BBC Radio 1
"Love the general rustic woody charm of the look and feel. Top work."
Playlist Squirrel was the last of the Flash games in our four-project contract with Radio 1 during my time at Littleloud. Ostensibly a music quiz that pulls in snippets of recent tracks from Radio 1 and Radio 1 Xtra playlists, the scope of the project expanded with the inclusion of an arcade-style bonus round collecting falling nuts; appropriately named 'Nut Grab'.
The client wanted a rich execution that incorporated more photo-realistic imagery as a counterpoint to the vector-based illustrations of Chris Moyles' Hackney Dash, and internally we referenced the shonky animations of Joel Veitch's Rathergood creations. We also decided that the UI for this game should feel intrinsically incorporated to the execution, considering what a major part it plays in the gameplay of the piece.
With Playlist Squirrel being so graphically rich, there was a lot of initial time spent scouring image libraries for shots of squirrels, bark, leaves and planks. These were then cut out and manipulated in Photoshop depending on what they were needed for in the final Flash build. The squirrel, for example, was mercilessly hacked limb-from-limb and separated into a number of .pngs, with additional fur being painted in with the Clone Stamp tool and paintbrushes in order to allow for a range of movement in the animation. The images of wood, bark and foliage were composited together to create a number of UI panels on which to overlay the text that comprises the game. A cross-section of a tree trunk formed the basis of the bespoke Playlist Squirrel logo I came up with, and also housed the countdown timer in the game screen.
The squirrel animations started taking shape early in on the project, and were the most time-intensive aspects of the build. Animating a squirrel chomping on a peanut from just one photograph was particularly challenging, but I was pleased with the end result, which adds just enough of the zany humour of Joel Veitch's work without appearing to the client that we'd knocked it up in ten minutes. The running animation was much more difficult, but given the length of time allocated to the animation cycles, and the inherent difficulty of animating a single photo, I was again pleased with the result.
With the bulk of my time spent crafting and animating the UI elements, and integrating the assets into the Flash framework created by the developer, I didn't have enough time to also take on the owl and badger, although I helped shape how they were animated by the junior designer.
The client was delighted with the visual style I crafted for Playlist Squirrel and it was incredibly fun breathing some wacky life into Squirry and Nuttina's love story. I even came up with some of the humorous copy and visual UI touches like the "R U Nuts?" difficulty setting. It's not very often that my placeholder text tends to survive through to final build!