The Tale of the Transmogrifier

World Builder has this great little feature (with a good back story) in it that I added in the early days of its development. The idea started with a challenge I overheard some of my colleagues having. They wanted the other programmer to call a new feature Transmogrification.

A few weeks went by, nothing really came of the challenge they had going, but the name stuck with me. One day I had an idea for a great little feature to add to World Builder. The basic idea of this new feature was, if you have an entity already placed in a level you would be able to convert it to any other entity type.

During that sprint I was working really late one night and figured I would add the feature in and show it off the next day. But it needed a name, something really catchy. It came to me almost instantly that I should call it Transmogrifier, it was just too perfect a name for the feature.

The largest pop-culture reference to Transmogrifier is from Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin has a device to turn him into any other kind of creature,

transmogrifier
Then it needed an icon…

I quickly whipped up the Stick Man => Sheep icon; really high quality programmer art. The inspiration for the icon was the Polymorph spell in World of Warcraft. Which can turn an enemy into a sheep.

I showed everyone the feature the next day; everyone loved the feature, but I got several unsure reactions when it came to the name. After showing the feature to our art director he loved the feature and the name and so the name stuck.

But the programmer art icon had to go…

Enter the internally infamous revised Stick Man => Sheep icon that one of our artists created. People that saw the icon couldn’t stop laughing, it was pretty awesome. The icon stayed like this till just before we hit Alpha.

Enter the final icon…

The final version of the Transmogrifier icon, is just a simple sphere shape being turned into a cube shape.

Today nearly everyone in the company knows about the Transmogrifier, but not everyone knows the history of this little feature.