Diary of a Wimpy Kid - The Meltdown

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Ready Your Snowballs!

Heavy snow has transformed Greg’s neighbourhood into a wintry battlefield, setting the stage for an epic snowball fight! Will Greg and Rowley emerge as heroes? Will they even survive to see another day?

Brief

Nickelodeon were looking for a small-but-punchy game that we could turn around quickly, to help promote the launch of the latest book from the popular ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series –  ‘The Meltdown’.

They asked if we could find an existing game engine suitable to providing a snowball fight experience, amongst the library of games we had previously made for them, so that we could maximise the efficiency of the project and facilitate the very fast turnaround required.

Our Response

We had a look through our previous Nickelodeon games and found one that already matched the snowball-fight experience well (‘Snowball Wars!’) It would need some fairly heavy modification beyond a change of visual style, to facilitate recreating the snowball fight setting from the book and to produce something unique.

 

The Challenges

The ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books feature a unique hand-drawn style which, although full of character, doesn’t lend itself well to communicating complex movement and information in a gameplay scenario. We had to think carefully about how to show depth and provide enough clarity to players using only the brand’s simple black and white style.

The tight deadline of around a month meant we had to work very efficiently to keep schedule and still produce something unique, fun-to-play and in keeping with the brief for ‘The Meltdown’ snowball premise. 

The Results

‘The Meltdown’ mini-game faithfully captures the unique visual style of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and differentiates itself well from ‘Snowball Wars!’ (originally made for Infinity Islands) in several ways. 

For example, the book’s artwork depicts the characters hunkering down behind walls, whilst under siege during the snowball fight. We took the opportunity to add these in and rewrote the enemy A.I. to take them into account. Also reducing ammo capacity to two – a snowball in each hand, forces the player to frequently move out of cover to get more ammo.

With good planning and efficient working, we delivered on the vision of a ‘neighbourhood transformed into a wintry battlefield’ where players help Greg and best-friend Rowley fend off waves of attackers in an ‘epic snowball fight’ with only one month of development time.

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