TicToc Games Creators Talk Adventures of Pip
TicToc Games is a development studio that was formed in 2011 by a group of people who have a great love for video games. From making games to playing them, their goal is to "provide the world with ADDICTING entertainment using INNOVATIONS in technology, compelling STORY and engaging SOCIAL hooks."
TicToc's latest project is called The Adventures of Pip, and is now in the works for release on Wii U, Xbox One, PC and MAC.
In the game you play as Pip, a character who starts off as a single pixel. Upon defeating enemies, Pip has the ability to absorb the pixels of his fallen foes to evolve himself into a more complex, powerful, and higher resolution hero. You will help Pip evolve from his humble single pixel roots all the way up to a powerful 32-Bit champion. In doing so, you will journey through far off regions in your quest to return the kingdom's stolen pixels from the Dark Queen.
I was able to get in touch with Marc Gomez, the Creative Director, along with Senior Producer Cathy Camacho to ask them a few questions.
You mentioned that you have drawn inspiration from games like Super Mario World and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night while also referring to Pip as a "blend of both platformer and 'Metroidvania'." What aspects of these games did you draw your influence from and how did you incorporate them into Pip?
[MARC]: Initially, when building the concept of pixels evolving over time, the first thought was to go straight down the Metroidvania route since those type of games offer you powerups; or in our case, evolutions that grow over time.
What we came to discover was that following this path didn’t offer any unique elements to our gameplay that make us stand out from those titles. We decided to move in a direction that allowed players to evolve and devolve and make choices based on their evolution level. This worked better with a game strategy that was more linear like Mario style platformers. In the end, we have a good combination that utilizes both in a way that works best for the gameplay.
Where did the decision come from to make the game 2D versus 3D?
[MARC]: Since our story is based on pixels, I felt that going 2D was the only way to capture the charm of pixels. We didn’t go traditional with the pixel art though, since we are using vector style animation. We decided on this approach to make all versions of Pip animate in the same smooth style even though they are different pixel resolutions.
"We want to tell a story and with those freemium 'hooks', it really takes away from everything."
What made you and your team decide to break away from being a publisher-backed mobile game? How has this choice affected development?
[CATHY]: It started going down a path where it didn't align right with our vision -- we were heading to a more of a freemium model and it just slowly lost its charm. We want to tell a story and with those freemium 'hooks', it really takes away from everything. Freemium models work for specific games; and this was not the game. Fortunately, we were presented with the opportunity to buy it back, but we had to make sacrifices to get it back in our hands.
Why did you turn to Kickstarter?
[CATHY]: We felt that the Kickstarter community was the best, and hearing stories from our friends who have had successful and even non-successful campaigns, we thought Kickstarter was the way to go for Adventures of Pip.
[MARC]: Since we had some of the game made, we thought it would be good to put it on Kickstarter since we have enough content to show where we’re taking the game and that we’ve got a solid game plan. Kickstarter felt like the best way to get the funding we needed to finish what’s left of the game.
"We are really glad to have such a wonderful community of gamers that support this title. It has given us strength to re-build, pixel by pixel, and construct the best game ever!"
How has the project benefited from the move to Kickstarter?
[CATHY]: Having a campaign on Kickstarter allows us to make the game we believe in for Pip. Our vision remains intact, and we aren't obligated to put anything that goes against it. We only put things that we, ourselves as gamers, want to play or encounter.
And the community has been freakin' fantastic! Our backers and supporters have given us some amazing and helpful feedback and comments, whether it's through comments or messages on Kickstarter itself, or when they watch us on Twitch. Their excitement for this project is completely infectious and it gushes through the office. We are really glad to have such a wonderful community of gamers that support this title. It has given us strength to re-build, pixel by pixel, and construct the best game ever!
How has your experience with your previously released games for other platforms over the years helped you with this endeavor without a publisher?
[MARC]: We made our own original IP before with Pug Run, so we have some experience on developing a game on our own time and budget. With Adventures of Pip, it’s a much larger scale, but we know the time it will take to complete, and the money that goes into the Kickstarter has already been planned out for our development time.
What have been some of your challenges during development?
[CATHY]: SCOPE! I mean, with the project back in our hands, we have complete creative control, no voice to listen to but our own. We have a team of amazing gamers, all with different backgrounds and skill levels, and we have ideas upon ideas flowing every time we play a build or start brainstorming. We just need to do gut checks every once in a while to make sure we aren't trying to jam pack the game with stuff that kind of gets lost; we need to always step back and ask ourselves, "Will this help or hurt the game?"
Sometimes it's hard to kill a great idea or feature, but it has to be done -- I am usually the one to take the idea out in the back and shoot it! Downside of being a producer... hahaha!
Where are you in the development process and what will be your next step?
[MARC]: We are at an early Pre-Alpha stage. We have a lot of the art, and are finalizing some boss designs, enemy designs, and gameplay tweaks. Our next major steps will be going over our level design plan and connecting gameplay and all our interfaces. We’ve designed over 100 levels already, so it’s more about refinement and organization.
What were some of the challenges of getting the project backed by Nintendo and Microsoft?
[CATHY]: Surprisingly, both companies have been totally supportive of the project and want to see it out on their platforms! No challenges so far. *knocks on wood*
Now, for Sony... ;)
What more does this project need to get off the ground and see an official release?
[MARC]: Funding! Right now we’re working on a gameplay demo to show on Kickstarter so people get a better idea of our vision of the gameplay and how our evolution concept sets it apart from other retro platformers. If we get funded, we have all we need to start rolling with a planned release later this year!
So if you are as blown away as I am with this title, listen to Marc and head on over to Kickstarter to give them a hand! TicToc Games has oodles and oodles of goodies that they are giving people who show them their support.
You can pledge anywhere from $5 (to get an exclusive digital wallpaper) to $150, which will get you a physical copy of the game complete with retro style box and pixels! Of course, you don't have to stop there; and trust me, the goodies get better the more support you show. Each tier of support will also give you all the bonuses from the previous tiers.
I think that this game is looks innovative, fun as hell to play and filled with epic amounts of charm. I give Adventures of Pip my complete Seal of Approval and hope to play it on my Xbox One as soon as possible.
I want to give a big "thank you" to Marc Gomez and Cathy Camacho for taking the time to answer our questions. I look forward to seeing much more about Pip in the future.