Our brand new logo, after seven long years. We’re so happy to finally present it.
Long time no see, eh? We’ve been hard at work on the upcoming codenamed “MISC” update, so things got a little dusty around here. It’s safe to say we’re finally back on the road, so let’s do some catching up, shall we? My name is Sebastian, I am the Creative Director for Operation: Dessert Storm. If you’ve seen a blue cat named Kingfish running around, or interacted with us on social media, that’s me. Around three years ago, I took over as the Creative Director and started rebuilding the team from the ground up. A lot has changed since then, and I sincerely thank all of you who have offered your time and feedback for the betterment of our project. So with that being said, let’s talk about the current direction development is going in right now. I’m sure a lot of you have questions (which you are free to leave under this post in the comments) and I’m here to give you answers. I’m going to begin with the centerpiece of our reveal on the 26th, our brand new logo.
Ah… what isn’t there to say about the new logo? I’ll begin at the start. The first mention of a new logo, as far as I am aware of, was the 26th of August last year. We were planning out a worklist for the Back From The Dead update when our then composer (now Music Director), Flair, told us we needed a new logo. My immediate reaction was dismissive.
“Do we really need a new logo?” Discussion stopped there for the time, but on Thanksgiving of that year, the push began again, and a lot harder. 2D and 3D Animator Gigs proposed that she would create our new logo. I was again dismissive of this, but with a more open mind this time. Inevitably, I established that if such a project were to be attempted, that it should be spearheaded by either myself or the 2D Artist Boosor. It’s here that I would like to introduce him properly, so take it away Boosor!
Boosor’s Introduction: The Logo
Hello! I’m Boosor, a texture and 2D artist for the game, and the one responsible for creating the assets for our new logo based off of the sketch made by Jello, another talented 2D artist.
As part of our new and improved future visions for Toontown Operation: Dessert Storm, we ultimately decided that a new logo was a necessity to represent the new direction the project was going in. As a result, many concepts for this new logo were made, as you would expect. Ultimately we settled on the design we have now, but I’d like to show our design process and the steps we took to get to that point.
First Redesigned Logo Iteration
Sebastian here, this was a rough sketch I came up with for the logo. I was interested in putting a unique take on the logo’s formatting, but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for and everyone was encouraged to put their ideas up.
Second Redesigned Logo Iteration
What sparked my interest in putting this specific ice cream design as the background element was the fact that our original mini logo/icon was an ice cream cone with a similar structure; a strawberry ice cream on the left, vanilla in the middle, and a chocolate ice cream on the right. Other elements like the jellybeans on the middle ice cream, the cherry, which eventually became the “O” in “Operation” itself, and the “O” in “Storm” being a cog gear like the original Toontown Online logo were all things I thought would help the logo have a bit of charm.
It seemed perfect in my eyes, and to the rest of the team as well. I set out to make the assets for this new logo a few days after I revealed the sketch.
Progress on this logo was going good! Although it was slow due to factors such as my personal life and schoolwork overflow, it was still being put together week by week, with the assets for it being completed every few weeks. The logo was styled differently from most Toontown private server logos, being shaded differently and having a more stylized vision to fit our game. It was at this point that we also wanted this logo to be animated, as animated logos in the Toontown community were common, and looked pleasing. Eventually the logo was nearly complete, I would say about 95% close to completion, can you believe it? So you’re probably asking yourself, “Well, why was it scrapped? What happened?”
Well believe it or not, we decided that this logo wasn’t the one we wanted to pursue after all. I suppose all of the time spent working on the assets made us realize that we could go grander, something more eye-catching and less… bland? So, we set out to make new variants of a logo, this time designed by Jello.
The first logo concept by Jello was the one above. This was a massive improvement from the old one, the letters being shaped wackier and sized differently alongside each other, not to mention the better perspective design of the letters, and elements such as the ice cream splattered into “Operation” as well as a flying pie forming a “D” shape with the cherry being a little cherry bomb, a sucker for the “O” in “Operation” and a monitor representing the technical aspect of the Techbot department, were all factors that made the logo have a really toony design and feeling, and gave it a sense of movement on a still image.
We all loved this logo, but I personally felt that the border in the back could be reduced and the letters could be curved, so I did a bit of editing and the logo was turned into this:
This edit was what really made us believe that we had finally struck gold. But Jello didn’t stop delivering there, he made some more logo variants for us to decide on:
Jello had believed that the first logo he designed wasn’t quite it. The image above is the one that was ultimately decided on, however we came to the agreement to use elements from his first logo such as the curved monitor and the ice cream at the top to finally create the perfect new logo for the game.
