Elevator Speedrun

by Octavi Navarro
Feb 21, 2016

Hey everyone! Octavi here,

These past weeks I've been working on new rooms for the game, specifically those related to the Edmund Hotel. This imposing building was once a symbol of Thimbleweed Park's heyday, but like everything else in this town, it has fallen into a state of decay and disuse.

Here's a little timelapse video to show you the creation process of one of the backgrounds I've been working on for the hotel. The smallest one: the elevator.

This small device combines in a few square feet the freshness of Art Deco design, the cutting edge technology of the '80s and the stinking mold dripping from the walls. Or is it blood? ... or vomit? Anything is possible in Thimbleweed Park.

The preliminary sketch is the most important part of the whole process for me. I like to draw it as detailed as possible, so when I show it to the team they have a clear idea of how the final art will look like.

The next step is to create a simple grayscale pixel art version, or wireframe, which is ready to be provisionally imported into the game, while we keep working on the final color version. For this small room, the composition and perspective is not really problematic but it's important that the player can easily view and interact with all the key elements such as buttons and lights, as this will be without a doubt the deepest simulation of an elevator that we've ever experienced in a point and click adventure game.

Finally, the most delicate part for me: the final color version. Delicate because it's important that all the rooms I work on are as consistent as possible with Mark's style. That's why throughout the process of creating the hotel rooms, Mark has been helping me with ideas, advice and feedback to get my work closer to his. The truth is that working on this game is being an amazing learning process for me!

In fact, my first contact with pixel art was when I was a child and spent countless hours copying screenshots from videogame magazines in DPaint, pixel by pixel, from Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Loom ... So, I owe Gary, Mark, and all the other great artists working on those classic games most of my pixel art knowledge.

Back to the elevator: most of the rooms we make have different lighting conditions to make them feel more dynamic (usually flickering bulbs or lights that the player can activate and deactivate using switches). In the case of the elevator, as you can see in the picture, it only has one light source from the ceiling, so it was easy to create the darkest state, simply turning down the lightness slider in Photoshop and adding some cool tones. Maybe it won't be used in the final game, but it's important that the art is as flexible as possible so it doesn't interfere with the game design.

Once all the different elements are placed in their respective layers, comes the exciting moment of wiring the room into the game.

And that's it! I hope you all enjoyed this little peek into the creation process of Thimbleweed Park backgrounds!

Patrik Spacek - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:03
thanks Octavi, ..   i am glad to see making of the backgrounds....    Mark, could make something similar.  Good job!

Carsten Jensen - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:04
Fantastic, I was hoping to see some graphics being produced. I love it :-)

Giulio - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:16
This post was totally AWESOME! Great work Octavi, I also think your style is not only fantastic but also fits in very well with Mark's.
This post was short but really interesting and gave me a lot of insight on how things are done.
Funny how you actually managed to post something like this before Mark actually did!

Last thing: will anybody's BEARD "casually" get stuck while the elevator goes up? :D That would be awesome!

Dominik - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:17
Wow, a cool Video and an interesting post! Thanks!

Now I thin we all can agree that it's Davids turn to write a blog post about wiring up the elevator ;-)

Sushi - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:18
Hi Octavi,

Impressive and insightful!  
What was the real elapsed time ?
What do you use as input device in Photoshop: a mouse or a pen?

Mattias Cedervall - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:33
Octavi, is Mark Ferrari your father? :-) It was interesting to read about your process! Thank you, Octavi! I will buy you an ice cream if I ever travel to Spain. ;-)

Matt - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:35
I like how it really starts to pop once the lighting is added. Great job!

Octavi Navarro - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:46
Thanks for your kind comments everyone! :)

I wanted to keep the video under 2 minutes, so I cut some parts I found less interesting. In the final edit I used around 3-4 hours of footage and most of it is 64x faster with some parts at 256x.
And I use a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet with a pen.

Octavi Navarro - Feb 22, 2016 at 14:48
^^^ That's the answer for Sushi's question :)

Sushi - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:02
got it, thanks!

Gary and Mark - in case you read this- what do you guys use as input devices?
At least one of you *should* be using a joystick to stay true to the 1987-spirit, right?

nutz - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:20
Ron has fallen in love with game controllers and prescribed to use them for everything.

