Wapos Racerz Blog- Nearing Beta

Wapos Racerz, where the kids from Wapos Bay take their go-karts to the streets and trails, is nearly ready to rumble. The game is approaching its “Beta” stage of development, which means it’s a bit rough around the edges, but just about done. We’ve been working hard this year with the Wapos Bay Interactive team in bringing the characters and scenes of the series into the game world. As you race through the streets and back roads, the cast of character dot the town and countryside. Keep your eye out for cool little areas that make you want to slow down to look around. My fav spots are the drive-in theatre and the waterpark. On your tour through town, be sure to collect “Slushy Kitty” cups, grab a rabbit pickup to boost you to the front of the pack and avoid turtle pickups that will slow you down. There are even some hidden Easter Eggs for you keeners!

Courtesy Ericka Evans, Producer at Phantom Compass

Wapos Racerz Game Maker Profile – Thomas Detko

Q: What do you do?

A: As associate producer at Phantom Compass I wear many hats. In addition to maintaining a presence at events, networking with industry types and the like I also get my hands dirty developing games in the realm of game design, coding, and art, both 2D and 3D.

Q: What is your favourite part of your job?

A: Being able to work with my collegues at Phantom Compass. I can’t stress enough what an amazing team we have.

Q: What Wapos Bay character are you most like?

A: I would like to think Talon, but some might say T-bear lol.

Q: What other projects have you worked on?

A: Recently our Twitter Leader Boards at http://www.points4people.com, but I am also knee deep in a few mobile projects and many others that are in the works right now but we can’t talk about them yet ;p

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

A: Faithful – I love seeing the characters and sights from Wapos Bay.

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

A: Talon

Wapos Racerz Development Update

A few weeks back we said bye-bye to the little grey boxes that used to drive around the crazy rainbow coloured racetrack that used to be Wapos Racerz Prototype. Now when we are testing our game, we can choose real characters to race as; Devon, Talon, T-Bear or Raven. No more crazy coloured racetrack either; Wapos Bay is starting to come to life and as you drive around the streets you can see that some of the characters and important places from the show are starting to line the streets. There are lots of great improvements happening daily and we are all happy to keep you up to date on what’s going on! Watch out for more game maker profiles too.

Courtesy: Ericka Evans, Producer at Phantom Compass

Wapos Racerz Game Maker Profile – Ericka Evans

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.

Don’t forget to send us your questions too!   We will try to answer as many as we can in future blogs.

Q: What is your name?

A: Ericka Evans

Q: What do you do?

A: I’m a Producer.  I do a lot of organizing and sharing of information. I’m in charge of making sure everyone has everything they need to do their jobs and that the jobs get done on time.

Q: What is your favourite part of your job?

A: I like making charts and checking check boxes… just kidding (but it may be little bit true).  My for real favorite part is getting to meet and work with fun and interesting people.

Q: What Wapos Bay character are you most like?

A: Raven.  I like pigtails too.

Q: What other projects have you worked on?

A: I have just recently joined Phantom Compass, but before that I did writing and producing for Kids shows and websites, and before-before that I worked for a company that made Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 games and before-before-before that I made TV shows for Preschoolers.

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

A: Sick.  I’m a big fan of racing games, some of my faves are GranTurismo and Mario Kart.  Wapos Racerz is up there.

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

A: A rock.  I hate hearing the sound of my voice played back to me, so I’m thinking a silent rock would work best for both me and the audience.

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 Bay Lives on in Digital World

By Emily Claire Afan, Playback Daily

Wapos Bay the series may be coming to an end on the small screen this fall, but the Saskatchewan team behind the children’s stop-motion animated series has plans for the franchise to live on in the digital media world.

Producers Dennis and Melanie Jackson, and Anand Ramayya recently wrapped production on the final episode, which will air as a feature-length MOW on APTN called Long Goodbyes.

Marrying the traditional art of stop-motion animation with the new interactive side was no easy task, but the team was intent on keeping the same look of the series across the board.

According to Hulomedia transmedia producer Ryan Lockwood, WaposBay.com is a “very close translation” of the series that plays on the exploration and adventure themes that have drawn kids to the series for the last five seasons on APTN. (The site received CMF funding.)

WaposBay.com launched last fall, and this coming fall, the interactive offering is Wapos Racerz! (pictured), a Mario Kart-esque style casual racing game from Toronto independent game company Phantom Compass.

“It was a challenge to do the game in stop-motion,” show creator Dennis Jackson tells Playback Daily, echoing Lockwood’s thoughts on keeping the stop-motion look consistent across Wapos products. “It would probably be easier to do it in Flash, but we were adamant to have it look like the show.”

Lockwood worked with fellow Hulo producer Brooke Burgess on the game as well, noting that animators on the MOW also contributed to the creation of Racerz!

Digital extensions of the brand slated for this fall include an interactive storybook series for mobile and tablet platforms that allows readers to flip between Cree, French and Inuktitut languages, as well as linking to videos on its YouTubechannel. On top of that, Wapos Bay episodes will soon be available for downloading on iTunes, streaming rentals and for sale on DVD on Amazon.com, IndieFlix and Netflix.

On tap next for Hulo and WBP is another stop-motion sci-fi project called Guardians, a project which Melanie Jackson says is already locked into coproduction deals with Australia and New Zealand.

Wapos Racerz: Making Video Games

Q: What do you need to make video games?

A: Computers.  Ok, that answer might be overly simple, but I think that the question “WHO do you need to make video games?” is more interesting…

There are some video game companies who have hundreds of employees working in teams in space-aged offices, with robots that roam the halls offering bowls of free candy.  And then there are some video game companies who have only one employee who does it all, working tirelessly out of her mom’s basement, surrounded by pizza boxes and empty Dr. Pepper cans.

Gratefully, Phantom Compass falls somewhere in between… Robots kind of scare me.  With four full-time employees and many fantastic contractors, Phantom Compass creates rocking games.

Here is a breakdown of WHO Phantom Compass needs to make the “Wapos Racerz” game for you.

-ARTISTS- Often seen sipping a coffee from a ridiculously small cup with odd little moustaches, the artists are the ones charged with making the game look and sound nice.  They have an imagination for the finished game experience, the artistic skill to create the art needed and often have the technical know-how to get it done.

-PROGRAMMERS- Programmers can look at a problem, debate the 5 billion possible solutions and choose the most efficient solution to move forward with… all in about a nano-second.  They are kind of like robots… but friendly ones, that smile.  They work with and sometimes even create the game’s engine (which is the computer code that makes the game run) and often even make their own tools (programs that run in the game engine) for artist and other programmers to work with.

-DIRECTORS- Like a ships captain, they lead their crew out into the stormy seas of Game Development and safely back to the quiet shores of Final Delivery.  Directors make decisions on which direction the game should go and direct the artists and programmers every step of the way.

-ORGANIZERS- These people are sometimes called Producers or Project Managers, but really they are just like a Mom or Dad who makes sure that everyone is fed, gets to their after-school activities on time, has their homework done and always has a band aid ready in case someone falls down.

So, now you know WHO Phantom Compass needs to create “Wapos Racerz” for you.  These team members are all working hard getting ready for our next deadline.

Keep your eye out for more postings, where you will get to meet some of our team members… None of which are robots.

Cheers,

Ericka Evans,

Producer for Phantom Compass

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!