With a new NEW logo design settled on, I set out once again to create the assets for the final product.
My first step was to work on the border. We weren’t sure on a color for this, so I went with a blue color, which ended up looking really visually appealing. After the border, I started with the text for “Operation.” I actually had a few struggles with shading the sucker, but eventually I managed to make it look natural. Included with “Operation” was the Ice Cream resting on it above. I went with vanilla for the color of the ice cream, and I included the jellybean toppings from the old new logo for some small color variation and charm.
After “Operation” was “Dessert” as you might expect. Starting with the pie, which at the time I thought was supposed to be another ice cream cone tilted on its side, I colored it similarly to our new Cream Pie Throw gag in game, with the tin being designed the same way, as well as the little pie slice icon underneath the tin.
And finally, we reached the monitor where the text “Storm” would be presented. For this, I went with a purple color for the monitor, to represent the Techbot Department, and a green color for the “Storm” text to represent green code.
Now, you might be wondering “Hey, none of these new logos had the words “Toontown” at all! Where’d it come from on the new logo?” Well, originally we didn’t want to put Toontown on the logo at all because we believed it would be too much visual information and would probably not look as good, but I believed it could look right if done right, so I surprised the staff by posting progress on the logo with the Toontown at the top of the logo, and the opinion was immediately changed. The “Toontown” was described as retro-looking, with the red and yellow reminding us of the original Toontown Online logo. Along with this were two gears that would have been animated placed behind Toontown, where it is on the new logo right now which helped the “Toontown” text appear more naturally.
Once the assets were finished, we sent them over to our 3D artist, Spookz, who put the assets together and animated them, with guidance from Sebastian and I on how things should pop up, and how effects, specifically chromatic aberration and scan lines on the monitor should look. After the assets were properly put together and animated, the new logo was officially complete.
And that is the story of how our new logo came to be. It took months for our vision of the new logo to become a reality, but it was also a collaborative team effort amongst almost all of the staff members, whether it be concepts, assets, animation, or general criticism and guidance. That’s just how the creative process is! This was my first time working on a project like this, and while I can definitely see some improvements on the logo that could possibly be done in the near future, it was still a fun journey nonetheless.
Hey it’s me, Jello, I’m randomly interrupting Boosor’s segment. I made the original concept for the new Operation: Dessert Storm logo, It was never something I was tasked with doing, there were talks of changing the logo ever since I joined the team in early March 2023 but I just made the concept on a long car ride for fun, Boosor took this concept and polished it a whole lot and now we have the logo and honestly, I’m surprised how well of a fit it is for the game; I hope you (the reader) think so too!
Thank you to everyone on the team for lending your time and talent to creating our new logo. I was stubborn and pushed back on it quite a lot at times, but it came out great. Everyone put their all into it. Next up, Flair would love to talk about the brand new music you all have heard posted on our Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Flair’s Introduction: The Toontown Soundtrack
Hi! I’m Flair, and I am the music director of Operation: Dessert Storm. You may have seen me around the playgrounds as “Duke Toppenton”.
Since I became the music director, I’ve had a lot more responsibilities on my plate than before. It’s allowed me to sit down and create a unique identity for what ODS should sound like. I decided that I wanted to extend the style of Jamie Christopherson’s original scores from Toontown Online. Like a language, I wanted the music to evolve while still retaining the charm of source material.
Jazz and Bebop inspired me the most when it came to creating music for the Toons. These genres are in a sense like how the Toons are while living in a dark world. They allow for a lot of creativity and, most importantly, fun. When you’re pranking a Cog on the street, you can get a sense of excitement when you’re listening to an upbeat swing piece. With new areas being added as well, it gave me more freedom to develop new styles. With a background in jazz, it’s fun to be able to spread your wings and have as much fun as you can with the music you’re making, just like the Toons do with playing trolley games or cracking jokes against the Cogs.
When you’re on the Cogs’ turf, however, you can sense a feeling of dread, paranoia, emptiness, and fear. Baroque, Classical, Experimental jazz, and Film inspired the music of these mechanical maniacs. When you’re writing a piece for a place like Bossbot Headquarters, you want to put yourself in your Toon’s shoes. You need to understand the direness of the situation you’re in while retaining the style of music that was left for you.
Creating The Songs
I started working on this piece because I wanted to keep Andrew’s music in the game that he had worked many days and nights on. This was the first of his battle themes that I worked on, and it quickly became my favorite of the bunch. I wanted the people who were starting their new toons to have fun defeating cogs! What better way to enjoy some high energy pranks than with some high energy swing!
