Interview with Keith Webb (Twinsanity)


Interview by: Darxae

SpaceCatWhen Traveller's Tales Oxford Studio was formed, they had one goal in mind: to give new life to Crash Bandicoot. The result, Crash Twinsanity, is a favorite among fans of the series, and much of it is thanks to Keith Webb, one of the main artists who spearheaded many ideas for the game. Here are some questions and answers regarding that experience.

Q: Crash Twinsanity featured an all-new design for Crash. How was this decision made?
A: I joined TT Oxford and began working on Crash Twinsanity back in April 2003. By that time a demo of the game already existed, which used the new Crash design.. so I didn't really have anything to do with that! That was left over from the Crash Evolution days that preceeded it! I think it was a conscious effort to make Crash a little bit more up to date, with the additional detail in his jeans, and sneakers... but keeping his more goofy-esque persona from the Naughty Dog days! We didn't want to go too far with the change, just modernise him a little bit! :)

Q: Crash is seen holding a lightsaber in some of the concept art. What were the plans for this?
A: If I remember correctly, there was a piece of concept art, created by the lead artist, Dan Tonkin, which had Crash holding a sword. I think the lightsaber idea came about from when Crash defeated the ants. I think it was originally conceived that Crash could pick up their laser-swords after they had been defeated and twirl them around as an additional attack!

Q: A lot of characters were removed from the game during development the final version. There was going to be a Good Cortex, an Evil Coco, a tribesman called Capu Capu, N. Trance and Fake Crash. How far into development did these characters get?
A: Evil Coco was definitely made as a 3D model. The lead character modeller, Chris Abedelmassieh, built her for sure! I think she appears in a render in one of the unlockable galleries. She was only going to appear in a cutscene in Twinsanity (but maybe in other games later). N. Trance was definitely built as well.
He had new legs, if I recall correctly, and a plaster on his head, to show that his egg-head had cracked a little! Good cortex may have been built, but I don't think Capu Capu was ever built. He does appear in some concept art, at the head of the boat that takes you between islands! Fake Crash... to be honest, I can't remember if he was built or not?!

Q: Continuity-wise, why did you decide to make Twinsanity follow The Wrath of Cortex? Any idea why the latter doesn't follow directly from Crash 3?
A: We wanted the game to take place directly after Wrath of Cortex, as we needed to intoduce Cortex's Iceberg lair, and as he was encased in ice at the end of Wrath of Cortex.. this made perfect sense!

In terms of why Wrath Of Cortex doesn't seem to follow directly after the end of Crash 3, I'm not really sure. That decision was made by the main branch of Traveller's Tales, and so I can't answer that! At Traveller's Tales Oxford, we tried to keep everything within the existing canon of the game, and making sure nothing contradicted, but maybe the main Traveller's Tales didn't do that.

If time travel aver exists in another Crash game, I'm sure we could find out more about the period of time when baby Cortex, Uka Uka and baby N. Tropy were back in time, and fit it to the start of Wrath of Cortex! Perhaps Cortex Chaos would have answered these questions ;)

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the cancelled projects at TT-Oxford (such as Cortex Chaos, Crash Clash Racing)? Is there any chance these will still be made?
A: With Cortex Chaos, I'm not really sure who would own the rights to that. I think it was developed at a stage after we had completed Twinsanity, and was therfore a pitch to, then Universal, to get the go-ahead to make another game. So as we weren't hired by Universal at that time, probably Traveller's Tales still owns the rights to that concept...

Actually, I will make a promise to you now! Last year, I created my own games development Studio, Tanukii Studios Limited! I just developed and released my first game for the Nintendo DSi and 3DS service, called "Go! Go! Kokopolo". It was featured on IGN's best of 2011 list, as well as Joystiq's recommended for 2011, and nominated NintendoLife's best DSiWARE game of 2011. Here is a trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_t0MHeJZ10

If I can sell enough copies of my game, to slowly turn Tanukii Studios Limited into a bigger company, I will approach Activision, and see if I can get the rights to make Cotex Chaos!! I'll seriously do it, I'll try to get as many of the old TT Oxford team together as well, but first I need to build up my own company before I can do that, and that means getting more Kokopolo fans! So take a look at my game, and if you like the look of it, buy a copy and tell all other Crash fans about it!!! :) :) :) :)

In tems of Crash Clash Racing, I do remember doing an N. Trance kart as well. Let me know if that's not online anywhere, and if it isn't I'll see if I can dig it up!

