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Designing a Waterbot — With Warren Marshall

August 5, 2021
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Buggy Mr. Puddles is Having a Blast

We hope you’re all as excited as we are about the arrival of our new water-bearing friend, Mr. Puddles, even if he is a little bit buggy.

For those of you who have joined us more recently, Buggy Mr. Puddles is commemorative of a bug that shut down Week 1 of May Mayhem a day into the competition. Every player involved was told they would get a special “bug” NFT, and Buggy Mr. Puddles is our fulfillment of that promise.

At this point, Buggy Mr. Puddles has been distributed to some node operators and 10,684 additional player accounts. Anyone who was playing at the end of May Mayhem Week 1 should have received one in their Treasure Chests.

Mr. Puddles Coming Soon

We’re excited to announce that next week, Mr. Puddles (Buggy Mr. Puddles’ non-buggy friend) will be dropped as an NFT in the Town Star store. Mr. Puddles may be the answer to your water needs. He will be…

  • Faster than Buggy Mr. Puddles
  • Available for 50% off during the first 24 hours
  • One of the most affordable Town Star NFTs yet

Keep an eye on Discord for the time and date of next week’s Mr. Puddles release!

Take it away, Warren Marshall, with a quick lesson in designing a Waterbot!

Hi there! My name is Warren Marshall and I’m the Art Director for Town Star. I‘d like to offer some little insights into how we design things and how the art process works for those who are curious about game design.

In this article we’ll be talking about the newly designed and completed Waterbot unit, Mr. Puddles. This unit was interesting because it needed to have a regular version and a variant that represented it being buggy.

The initial pitch for the bot was something like: “Needs to be able to carry water from A to B.” Great! Let’s get started!

Initial Ideas

The first step in designing anything is to turn the concept artists loose on it. I give them some high level directives and ideas like “the head could maybe be a bucket”. Then we wait while the real magic happens, and after awhile we get some ideas back like these…

Nice! Now we have a starting point to begin iterating. I really like that middle design as it fits in nicely with our other bot designs with a highly functional feel. It also has a bucket for a head, which is great.

Design Iteration

I wanted to push the design a little farther with some more water based details. Why not some ridges around the sides of the head, like you see on galvanized steel buckets? Also, let’s try changing the arms into hoses with different attachments. He IS a water bot after all. Oh, and I wanted to get a little unique with his locomotion, so let’s swap out that wheel for a triangular tank tread apparatus. It’ll be cool, I promise…

Fantastic! But I kept thinking — what ELSE can we do? Adding a little spout to his head would give the implication of a baseball cap, which I thought was fun. We also solved the mystery of where the hoses are connected by giving him some metal sleeve pieces.

I still wasn’t totally excited about the overalls. Design wise they looked a little weak , and I wanted something with more character. So I thought, “he’s a water bot, why not some sort of bathing suit?” But nothing modern would do, and certainly nothing like a speedo. Inappropriate.

Remember those old photos you’ve seen of people at the beach? I know you’re already picturing them in your head. Yep, like that!

There we go, our Waterbot is all designed!

Buggy Bot

OK, so we have the functional bot. That was the easy part. But how do we convey a buggy version of that bot? We want him to be functional while clearly not firing on all cylinders — but he’s trying!

As I thought of ideas for this, my mind drifted to Futurama and the Malfunctioning Eddie character. He’s a bot, like so many others in that universe, but he’s not quite right. Perfect!

Those triangular treads look familiar, right?

I think it’s important for artists to have large mental libraries that they draw upon when designing things. These libraries can be built from many things — books, tv shows, travel, whatever! The important thing is to fill your brain with new experiences so it has that network of data to draw on when the time comes.

At any rate, back to concepting!

Concept Art — Again

The initial artist versions of the buggy bot came back as follows.

There’s our guy, looking a little worse for wear, but still in the game! I wasn’t crazy about the longer arm designs as they would cause issues with animation and general gameplay. I chose the portions I liked from the various ideas and we pieced a buggy bot together.

Another round of feedback with my usual chicken scratches. Really, we’re just refining at this point but it’s important to get the details right. When you do, the design just feels right. You know it when you see it.

Final Design

In the end, we arrived at a fun looking bot design that is functional but still has that buggy, funky vibe we were looking for. He’s perfect for commemorating that buggy day from our biggest Town Star tournament yet!

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little of the design process. I love this job as it offers lots of opportunities like this to be creative and really dig into some fun art collaboration.

See you next time!


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