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Two Tribes

Game Info
Toki Tori 2

Wii U | Two Tribes | 1 Player | Coming Late 2012


Interview
16th August 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Without even having come to a close, 2012 has been one exciting year for Two Tribes. The team has been hard at work shaping the forthcoming follow-up to the game that launched their company to success as an independent game developer. At the mention of a sequel, gameplay enhancements are some of the first highlights, but Two Tribes is commendably moving in a direction that would suggest an air of innovation in their decided pulling back on what made the original tick, supplementing this through an articulation of new mechanics and world exploration. Here to discuss the ins and outs surrounding the return of their beloved IP is company co-founder Collin van Ginkel.



Wiiloveit: Why do you feel now is the most acceptable time for Toki Tori to resurface as a hero of chickens everywhere? What was it, would you say, that really set the sequel in motion?

Collin: It was basically our transition to digital distribution that allowed us to be in charge of our own destiny. We had a great year last year and that gave us the freedom to start thinking of what we really wanted to create, and Toki Tori 2 was the game people here were most looking forward to creating.

Let's talk about what the sequel is doing to differentiate itself from its counterpart. First and foremost, what especially strikes me is the somewhat unconventional decision to remove the entire inventory system. Could you brief us on the reasons behind that for the benefit of those hearing about this for the first time?


The original was very old school in many ways. This was part of the charm, but also contributed to the fact that 90% of the players never saw all the game had to offer. We decided the game needed to be more accessible and just plain fun. Managing an inventory detracts from that, so we decided to take a different route. Instead of having weapons and items, the game now has a wide selection of creatures and objects that Toki Tori can influence with his new moves.

I'm probably being generous in suggesting he had skills of his own to flaunt, but what was the process behind adding in the new behaviours of whistling and stomping to Toki Tori's skillset?

The possibilities for puzzles are now defined by the abilities of the creatures in the game. So we needed Toki Tori to be able to interact with them, to guide and manipulate their movements. Basically the whistle is the attract feature and the stomp the repel feature, but every creature responds differently to these moves.

Rather adorably, the inclusion of animal helpers looks to be another point of growth between the original and the sequel. Kindly explain why this move towards world expansion was the right one to make and the impact you're hoping this will have on the game's core.

It's the core of the gameplay. You need to learn what these creatures do and why. By fooling around and experimenting, you learn more and more about the game's world.

Actually that's all that we're unlocking: knowledge. There is nothing in Toki Tori 2 that you cannot do with the whistle and stomp from the moment you start playing. This is different than most other games and we think it will be very rewarding for the more seasoned player to learn that everything is always possible, they only need to figure out how it works.

Already accessible by nature, anyone who played Toki Tori will recall how it ignored almost any need for a storyline aside from what was presented as a central mechanic. But recently you teased an image connected to a storyline you have planned for the sequel. Can we expect a deeper look into Toki Tori's background? Is the past overrated? Abandoned chickens have a right to know!

We've got a story, but we don't use words to tell it. Everything is experienced by simply making your way through the game. As you can see in our recently released trailer, there's a city and a large gold wing-shaped object that all play part in the story we're telling in the game.

Perhaps it's too early for you to say, but can you tell us anything about the direction surrounding the working soundtrack?

In short: more ambient, less hyperactivity! We're going for a more soothing audio experience this time around, with the music subtly changing when you reach certain parts in a level. The guys at SonicPicnic are working together with us on this. Perhaps they can tell you a bit more about it?

If you would be so kind, I'd love to hear more about some of the feedback you've received on the Steam builds as part of your ongoing development program. Have any features been scrapped or seriously reconsidered as a result of these regular updates? What do you consider to be one of the most valuable pieces of advice you've received thus far?


We've recently added input recording, and that has been great! We can now ask a few thousand people to play our game and send back their recordings. It's like being in the room when someone's playing and that's been super useful. One of the things we did early on was to let the transportation bird respond to a whistle, even if he didn't see Toki Tori hiding behind high grass. We noticed people kept trying it and now it's one of the features that allows for seasoned players to grab out of reach collectibles.

Much time has elapsed since Toki Tori's release, and in that time, I'm sure the team has analyzed and deconstructed those original design choices. With those points being top-of-mind as you move towards building upon and even reworking those basics, is there a particular area you will remain especially conscious of as development of the sequel continues?

What we're trying to get right now is the balance between fun and frustration. Sometimes it's fun to be stuck for a while - some people would argue that was the whole point of the original Toki Tori - but you never know when that turns into frustration. We want players who valued the original for its toughness, but also keep the more relaxed players who just want to have a good time. So that has been and will continue to be a focus for us.

In one of the many blog posts you guys have published on Toki Tori 2's development, it was expressed that the game's design will encourage greater amounts of curiousity. Could you elaborate on that? I think there's a key point there worth isolating under the umbrella of the medium at large.

That brings us to what we call the 'path of least resistance'. This is the path through the game that we estimate most players will take. Every once in awhile, we'll tease players with a seemingly out of reach collectible. And when they bite, and they solve the more complex puzzle that accompanies it, they'll discover that there's a whole other path or environment to play through.

Another important factor is that we will not use any text to explain the behavior of the creatures. Actually we're not planning on including any text if we don't have to. Experimentation with the game environment is the only way players will learn how it all works, and we hope this will encourage them to keep trying to increase their knowledge of the game.

All this talk about features leads nicely into your plans with the Wii U version. Let's talk about that next. Multiple times now, you have expressed a desire to look into possibly including a level editor, and with the promise surrounding the Wii U GamePad, no doubt other opportunities exist as well. I myself have wondered if the game could also benefit from a unique co-operative component. Do you have any clear ideas at this point on how you want to make use of the controller, or are you instead holding off on exploring anything creatively until the gameplay has been perfected?


We are committed to delivering a great playing Toki Tori 2 for Wii U. We will use the GamePad for, for instance, the Tokidex feature announced recently, but the core game will be played with traditional controls.

One thing I remember about the WiiWare version of Toki Tori was the distribution of postcards through WiiConnect24 as the player made their way to new worlds. It was a small thing, but it added something extra. Has there been any talk on doing something similar, or perhaps applying the same theme towards a different aspect of the sequel's setup?

It would fit nicely with the way the game world works, but that feature was possible due to how the Nintendo Wii Message Board worked. We're not sure if we can repeat that functionality at the moment.

Based on your hands-on time with the system, what do you think of the Wii U at this point?

For us it's been easier to work with than we expected. The weird things is that members of the press have probably spent more time with the actual system and games than we have. We're just slaving away with the development kits and haven't had much hands-on time with the game demos yet.

What does your decision to support the system early on mean for your company and its culture? Do you see the Wii U's infrastructure improving the conditions under which game designers and developers work?

It doesn't change much actually. We're still working the same way we did before. For the programmers it's more work to maintain everything because we've got another platform, but they like that kind of thing. For designers it's another way to express their creativity, so that's fine too.

Thanks for sharing your early thoughts with us, and of course for the opportunity to discuss
Toki Tori 2 in greater detail! Would you like to close things off with a tidbit or a riddle that our readers can look forward to learning more about in the future?

The game world is not what it seems! That's all I'm saying!



Greatly appreciate your time, Collin, in tackling our questions!
Even as we speak, development of the game is in full force.
Keep up-to-date on all things Toki Tori 2 by following the team's Twitter handle, where they've been very open on their development process and are even getting the community involved when possible. And of course, you can look forward to continued coverage of the game right here on Wiiloveit.com.

To learn more about Two Tribes, head over to their website.


Interview by KnucklesSonic8