How to create and share your own objects in Scribblenauts Unlimited

By Ozzie Mejia, Nov 06, 2012 12:00pm PST

The Wii U is launching on November 18, and while it is a momentous occasion for Nintendo, it is also a big day for 5th Cell, the creators of the Scribblenauts franchise. Scribblenauts Unlimited will be one of 23 available launch titles for the new console. The gravity of this opportunity is not lost on 5th Cell producer, Brittany Aubert.

The Scribblenauts series has become something of a staple on the Nintendo DS, thanks mostly to its touch-based control scheme. "We've utilized the touch screen on the DS for our keyboard, which is how players enter words and spawn creations," said Aubert. "When bringing Scribblenauts to a console, the GamePad just makes us feel completely at home. When we saw the Wii U, it was an obvious next step for Scribblenauts."

A part of the reason the Wii U became the next step for Scribblenauts was because of the new GamePad. Upon seeing it, Aubert knew it would be a great addition to the Scribblenauts experience. The GamePad will function similar to the DS touch screen, with players using it for the keyboard to type adjectives and object names. However, while the functions operate similarly, Aubert says that Scribblenauts Unlimited will be far grander in scale.

"This Scribblenauts is so much bigger than any previous version," said Aubert. "We're utilizing the HD graphics on the Wii U to showcase our hand-drawn environments that are super rich with color. We've taken the freedom of the title screen from the previous games, and incorporated that into the entire game. So at any point, you can just start spawning tons of creations. We've got a full-blown object editor, which allows players to create any object they can imagine. The object editor exposes our scripting system to the player, so they can customize even the craziest of details for their creations. These objects can then be shared online, where you can download other players' objects and rate them."

The Object Creator is a brand new addition to the Scribblenauts series and will allow for players to create their own off-the-wall objects. I asked Aubert to explain this new feature and how it works.

"Players choose which object they want to start with," Aubert explained. "That will determine the initial visual look and properties that the object has. From there, you can start painting different sections different colors and materials. You can scale individual parts, including limbs, or scale the object itself. You can use different parts of other objects as stamps, which you can edit, just like the original object. You can alter properties, such as making your item sound like other objects, act as another object, change its weight, buoyancy, whether or not it is on fire or generates electricity, if it's a container or a hat, etc. You can also add scripting to your object, like having your object attack all hotdogs and explode when coming in contact with water."

Once an object is finished, players can then share it with friends. "On the Wii U, you can head to Punctuation Plaza, which is our object sharing hub," Aubert added. "There you can edit the objects in your store, search for other player's stores, rate objects, and download objects. Once you've downloaded objects, you can edit them and re-upload them as new ones."

If this still isn't enough objects, the Wii U version of Scribblenauts Unlimited will also feature first-party Nintendo characters. Aubert explains that characters from Mario and Zelda have been added into the Scribblenauts dictionary. Wii U players will be able to type "Mario" to play with the iconic plumber and he'll interact as expected with any of his world's objects. Typing "Link" will bring in the Hyrulian hero, who can interact with objects like the Ocarina, which can summon his horse, Epona. "We've stayed true to what Nintendo fans have grown to expect from their favorite franchises, while still adding a Scribblenauts flare," said Aubert.

Nintendo's iconic characters will be in Scribblenauts Unlimited.

On top of playing with Nintendo's characters, the Wii U also represented 5th Cell's first chance to work with a whole new set of hardware. It's an experience that came with a series of challenges and exciting opportunities.

"We've never worked on a launch title before, which adds its own set of new challenges," Aubert explained. "Also, the hardware was still in the middle of development while we were working on the game, so system updates and changes were frequent. However, Nintendo was great in helping us and giving us information we needed all the way through the development process. From a technical standpoint, the Wii U is a lot more powerful than a DS, which allowed us to do things in this Scribblenauts that we haven't been able to do in the past."

With the Wii U iteration of Scribblenauts Unlimited gaining the lion's share of the spotlight, it's easy to forget that the game is also coming to PC. Aubert says it's out of a love for PC gaming. "Our developers really enjoy working on and playing PC games," said said. "During the course of development, we had a PC build always working, which allowed us to build in game tools for the designers to use. Plus, with the game's primary form of word entry being a keyboard, it just made sense. PC will have the object sharing just as the Wii U does, but will use Steam workshop for all sharing."

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