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despicable me minions The minions in Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's inaugural 3-D CGI feature Despicable Me now star in their own video game, Despicable Me: The Game ?? Minion Mayhem. (Photo: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment)

Despicable Me: The Game - Minion Mayhem

Behind the scenes of the movie to game industry

By Mariam El Hasan | December 15 , 2010

It's time for all things Despicable! Despicable Me, that is.

The DVD of the movie Despicable Me was released to stores on December 14, renewing interest in the blockbuster summer movie and its accompanying video game, Despicable Me: The Game — Minion Mayhem.

This Kid Reporter recently visited Way Forward Technologies in Valencia, California, where the Nintendo DS game was designed. Project and Art Director Rob Buchanan gave a behind-the-scenes look at how a game moves from a big-screen action picture to a much smaller screen as a video game.

Buchanan's job as Project Director was to coordinate game creation from start to finish. He designed the layout of the game, explaining the rules and set up to the people actually creating the software.

As Art Director, Buchanan took part in designing the characters — the first step in creating a game. For the minions, Buchanan took the model of a standard minion as seen in the movie and used a computer stylus to design the costumes and weapons. A standard minion was also used for size comparison to help create the villains.

Artists then took those designs to render a '3D model' of the character. The game is not 3D (no glasses required), but the game characters are considered 3D by the artists because they are multi-dimensional objects on the screen. All features of the characters have to be exaggerated, because they are so small on the game screen.

Pieces for the game environments are also created by artists. Then, a level designer takes those pieces and puts them together to create the levels and challenges in the game.

For Minion Mayhem, Austin Ivansmith was lead level designer. He credits a childhood of playing with Legos for helping him develop the skills needed to build video games.

"A lot of video game-level designers come from childhoods with Legos," Buchanan agreed.

Ivansmith has left his Lego designing behind, however.

"It feels too much like work," he said.
    
Ivansmith sketches his characters and game levels on graph paper. Once he gets a feel for it, putting together the different pieces of the games becomes much easier and he doesn't need to draw it out anymore.
    
When making a game based on a movie, the people working on the game communicate often with the company that makes or distributes the movie. With Minion Mayhem, Way Forward Technologies worked with Universal Studios.

"There's still a challenge in creating original characters and original environments that still sort of fit within the realm of it," Ivansmith said.

Way Forward was given an unusual amount of freedom by the studios to create the characters, environments, and storyline.

For kids who want to design games when they grow up, Voldi Way, founder of and producer for Way Forward, offered some advice.

"Just make games," he said, adding that a college education is also important. "It can help you make connections, improve your skills, and get a career."   

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