“Kung Fu Rabbit” Developer Interview with Neko Entertainment

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A few weeks ago, European Wii U owners were able to check out Neko Entertainment’s latest release, Kung Fu Rabbit. This Thursday (May 2nd), North American Wii U owners will be able to do the same (our review coming soon). We reached out to Neko Entertainment’s QA Manager, Sébastien Chipot, to provide us an interview about their latest release:

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to provide us this interview. Kung Fu Rabbit was first released by CTools, Cazap and Bulkypix for the iOS and Android devices. How did you guys go about getting the backing to provide a Wii U version to the game?

Sébastien: When we saw the game, the first time, we found it to be great! The graphics are really cute, but the game is not that easy. It is a mix between beauty/fun and skills. The only thing we did not like was the controls (the virtual pad is not the best control to fit with this kind of game). So if could have the same game, but with a classic controller, it would be perfect! We realized the Wii U was the perfect platform!

Marcello: What changes (if any) were made to the Wii U version from the original mobile version?

Sébastien: We did not made a lot of changes. As I said, the game was already really enjoyable. We changed some Achievements, we added different controls (Wii U GamePad, Classic controller, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote…) to be sure anyone would enjoy the game as they prefer, and fixed some issues already present in the iOS version.

Marcello: This is now your second title available for the Wii U via eShop. How was the conversion process for you guys to bring a game that was originally designed for the mobile devices to the Wii U? Was it fairly simple or was the Wii U architecture vastly different to adapt to?

Sébastien: It is never easy to bring a mobile game to a platform like the Wii U. But we have a strong experience now, and that’s true, developing Puddle on the Wii U first, helped us to know more about that console. So we did not have to face so many problems during Kung Fu Rabbit’s Project. The only main change was the interface, as we had to change some things, especially avoiding to touch the screen of the GamePad (the touch is a nice thing, but your hands hide a part of the screen, so we preferred to focus on simple but efficient controls : the Buttons and Control pad).

Marcello: It’s a fair assumption to believe you guys are finding the Wii U to be a strong platform to develop for, as this is already your second title for it within a few months. Are there any other projects in the pipeline for the Wii U?

Sébastien: We are waiting for the final approval from Nintendo for our game Cocoto Magic Circus 2. We also have other projects on the Wii U, but it is too early to talk about it. I will contact you later when we will have more information to share about it.

Marcello: The Miiverse has really taken off as an integral element to the Wii U. What has it been like for you guys, the developers, to be in tune with fellow gamers, seeing what they think of your games, as well as seeing fan art (I believe you caught my drawing of Kung Fu Rabbit the other day)?

Sébastien: Yeah I noticed your drawing (nice one). We really think it is a great “plus” for everyone. We, as developers, can see what players think about the game (not always nice things, but we have to listen everyone, every complaint to increase our game, and bring more and more quality in our future projects). But I guess it is most of all a nice reward, because you are directly in contact with players, and so you can feel their joy about what we work on: when you see a lot of posts telling people “buy this game, it definitely worth it!”, that’s the best reward you could get !

Marcello: Kung Fu Rabbit is an undeniably cute game, between it’s visual and audio representation, to the characters themselves. Any chance we could see you guys working with CTools, Cazap and Bulkypix to provide a sequel? Also, is there any chance the game could come to the 3DS?

Sébastien: For the moment we are focusing on Kung Fu Rabbit. But I can tell you we are already working on the PS Vita to port the game on that console. But definitely, depending on the success of the game, we would love to work on a sequel, with our partner and developer CTools !

Marcello: Any other info you would like to add for the fans and readers?

Sébastien: We really hope a lot of players will enjoy our games! The more they are, the more new games we will release, trying always to satisfy them!

Marcello: Thanks again for your time Sébastien. I look forward to hearing from you and your team in the near future.

Interview with “Puddle” Developer Neko Entertainment; Wii U was a “Nice Experience”

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After a few months of waiting, Puddle finally releases for the Wii U in North America later today (you can read my review here). Neko Entertainment’s QA Manager, Sèbastien Chipot-Delys, was kind enough to provide us an interview about the game and their experience developing on the Wii U. Check it out!

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to provide us an interview for your studio’s title, Puddle. The game’s premise is quite unique and works incredibly well. How did the idea for Puddle come about?

Sèbastien: You’re welcome Marcello, it is always a pleasure to help journalists interested by indie/original games! The Puddle game started at our video game school. At first it was an idea that came from an English exercise and turned out to become our first year student project. The idea was simple: make a game where you play fluids and do all sorts of chemical reactions.