Gary Winnick - Feb 22, 2016 at 19:19
I just got used to using a mouse over the years, - I even used it to color all the Bad Dreams
graphic novel and just really haven't taken the time to transition to a tablet... Maybe I should
pull one of my old joysticks out of mothballs...

Sushi - Feb 23, 2016 at 01:58
Thanks Gary!
I'm glad to read that: I have a copy of Photoshop which I never used so far, so I did not want to invest in a tablet/pen. So reading that also a mouse is an acceptable (I.e. Not totally driving you crazy) form of input is encouraging me to have some fun with it!

Regarding the old joystick, I realise now that they have these old Atari VCS like connectors. Ah well, it might fit an Apple's lightning or thunder or whatever they call it connector if you push *really* hard...

Arto - Feb 22, 2016 at 18:15
Interesting. I have used Wacoms every day for the past 15 years, and pretty much the only time I have found it insufficient has been with pixel art in Photoshop :) It might be the settings I use, but maybe about 30% of the time the pixel "slips" away from where I intended.

Guga - Feb 25, 2016 at 01:37
I used to do pixel art with the mouse, but then I started using a Wacom and now I can't even think of doing some graphics without my loyal pen!

Maybe it's just a matter of habit.

Juan R. - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:11
It looks perfect! Would it be possible for you to make a "step by step" post about your working process? I'd like to get better in pixel art and I'm super curious about how you do it. Please, master! Teach us! Please!

Jens - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:12
I love the theme from Benny Hill in the background!

Ron Gilbert - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:15
We found our artists work faster if they are forced to listen to it all day long.

Christopher - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:30
Tetris music does the same trick.

tip - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:25
Try the William Tell Overture by Rossini.

tip - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:28

tip - Feb 22, 2016 at 17:11
Or Khachaturian's Sabre Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUQHGpxrz-8

longuist - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:38

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 23, 2016 at 00:23
That's hilarious.

Christopher Griffin - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:59
Yes, Yakkety Sax always brings a smile to my face. :)

Alessander - Feb 22, 2016 at 17:28
I think a tune from the 'Elevator Classics' series would be more appropriate!

Big Red Button - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:23
Thank you for this interesting insight! I can't wait to try out the elevator myself.
You write that the dark version won't necessarily be used in the final game. Anyway, I think it would be a nice feature to make the elevator seem to be untrustworthy, since there are lots of people out there who are actually afraid of getting stuck with an elevator. So, what about playing on the opportunity to make this nightmare virtually become true in the bedraggled Edmund Hotel? You enter the elevator, the flickering light is a portent and suddenly the light remains dark and the elevator gets stuck. Then you may have to hit the light panel in order to fix the loose contact, just as Han Solo did in his cockpit when the engine failed. Just a suggestion. It might be very conducive to the atmosphere in the hotel.

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 23, 2016 at 00:12
I at least like the idea that people question the elevator's safety.  Maybe there's a sticker on the elevator that says when it was last inspected.

LOOK AT Sticker.
"Last inspection May 1984."
Hmm...I'm no expert on elevator safety code, but I would suspect an inspection is way past due.

LOOK AT Sticker.
"Last inspection January 1987."
That last digit looks like someone wrote over it with a marker.  I wonder what digit it used to be...  Maybe I should just take the stairs.

DZ-Jay - Feb 23, 2016 at 05:50
If I were Mr. Gilbert, I would be taking notes right now. That's brilliant! LOL!

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 23, 2016 at 00:31
Also, what about elevator music?
Maybe there isn't any because the speaker's broken.
Maybe the music cuts in and out or is distorted.
Maybe it's inappropriately creepy.
Maybe it sounds like some 8- bit chiptune, oddly enough.
Maybe it's by Razor & the Scummettes.

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 23, 2016 at 00:34
Now that I think about it, maybe there's no elevator music simply because there is none.  I can't remember the last time I heard music in an elevator.  Maybe the hotels I've been in aren't fancy enough.  Maybe it's just department store elevators that occasionally play music...?

Big Red Button - Feb 23, 2016 at 12:53
I've often heard music on a toilet.

