Surprisingly, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game almost didn’t get the green light. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox Live Arcade hit has been getting lots of praise since its release, so it’s a little hard to imagine that it almost never came to be. I had the pleasure of listening to Stéphane Boutin chat about how the game was created and what kind of research went into it at Gamercamp. Boutin has been in the industry for at least six years and is part of the secondary animation team that worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Boutin was visibly nervous while speaking, and that may have something to do with the fact that English is not his native language (he is from Montreal), but he still explained his job and the work he performed very well. He went on to talk about the director of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Paul Robertson, with whom he shares a good rapport. According to Boutin, Robertson is responsible for all of the character designs in the game; he laughed while he clicked around the screen during his presentation and remarked that Robertson does all of his animation with a mouse, which is something he has trouble fathoming.
Universal Studios helped out with the project by sending lots and lots of reference pictures to Boutin’s team so they could better understand what they needed to put into the game, though Boutin took a couple of creative liberties here and there. In addition to the pictures, he also visited Toronto one weekend and walked around the city. He took tons of pictures and visited local hot spots such as Sneaky Dee’s, but due to licensing restraints they weren’t able to use the actual logos and names in the game. Still, while playing the game you may notice familiar places with slightly altered logos in homage to the places Boutin visited.
Unfortunately in December of 2009, the project hit a wall and was cancelled. The company told Boutin and his team that they wanted to make better use of their talents and reassigned them to different projects. The team spent 6 months in Montreal trying to find someone else to pick up the game, but were unsuccessful. Eventually the project was moved to a new Ubisoft studio in China, and Boutin and his team made the very, very long journey overseas. The game seemed to be resurrected finally, and Boutin claimed he had never worked so hard in his entire life.
The hard worked paid off, and we were treated to a very cool visual presentation. Boutin showed us all of the pictures he took around the city right beside the video game Toronto, and it was absolutely amazing to see. When it came to the other levels, he says he created “puzzle pieces” out of the graphics he created, and then pieced them carefully together. Once he was finished showing us how the levels were created he flipped to another picture in his presentation, this time of the menu select screen. Most gamers will recognize the character selection screen in Scott Pilgrim from Super Mario Bros. 2, which Boutin says is “the coolest selection screen ever.”
Boutin could have probably talked all day about the game but he ran out of time. There was a very short Q&A after he was finished speaking, and someone asked him what kind of program was used to create the game. Boutin didn’t seem as though he knew how to really answer this question and said that it was a “homemade program” that Robertson used on his computer that he might’ve taken with him from another project. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World went through many trials and tribulations, but Boutin says that they all made the best out of a bad situation. If time wasn’t an issue, Boutin says that he would have loved to work even more on the game. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is available on the PSN and Xbox Live Marketplace and features music from Anamanaguchi.