Category Archives: Commissioned

Mouse Control

Corus Entertainment asked us to create a game for their Treehouse preschool brand. We had this idea kicking around from an earlier planned preschool site, and i was worried that it would never see the light of day. So, we built it for Treehouse, and are very happy with how it turned out!


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Mouse Control gives the early preschool player the opportunity to develop computer mouse skills. Familiarity and capability with the mouse are taken for granted by so many preschool games. It first dawned on me that young children have trouble piloting the two-button brick when i taught computer classes to kindergarten students. While computer mice have become far sleeker and more ergonomically friendly, they’re still very much tailored to fit big hands.

Mice are also unintuitive! Just watch a small child (or your grandmother) try to steer the mouse like a car, rather than keeping it rigidly positioned and pointing “North”. Kids take to touchpads and touch interfaces much more naturally. But as long as we’re stuck with computer mice for the foreseeable future, why not create a game that helps our little players out?

The game introduces a series of progressively challenging mouse skills as it escalates:

  • Skill #1: Move the mouse to guide the cursor to a hotspot
  • Skill #2: Avoid certain areas of the screen
  • Skill #3: Guide the cursor to connect with a moving hotspot
  • Skill #4: Click the mouse button to activate a hotspot

With each level the camera pulls back, making the cursor and hotspots smaller so that they demand finer motor control.

Many of our industry partners approach us with concepts in hand and ask Untold Entertainment to execute those plans. Mouse Control is a great example of what we can do in a short time frame, where we’re responsible for developing the concept and the creative. We hope you share Mouse Control with the tiny, adorable people in your life!

Jinx 3: Escape from Area Fitty-Two


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Escape from Area Fitty-Two is the sequel to a pair of great original graphic adventure games on YTV.com (YTV is like the Nickelodeon of Canada). The first two games, A Dark and Stormy Night and Miracle in the 34th Dimension, were featured Hallowe’en and Christmas games, respectively. They were created by Toronto-area game design phenom Michael Lalonde, whose work you’ll see in a lot of kids’ games made here in the city. Michael is also the creator of Orneryboy, which is a bit like Garfield, if Garfield were a multi-tentacled Lovecraftian demi-god in a zombie-filled world imagined by the love child of Edgar Allen Poe and the creator of the Care Bears. i like to call it “pop occulture”. (Content warning: Orneryboy is for older readers. Ask your parents first, kids.)

So working from characters created by Michael, a concept by Michael, and an aesthetic i lifted from Michael’s first two games, i went for broke and created the biggest Jinx adventure yet. (Michael would be spinning in his grave right now, but despite an occasionally pallid complexion, he’s very much alive. :) Audience expectations were very high, and given the nearly ten year release date gap since the second game in the series, we were very worried that the game would never be made. But last year, YTV pulled through, commissioning the second sequel and making a lot of fans and new players very happy.

Jinx 3 features three playable characters that you can switch between on the fly, a waypoint system for greater freedom of movement, and a bunch more puzzles and cutscenes than you found in the first two games. i would really like to have added voice-over, because Jinx 3 is pretty text-heavy. Maybe YTV will commission a Special Edition?

Here’s a fan-made walkthrough of the first half of the game from teh uTubez, if you want to watch someone else play it:

Note: The choppiness in the video is due to the fan’s screen capture software. The actual game plays smoothly. The writer character’s disappearing head is due to the YTV site embedding the game at a different aspect ratio, which causes animation glitches.

Introducing UGAGS

Jinx 3 was the first game created with UGAGS, the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System, which is a code framework and set of tools we’re building to help us create these kinds of games more quickly and easily for ourselves and our clients.

Jinx Fans Only

Everyone else can stop reading right now, but if you’re a Jinx/Sitekick/YTV fan, you may be interested to know how this game ties together the mythology of a lot of the original content on YTV. Here’s a list of trivia:

WARNING: Here be spoilers!

  • The game reveals where Dr. Frantic got the red vat of mysterious alien ooze that you see in his lab when you go back in time in the Friday/Sunday chapter of the Sitekick Saga … he STOLE it from Area Fitty-Two!
  • The alien ooze comprises the black gelatinous ooze core of the Sitekick, offering a possible explanation as to how Sitekicks gained sentience (note: the current Sitekick redesign doesn’t allow you to open your robot to see the ooze core any longer, which is a shame)

    They Came for the Ooze

  • YTV released a casual downloadable game called They Came for the Ooze. It was a match-3 game featuring little aliens that look a bit like Sitekick. The game hinted that the aliens returned to Earth to reclaim their ooze, but it never explained how Dr. Frantic obtained the ooze in the first place. Now we know!
  • Dr. Frantic gets the idea for the Sitekick from the design on the wall of the small room inside the hangar. The design was confiscated from the Gnat aliens, which may mean that the Gnat aliens originally designed the Sitekick.
  • The metal plate on the back of Dr. Frantic’s head joins a new revelation: when Dr. Frantic walks through the X-Ray, he’s a robot!