Q: Were there any other cancelled projects after Cortex Chaos and Crash Clash Racing?
A: If we were going to get to do a proper sequel to Twisanity, there was talk going round of doing a new game based on a Television show premise. Cortex would deliver a new TV and remote control to Crash's house disguised as a gift. When Crash switched it on, he would have been sucked into various TV shows, and each level would have been a different show... like a wild west show, or a black and white old cartoon. The one that was brainstormed the most was that Crash would get sucked into a medical drama, and would involve enemies coming at him with big needles...and rolling through the corridors on hospital beds. I think Rusty Walrus (my favorite character, BTW!) would have had his own cooking show as well, with more crazy chasing action!!

Q: Nina Cortex was created by Traveller's Tales. What was your reaction like when she was introduced in Crash Bandicoot Fusion, prior to Twinsanity?
A: Yeah, I actually remember when we first found out about that! I was looking through some of the newly released screenshots from Crash Fusion, and could just make out the image of Nina Cortex's portait on the HUD (if I'm remembering correctly!). I went over to the lead designer, and the producer, and pointed this
out to them, and they were shocked! Apparently they knew nothing about it!

It probably hit the lead Game Designer, Paul Gardner, the most...as he was really fond of the character Nina Cortex, and was responsible for a lot of the characterisation and development of her... so I think he probably felt annoyed that she was going to appear in another game first, when Twinsanity was supposed to be her debut!

Q: Some of the concept art shows Fake Crash stranded on an island with Crunch. What was the backstory behind that?
A: When we were brainstorming how the Battleship stage should play, I came up with a few ideas in regards to the progression of that stage. I thought it would be cool, if once you borded the battleship, that it set sail and every time you went up to the deck, you would be in a different environment (couldn't interact with it just see it in the background) At one of those points, you would see the island that Fake Crash was marooned on, waving for help. This of course was a little too complicated to be implemented at that time, and so wasn't included, but I decided to put it in the world concept art as a tribute.

Interestingly, also, I think the end of the N. Gin boss fight on the battleship was going to have him knocked off the crow's nest by an overhanging iceberg
too, if I remember correctly. Or at least that was suggested at one point!

Q: Who played Cortex in the demo? He had a different voice in the demo, before Lex Lang became his actor.
A: The voice of Cortex in that Demo version was actually the voice of the Lead Artist, Dan Tonkin, as we didn't have the proper voice overs through yet! But it was a very good likeness of Cortex! :)

Q: How was your reaction when you saw that most of the fans loved this game?
A: Well, I think we didn't actually know about the reaction 'til a few years later... maybe after TT Oxford had closed down, and we'd all gone our seperate ways!
I do keep in touch with most of the old TT Oxford team, and have in the past watched some of the YouTube videos with the programmers, of all the bugs found in the game, and have a good laugh!

I think we tried to keep as close to the original Naughty Dog style as much as possible, whilst adding in more humor, and I think everyone who worked on the game, really enjoyed working on it for the most part. There were arguments involved (lots of them, lol), but that's because everyone was so passionate about making a good game! No individual got the game they set out to make, but it was a collaborative process in that everyone got a least something in the game they wanted. In that respect, we are glad that the game is well liked!

Q: Can you tell us your opinion about the cancelled game from 2010?
A: It's very possible this new game suffered the same fate that Twinsanity was very close to suffering at various different times. Because we were taking so long with the development, there were a few times when it looked like Twinsanity would be cancelled! But we managed to make it through somehow. I think it's good that Radical managed to get out as much information to the fans as possible... so that is wasn't forgotten... and it's good that the fans have kept hold
of it, just in case it is possible for development to ever start on it again!

From what I saw of the game, I liked it a lot. It seemed to have a good balance of the previous games, with some Twinsanity-esque stuff included in it as well! It probably just became too expensive for Activision to continue with it.

Parts of the Crash 2010 game will probably be used in another game, depending on which team develops it. We, at Travellers Tales Oxford, were always very considerate in looking to the previous game, and including a lot of fan-service in our game, to please the fans. Hopefully the next team that takes on Crash will think like this as well, and if that's the case, a lot of the Crash 2010 designs and concepts may see the light of day at some point in the not too distant future :)... and if not, well, at least all the material still lives on in the fans hearts and memories, and nothing can take that away, ever! :)


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