Project Postmortem

Nicktoons Unite! - 2005

Platforms: Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube

Development Schedule: 12 months

Developer: BlueTongue Entertainment Pty Ltd

Publisher: THQ


Project Description

Nicktoons Unite! (also known as SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends: Unite! in Europe) is a video game featuring characters and levels from SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom, The Fairly OddParents, and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. In the game, the player can control four Nicktoons characters (SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron, Timmy Turner, and Danny Phantom) as they work together to stop an evil plan concocted by villains from each character's series.

Players navigate through the game world as the camera dynamically follows them, viewing from various angles. Many levels work as classic platformer levels, while others have more similarities to beat'em up or hack'n'slash games.

The game was developed using an in-house engine called Toshi, that allowed for the development off cross-platform titles written in C++.

My Role

I was responsible for the dynamic camera systems used within the game, along with implementing various in-game props and character behaviour. I also implemented the cutscene system that allowed artists to create cutscenes within 3D Studio Max that were then captured from within our game engine and saved as pre-recorded clips that could be played back with localised subtitles.

The camera system allowed level designers to place camera "rigs" throughout the camera world, specifying prefered viewing angles and distances for areas within the level. The camera system would use a weighted sample of nearest rigs to dertemine a suitable angle for viewing the players. The camera would also dynamically zoom to ensure all players fit within the display area. Different camera rigs could be used that contained specifyic behaviours, such as statically locking in place while focusing on the players (much like a security camera), statically locking completely while limited the players' movements to remain on screen, or locking in a cylindrical manner. Designers could use camera regions to create specific behaviour zones within other regions.

I also implemented many character behaviours for both player characters and enemy characters, including boss characters. One example would be SpongeBob's Karate Gloves attacks. I also have a fond memory of implementing a SpongeBob "distraction" attack where he would toss Crabby Patty burger patties using a spatular, which enemy characters would then flock to to eat. Sadly this was removed from the game at the request of Nicklodeon for fears that "it would encourage kids to eat burgers, which make them fat, which is bad, so we should remove that", despite SpongeBob working at a burger restaraunt in the cartoon...

Despite the game being a rather simple kids game I still have fond memories of it, especially since the great Tim Curry did voice work for the game.