This ominous piece is based on two songs, one of which hasn’t been revealed. The feeling I wanted was a mix between golf course music and HQ music. It wants you to understand that something evil lurks within the clubhouse that stands before you.
I wanted to create a nice battle theme while you fight the waiters before you head into the actual banquet hall. The song was based on an old song I had created with the CEO in mind a year ago.
This tune started off as a simple jazz standard. The slowness reminds us of the slowness of the day when you’re working a soulless job in a soulless environment. The chorus also reminds you that though you may feel sympathy, their suffering is a deception on how much of a threat they really are.
Inspired by film scores, the first half of this piece incorporates elements of those found in spy movies. The original version of this song only had the first half as the full song, but I felt that it was missing something. So, I added a key change into an unusual and unsettling scale and key (Db Mixolydian #4) to give the toons waiting a sense of anxiety while they wait to enter the courtroom.
This ominous piece was another arrangement of an Andrew song. I added new elements and an ending inspired by some of my favorite film composers.
I had never seen anyone try to recreate the classic unused track “Suit HQ” before, so I quickly went to work and recreated the track. We had realized a use for this track later on, and decided to implement it into the game. But, what could that be for? What does “Successors To The Chair” even mean?
Working on ODS is a blast though, and I especially love collaborating with our other composer, Jello, to give you other tracks such as “Secondhand Smoke”. If you wish to join us in building the world of Toontown, don’t forget that applications are always open. We’re actively seeking new talent to help us on our journey. I can’t wait to show you all the rest of what we’ve been creating! Stay tuned!
Speaking of Jello, we’re going to move on to discussing the Cogs! Jello has been heavily involved in the development of the new Techbot designs. Here he is with a few words on the design process.
Jello’s Introduction: The Techbots
Hey, it’s Jello again. My first tasks when joining the team were to make new versions of 3 Techbot Heads; Script Kiddie, Voodoo Programmer and Keyboard Warrior. I want to go over my thoughts and processes when making these designs.
For the Script Kiddie I used the Flunky head base previously used for past iterations of the cog and ditched that weird baby thing that one design was going for.
Image courtesy of Anthony Ranieri.
I wanted to make him look as punchable as possible and I think I did quite well in that regard. He’s not much of a “kid” anymore because beating up children is weird bro.
I’m surprised how much people liked this one. There isn’t really much I can say here except Voodoo Programmer was already one of my favorite Techbots before I joined the team and this design concept was made waaaaay before I ever applied. I wanted to mash up every iteration of the head into one and add a little bit of my own flair along with it.
Woah momma this is one smokin’ cog (under the helmet of course).
That’s all for Techbots for now, we’ll revisit this topic later on in more development content. Moving on, here’s Momo with a brief history of the brand new Cog suit models!
Momo’s Introduction: The Cog Suits
Greetings! Name's Momo, but you can just call me Momo. I'm one of the artists on the Creative Team, specializing in 3D. I mostly do modeling, UVs, textures, and rigging. This part of the update, the COG suit revamp, has greatly challenged me and has led to improvements not only in my artistic & technical skills, but in my patience and planning skills. Remember that everything you see in here are either old, or current WIPs!
The roots of this revamp goes back a few years, since before I was on the team. Back around 2019 or so, I've really been wanting to fix up the retail Toontown Online COG suits. Because, if you ask anyone who's viewed these things in a 3D program, you'll know that they aren't the best. Odd armature, asymmetry (not the good kind), odd bends, you name it. Since then, I've done multiple attempts at fixing these to varying degrees of success.
Fast forward to April 1st, 2023. I created a mockup model of a remade suitA, posted it in the staff discussion channel, and refused to elaborate. The day after, I posted a .gif of the suit walking to show “Hey, this ain’t a joke, I’m serious about this.”
When looking at the animations being played, it became apparent that the existing animations just wouldn’t do anymore, not in their current state at least. There would be oddities with them, such as weird rotations and odd transforms. My increasing personal demands and wants required the armature to be recreated from the ground up. Despite internal push back at the implications of such a thing, I did it anyway. Initially, the things I added/changed were small, mainly making the bones truly symmetrical, but things spiraled from there. The biggest additions were to the hands, giving the fingers extra joints and letting the pinkie finger articulate on its own.
After setting up the armature and the weights, I then set up a control rig for ease of animation; preparing for the next step… baking every existing COG animation to the new armatures. I was not prepared for this task, but in the end, all roughly 140 TTO animations were baked to the new armatures. This was a very tedious process.
