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darkSpyro - Spyro and Skylanders Forum > General > Interview With Oliver Wade Take 2
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Interview With Oliver Wade Take 2 [CLOSED]
Razz Emerald Sparx Gems: 3964
#1 Posted: 18:25:27 17/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Since we were having some trouble with people being off-topic in the last post, I'll re-start this one. Please stay on topic in this one, guys.

In 2008, I received an e-mail from Oliver Wade, animator and character designer at Insomniac during the production of the last two Spyro games (Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon). He had a lot of neat things to say about working on Spyro, in the gaming industry, and animation in general.

Alright, here's the start (we exchanged a lot of e-mails over the course of about a year).

Quote:

Hello,
I was browsing the Spyroforum and noticed that you were interested in drawings of Elora. Well, believe it or not, I am the person who did the Elora design originally. I worked for Insomniac Games from the time of the first Spyro game through the end of Ratchet: Deadlocked. I designed all of the characters in the 2nd and 3rd Spyro games including Elora, Hunter, Moneybags, Bianca, Crush, Gulp and any other characters you can think of.

I just thought I would send along a copy of the original Elora drawing that I did oh so many years ago.

[User Posted Image]

As you can probably see, she was originally going to have 4 legs and be more of a female centaur. But after looking at the design for a while I decided it would be better if she were a faun and just had two legs. I added the long fox-like tail for better balance and there you have it.

Her face is based on a friend of mine and her name was derived from another Insomniac employee at the time named Caroline. I just took the letters, jumbled them up and removed some until I got Elora.
...

Oliver Wade



I'll spare you my fannish response to his first e-mail. smilie I asked him what brought him to SpyroForum and if I could share the Elora art. He said this:

Quote:

Hi again,
Sure, like I said, it's yours to do with as you wish but I appreciate your asking smilie

I was actually looking around on the sight because I am currently replaying Spyro on my PSP and I was stuck in the Tree Tops level (I forgot how to do that crazy charge glide to the last area with the dragon). It's nice to see that the old Spyro games are still being remembered somewhere.

I saw your post about Elora and dug through a box of old drawings until I found her. It was nice to relive those pleasant memories while looking through that box of stuff.

If you have any other questions, just ask,
Oliver



This is going to get long, so I'll end this post here and try to keep updating this as I am able.
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#2 Posted: 18:41:46 17/03/2010
First Spyro was supposed to be green, now Elora was gonna have four legs! Wild!
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#3 Posted: 19:45:06 17/03/2010
You called? -shot-

This is great, I'd like to learn more.
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#4 Posted: 19:53:05 17/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Design processes often work that way. Here's some more e-mails from Oliver. smilie

I was asking him about Elora's perceived roll in the games when they in production, if he'd beaten the old Spyro he was playing, and what it was like working at Insomniac back in the day.

Quote:

Hiya,
Elora was a mentioned in the script but she didn't have a name or a specific race. She was just there to help move the story along and explain to Spyro why he was in this new world. If I remember correctly, she was designed after I did Hunter and the Professor. Wow, it's been about 10 years since I did those designs so it's a little hard to remember.

The interesting thing about those early Insomniac days is that there were only about 12 of us and I was the only character designer. I did most of the designs while sitting in meetings discussing the levels (I would draw while everyone else was coming up with gameplay) and I almost never made more than one attempt at a design. We really didn't have time for too many revisions back then.

The only one I remember doing a lot of revisions on was Sgt. Byrd. I reaaaaally wanted it to be a Pig with a jetpack but Ted was insistent on the penguin.

And yes, I did finish the Tree Tops. I'm hoping they release all three of the PS1 Spyro's through the Sony network so I can play them on my PSP. It's a lot of fun to play them while I'm at the gym and on airplanes.

And, in case you haven't noticed, I enjoy talking about this as much as you enjoy asking. I forget that people see my work while I'm sitting here in Texas working from home. I'm currently doing freelance work on the "Secret Agent Clank" PSP game. I'm doing character design, writing and some animation.

