Backstage Corporate Clash: The Evolution of the Toontorial
Posted on April 24, 2023 by The Corporate Clash Crew
Hello, Toons, and welcome to yet another Backstage Blog; The blog where we take you backstage! (Crazy, right?) Today, we'll be taking a look at the development and creative process behind the revamped Toontorial and Schoolhouse introduced in the 1.3 update! The Schoolhouse proved to be one of the most ambitious aspects of 1.3, so we're very excited to share with you all how it came to be!
Building The Groundwork
As Corporate Clash has continued to expand it's gameplay experience, the diverse amount of mechanical changes made to the gameplay demanded completely different strategies from the vanilla Toontown Online experience. The lack of in-depth tutorials would put too much reliance on the player, as if they already knew who to talk to and where to go. This wouldn’t be as bad for new players with prior Toontown experience, but what about players that aren’t as knowledgeable? What if we could make a new area dedicated to allowing players to safely learn and practice their skills?
The idea of the new Toontorial was heavily pushed for by Corporate Clash Crew member Loonatic, who went on to spearhead the development of the Schoolhouse creatively. She collaborated closely with concept artists, modelers, texture artists, and animators to design the Schoolhouse's look and feel, which went through a lot of iterations! As you can imagine, making a full-on building from the ground up is no easy feat, so exploring every possible idea was important to make sure we landed on the best possible end result.
The Schoolhouse, including its exterior model, classroom, and training room, were all modeled by our talented 3D artist FoxThatRox. Our texture artists Fargo, Mailman, Poppy Cheezycorn, and Salem painted and shaded the props in the Schoolhouse, while Loonatic handled the more technical aspects of the art, and NonsensicalThings handled any needed animation. Various artists from the team would later pitch in to create the adorable posters that scatter the room! The process was complex, and involved a lot of people, so communication was important to ensure a smooth creative pipeline.
The library is one of our favorite aspects of the Schoolhouse, and also one of the most daunting. There are a lot of unique books in there. All books' names were written by either a crew member or member of the community, which makes it a particularly fun, collaborative part of the environment. If you have the time, go check it out! You might get a kick out of what you find hidden in there!
How To Train
The Schoolhouse's training room was originally set to be a transformative area that could teach players about various different parts of Toontown's gameplay. For example, if you were getting ready to head into a C.F.O., you could head to the Schoolhouse to practice my craning! We eventually realized that, while cool, this was both out of scope, (the nightmare of every artist,) and unpractical.
Upon returning to home base, it was decided that the training room should primarily prioritize the main battle mechanics, which is what you'll rely on most as you play the game. One of the most important benefits of this is that it allows players to really feel out gags and see if they like them, versus just reading about them and selecting them based off a small descriptor.
Another part of this process that proved to be difficult was, believe it or not, writing. This would be the first thing new players see, so first impressions are important! We went through various iterations, (some of which you can read HERE and HERE,) and even had to re-write to accommodate for Gag changes made mid-development, before finally setting on what it seen in-game.
The original version of the training room actually played out quite differently in comparison to the final result. Our original idea was that Tutorial Tom, (Yes, that Tutorial Tom,) would be manning the computer seen in the room, which would operate the Desk Jockeys. We even had a comic script complete, which would establish the creation of the new Schoolhouse and the hiring of Tom. As the idea of the Desk Jockeys evolved, this was eventually phased out, but it's fun to look back on! In fact, as a little treat for you all, the unused comic script can be viewed in its entirety HERE!
On the topic of the Desk Jockeys, they went through their fair share of changes too! We knew we wanted some sort of "mock-up Cog" made by the Toons that you could practice with, but we weren't quite sure what that looked like yet. Our original idea was that it would literally be a cardboard cutout of a Cog that would move around with the help of rails on the ground, but that caused problems when it came to animation. How would a Desk Jockey react to a trap gag, for example? We had played with other ideas, such as a scarecrow-esque Flunky, before finally settling on the design seen in-game!
The final design of the Desk Jockies doesn't just serve to fix that animation concern and allow them to be usable in the Prethinker battle, but also allows for some fun visual storytelling; Just by looking at them, you can get an idea of how Professor Pete made them using spare stuff he had lying around the Schoolhouse.
Getting to the final design of the Desk Jockey wasn't entirely immediate, however. We talked with Polygon (Creative Leadership + Artist) for insight on several more iterations!
"At the time, I was given a concept of a Cog body that looked like a patchy burlap suit stuffed with straw. I thought it looked a lot like a scarecrow. From that, I had a couple routes which immediately came to mind: I could either design a scarecrow-like head to match that body, or I could embrace the schoolhouse aesthetic and create something inspired by objects you'd likely find at school. I brainstormed a few ideas with both sides in mind.
Admittedly, I was immediately biased toward the lamp-with-a-necktie concept I'd made, and I was glad when fellow crew members agreed it was the most ideal design. It felt like a really unique shape that would allow for some fun animations, along with being the right balance of silliness, technology, and formalwear to help portray the idea of a Toon's wacky attempt at a homemade Cog. I leaned into that idea more as I worked it into the final design; adding more mechanical features and a little Coglike bowler hat, while still sticking to the theme of a cobbled-together imitation of something Toons don't quite understand."
And that just about wraps it up for today's Backstage Blog! As always, thank you very much for your continued support on Toontown: Corporate Clash! We hope you found this blog interesting, and we hope your excited for upcoming content we have in the works. Stay tuned!