Wapos Racerz Game Maker Profile – Tony Walsh

Here is your chance to get to know one of the team members from Phantom Compass, who is working hard to make Wapos Racerz for you.

Send us your questions too!

Q: What is your name?

A: Tony Walsh

Q: What do you do?

A: I run Phantom Compass, the game developer making the game.  When I’m not running the company, I help out on many of the creative aspects of game development, including creative direction, game design and graphics.

Q: What is your favourite part of your job?

A: I love coming up with ideas for fun and unusual game play, then working with my team to test the ideas out.

Q: What Wapos Bay character are you most like?

A: Arachnid Man!

Q: What other projects have you worked on?

A: I’ve worked on games and web sites for several kids TV series over the past dozen years, as well as a few shows for adults. Among my favourites have been the “Regenesis” game and a project for a BBC series called “Spooks: Code 9.”

Q: If you had to describe the game in one word what would it be?

A: Fast!!

Q: If you were offered the chance to voice one of the characters who would you want to be?

A: Arachnid Man. I love that guy.

Wapos Racerz Game Prototype

Before I joined the games industry, when I heard the word “prototype,” I thought of a coverall-clad inventor with safety goggles on his head, emerging from his basement after months of tinkering with blueprints and wires. Grinning, he holds his “Prize” high above his head–the first ever model of his invention that actually worked; a Prototype!

Substitute the coveralls with a hoodie, the basement with a computer desk, the blueprints with design documents and wires with wireframes and you have a Game Prototype!

Phantom Compass recently completed the Wapos Racerz Game Prototype. This kind of prototype is called a “Proof of Concept” Prototype, which means that we build only the parts of the game needed to “prove” that we can build a fun racing game. This normally includes only the basic gameplay or “mechanics” for the game without any of the glossy artwork, killer sound, frantic physics or cunning artificial intelligence.

For the Wapos Racerz Prototype, we made a little purplish-grey box that you can drive around a crazy rainbow coloured track. It’s not pretty and certainly not perfect, but it does demonstrate the technology functions like we planned. The player can drive around the track and collide with the track edges–even spin out of control.

Now that the prototype is complete our programmers and artists will be building on this to make it into a real game… but we still have a few steps to go before our game is ready to play properly.

Watch for more postings while we get ready for our next step, which is oddly named “Alpha.”

Ericka Evans,
Producer for Phantom Compass

Wapos Racerz! at the Studio

When I was first exposed to Wapos Bay, I was genuinely amazed; here was a world-class stop-motion animation program that was made in Canada – in Saskatchewan, no less – and it had completely slipped under my radar. Now, I consider myself pretty ‘media savvy’ (especially when it comes to genre programming, and even more so with animation), so if I was surprised by this revelation, the odds implied that a lot of other folks were similarly in the dark. This was a situation that needed to be remedied.

Enter ‘digital media’…or ‘transmedia’, as the hip kids like to call it. When the series creators and producers had mentioned that they were working on upgrading the web presence for the show early last year, I threw my proverbial hat in the ring. Their original plan was to create a basic video hub that featured short clips from the series…and not much else. My goal was to take advantage of current web technology – specifically Flash animation – to create a slice of the Wapos Bay experience online. People from around the world could come to the site, and immediately be immersed in the sights, sounds, and hand-made CHARACTER of the show. It would be packed with custom animations, easter eggs, and access to behind-the-scenes material that showcased the incredible craft of the creative team. 9 months later, Waposbay.com was born – mission accomplished!

So now – with the award-winning series coming to a close with a feature film – we wanted reach an even larger audience to celebrate its conclusion. And with the explosion in casual gaming online, the next phase seemed obvious: give new visitors and established fans a chance to meet the characters and explore the town in a stop-motion racing game. We hope you enjoy a sneak peek at what we have in store for later this Fall – Wapos Racerz is coming to a screen near you!!!

Courtesy Brooke Burgess, Transmedia Producer

Wapos Racerz by Phantom Compass

My name is Tony Walsh, and I’m the founder of Phantom Compass, a Toronto-based company that makes games in support of TV series. We’ve contributed to game projects on CBC, YTV, Teletoon, and now APTN with “Wapos Racerz,” based on the hit TV series Wapos Bay.