    Dr. Frantic is a robot!

    Holy crap – it’s like the X Files up in here!

  • Michael’s original concept for the game had Dr. Frantic losing his head, and Jinx had to rewire him to put him back together. The idea didn’t make it into this version, but it would be really neat to see it in a sequel.
  • Michael made a time management Sitekick Factory, where one of Evil Santa’s E.L.F.s (Evil Loyal Followers) had to build Sitekicks. At the end of Jinx 3, Dr. Frantic offers the E.L.F. a job, which is a reference to Sitekick Factory.
  • Between Jinx 2 and Jinx 3, Michael created an animated short where a UFO kidnaps Jinx while Jinx is camping. The UFO was a repurposed asset from Michael’s quickie game Nero the Hero. It was reused once more in the hangar in Jinx 3.
  • At launch time, there was a Sitekick code in the small room inside the hangar. Get it while it’s still active!
  • DID U KNOW? Jinx is never referred to with a gender-specific pronoun, which leaves it up to the player to see Jinx as either a boy or a girl
  • There’s nothing under the sheet when Jinx walks through the X-Ray (another of Michael’s great ideas!)
  • It’s tricky to catch, but when the E.L.F. walks through the X-Ray, he has a cupcake in his tummy. i threw that in there because i know Michael has a thing for cupcakes.
  • Dr. Frantic gets his hovercar from the hangar, which he uses again in the Sitekick Saga – Wednesday chapter to battle the rampaging Monster Sitekick. One early idea was to have the characters all escape in their own hovercars.
  • The inventory items are consistent and carry over from game to game.

YTV.com has a rich creative history packed with some fantastic original content. It would be great to see Corus, YTV’s parent company, exploit some of that IP worldwide. i think it would be a hit! Meantime, Jinx 3 was a fantastic project to work on – a real labour of love – and an itch i’ve been wanting to scratch for nearly ten years. i think it’s the funniest game i’ve ever written. Hope you enjoy it! (Now go let YTV know you want to see the much-rumoured sequel to Freaky Friday! :)

Best Ed – Hedge Your Bets!

Hedge Your Bets! is one of two games that we developed (the other one being Crossing Dog) with kids’ teevee producer marblemedia, for 9Story Entertainment‘s cartoon show Best Ed. Hedge Your Bets! is loosely based around an episode where Ed and Miss Fluffé the hamster/fortune teller get “stranded” in a small grove of trees in the middle of a populated playground.

marblemedia asked us to create a maze game using assets from 9Story’s repository. Since the show was animated in Flash, all of the assets were .fla files. We had an absolute blast diving into the repo and choosing from so many gorgeous art and animation assets. We had researched mazes a few years back and learned that it’s a fairly simple thing to train an AI player to solve a certain type of maze. Since then, we’ve always wanted to build a maze game where you race an AI player to the exit. This project was our chance to build that exact game!

marblemedia took care of the title screen, HUD and audio assets for the game. Best Ed currently airs on Cartoon Network TOO in the UK, pan-European Cartoon Network, and on ABC in Australia.

(note: the High Scores functionality at the end of the game is tied to the broadcaster, and has been disconnected for this standalone version)

Best Ed – Crossing Dog

Crossing Dog is one of two games that we developed (the other one being Hedge Your Bets) with kids’ teevee producer marblemedia, for 9Story Entertainment‘s cartoon show Best Ed. Crossing Dog the game is loosely based around an episode of the same name.

marblemedia asked us to create a Frogger-like game using assets from 9Story’s repository. Since the show was animated in Flash, all of the assets were .fla files. We had an absolute blast diving into the repo and choosing from so many gorgeous art and animation assets. In the Crossing Dog episode, Ed wears a hat, sash and whistle. Since we couldn’t find enough run cycle rotations of Ed in that costume, we dreamed up a scenario where Ed had lost his whistle and can’t stop the cars, so he has to carry each kid safely to the other side of the street. It’s a slightly bent concept that meshes nicely with the off-kilter, Eek! the Cat-style humour of the show.

marblemedia took care of the title screen, HUD and audio assets for the game. Best Ed currently airs on Cartoon Network TOO in the UK, pan-European Cartoon Network, and on ABC in Australia.

(note: the High Scores functionality at the end of the game is tied to the broadcaster, and has been disconnected for this standalone version)

Eye in the Sky

We created this spot-the-differences game for Sinking Ship Entertainment’s Are We There Yet? World Adventure kids’ travel teevee show.

 
The Sinking Ship team wanted to evoke the feeling of playing  a fun game with your brother, sister or friend on the way to some far-flung destination.  In Eye In The Sky, you and your travel companion stare at the back of two airliner seats trying to find subtle differences.  The differences themselves are randomized across three rounds, with enough differences to spill over into multiple games to encourage repeat plays.