Marcello: Puddle’s visual style is nothing short of stunning. How did you guys decide on the visual style for the game?

Sèbastien: We agreed to move towards a system of representation simple enough to highlight the fluid and its movement. Also, the idea of ​​using silhouettes came quite naturally – the main graph was fairly simple to implement and at the beginning of the project in 2009, few other games were using this visual. We really wanted to use what science and industry have to offer in terms of images, whether diagrams, charts, shooting in false colors etc… This is illustrated through the environments we have chosen to decline in the game (laboratory, foundry, rocket) but also how some are treated (thermical vision, x-ray, technical drawings).

Marcello: With the Wii U being new to the console market, what was it like developing for it? Did it pose any difficulties or were you guys able to grasp it fairly easily?

Sèbastien: Some things were quite simple as we are used to work on the Nintendo Wii (like for example the tools provided by Nintendo). Some of the Lotcheck have been improved and now are handled by the console itself, so it was a good surprise! Some others, were harder to handle like the Leaderboard (we cannot display more than 1000 players, but we wish we could have displayed every player from all over the world).
Basically I would say it was a nice experience, and the only problems we have to deal with, were related to the changes Nintendo made often to increase the stability of the console. As we were working on a brand new console, its main default was its youth!

Marcello: How was your partnership with Nintendo? Did they approach you guys about bringing Puddle to the Wii U or did you guys see a window of opportunity to approach them with the game? Would you look into developing for the Wii U again?

Sèbastien: It was nice, really! Nintendo asked us if we could make a developer interview on our side for example, for the eShop, and it could be added to the Puddle main page. Crucially, Neko was also able to release Puddle at a promotional price to take advantage of its early placing on the platform – and organising it couldn’t have been much easier. We wanted to celebrate with players the launch of Wii U. Nintendo was really close to us and always wanted to help us release our game with the best conditions.

Marcello: The “Pixels” level is just plain awesome. Any chance we can see more levels for those as DLC or via update?

Sèbastien: The Pixel Level is a really funny level (only few peoples know that the characters in this level are the students from the main project!). Regarding the DLC, we did not plan any new level or DLC at the moment. There are a lot of players who would like to, but nothing has been decided. If a huge amount of players all over the world were joining to ask to Neko to do it, who knows what would happen …

Marcello: Now that Puddle is finally out on the Wii U in North America, any plans for another project?

Sèbastien: Of course! Actually we are working on projects on the Nintendo Wii, PS Vita, Ouya and Steam. Plus we got a game who’s just been released in the US : Cocoto Alien Brick Breaker on Nintendo 3DS : An original brick breaker for both young fans of the genre and arcade game veterans.
I am sure we will meet again soon 😉

Marcello: Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions. There’s no denying that it’s a great title people should be getting and couldn’t recommend it enough to Wii U owners.

Sèbastien: Thanks for asking us more info Marcello, I hope a lot of players will enjoy the game as you did!

Interested in Puddle? Sound off in the comments below and don’t forget to check out the review for Puddle!

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Developer Interview with Different Tuna About “Derrick the Deathfin”

Earlier this week, I had the chance to review PSN’s latest indie title, Derrick the Deathfin, developed by the two person studio, Different Tuna. Today, I had the great opportunity to interview one of the developer’s from the two man team, Gordon (who’s the “Head of Fresh Produce” at Different Tuna).

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to allow us to interview you about your studio’s new game, Derrick the Deathfin. What exactly sparked the idea of making the world’s “first underwater papercraft” game?

Gordon: No problem, we will do literally anything for free publicity.

The idea for the gameplay came first as a result of a mildly inebriated conversation about the relative merits of Mega Drive games Sonic & Ecco, at which point the genius module of my brain finally engaged for a few seconds to come up with the idea of combining the two. The 3d papercraft look and feel only came about at a later date when artistic genius Ronzo (http://ronzo.co.uk) came on board the project.

Marcello: The game’s visuals are stunning to say the least. How much of a challenge was it to develop this art style for the game?

Gordon: Thank-you very much! It was a challenge for sure, and the look is all the work of Ronzo. We wanted to come up with something very fresh and new & I think we’ve done that. If you take a look at some of our making of shots – http://derrickthedeathfin.com/art.html – you will see that we built most of the objects in the game out of paper first. Then we photographed them and had our talented friends at http://www.ten24.info/ model & animate them for us. So quite a convoluted process, but worth it!

Marcello: How did you guys come up with Derrick as a character?

