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Mar 31

Tearaway: Eight Unseen Concepts for Media Molecule’s Papercraft Adventure

Media Molecule's papercraft adventure exits the PS Plus lineup soon! Here's an insider look at the creation of this heartfelt experience.

Rex Crowle's Avatar Posted by Creative Lead, Media Molecule

With PS4’s papercraft-inspired adventure Tearaway Unfolded available on PS Plus this month, we asked Media Molecule to talk us through some unseen concepts behind the game’s creation. Here, designer Rex Crowle pinpoints key design junctures in Tearway’s development, illustrated through exclusive images from the game’s early days.

1. A colorful dungeon crawler?

“This is a very early concept from Tearaway. The game went through many changes, and switched genres a few times while we worked out the best way to use the paper-world setting. At this stage it was more like a colorful dungeon-crawler.

“As we’d only just finished making LittleBigPlanet games, you can probably see a more LBP-style look here, with lots of color and pop-culture items combined together.”

2. A collage look perhaps?

“Another very early concept from me. I feel I was starting to put LittleBigPlanet behind me more by this point. The colorful collage look has transformed into something more atmospheric, and closer to the more magical and mysterious world that we finally ended up with.

“At this stage it’s not really very papery, it’s more like someone has cut up sheets of painted paper and made this collage. I was actually quite inspired by the art of Eric Carle. You’ll probably know him as the creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and many other children’s picture-books.”

3. What about pop-up books?

“In those early concepts you could quite easily miss that it’s supposed to be a game made out of paper, it just wasn’t bold enough. If we were going to make a game entirely out of paper, it needed to be instantly recognisable as a paper-world, with paper-characters, that look and sound papery, as that would inspire us to make uniquely papery-gameplay.

“So we met paper craft designers and learnt about how pop-up books are designed and made. This concept by Men Lu was from a period when we tore everything up, and established a much stronger style – using the bold colors of construction paper and removing all other texture. So that the world was much closer to how it might look if you tried to make it in real-life. A very different type of photo-realism for a game!

4. Meet Oola

“Any adventure needs an explorer willing to go on the journey. Originally our explorer was this little character called Oola, shown here in a concept by Men Lu. It’s a very sweet character, and I always loved the little bird-like feet that he had given to the design, especially as it ran around the world, possibly in search of some shoes.

“Unfortunately we found it hard to create the more expressive animations for the character, as a lot of their body was hidden away. So after a series of redesigns and brainstorms from the whole art-team, we created iota – the paper messenger, and then soon afterwards, atoi.”

5. How does weather work in a paper world?

“When you’re making a world from one single material, it creates all kinds of interesting questions that you have to try and answer. Does fire hurt you if it’s made out of paper? Does paper-rain make you wet? We had a lot of fun arguing about things like this.

“These concepts I put together for our genius engine-coder Mark, as we were figuring out how papery-weather would be represented in the world. I still really wish we’d been able to add those papery rays seen radiating out of the clouds, especially if you could have climbed up them!”

6. A comic book design bible

StarBlood Arena: Gone Gold

“When making a game full of ideas that everyone on the team are contributing to, it’s really important to make sure everyone is still making the same game together! The traditional way to do that is to have a design-doc, which collates everything together and contains every feature of the game in perfect detail. Obviously that makes it incredibly tedious and nobody reads it, which kind of makes it obsolete!

“That’s definitely what I learnt in the early days of making Tearaway, and I soon switched to making little comic-books (like this example page) or videos, to explain quickly the overall atmosphere of what we were trying to achieve, and then everyone on the team could work on their own elements to get us there.”

7. Getting the camera right

StarBlood Arena: Gone Gold

“Another page from one of my ‘design-doc’ comic-books. This is taken from a longer-section about using the camera in Tearaway to reward players for exploring and recording what they find.

“This feature was something that David ‘Dave Smith’ Smith really championed, and I loved how much it made you want to engage more with the world, as well as show other players what you’d found.

“This camera feature was added long before we added all the other ways of customising your character and the world around them, and became such an important feature for sharing their own personal journeys.”

Add Your Own

ZanFear said:

March 31st, 7:28 am

Incorporate some of the concepts into a sequel perhaps?! If Knack can get a sequel (which looks fun to me) then so can this (and The Order)!

thefoxymoron said:

March 31st, 7:40 am

Thanks so much for creating such a unique and inspiring adventure! Playing this originally on the Vita was hands-down my favorite gaming experience on the go! Utilizing all of the features of the Vita, (camera, voice, touchpads, etc…) it was absolutely thrilling to find out what next incredible discovery was just around the corner.

I worried when the PS4 version was announced that what made the handheld version so special, (being specifically designed around the unique abilities of the system itself) wouldn’t have the same “magic” as before. But adding PS APP support to tablets and phones actually made it a much more open experience that my family could join in on! My son loved being able to create shapes and items to help me on my journey (or vice-versa if he was playing) and at the end of the day, Tearaway simply wowed us all once again.

Media Molecule is the epitome of creativity + happiness in our home. You guys (and gals) continue to be bold in your vision for what video games can and should be and we’re anxiously awaiting Dreams! Thanks again!

RaidenReturns said:

March 31st, 7:42 am

Just release DREAMS already!!!

CrusaderForever said:

March 31st, 9:44 am

Love the game! Hoping for a sequel some day.

D-Squad3 said:

April 1st, 8:56 pm

Just waiting for Media Molecule to release a game this generation…

Welmosca said:

April 2nd, 11:09 pm

Glad the dungeon crawler idea was discarded.Always nice to read something like this…I really like iota but gotta say Oola would’ve been a nice protagonist as well despite the difficulty with customization.

Played the one and only original Tearaway on Vita and its definitely among the 3 best Vita games,such creativity could only be done by Mm or JapanStudio…Tearaway is a fantastic game,thank you Mm for being such a fantastic dev.Y’all are one of the best devs out there…can’t wait for Dreams.

joyrul96 said:

April 3rd, 12:07 pm

I like MM like to do creative stuff etcetc

Main problem i have with nearly all MM games is that they’re not really that fun and gameplay can be boring and slow, fave would probably be LBP 2 but still it all lacks fun gameplay that is what matters most

Secret_Sanctuary said:

April 4th, 2:46 am

I am HUGE fan of Media Molecule! Tearaway on the PS Vita was one of my favorite games for the Vita. When I heard they we kinda remaking it for the PS4 I totally had to have it. It did not disappoint!! I really hope that there is a sequel of some sorts in the works. Tearaway Unfolded’s story was amazing and so lovable! Thank you Mm for all the paper fun and I cannot wait to see whats next!

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