Project Postmortem

Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island - 2006

Platforms: Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube

Development Schedule: 10 months

Developer: BlueTongue Entertainment Pty Ltd

Publisher: THQ


Project Description

In Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island, players assume the role of six playable characters from numerous Nickelodeon shows, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom, and The Fairly OddParents. The plot involves SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom, Timmy Turner (with Cosmo and Wanda), Patrick Star, Sam Manson, and Sandy Cheeks trying to protect the island from an all-new villain named Mawgu. Tucker Foley, Squidward Tentacles, and Jimmy Neutron also appear, but only as support, and are non-playable.

The game was a follow-up to Nicktoons Unite! and used the same basic mechanics, but with improvements to player movement and navigation, abilities, and the beginning of a restructure to our in-house tools and codebase.

Previously, all levels were designed within 3D Studio Max, a 3D modelling program, and exported with various scripts. We instead heavily modified a toolset developed at Studio Oz, another THQ in-house development studio in Brisbane Australia, and used it as our level design tool. This allowed us to easily extend the tools and add new features as required. During this phase we also refactored our codebase from a heavily object-oriented inherited mess into a component-driven system, allowing for quick development of new features and mechanics.

My Role

I continued being responsible for the camera systems and cutscene systems from previous games, however I modified our cutscene system to no longer be pre-rendered, but instead ran within the game.

I was also responsible for refactoring a lot of the gameplay props and items. As mentioned previously, all game objects were unique classes within C++, inheriting from structured base classes that added specific behaviour. The new refactor was component-based, coupled with a new Event/Action system that I was responsible for developing. This new system allowed level designers to specify actions to execute when specific events happen on an item, including the ability for actions to trigger other items or start timers to trigger new events. Performance was improved, along with the ease of development. Bugs were also reduced due to the simplification of the codebase.

Additionally I assisted in the design and implementation of "boss battles" within the game, such as the "Sand Monster" fight where the player would launch coconuts from catapults at the boss to defeat them.