Big Red Button - Feb 23, 2016 at 13:00
We must not forget that the game already features music. Though I would even recommend to make the elevator more creepy by even turning the music off whenever the player enters the elevator. There could be some frightening sounds instead, for instance some grinding or creaking.

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 25, 2016 at 13:40
I like it!

Alain - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:31
Just awesome how you create this out of thin air. I really love how everything looks warm and cozy.

Congratulations :-)

Matt - Feb 22, 2016 at 15:47
Love the lighting effects! Add some catchy elevator music and I may ride forever...

Steve - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:17
Looks great!

With the translated non-English versions are you going to change the graphic text to their languages (eg the word "Floor" in the actual graphic). When I create my games for Big Fish Games they expected them to be localised too...

Derrick Reisdorf - Feb 23, 2016 at 00:22
My first instinct is to say that if it's an American hotel, then it should be in English.  But, I would imagine if the words could not be easily figured out, the should be translated.  Since "FLOOR, would always be followed by the floor number, I would think a non-English gamer would assume it was the word "floor".  For other not-so-obvious contexts, I would imagine substitute art might be needed- especially for art that aren't selectable objects that the gamer could "Look At".

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Feb 25, 2016 at 03:26
I doubt that localisation could affect part of graphical text. It's very complicated to do...

Sebastien - Feb 22, 2016 at 16:56
I love the art of the game, it's looking gorgeous !

Erik Hermansen - Feb 22, 2016 at 17:49
The art looks really great--especially the lighting. I had read the earlier article about programming the elevator, and part of me hopes that David will find a little time to "waste" on those edge cases. I really appreciate things that work realistically and are affected by events outside the immediate viewable area. In any case, I'm sure the elevator will be wondrous, and I look forward to poking its buttons.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Feb 22, 2016 at 17:52
Eheh, it feels strange to see Photoshop applied to pixel art!
Great video Octavi, thank you!

Marco Lizza - Feb 25, 2016 at 08:59
To be honest, it is not that uncommon to use Photoshop for pixel-art (apart being a somewhat expensive tool)...

tomimt - Feb 22, 2016 at 18:02
Cool beans. It's always a treat seeing stuff being drawn, so I wouldn't mind seeing more.

Geoffrey Paulsen - Feb 22, 2016 at 23:42
Watching a master work.  I don't know if you feel the same way, but I'm always impressed with your pixel art and how amazing it looks.  I wish I could be focused enough to create pixel art like you.  Perhaps it's because when we look at the final game, we see in an instant, that which has taken you many many many hours to create.  I dunno.  But great work, and please keep it up.  Perhaps you could paint a family portrait for me someday?

Richard - Feb 23, 2016 at 05:06
Hi Octavi, that was excellent, thanks for sharing. Are you or Mark able to share how you choose your colours? Have you got a set palette that you both use? I always having trouble putting colours together that work harmoniously with each other. What is your process for doing this? Thanks.

PrinzJohnny99 - Feb 23, 2016 at 06:29
I have a question to the "design department". Since there are now three of you guys (Gary, Marc, Octavi) who are responsible for the backgrounds, animation and characters, is there a chance that "too many cooks spoil the soup"? I mean will there be a recognizable difference between your art styles that can be seen by noobs like me?
Or is it more like the Sistine Chapel where Gary is the Michelangelo and Marc and Octavi try to imitate his style?

Bogdan Barbu - Feb 23, 2016 at 08:44
Excited to see the artwork coming together in a consistent and pulchritudinous* style. Random non-artist suggestion: The sewer might look richer with pipes in a front layer (where it doesn't obstruct the view, obviously).

* - Always wanted to use that word ever since a few minutes ago, when I accidentally read it somewhere. Did I even spell it right?

Jasko2000 - Feb 23, 2016 at 18:47
Have you been playing Resonance by any chance recently? :)

Bogdan Barbu - Feb 24, 2016 at 01:16
Nope. Is it any good?

Stockfish Jensen - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:36
I’ve played all (*all*) Wadjet Eye games, and Resonance is one of the best. True, nothing beats the Blackwell series, but Resonance is a mighty (not pirate) good game. You should play it, only $9.99. But I know even Blackwell will be pale compared to TP! :)

Christopher Griffin - Feb 23, 2016 at 10:25
Octavi, can you please tell me what software you used to do your time lapse recording?  Was it something specific to time lapse recording, or did you just do a standard screen capture for a few hours (yikes on the disk usage!)?  Thanks!

