comic series (nice addition of the trucker hat). I gotta say your version of the monsters at the cafeteria is way more appealing (to me) than the final image, but I guess they needed to maintain a uniform look to the game. Man if your company made a game strictly with your cartoony designs it would be absolutely mind blowing (pardon the hyperbole!) Thanks for sharing this cool behind the scenes look.

Chris Houghton said...

Man oh man, what a blog post dump! GREAT designs and comics Bob. What a job!

Unknown said...

Man oh man, I love it! What a great project to work on. Thanks for dumping.

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks guys! This was indeed an amazing project to work on. And the fruits of our combined labor, even more amazing. I imagine kids playing this game in the classroom, and I grin. Glad the concept art dump was entertaining in the least. Try the game when you get a chance, even if it makes your head hurt a bit.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing the ever evolving creative process at work. Thanks for sharing all the images and taking the time to explain the development.

Definitely looks like a fun project.

Anonymous said...

I am a 4th/5th grade gifted & talented/accelerated math teacher and I recently learned about the game from other teachers on Pinterest. My students L-O-V-E it! And I love watching them learn and THINK as they work through it! Well done! :)