Gordon: I had the name Derrick the Deathfin even before the project kicked off. I assumed at some point somebody would tell me that calling a shark Derrick was ridiculous and that we simply had to change it. Nobody ever did so it stuck. The character of Derrick is all Ronzo’s work though, I love him! Interestingly enough, and in direct contrast to Ronzo himself, the character is extremely popular with young females.

Marcello: How long did it take you guys to develop the game?

Gordon: 2 years! It was a lot of hard work for sure, but nearly always good fun, and Ron & I were determined to make the best game possible.

Marcello: How did the game come about as a PSN exclusive? Did Sony approach you guys or did you approach them about it?

Gordon: We knew Derrick was to be a console game, so we approached Sony with the concept in the first instance and they loved it. The rest, as they say, is history. Or at least the rest is stuff that happened in the past.

Marcello: The game reminds me a bit of SEGA’s “Ecco the Dolphin”. Was that an inspiration for you guys?

Gordon: Ah yes it was. Specifically the intention was to capture the feeling in the original Ecco when you jump out of the water for the first time. There are many many other influences in the gameplay, Sonic being a prominent one, but also Mario Galaxy, Joe Danger…

Marcello: Derrick is definitely a very likable character. How does the future look for our favorite papercrafted shark? Do you guys plan on releasing a sequel to Derrick the Deathfin or possibly even DLC?

Gordon: We are a 2 man team, so the only thing planned for the immediate future is sleep and perhaps some excessive marshmallow consumption. There is no DLC planned at all. And as for a sequel, well a lot more people will need to pick the game up than currently are for that to happen…

Marcello: Now there’s one thing that really struck me while playing the game…this would be perfectly suited as a PS Vita game! It has a great pickup-and-play feel to it that would be perfect on-the-go. Have you guys considered bringing this title to the PS Vita?

Gordon: We get that comment a lot, but we are a PlayStation 3 exclusive at the moment. In the future though anything could happen, with the possible exception of time travel because then of course we would know about it already.

Marcello: Thanks again for your time Gordon!

Gordon: Thanks for the questions & review again!

As I had stated in my recent review, Derrick the Deathfin is a very good game that I encourage anyone who’s ever played “Ecco the Dolphin” or just loves indie games to give a shot. Derrick the Deathfin is available now on the PSN for $7.99.

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NYCC 2012: “Marvel: War of Heroes” Coming to iOS and Android; Hands-On and Interview

At NYCC 2012, we had the opportunity to interview Fabien Pierre Nicholas, the Marketing Director for ngmoco that’s behind Marvel: War of Heroes. Marvel: War of Heroes is the upcoming card-based game coming to iOS and Android platforms. It will be a Free-to-Play game that will have micro-transactions if you want to purchase new card packs. Each pack you purchase is random so you’re not guaranteed to receive any specific cards you’re looking for. While people may find this jarring, it’s actually a clever idea in which it brings back that feel of going to the store, buying a pack of cards, and having the excitement of opening the pack to see what you got. Also, to bring a deeper social aspect to the game, you’ll be able to trade cards amongst friends as well. Fabien stated that Marvel provided them complete support with the title, giving them access to all the characters in the Marvel universe and not just the popular ones based on the movies within the last decade.

Based on the demo we saw, you start off working alongside Black Widow to take down average thugs that scour the environment while then coming up against an iconic Marvel villain. On the game’s screen, you’ll see the enemies in front of you (all drawn from Marvel artists) while having the bottom half of the screen to select your party member. and you’ll have to tap the enemy on screen to attack them. If you actually have multiple cards of the same Marvel character, you’ll be able to “fuse” them together to level up that particular character. In the demo, Fabien fused two Spider-Man cards together to rank him up to level 2, in which not only did his stats increase, but also gained the ability to shoot two webs at once by multi-touching the screen. However, he assured us that the game won’t be one that’s ever “done”. They plan to be providing continuous content via updates for the game so that players will always keep returning for more. There’s also an online competitive component so you can battle your friends to showoff who has the better card set. The game will be running off the DeNA’s Mobage gaming network.

Fabien stated that they chose to utilize the mobile platforms as they felt it would appeal to an enormous amount of people that utilize their mobile devices daily. It will run on the iPhone 3GS and up, and Android 2.0 and up. When we asked if they would consider bringing the title to the PS Vita or 3DS, he stated that at the moment they’re not looking at that and solely focused on the mobile versions but they wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Marvel: War of Heroes releases next week for the iOS and Android platforms for free. It definitely has our interest and look forward to testing it the full version.

What do you guys think? Interested in Marvel: War of Heroes? Sound off in the comments below!

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