(Side note, we almost had to reanimate ALL of suitC, thankfully this was averted.)
Trouble arose when I was exporting animations from Blender to Panda3D. Issue was, they wouldn’t all export. A few would export, but the rest just wouldn’t. This caused a MAJOR roadblock and nearly killed the project. But, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. During a late night voice chat session, we’ve managed to come in contact with a man named Pascal. Now Pascal was a very kind man, we asked him for help with our issue and what do you know, he fixed it! Pascal single-handedly saved the suit revamp!
While all the animations were good to go, the actual mesh on the other hand, I had since stopped being satisfied with; though I wasn’t exactly sure how to redo it. Development remained stagnant for a while until one night when all of a sudden, it just clicked. I got out of bed, onto the computer, and went to work. After a bit of time, this layout came to be. I had finally come up with a proper way of creating the suits. Now, it was onto Blender.
I started with suitB, as I felt it was the perfect base to start off with. This would also allow me to easily use shape keys with my workflow, to rapidly change between body types. I wanted to take advantage of higher poly counts, and the robotic nature of the COGs, so I added more details such as visible Skelecog wrists, 3D lapels, and undershirt collars that really pop. When designing the suits, I took great inspiration from various pieces of Toontown art; mainly the Rogue’s gallery, and the series two trading cards.
The original TTO suits had a lot of split materials, I wanted to get rid of that and use a single material. After making all department textures, I put everything into a single texture atlas, or “palette”. This greatly cleans and organizes the resources, turning what would be around 20 textures into a nice, neatly organized 5 textures. After all this, the suits are game ready and only require a few tweaks.
And that is an abridged summary of the history of these things! I didn’t want to fill too much of the blogpost, so I really only went over the major parts of it. Thank you for reading, and I hope you stick around for more.
The Future of Operation: Dessert Storm
Sebastian here again! Thank you so much for reading this far already. We have so much more to show you for this upcoming update that’s still not quite ready, such as the brand new model for the Deer, Goat, and Chicken Toons. As always, we appreciate your feedback and have taken as much of it into consideration as possible. As we reach the end of this blogpost, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about our current plans for the future of the game, as the planning for this lies solely on my back. I’ve been here for about four years now and have seen enough to know the death rattles of a development team. I’ve plotted out our future to the point where we could survive a hypothetical nuclear bomb. As long as there is someone there to work on it, the game will live on.
So, what’s next?
Everything that’s been shown off here so far is slated to release sometime in 2024 as the “MISC” update. We have a proper name for this update, but we are not ready to reveal it. The time for that comes in the upcoming video presentation: The Dessert Menu. This will be an up close and personal look at the previous seven years of the game’s development and feature even more previews of our upcoming “MISC” update. As many of you have spotted in the teaser we posted on the 26th, the map of Toontown is getting a well deserved revamp. The Dessert Menu will feature an extensive look at how we’re redesigning the playgrounds with Goofy’s Speedway at the forefront. In addition to this special look at the “MISC” update, we will be giving a special presentation on the new combat mechanics and character progression in the upcoming “BAT” (Battle and Taskline) update. This update also has a better name we haven’t revealed yet.
I’ve heard it all. Nearly every single thing that has ever been said about the game. I can assure you that our vision for the game going forward is unlike anything the community has ever seen, and I intend on seeing it through to the end. The brand new taskline and combat is modeled off of traditional role-playing games, with a special fixation on Pokémon, Shin Megami Tensei, Dragon Quest, and many more. I wear many hats on this team, but outside of development, I’m a gamer at heart. If you have felt that Toontown in its current state, whether it be the classic Toontown Online gameplay, or the new gameplay adjustments added to Operation: Dessert Storm right now are solved or lacking in depth, I have you covered. You have been heard.
We are aiming for a release of February 2024 for The Dessert Menu. Please look out for updates on our Discord server and Twitter account in case this doesn’t work out.
In addition to the revamps of the game, let’s talk about the website. It was designed and published in 2018, which is a long time ago. We’re planning on a total revamp of this as well. Once the website and game have our brand new logo featured front and center, that will be your indicator that our vision for the game is well on the way to being fulfilled. The live game right now may seem a little neglected, but it’s for the best. If you wish to help us bring the vision to life, you can apply to become a staff member through this link. We’ve already welcomed new recruits with Leo on the programming team and Majora Cats on the creative team. You could be with them too!
That’s all we have to say for now. Don’t turn that dial, because we’re just getting started. Here’s to seven more years.
Happy New Year, Toontown!