The Gamebag

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Interview: Nnooo

We at the gamebag recently conducted an interview with Nic Watt, the creative director at Nnooo, asking about their latest entry and what’s more to come.

To begin with, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me, first, could you tell us a little about your history?
Sure. I personally have worked in the games industry for over 10
years now and prior to starting Nnooo I was a lead designer at EA in
London. When my partner was asked to move to Australia we jumped at
the chance and so I made the tough decision to leave EA and to set up
my own games company.

Our first product Pop was a launch title for WiiWare in North America
and since then has been launched in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and
Japan. We have also launched it on the iPhone and are now very, very
close to releasing Pop+ Solo for DSiWare.
To your recently finished project Pop+ Solo, could you tell us a bit about how it improves from its predecessors?
Pop+ Solo has lots of new content as well as some minor tweaks to
balancing which make it, we think, the best version of Pop yet! We
have added a whole load of new modes and bonus rounds to bring the
total number of modes up to 8 and bonus rounds to 4.

These are: Adventure mode complete with mines, jets, gold fish and
boss battles; Challenge mode where you can practice a particular wave
and/or set yourself a score and time to beat; Timed mode with 1, 2 or
5 minute challenges; and Bonus Mode where you can play your favourite
bonus rounds in 3, 5 or 10 rounds of difficulty.
Why did you choose the boss battles you did?
We wanted the boss battles to reflect the underwater nature of the
game and felt that a Shark, Starfish and Squid best matched that
philosophy. They all use similar mechanics in that you have to pop
bubbles initially to build up your timer and then attack the boss by
tapping on it. Each one however has slightly different attacks and so
forth.

Another reason we added them was to broaden the appeal of the game.
We felt that a lot of people were writing Pop off as just 'that bubble
popping game' without giving it a chance and realising the depth to
the gameplay. By adding bosses we hope that more people will consider
its charms and give it a go!
Moving onto your next project, Pop+ Versus, are you holding off on working further until Pop+ Solo's results come in?
Unfortunately yes. We have a lot of the groundwork done however as a
small developer we need to be careful where we spend our money. If
Pop+ Solo is a success we plan to start Pop+ Versus in the next month
or so.
Will Pop+ Versus be a multiplayer exclusive game, or will it feature single player also?
It will be primarily a multiplayer exclusive game. However anyone who
owns Pop+ Solo will, we hope, be able to make use of all the single
player modes they have unlocked in Pop+ Solo. By this we mean that if
you own both and start Versus then all the multiplayer and single
player modes will be available to you whereas if you only own Versus
then just the multiplayer content will be available.

We are looking at Versus having both WiFi, Local and Download play
however we cannot confirm this yet as we have to investigate both.
Download play would enable you to play against friends who own an
original DS, a DS Lite and/or a DSi!
Onto the just announced myNotebook, what was your inspiration for that concept?
I have an iPhone as well as a DSi and i get really frustrated by the
Notes app on the iPhone as I have to use a keyboard. I decided that
using a stylus to take notes would be so much faster and much more
useful so I thought we'd give it a shot!
If the need arises, will you distribute more notebook colours?
Yes. We have designed the application so that we can easily create
new colour versions as necessary. Although we do not want to flood the
market too quickly and put people off!
Finally, since myNotebook is in the myLifeCollected series you announced, what other DSi functions would you touch upon while developing these applications?
Unfortunately you will have to wait and see! We have some great plans
so watch this space!
Again, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with us, do you have anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks to you interviewing us and we hope your readers find what we
have to say interesting! We also hope you are looking forward to both
Pop+ Solo and myNotebook coming to DSiWare very soon.
-Nic Watt
Creative Director
We'd like to thank Nnooo for taking time out of their busy schedule to interview us at the Gamebag. I'd also like to thank Jorge for getting it up for me! Nic Watt was speaking to Seth.
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July 27, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | 1 Comment

Interview: Gaijin Games

Thank you so much for taking your time to let me interview your team.
I assume this is your short amount of down time before getting to work
on your next project?
Actually, we’re well under way with the next project.  We pretty much start new projects the workday after completing our previous ones.  No rest for the weary!

About your team’s recently completed project, BIT.TRIP: CORE, how does
your team think about the challenge to the player with the new input
method?
In regards to thinking up these challenges, we pretty much start with a concept that sounds good on paper, and then we pretty much just start running with it.  The first part of our development cycle is a prototyping phase.  We take our ideas and we get them on screen as quickly as possible, whether pretty or ugly.  We get them in a playable state.  Then we fine tune that prototype until we have something that is fun regardless of graphics, score, music, or anything.  Settling on a challenging and engaging input method and gameplay style is the single most important thing we can do, so we do that first and we let it take as long as it needs to take before we move on.

As you have before, BIT.TRIP: CORE follows the canon story of the
character CommanderVideo, is the story in the rising action still?
Definitely.  This is merely chapter 2 in CommanderVideo’s story, so it’s still early on.  We’ve got a lot of ideas for how we’re going to bring the story to climax and then conclusion, but I’m going to save those for another time.  😉  Let me put it this way: There is a definite story arc, and each game in the series has a definite theme.  Let us know if you pick up on what they are!

When do you expect the climax to unfold, just later in the story or
the last game?
If I told you that, wouldn’t it kinda be a spoiler?  😉  It is coming though.

I’ve noticed in gameplay videos, you added small squares at the bottom
left corner of the screen to signify what transtion the player is on
in the level, did your team add that to revise a common gripe about
the game?
I’m not sure how common a gripe it was that led to the inclusion of the map in the lower left, although it might help with people knowing roughly the next time they’re going to be able to blink.  🙂  We wanted a way to let the player know what kind of progress they were making so that they could pace themselves as they move through the levels.  With one of the other new features–the Bomb, a one-time use item–it becomes important to know how far along you are, so you don’t use your bomb too early in the level.

Does your team often listen to common input so your team can provide a
good experience for the player?
Yes.  We try to read most, if not all, comments posted on sites about our games.  Sometimes that’s harder than others, and there’s only so many hours in the day to get our work done as well as keep up with the community, but we definitely do try.  In fact, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on our blog.  A lot of the input from BIT.TRIP BEAT didn’t come in early enough for us to incorporate a lot of it into CORE, but for BIT.TRIP ???? (Game 3), we’re definitely weaving some of the online feedback we’ve gotten into the game.

I also understand that you outsource your music? How does that work?
Who makes what parts of the song in the level?
Yeah, we don’t have a Composer or Sound Engineer in-house, so we outsource that aspect of development.  It works pretty well, although it would always be better to have someone internal working alongside the team.  We talk on the phone a lot, and we send our Composer video footage of the game bi-weekly so that they can make the songs (in all their different layers), all sound effects, etc.  Also, to set the tone of each game, we’ve collaborated with established chiptune artists who have provided the Main Menu music as well as the Credits music.  For BIT.TRIP CORE, the first thing you’ll hear are the tunes of Bubblyfish.  In BIT.TRIP BEAT, Bit Shifter provided these "bookends" to the game.

Again, I can’t thank you enough that you took your time to do this
interview with me, does your team have anything else they’d like to
say?
You’re absolutely welcome!  We’d love to chat with you again!  Just drop us a line!  In closing, we’d like to remind gamers out there to keep your imaginations active and we hope that you enjoy our games as much as we do!

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | , , | Leave a comment