Backstage Corporate Clash: The v1.2.0 Update

Posted on May 14, 2021

INTRODUCTION:


Welcome to another exciting edition of Backstage: Corporate Clash! As the title suggests, there are two main topics on the docket for discussion this time around: a reflection on the recently released v1.2.0 Update, in which we highlight much of the hard work and the countless individuals responsible for making that update possible, addressing what went right vs. what didn’t, as well as showcasing what could have been. 

After that, we’ll be diving headfirst into discussing what’s next for Toontown: Corporate Clash, so prepare yourself for an exclusive scoop on the future of the game!  Without further ado, let’s get started!

BUILDING THE BOTS:


We’ll begin by talking about our Game Design department. All things considered, Game Design is still a relatively new department, having been formed after the launch of our v1.1.0 Update. The goal of the Game Design department is to better organize a game plan for future ideas, and where the future of the game begins, including the storyline and general lore of the game, but also the ideas for the next slate of content itself. Jay Nite, our now former Game Design Lead, would sum up the department as “a mix of gathering feedback, finding creative solutions, and nerdy number crunching”.

So, let’s talk about how the v1.2.0 Update came to fruition from a Game Design perspective. We knew as a team we wanted to create an update that’d build off of v1.1.0, as a continuation of the Lawbot HQ revamp, but how? And why? You must first have a story before you can go further. We interviewed Toonsies, one of our Game Design Lead Assistants, and the overseer of all things lore-related in Corporate Clash, for the scoop on that. 


From the get-go, we knew as a team that as part of this further Lawbot expansion, we wanted to create a harder version of the C.L.O. Bossfight, which of course soon began to be known as the “Overclocked C.L.O.”. “We wanted to explain why the CLO would wish to buff her defenses. Of course, CLO is a lot wiser than the other bosses (shh, don't tell Chairman), and it would fit her personality to be a few steps ahead of the Resistance. CLO would introduce these plans with the well-loved Litigation Team. “ Toonsies writes, in relation to how we first went about further fleshing out such an idea. The C.L.O. would enlist the help of the Litigation Team, a cast of new characters that’d be a major focus of the v1.2.0 Update. 

We asked her some more about the Litigation Team and how the idea for each individual member came about, to which she replied, “we wanted them to have a dynamic that seemed to clash (get it?) quite a bit while also seeming like that they fit with each other. You had the boss, Litigator, who always made sure that he was the spokesperson for all of the Litigation team. Stenographers are people who document trials, and what no better way was to make her keen and guarded? With the Case Manager, he wanted to make him quiet and to seem to emit a somewhat threatening aura (cause we always need a scary guy in a group!). And, last but not least, Scapegoat was the most fun one of all. Scapegoat's personality was heavily inspired by Danny DeVito and his role in Hercules and The Lorax! We wanted Scapegoat to be this angry, small Cog who was ready to pick a fight! “. These ideas were the basis for the Litigation Team on a character development level, but also the basis of their method of attacks that’d be seen in-game later down the line.

So, we had an idea and we had our characters, but how would one go about properly introducing these characters to the public? That’s where the comic comes in, and Toonsies once again. “Writing the comic was such a blast alongside NonsensicalThings. My favorite part of the comic was a subtle joke about Scapegoat being called a kid because of his name! He's the equivalent of a grown adult, but I thought it was a bit funny to make fun of his personality and character. Creating a story can take much work but is extremely rewarding in the end. Lawbot lore has been my utmost favorite so far, given that I did a majority of Cog lore for the Break the Law arc. Throughout my time working for v1.2, I have been asked story questions, and let us say that it is something I love answering! I can't wait for you all to see what the next chapter entails!” 


Comics weren’t the only thing in store, however, and we were interested in taking things a step further, with an animated short that never saw the light of day. The idea according to Toonsies, who was slated to be at the front of arranging that, describes it as an attempt “to show a bit of CLO's personality in an animated short with an advocate and a Toon mouse in a *Tom & Jerry* style chase!” Imagine how cool that would have been! We’re certainly toying with future ideas for Corporate Clash animations, and while this short in particular may have been scrapped, that’s not to say we don’t have further plans for the future. 