Octavi Navarro - Feb 23, 2016 at 10:40
Hi! I use Open Broadcaster to capture the different sessions and Windows Movie Maker to edit, cut and accelerate the video

Ivan Braidi - Feb 23, 2016 at 12:56
Octavi..... Thank you very much for this article :) Your Art is AWESOME!! I can't wait to have TP™ in my horny hands!! ;)

EdoBvd - Feb 23, 2016 at 18:11
Impressed by the number of mouse clicks (or tablet interactions) involved.
Once again, I love this blog because it brings insight on how difficult it is to make a game like this.
Post Enjoyed.

Gabarts - Feb 25, 2016 at 02:46
Always loved elevators! Remember that one in Monkey 2, with Guybrush filled up with weird items, elium, balloons, eheh

Francesco Favia - Feb 25, 2016 at 11:29

Just a question that does not have anything to do with the wonderful job Octavi is doing.
What about the soundtrack?
I'm following this blog since some time by now and I do not recall any meaningfull post about it.

I just watched "Nebraska" movie, soundtrack by Mike Orton, it gave me chills, perfect for a graphic adventure in my opinion...


I'm not saying develop team should contact Orton, well... I'm just saying :D

Zombocast - Feb 25, 2016 at 15:10
After seeing Daniel Wolfs lip sync video in the last blog post, I gotta say I was completely hypnotized. Id almost reccomend removing the headbob altogether, uless you see the characters talking from behind or screaming at someone. The lip sync seems to serve the same purpose as the headbob, but does it better.

Ron Gilbert - Feb 25, 2016 at 15:28
Headbobs were removed a long long long time ago. The only exception is when seen from the back, where you can't see a mouth and it's the only way to know if someone is talking.

Big Red Button - Feb 25, 2016 at 16:46
I think it's a switchback to the roots, seeing how it was done in Maniac Mansion. Even though the heads seem a bit more rigid without the bobbing, I'm okay with its omission because it's suitable for the art style.

Gffp - Feb 25, 2016 at 15:13
I watched the video and now Fettuccini Brothers tune and Benny Hill music are mixed together in my mind, and they sound fine! What a monster! You have to take the first of the two equal movements of the core of Fettuccini tune and then put the end of the first movement of Benny Hill music. Ahahah nice work indeed Octavi!

Arashi - Feb 25, 2016 at 15:15
Gran trabajo, Octavi, me encanta tu pixel art, eres un crack.

Zombocast - Feb 25, 2016 at 22:42
Cant wait to see the crazy inventions the future has for us! At least for us non Xbox users.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Feb 26, 2016 at 10:20
403 - Forbidden

Bogomir - Feb 27, 2016 at 02:45
Octavi, how much time does it take (in real time obviously ;-) to get from a blank screen to the final art? You might not work on one piece until it's finished, but if you sum that up, how much of your time would a "simple" elevator eat up?

Big Red Button - Feb 27, 2016 at 11:10
Anyway, in a comment above he wrote that he used 3-4 hours of footage for the video. I assume that the wireframe art, which he started with, had needed too much time to create. So maybe it took about 4 hours overall.

Big Red Button - Feb 27, 2016 at 11:21
Oops, I overlooked that he cut some less important steps. Well, maybe it took approximately about 5 hours. However, I think it might vary touchily depending on the respective artwork.

Octavi Navarro - Feb 27, 2016 at 17:47
This one was really straightforward. I'd say it didn't take more than 7-8 hours overall. But that time might not be final, as there's still some polishing to do on all the rooms

Carlo Valenti - Feb 27, 2016 at 07:25
We want PODCAST! Want it NOW! Want it NICE! Want it NEW!
(ERROR: triple-N podcast required)

...and thank you in advance! :)))

Carlo Valenti - Feb 27, 2016 at 17:26
... ooooo pleeeeeeease

Mister T - Feb 28, 2016 at 08:23
What a great read!

Lift - Jul 21, 2016 at 08:38
Cool video and awesome article, thanks.

Teemu - Mar 19, 2017 at 12:36
I hate this elevator. I hate it so much.