"A showcase of great illustration and animation style driven by dark humor. An engaging experience that leaves an odd craving for Jagermeister at its completion." —juror Stacey Mulcahy
"Amusing and easy to navigate with just enough nuggets to surprise users and a look-and-feel that conveys the appropriate attitude of its products." —juror Edward J. Heinz Jr.
Overview: As a means of promoting the vinyl toy and developing a fan base for the character the Crappy Cat interactive cinema blurs the line between the art toy scene and the gamer scene. After a short introduction animation, viewers join Crappy Cat in his abnormal journey to the bottom of a bottle and into another dimension. Each interaction is quick and entertaining, without being essential to the overall story; visitors are free to explore Crappy Cat's world and interact with the other characters and elements of this alternate universe in whatever random order they choose. * Because the project was created in downtime, it took almost an entire year to complete.
• To keep the focus on the experience, the controls were kept as simple as possible; as soon as they drop into the world users are prompted to "use your arrow keys."
• Since launch, the site's received 156,862 visits—creating substantial amount of exposure and requests for the adventure to continue.
Comments by Trevor Van Meter, Luke Lutman and Brian McBrearty:
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? "The scope of animation production for this project was immense; the majority of it was executed using a traditional frame-to-frame animation. It was a challenge to keep each individual story entertaining and short (there were many ideas that were thrown out because they were too long or just not fun to watch). "The most interesting challenge building Crappy Cat was making it possible to add lots of wacky stuff without too much additional programming. To solve the problem, we used a set of frame labels to determine each enemy's behavior; the game could be opened in Flash and a new enemy movie clip could be created with a few frame labels and the animation filled in—no extra coding required. The trick was to leave enough room for creative freedom, without too many exceptions and special cases. In the end, we narrowed it down to just five frame labels that all of Crappy's enemies share: show, idle, move, hit and hide.
"The sound needed to reflect our seedy cat and his grimy environment, but also deliver some levity and comedy. To complicate matters we wanted it to have a little of the old-time video game music character. After we had what we wanted, we applied that core material to the various mini scenes—mouthharp, banjo and washtub for one, a heavy metal version for another and finally a classic NES boss version at the end."
How did this project compare with others you've worked on in the past? "The format is not that different than a project we worked on back in 2002 called FlyGuy. This particular format is really enjoyable because it's such an interesting way of telling a story. Users can choose how the story unfolds, each piece of the story is discoverable and not necessarily driving the story forward. So users can play once, miss a few animations, and the next time they visit discover something new. The format is even more valid today than it was in 2002, because now we all live in the age of YouTube and the Internet is saturated with LOL videos. But watching a story doesn't quite have the same teeth as being able to interact with the characters in the story.
What would you do differently if you could start the project over? "Probably nothing. There will always elements in a project that could be better or different, but overall we're very happy with the results. The best thing about this project is that the current game can be expanded. The Legend of Crappy Cat can continue."