 With an idea in place, it was now time to move onto developing the idea for the v1.2.0 Update beyond initial planning. The next step was to design and create all needed assets to bring this idea to life.

THE CREATIVE TOUCH:


The time had come to begin bringing this update to life. So many little bits and pieces go into the modeling and texturing process of an update, which we could go on forever about, but for the sake of this blogpost, we’ll focus mainly on the modeling, texturing, and animation process of the Litigation Team. After receiving concepts from Anonymous Avocado for the Litigator and Stenographer, Sourdough who conceptualized the Case Manager, and the Scapegoat, who was the product of ideas from almost everyone on our Concept Art team, FoxThatRox began to model the heads. From there, Loonatic and Fargo would create texture art.

“I liked texturing both the Stenographer and the Case Manager, however the Stenographer was definitely my favorite one to texture. Starting off, I was given a lot of creative freedom on her visage. Before I went on to texturing her model, I traced over the concept art I was given of her and planned out a color palette I'd use. It took me a while until I could find a base color I was satisfied with, since I didn't want her to have just ordinary lawbot colors -- though I didn't want her to look out-of-the-picture either. One of my biggest thoughts was: "How could I make her look akin to a real stenographer, but also akin to a Lawbot-like cog at the same time?"” writes Loonatic, in regards to the textures she handled.


“The most challenging portion definitely came from the Case Manager. Not only did I restart from scratch twice, but his UVs (Shapes plotted down for texturing specific parts of a model) were changed a total of four times. It also took me a couple of attempts to get his texture the way I wanted it to be.” said Loonatic.


“My favorite member of the litigation team to work on had to have been the Scapegoat for a few reasons, the biggest being Kilo's design and his general ruggedness. It's not something someone really expects from a cog, oftentimes they're portrayed as very serious and well-mannered, but the Scapegoat defies the expectations in many ways. I tried to translate his hot-headed nature in the texture, by illustrating wounds, chips in the paint, and scuff marks to help tell a story about his past. It was an interesting experience working away from the norm, and a big undertaking to get just right.”



“I'd say the most exciting part about the project was bringing these cogs to life, in a lot of aspects, you have to consider their character as well as the personality. When texturing the Litigator, I had to work backwards to try and create a narrative with my texture, as a lot of the backstory is often created after the fact. I figured he was the most level-headed of the bunch, so his design is much cleaner and more polished than say the Scapegoat, who I saw as more of a tough cog based on the concept art.” - Fargo



Once the models were in a complete state, it was then time to move onto the animation process, which was handled by NonsensicalThings.

“When you work on the Clash team and are in training, a lot of work is hidden for you, and as soon as you come out, it's like a giant curtain opens, and you get to really see a lot of the inner working of the team. I remember as soon as both me and AnonymousAvacado got out of training, he and Shawny were already getting to work on designing The Litigation Team, and that's kind of where it all started for me. Of course, we hadn't begun animating at that time, the characters didn't even have finalized designs yet, but I was very involved in offering critique and sharing my thoughts on the designs, as were the other creative members, which I like to think helped shape the overall product. I think Litigation Team has been one of the updates I've been most involved in for that reason.”



“As for animating the Litigation Team specifically, the Litigator posed a lot of troubles. For starters, his jaw was incredibly hard to rig, because in order to rig it, I actually had to get my digital camera inside his mouth, which is, by default, closed, which made it much harder to get every single point on the roof of his mouth, inside of his jaw, etc.. You'd get a lot of stuff where parts of his mouth looked "glued" to the roof of his mouth when you moved it because not everything was weight painted.”

MAKING THE MUSIC:


Early on into the development of the update, we also began conceptualizing some of the music for this upcoming update. We talked to Duke, one of our composers, on his process there.

"I was approached in late-October (October 24th to be specific) to do the hardmode tracks. Rox (who was Creative LA at the time) was doing my weekly check-up on an unrelated track and offered me the hardmode tracks.