Oliver



More talk about working for Insomniac and character designing. We were also chatting about the later Spyro games (to my knowledge, he still hasn't had a chance to play any of LoS).

Quote:

Insomniac only had 8 people when I started and then grew to about 125 when I left. I think there were only about 20 when we did the third game but then ballooned quickly when we started on Ratchet and Clank.

The PS1 games were a lot simpler. I came in near the end of the first game and animated all of the Dragon Statues when they came to life. There was another animator who animated the entire rest of the game by himself. Then on the second one I animated most of it and then we hired to other animators to help finish it. Finally, for the third game we hired one more.

When I left I was managing a team of 10 animators. It takes a lot more people to make PS3 games.

I played a little bit of the GBA games but had trouble with the 3/4 perspective. I also played most a bit of Enter the Dragonfly and Heroes Tail. I had fun seeing how the interpreted my designs with a higher polygon count but I didn't like the level design as much as the first games. I haven't played the new one at all. I'll probably pick it up at some point but I'm busy with other games now. I certainly don't mind a spoiler but I'm not sure if my limited knowledge will help me answer your question.

I don't have a sketch of the pig anymore. I tended to only keep the ones that were used. I really only have the main characters and a few of the in-level guys. Here, however, is the original sketch of Sgt. Byrd

[User Posted Image]

I've been making games for about 15 years. I've worked at Electronic Arts (on 3DO games of all things), Disney Interactive, Insomniac and now for High Impact Games. I've been drawing since I can remember and since I'm 44 now, that's been a long time. The main thing I remember inspiring me was seeing Bambi when I was about 5. I didn't even know what animator was at the time but I new I wanted to make cartoons. I spent my whole life drawing and learning animation and finally got to be an animator for several companies including Don Bluth animation where I worked on several of their really bad movies like "Thumbelina", "A Troll in Central Park" and "The Pebble and the Penguin".

I also read that you were looking for an image of the original drawing of Sheila...well, here she is:

[User Posted Image]

I honestly don't remember what I was thinking with the horns and the hair that you can vaguely see. I also didn't know her name was going to be Sheila so she looks a little more like a male kangaroo. Maybe that's why the hair is there...I may have tried to make her female looking at one point.

...

The only thing I've been using for drawing lately is my Cintiq tablet. It's a computer tablet that allows me draw right on the screen. I use that with Alias Sketchbook and it feels a lot like drawing with pencil and paper...
Talk to you later,
Oliver

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#5 Posted: 19:58:42 17/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Whoops, meant to post this in the last post.

Here's the last part of our first correspondence. Stuff in italics is my commentary.

Quote:

Hiya,
You can tell the moderator that they are correct. It was indeed Caroline Trujillo (who inspired Elora's name). She and I were close friends at Insomniac and I thought it would be a nice little tribute to her.

You really should play the Ratchet and clank games. They are the spiritual successor to the Spyro games. It's the same team and same philosophy, just with more guns smilie

(I sent Oliver the only screen we had of Hunter from LoS at the time, from the end of TEN.)From the screenshot you sent I think that Hunter looks pretty cool. We always envisioned him as kind of a klutzy doofus but that was just a way to put more humor in the game. It seems like the latest incarnations have kind of lost the humor element of the games.

I took a few art classes in high school and at a junior college but I did most of my training on the job. I got an animation job painting cels when I was 19 and just kept moving up through the ranks from there. The animation industry is as good or bad as the job you currently have. Some places are great to work for and others are horrible. For me it comes down to the product. If I know I'm making something of quality I don't mind spending a lot of time on it. If it's going to be really bad then the entire experience is pretty miserable.

(A continuation of our conversation about how he draws.) I've been drawing with the thick outline to really "ground" the characters. It seems to give them weight in a way that they wouldn't have otherwise. I always did it a little but really started to lean on it after looking at the work of Stephen Silver. He is one of my favorite designers. If you check out his blog I'm sure you'll recognize some of the characters he has designed.

http://stephensilver.blogspot.com/

I started shading in grayscale when I began doing freelance. Since I couldn't look at the level designs I had no idea what colors would work on the characters. So, I just did them in gray to get the color separation correct and let the art director decide on the colors.

