When we look at a typical fling or stretch animation in Tongue Tied, how much of the visual effect is handled by the game engine (e.g., through transformation or vectorization of still images) and how much of it is pure hand-drawn animation frames from the art team?
One hundred percent of the stretching, flinging, and anything else that’s related to the tongue, is physics based. We did discuss using “canned” animations but we found they were too stiff and that the game lost a lot of its comedy value. There’s an erratic, unpredictable nature to the physics-based approach that works well alongside the slapstick nature of the characters. Plus, being a tongue, it needed to have the right look and feel. However, we’re using traditional sprite techniques for Mick & Ralph and the environments.
At what point of development did the team decide it was time to start work on the first teaser trailer? Did you wait until all the in-game art assets were finished before peeling your art talent off into that side project? And how did you happen to recruit Boris Hiestand to help out with that?
As mentioned earlier, we’ve always believed in creating strong characters that people want to invest time in. A lot of our favorite game characters have a little history or backstory that helps to define them. We felt it was important to give Mick & Ralph a short introduction and the teaser enabled us to do that. It also acted as a good promotional tool, which was another reason we took the time to create it. The teaser itself didn’t use any in-game assets and was a completely standalone piece. It’s an unusual approach to put work into something that’s essentially a one-off, but as an indie developer, we feel it’s important to give ourselves every chance to stand out.
Boris is a friend of Mark’s and was kind enough to lend a hand on a few of the scenes in the teaser, so if you’re feeling especially kind, pop over to his site and check out some of his work!
You’ve got a really interesting gameplay concept going, but what’s your approach to keeping it fresh over the game’s 50 levels? Has the team started thinking about extra content for post-release updates, or have you fit in everything that you can possibly come up with already?
Obviously it’s important that there’s enough variation to keep people occupied, but one of the reasons we build a game around a core mechanic is because once you have that in place – and it’s proven to be fun – I think there’s a lot of mileage in the mechanic itself. There’s something satisfying about flinging and swiping these two dogs around, and also using their actions to smash objects, that feels fun in itself. When you look at other games like Tiny Wings, Fruit Ninja and Monsters Ate My Condo, they don’t have heaps of variation, but their core mechanic is so satisfying that you just keep coming back for more. I’m not saying we’re as good as those examples – that’s for other people to judge – but we feel as though we’ve hit on an interesting mechanic that doesn’t feel too derivative.
In terms of specific features though, we have 50 levels that all feature bronze, silver and gold milestones and a host of obstacles (which can be seen in the gameplay trailer). We also have a sub-area called the DogHouse which provides over 30 individual challenges for the player to try and complete. Each challenge will reward the player with a new unlockable and we have some pretty interesting things for the player to collect. Unfortunately, I’m sworn to secrecy on those *wink*.
Regarding future support for Tongue Tied, we aim to update the game as often as we can. There will definitely be extra levels available soon after the game’s release. Ideally, we’d like to give a free level update every month following release.
And finally, it appears Mojo Bones is already thinking about sequels if Tongue Tied performs well at the App Store? Do you see the studio focusing solely on a Mick & Ralph series, or do you think you’ll branch out with some surprise side projects along the way?
We are at the mercy of the fans in regards to what happens going forward. We’re completely proud of what we work on and have confidence in our ability, but ultimately, we realize that our work is defined by other people. If the support for Mick & Ralph is there, we will definitely continue their adventures. We already have ideas for future escapades and we really hope we get to create them one day.
As a final note, we’d really like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who’s joined our Facebook and Twitter pages, contributed comments to our videos and just generally taken an interest in Tongue Tied and Mojo Bones. We appreciate every piece of feedback we get and try to respond to everything we can.
Our thanks goes to Stuart Ryall for taking the time to answer our questions about Tongue Tied! For the latest news on this and future Mojo Bones projects, be sure to keep an eye on the developer’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. The devs are running a goodie giveaway contest via Facebook, so don’t forget to check it out! Winning looks easy!