 The general idea of the tracks had already been established. Specifically, I was told to make “remixes” of the existing tracks, which meant preserving at least a recognizable portion of the work that Frasca had already done with the normal CLO equivalent tracks. I was additionally given some instructions related to alarm sfx (which ultimately didn’t make it into the final version), but otherwise I was given no specifics about how to approach the tracks. The Litigation Team had already been assigned to Frasca, and that music was turned in well before my tracks were finished."

You can listen to the original version of the first battle HERE.

" The laser cog round and megaphone round went through 25+ different versions before reaching the ones that were added to the game. Many of these changes were extremely tiny things, and it was somewhat frustrating, but I eventually got to a point where everyone on the team was happy with it."

You can listen to an earlier version of the megaphone round HERE

"There are a LOT of motifs in the OCLO tracks. By my own count at least eleven other songs are referenced in them. Can you find all of them?"

REDESIGNING THE UI:


Next, we’d like to switch gears a bit and focus on another highlight of the v1.2.0 Update: the revamped Battle UI. To talk more about that, we’ve brought on Sourdough, who was the main person in charge of conceptualizing the UI.


“So, the tale of the great Battle GUI begins around June 2020, actually! I believe I was approached by either Jay or Lorthos initially. I was assigned this project because I had done a few GUI assignments in the past and because those concepts were well-received by the rest of the team!”


“Jay still liked the idea of a track expanding upon hovering over it with the mouse, so he actually created his own, rough concept of what it would look like. Simply put, it was the original GUI but more compact. Gag tracks that you did not have would be displayed as a thin, empty line, while gag tracks you did have were just a bit thinner than its original size. The ‘block’ design of TTO’s original battle GUI just couldn’t be beat! It was easy to understand, effectively showed the player the order of the gags and what each gag did, and didn’t require much else other than clicking a few buttons. I decided to just make some slight tweaks to the original design without changing any major core feature. The goal was to make an easy-to-use, good-looking, compact, GUI. What you see in the game today is just the final concept rendered out, thanks to Poppy!”


“For the cog panels, it was incredibly difficult to incorporate status effects, health, level, and a space for a cog head into a small, pretty, and effective design. Eventually, Jay and I sat in a call and determined what would work and what wouldn’t. It took several tries to get it all right, but we got there!

Expect more reworked GUIs from me, I suppose! UI/UX work is tough work but I enjoy it nonetheless. I hope to provide better and better GUIs concepts for the game for years to come!”

MAPPING THE CUTSCENES:


Mapping out the cutscenes for the Overclocked C.L.O. was something else that took a significant amount of work. To talk more about this process, we talked to Vamp.

"Honestly, my inspiration for the cutscenes was to give Lauren more of a "spotlight", so to speak (I did that quite literally). I felt like she was underutilized in the normal CLO battle, and I wanted to make sure her character wasn't just neglected. Keeping with Lauren being a bit daft was a must, and I enjoy how many people I made laugh with the cutscene. That was the main inspiration for shaping the cutscenes, but there were definitely a few more. Another huge inspiration was wanting some "randomness" to the fight. That's where the idea of the Litigation Team table shot came from. Did you know the cutscene has multiple outcomes, where each member could be on either side of the table?"


"Initially, the Litigation round was supposed to come first. However, I felt like in order to not rinse and repeat the same thing and order with the CLO, it might be interesting to try a round out in the hallway. We felt like the Litigation Team was too grandiose to be shoved in a hallway, so we changed our sights to keeping the Litigation Team inside the courtroom, and kept the idea of the first battle being inside the hallway. This is where the idea of tripping the security system came from, and from there, we were able to place things in quite easily.

I did most of the movement and mapping, but realized that I'm not a great person when it comes to dialogue. So, I asked Miss Loremaster herself, Toonsies, to jump on cutscenes with me. She did all of the dialogue, which was filled in after I did some blocking and maps for the cutscenes. It was definitely a combined effort, something I wouldn't really have done a great job of myself, that I'm glad Toonsies was able to pick up."