...

I don't have an art blog but I may need to do one someday if the work dries up. Right now I have as much design work as I can handle smilie

If you have any other questions, just ask.
It's been nice chatting with you,
Oliver

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#6 Posted: 20:09:14 17/03/2010
If he works with High Impact Games, does that mean he had a hand in animating the recent Jak & Daxter game? I'm interested into the more realistic art/animation style used in the game. <.<;
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#7 Posted: 20:09:40 17/03/2010
I wonder how people will react to this. smilie
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#8 Posted: 20:33:59 17/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Yes, he did work on the latest Jak game. I don't know what part he played in making it, though, since I never really got a chance to ask him about it. His staff bio on the site is hilarious, though. smilie

Quote:

OLIVER WADE

Oliver Wade is the most placid man on earth. Clothed only in soft buttercups, he plays the pan flutes for us at lunchtime. Many are sobbing when he finishes, whilst others fall asleep nestled in his beard, only to be shaken awake by his jovial laughter. Then he gives us a delicious old fashioned candy, perhaps a humbug or a piece of saltwater taffy, and sends us on our way.

High Impact Games - Team

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#9 Posted: 21:03:40 17/03/2010
^ Cute!
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#10 Posted: 21:05:13 17/03/2010
Tell Oliver that one of darkSpyro's members thinks that Elora looks a lot sexier in that original sketch.
tsk tsk
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#11 Posted: 21:11:06 17/03/2010
Quote: Razz

Yes, he did work on the latest Jak game. I don't know what part he played in making it, though, since I never really got a chance to ask him about it. His staff bio on the site is hilarious, though. :D

Quote:

OLIVER WADE

Oliver Wade is the most placid man on earth. Clothed only in soft buttercups, he plays the pan flutes for us at lunchtime. Many are sobbing when he finishes, whilst others fall asleep nestled in his beard, only to be shaken awake by his jovial laughter. Then he gives us a delicious old fashioned candy, perhaps a humbug or a piece of saltwater taffy, and sends us on our way.

High Impact Games - Team



SANTA!? ^______^
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#12 Posted: 22:41:24 17/03/2010
Again, thanks for posting. This is really interesting to read.
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#13 Posted: 02:26:49 18/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Quote: Ghakimx

Tell Oliver that one of darkSpyro's members thinks that Elora looks a lot sexier in that original sketch.
tsk tsk



I don't know if Oliver wants to know that (though I agree with you). smilie I am also not currently in touch with him. I sent him a season's greeting around Christmas but I haven't heard from him since before I moved.
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#14 Posted: 03:41:38 18/03/2010
It's awesome to read about the original Spyro games and their creation! Also, did someone say Spyro was gonna be GREEN?!?
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#15 Posted: 03:44:27 18/03/2010
It's true. He was originally going to be green, but his color made him completely blend in with the grass in the levels, so they made him purple instead.
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#16 Posted: 04:39:33 18/03/2010 | Topic Creator
Yep, Spyro was originally green. You can even see his original green model at about 0:50 here:

The Making of Spyro the Dragon (Playstation Underground)

And while I'm at it, here's a fun interview with the Insomniac crew that came out when Ripto's Rage was new. You can see Oliver in it and Elora's namesake, Caroline Trujilo.

The Making of Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!
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#17 Posted: 06:49:18 18/03/2010
They should make him green NOW because i barely remember Spyro being around grass in the nu-games. Then all his enemies will call him a flying patch of grass.
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#18 Posted: 01:42:09 19/03/2010
Yeah! Spyro looks better green. That was a cool video, Razz. Tomorrow I'm gonna watch it with sound tonight when no one's awake! smilie
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#19 Posted: 09:17:35 19/03/2010
Thanks for posting this. It's really interesting to read. I'm glad that I know a little bit more about Original Spyro. :D
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