As you might know I work closely with itmeJP and that means that I also work with RollPlay. This holiday season we put on a roleplaying show with Jesse Cox. It was simply called “Christmas With Cox”—that was really the only thing that was told outside of closed doors. If you don’t want any spoilers I recommend that you go and watch the show before reading any further.
Final spoiler warning — The concept of the show were given to us directly from Jesse Cox. The original idea was to have reveal something at the end of the episode and split it into two. JP then suggested that we could have elements change over time instead, starting with something super “xmas-y” to then transition into what Jesse called “super spooky”. For the final hour it was “we reveal the weird corrupt shit”.
JP then explain to me that the concept was to go from a Christmas theme and then progress forward to a Lovecraft/old Gods scenario. That was really all the information that was given at that point. Still that was enough for me to start working on the overlays.
Building a World
Roleplaying and RollPlay is all about building a world. In the case one these one-shots there’s really only a few hours to build something that other shows can build over months of gameplay and narrative.
So when it comes to the graphics it has to be direct and to the point in showing the audience what it’s all about. Even more so in this case where we only have a few hours to establish the entire world. In this specific instance were we ended up changing overlays every hour it both added to the world building but still had to have that immediate impact on the viewers.
What we ended up with was to progress the Christmas theme slowly getting bloodier. Going from only a bit of blood to a ludicrous amount. Then at the final reveal we wanted to all out into the Lovecraft world. This last reveal wasn’t supposed to a small progression but rather a big turn.
In total there were 17 different overlays. 4 main, 4 stats, 4 map (not used), 4 title cards, 4 break screens, 1 profile template. That’s 21 different overlays.
Here you can see what they actually looked like. The first three stages all share the exact same assets. The only real difference is the addition of the blood.
The big difference of course comes at the final stage where we reveal the Lovecraft aspects. What I did were to alter the original assets either to have them all have a decaying effect. I did this by introducing different textures of mold and grunge. Adjusted some of the colors so they were a lot less saturated.
What really made those final alerts something extra were the addition of tentacles. I created these by slowly building them up from black and white brush strokes. Then introducing a bit of color before adding in a slime texture. To get some final touches—to really make it stand out—I went over some areas with the dodge and the burn tool. These final touches is what really gives it depth and makes so that it don’t stand out next to the real life objects.
As the writing of this article only the first part of the show is up. I will try and post the next 3 parts of the show.
During these 4 hours I were actually able to spot a few people guessing the final twist. I have no idea how they figure it out but those engagment and interactions is something that marketing teams struggle to get.
It was amazing seeing Twitch chat reacting as the overlays started to change. Knowing that the small changes had an amazing effect I could sit there and just wait for when the final reveal happened. If I had to rank moments during my Twitch career that must be up there close to the top.
At the end of the day we didn’t have to create 21 different overlays. We could have stuck to the standard of ~7. The reason why it was done was to allow the narrative and world building really impact everyone watching. This is all about adding to the viewing experience and to allow cast and audience to really get into the world that Jesse Cox had built.
In 2018 we will keep innovating and keep pushing the limits of production for roleplaying shows.
On Thursday I will have an article on what we made for Dropped Frames. After that I have my prediction post for 2018. Not sure how much time I will have with writing articles during the holiday season but I will do my best!
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