" I'd say my favorite part was when the cutscenes started to be coded and we were getting small snippets of what they looked like in-game. It was definitely that moment where you say, "Woah, I made that!" Definitely a first for me, and definitely something I hope to continue doing on Game Design.



I wish I could've done more, honestly! But, nobody likes to sit and watch cutscenes after the first time, so keeping them short and sweet was a must. I know there are people who love to sit and watch them, and I'd definitely be interested to see what more I can do with cutscenes in the future."

DEVELOPING THE UPDATE:


Now, an update wouldn’t be an update at all without the Technical Team! Once we’ve got all concepts and assets finalized, our Game Developers work their magic to bring the update to life. Game Development is a near endless process, and we could take up an entire blogpost 100 times the length of this one covering v1.2.0’s development from a technical standpoint and still not cover everything. Instead, much like the last few sections, we’ll be putting a focus on changes made to the battle system, and the Litigation Team fight. To talk more on that, here’s Sketched, a now former Game Developer who worked on a lot of different projects that amounted to the v1.2.0 Update.



“I was pretty much involved in the development of the update from the beginning. Initially, I developed the specialist executive suit progression and would later go on to develop some of the battle system refactors found in the update.

This was a big project to take on. Essentially, we needed a way to add new abilities and mechanics to custom battles without using a new version of the battle system for each unique fight we implemented. To do this, the Battle Listener was created. The Battle Listener, well, listens for events that happen during the battle. These could be a Toon healing, a Throw Gag being used, or a Cog dying. Simple things like that. From there, a JSON-styled formatting was created to handle these events and define how Cogs would respond to different actions during the battle. Later on, this was expanded to be incorporated into the Status Effects system, as these also heavily rely on the Battle Listener.”


“It was a very fun experience being able to lead the development for the Litigation Team. I learned a lot during the process and it helped refine the Battle Listener and Status Effect systems. The most challenging part of it for me was simply figuring out the best way to implement some of the abilities that the members of the Litigation Team had. The most interesting one to implement was the Scapegoat. The Scapegoat actually places an invisible status effect on other Cogs that track how much damage is being dealt to them and reduces their incoming damage by 30%, and that took a bit to figure out how exactly that would function on the back end. The most exciting part was seeing all of their abilities come together as it was developed. The Litigation Team was a large project to take on and was a large-scale test of the changes and additions to the battle system, so it was really cool to see it all work so well together, and later on to see the community's reaction to them.”


My least favorite part of working on v1.2.0, admittedly, was that I had just finished doing a lot of work on the normal C.L.O. To prevent burnout, I had to give myself a bit of a break before resuming work on the boss. This wasn't too big of a hurdle though, and besides that, I didn't really have anything else that I didn't enjoy when working on the update.

My favorite part of v1.2.0 from a technical standpoint is the Status Effects system. It was super fun to implement as well and was very necessary for the future of the game. Status Effects not only act as a display for different things in the battle, but they themselves actually handle different parts of the battle. This is why it was needed to recode Lure, Soak, etc. to all use the new Status Effects system. 

Now that it is fully featured though, it is extremely expansive and is all set for future content!”

BALANCING THE UPDATE:


Once development has wrapped up, we move onto what is known as the process of Quality Assurance Testing (or QA Testing for short). By this stage of development, the next update has been nearly finalized, and we bring in our team to test it to the moon and back to find any outstanding bugs, issues, adjustments to the gameplay that need to be made, and etc. To talk more about this process, here’s Madi, a former member of our Game Design team who helped to refine a lot of changes made to the game before the launch of the v1.2.0 Update.


"So the first thing that comes when developing a new boss is coming up with the attacks or cheats that they will have. While I wasn't involved in the initial conceptions of the Overclocked CLO fight or the Litigation Team fight, I was around for the QA testing phase. And when we did our initial round of testing, one thing quickly became clear: SOS cards were *way* too powerful. Cards such as Barnacle Bessie and Pierce were able to do huge amounts of damage to all Cogs in the battle, and we'd felt for a long while that it was strange that SOS cards, the reward you get from the first major boss fight, were more powerful or versatile than Cease & Desists and Fires. 