In Wapos Racerz, a free online game launching on the official Wapos Bay site later this year, players will choose one of four characters from the series–each of whom drives a unique go-kart–and race through the town of Wapos Bay and its surrounding wilds. Players will be able to spot visual surprises during the race, and collect Slushy Kitty cups to unlock video clips. Racing against three other characters, or against a “ghost” racer of their best time, the player can try for a personal best score or submit their high score for others around the world to beat.

All of us at Phantom Compass are fans of animation–and from a personal standpoint, I’ve always loved classical stop-motion animation (my background is in illustration). The team at Wapos Bay Interactive is currently hard at work animating the characters and vehicles for the game. We’ll be using these stop-motion animations in combination with 3D graphics to provide a fast-paced racing game true to the vibrant look, feel and spirit of Wapos Bay.

Phantom Compass began making the game early this year and at the time of this writing we’re busy with the game’s first playable prototype. The prototype will be a rough test to show how the basic physics and driving system plays out. While we’re making the prototype, we’re also generating concept sketches and “pre-visualization” footage. At this stage, we’re roughing out the entire game–nothing’s pretty yet, but by mid-year we’ll have some eye candy in place.

Over the coming months we’ll be providing the Wapos Bay team with updates on the game’s progress. This will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a game, and maybe even a chance to offer your suggestions for what you hope to see in Wapos Racerz!

Production Team Announces Digital Media Properties

The Wapos Bay production team is delighted to announce the launch of WaposBay.com and a world-class production blog, as well as the development of a “Wapos Bay” video game.

Developed by transmedia producers Ryan Lockwood and Brooke Burgess (Broken Saints), www.WaposBay.com has over 70 viral videos and compelling stop-motion interactivity (100+ animations), and is richly infused with the Cree language and traditions. This is a secret place where adventure and knowledge are the rewards for curiosity and exploration. The website was financed with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit program, Hulo Films, and Wapos Bay Productions. At the production blog (WaposBay.com/Blog), fans of the show, industry colleagues and animators alike can step behind the scenes to experience the making of the show.

The experience extends to social media, including FacebookTwitter and Flickr. On the Wapos Bay YouTube channel, fans can watch and share clips from the series, sizzle reels and demos. 

Delivering a high-quality transmedia experience is more than having a killer concept,” said Burgess. “It relies almost entirely on the caliber of your team to execute as planned. That’s why we’re so keen to be collaborating with Tony Walsh and his partners at Phantom Compass. With their help, next fall you’ll be able to experience Wapos Bay at breakneck speed by racing through the streets as your favourite character in custom handmade vehicles!

WAPOS RACER! will harness the power and worldwide reach of casual gaming. This ‘kart-style’ racer will challenge gamers of all ages and types to race through the world of Wapos Bay, explore unseen corners of the community, challenge their Cree language skills, and unlock video teasers and behind-the-scenes secrets. The game will be cross-platform: embeddable on Facebook, major Flash hubs like Newgrounds.com and Flashkit.com and open-source mobile-enabled (Android, Windows Mobile, etc).

Day 1: Shooting begins on “Long Goodbyes” at Wapos Bay Studio

The stop motion children’s animation series that has been going for five seasons and won numerous awards and screened at festivals around the world officially begins production on its movie today. The production team is also delighted to announce the launch of WaposBay.com and their production blog, as well as the development of a “Wapos Bay” video game.

Here’s a quick peak at the studio from yesterday:

“It’s been a long journey for us,” said producer Anand Ramayya of their start in 2003 with a pilot episode, the eventual development to a series that began airing in 2005, and winning their fourth Gemini award in 2010. “In the last five years we’ve done over $11 million dollars of production in Saskatoon, and we’ve employed over 50 people every single year. We’re proud to have built up the reputation we have [as being one of the top-rated stop motion studios in the country].”

“Long Goodbyes” will be the final installment of the TV series. In addition to regulars Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas) and Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall), expect to hear some new voices in the movie, including Canada AM’s Seamus O’ReganBeverly Thomson, Marci Ien and Jeff Hutcheson. The movie will premiere in the fall on APTN with a limited advance theatrical release.

View an animatic teaser clip from the movie at: