Stop Motion in Games - Cletus Clay

Stop Motion in Games – Cletus Clay

Cletus Clay is a unique computer game that uses stop motion animation techniques. The clay characters in the game are all handcrafted by Sarah Webb  of  TunaSnax – home of Tuna, developers of Cletus Clay.

Below is a transcribed interview with Sarah and Alex Amsel talking about Cletus and the stop motion design behind the game.

Sarah Webb: Cletus Clay is cool and interesting because we made it.

Alex Amsel: Yeah, pretty much.

Sarah Webb: and We’re cool.

Alex Amsel: Yep.

Alex Amsel: Yeah Cletus Clay  is homage back to the 1980’s, 1990s arcade games. And this time we’re doing it as we are doing it with clay.  And the  ??  Is that those games were really really entertaining. They had a set of humor about. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. And I think that is one of the nice things about Cletus. When you hear Cletus talk you know he doesn’t takes himself seriously. He’s the funniest game character that has been for many years. Hi, I am Alex Amsel. I’m the managing director of Tuna.

Stop Motion-Puppet-CletusClay - Copyright - TunaSnax - home of Tuna, developers of Cletus Clay.

Stop Motion-Puppet-CletusClay – Copyright – TunaSnax – home of Tuna, developers of Cletus Clay.

Sarah Webb: I am Sarah Webb. I am the stop motion artist here at Tuna.

Why stop motion game?

Alex Amsel: We wanted to do something that looks a little bit different, more original. And so we started working with guy called Anthony Flak. He is a stop motion animator.

Average day of Cletus Clay team?

Alex Amsel: Anthony is based in New Zealand and that means he has an eleven hour time difference. So my morning starts talking to Anthony. And as he so starts motor making with Sarah. What we are doing is actually, doing  the interesting which is how the game plays. So my typical job is to generally coming and speaking to Anthony, get Cletus running around and beating up aliens and finding new ways to make the aliens die.

Sarah Webb: Anthony does a load of level designs, which is what we base our model designs upon. So there are these really long sketches that he does using Photoshop.  So we go through those and work out what models need to be made for each level. And for me, I tend to go to make another sketch, particularly if it’s a big model , just so that I can firmly establish in my head what kind of model I’m trying to make. And then I can send them back to Anthony, and he can say that’s really good or no no no, that’s totally not I wanted to for that level.

Sarah Webb: This is chicken house mark II which is a model  I built for level 1 of Cletus Clay. It took about 12 hours to make.

Sarah Webb: It’s all squishy!

Alex Amsel: I kill stuff. that’s my day, mainly aliens.

Why your game is unique?

Sarah Webb: I guess it is its tactile nature. It’s like when you watch a film like Coraline or Fantastic mister fox,  because what you’re looking at are a set of still images. It has its own little em, idiosyncrasies. And so people can pick up on that ,as you can’t really mimic that with any medium which is why clay is quite special.

Alex Amsel: And the interesting thing for me is I’m a pro ??. I have to work with all the art work produced by the artists. As he gets, you never quite know what you’re going to get. And because you never catch your way and look at it at anytime and they can take a slight different photo of it. You put it in the actual game and you can see the thumb prints, when you are actually playing the game and that’s really different from doing CGI. CGI is really really dull in comparison and lifeless.

What was the first feedback so far?

Alex Amsel: There are people who didn’t like it. We don’t have to lie.

Sarah Webb: No, we don’t have to lie. There was a very little negative feedback from we trying to both the scenario came out. And there was one Japanese who called, who played the same level for about 10 times, over and over again because he said he can’t stop playing it which was really awesome.

Alex Amsel: He kept playing over and over again.

Sarah Webb: Yeah

Bad moments?

Sarah Webb: Mark hid one of my clay models and said that it had been squashed and there was a moment of gullibility where  I did think he was serious and there was this model that took me 12 hours to make had been squashed and the evidence has been swept away and it can’t be produced and it was cake and that was pretty bad.

Alex Amsel: Anthony had  a very bad day all playing to making all the clay models. This was supposed to be the first previous game of Cletus. And we got back home and his house was burning down with all his discs and all his models, everything he’d been doing back for back two years. And, luckily he’d been showing the game to a friend, and his friend had the discs. So he didn’t lose all his works completely, just his house and his belongings.

Favourite character?

Sarah Webb: I am gonna be with one of the bunnies. The bunnies were cute. There were really cute clay bunnies so it might be a bunny. And you could be the really cute gun terror.

Alex Amsel: I can’t be the gun terror because it’s destructive.

Happy memories?

Sarah Webb: The most exciting moment for me the first time I saw was something I had created actually in the game.  It was just a little test level. Cletus running back and forth and I was “that’s my tree!”

Alex Amsel: And there’s been a lot of things on Cletus. But a friend of mine Betamin Weirs, the first game I ever made that was so commercially was going to the shop and seeing it, in the shop in like a top 10. And of course it wasn’t a no. 1 but  what I did do is picked up all the copies and moved into no. 1. And I did that in every shop I went in to and so all around Sheffield as well.


Alex Amsel: There’s been a lot of learning on the way because there is no model to follow, no one has ever done this before in the way we are doing it. So, some deadlines we’ve met but other deadlines we missed badly I have to admit. But it’s inherent when you’re trying to do, when you’re doing research and development. We’re doing new things therefore, some objects just go wrong and we have to do it differently.

Your experience?

Alex Amsel: 14 years worked on platforms from the older Amiga days, and now working across onto the IPad, the latest platform we’re working on. And I think the experiences we had across all these different products and all the different platforms, working with a wide range of clients and licences and now we work with clay. I think it makes us interesting and I’ve got experiences that so varied that we have a lots of things to table.

Sarah Webb: Yes, it is really good to see the clay graphics on the ipad. I think they were really well. I know we’re still developing the actual mechanics of the game but even playing upside down and backwards. It’s still pretty fun.

Industry nowadays?

Alex Amsel: Something I think is interesting, that is happening more and more now is more and more people playing games on facebook or console or on their iphone, I think there’s a quite a lot of scope for new products to be created or appetised by creating a game around those products instead of traditional boring advertisements, which tended to speak – 30 seconds adverts on tv or a boring flash ad on the web. I think creating proper interactive, interesting adverts, which is our base of the game. I think that’s the move we really would like to get involved with.