Not to mention Rain, a reward you get from a simple miniboss fight that takes only a couple minutes, was also seen to be way too powerful in combination with other Drop gags. So we pondered for a bit on how to fix this, and then some team members expressed interest in changing how SOS cards worked entirely. Another thing that was already planned was changing Cogs Miss and Toons Hit SOS cards to Cogs Damage Down and Toons Accuracy Up, which was simple to implement due to the brand new status effect system.

So, inspired by this change, some team members had the idea of moving this sort of "buff" system to *all* SOS cards. This would hopefully make SOS cards a bit more unique and balanced in comparison to the other rewards, as we want them to each have their own separate utility. From there, we got right to work!"


"As far as unites go, the concept of Unite cooldowns was something that the team had wanted to do for a long time. Since the Overclocked CLO is the first bit of actual difficult content in Corporate Clash, we wanted to make sure people weren't cheesing the fight by spamming Unites, so we decided to implement them here. After the release of the update however, some team members felt that lower level Unites were a bit too useless, and we didn't like the idea of people having to do several CFO fights in order to have a shot at just obtaining a single useful Toon-up Unite. We decided to bring the Unite numbers up a bit, which is something that's now possible without totally breaking the game thanks to Unite cooldowns. We can simply scale up Unite heals while also scaling up the cooldown time. For now though, I think we're pretty happy with where they're at."


It's been a really fun time being on the team! I only joined the Game Design Team in November, and as I mentioned earlier, by that time, the initial concepts for the Overclocked CLO fight were mostly done, but I'm excited to be involved in conceptualizing future content! We're already hard at work on the next update, and we can't wait to show off what we're working on!

CREATING THE BRAND ART:


The v1.2.0 Update was ready before we knew it, and in some ways, that meant we weren’t entirely prepared. We were able to secure a release date well in advance of our initial target, and that meant needing to get an announcement out, and quickly. We turned to Mailman, who’d end up creating one of the most legendary images in all of Toontown: Corporate Clash brand art history. 


“It was soon after I returned from my break around February 2nd, I think. In total, I had three days to work on it, with the first one being focused on concepting and sketching. I think that's important to note when considering the context to the illustration; but it's equally important to note that I wanted to do it and that it's rare for deadlines to be this short here. Don't worry. I'm okay! I promise.”


“I had a pretty clear idea in my head of what I wanted this to be as soon as I was asked to illustrate it. It had to attempt to reference either some aspect of their character or the battle and I wanted all of them to be featured and presented equally.

I didn't necessarily have inspirations for this illustration, I mainly pulled from what I knew and wanted to achieve in that specific time frame.
The initial sketch was very rough. It served mainly as a means of getting my ideas and the composition across to the team to see if it was successful without spending too much time on it. I did a second sketch with drastically different ideas just in case my first one wasn't great or if elements from one sketch could be used in another. Finally, everybody voted on which sketch they liked if they wanted to. I think they liked the first one considering it became the final image.”

To view a .GIF outlining the process from start to finish on the finalized brand art, click HERE

WRAP-UP:


All in all, the v1.2.0 Update took a lot of hard work and dedication, not just from those specifically mentioned in today's post, but the rest of the team as well. We all learned and grew in numerous ways, in the end creating an update we're all extremely proud of. Today's blogpost only covers a mere fraction of all that went into it.

Now then, where does that leave the Corporate Clash Crew? With the v1.2.0 Update out of the way, and the team having had some time to take a sizeable break, we're already hard at work as far as what's next. We're not ready to share the specifics of what's next, that'll be saved for it's own proper spotlight in the near future, but we can confirm that the development of Toontown: Corporate Clash v1.3.0 Update is well under way. 

Without getting into the specifics, we'd like to confirm that the v1.3.0 Update is not more Lawbot content, and we're switching gears entirely to focus upon expanding the game in different ways. We look forward to talking more about what's next when we can, which will happen a little bit closer to launch. 

Thank you for taking the time to read today's blogpost, and for enjoying all that Toontown: Corporate Clash has to offer. We hope you found this post interesting, and look forward to all we have in store from here!















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