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tons of bits

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chick chick BOOM

WiiWare | tons of bits | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points

3rd June 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

As many of you already know, Jack, Daan and myself are big fans of chick chick BOOM. And so it was only a matter of time before we would get a chance to converse with the tons of bits team about their game. Instead of a traditional Q&A, we thought it would be more fun to see if the team would be up for something different. That's right -- the Wiiloveit Lounge is back! And as per Bogac's request, we'll call this one the "Late Night Show". How does that sound? Hope you enjoy our fun little chat!

KS8: Welcome one and all to the second episode of the Wiiloveit Lounge where your favourite developers sit down with us and answer questions in a more relaxed atmosphere. Today we have a special treat for you! Three members of the tons of bits team have graciously accepted our offer to be guests on today's show. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy chick-filled schedule to speak with us!

All : Hi KS8, thanks for the invitation!

KS8: So then, why don’t we start off with some introductions?

Bogac: My name is Bogac and I am responsible for anything art related at tons of bits, drawing chicks and BOOMs. I think I actually drew all this stuff around here as well (looks around).

Steve: My name is Steve and I’m in charge of transferring Bogac’s graphics into the third dimension. Not an easy job though.

Ivica: My name is Ivica Aracic and I am the guy responsible for saying: "Are you crazy guys, how are we ever gonna implement all this!?"

KS8: So you’re guy that makes sure the team’s goals are realistic and measurable, is that correct? Or, in other words, the one who stomps out overwhelming creativity?

Ivica: No, I am just the guy transforming all the overwhelming creativity into executable code.

KS8: Heh heh, well it sounds like you have your hands full. Anyway, welcome again, guys! Great to have you here. So, let’s get down to shameless plugs shall we? Can you tell everyone how the concept of chick chick BOOM came to be?

Bogac: 2007 we created chick chick BOOM as a flash game for the Easter Season. That’s why we added the chicks as a easter related theme. But somehow there was this overwhelming drive to hurt this jumping cute little chicks - not in a bad way, just showing them that the world is not the peaceful place they might think. We wanted to help them. We needed arms. Bombs, Lightnings, Elephants, whatever. Keeping at the easter theme originally the attacks were activated by tracing an attack icon with a pen on a egg (Painting eggs is a tradition in Germany during the Easter Season). That’s how chick chick BOOM started.

KS8: Nice save there, pal. Just admit it: you have a deep-seated hatred towards these innocent, lovable creatures!

Bogac: Nothing can be that cute and not paying for it!

KS8: So how did you guys move forward from that point?

Bogac: As we started playing the first versions of chick chick BOOM based on the flash game, we noticed that there are some mechanics which didn’t work on the Wii console. For example in the original version as I already mentioned the player drew the attack icon on a egg. But moving the pointer over the screen while keeping a button pressed turned out to be quite straining with the Wii Remote. So we omitted the need for holding a button which was the better solution. As we kept programming and testing we continuously optimized the gameplay and interface for the Wii.

KS8: Continuing along the same train of thought as my last question, what were some of the highlights that took place over the course of the game’s development?

Bogac: In my eyes the highlights were the moments where you notice that things work out the way as you imagined. For example the appearance of Corncobman was supposed to generate a relief, variety and deflection of the main gameplay. After the implementation we tested it – and Corncobman did his job.

Steve: Another highlight was testing the co-op mode. It was such a big fun to see that this mode works really well, since we are big fans of coop games

Ivica: Beside the very important gameplay-related highlights, I also had some personal, rather invisible under-the-hood-highlights too. For instance seeing the game code running without crashes or errors, doing exactly what was intended. Don't know if a non-techie can understand this, but seeing how many ten thousands of lines of code awake to life, is for me each time like watching some magic show.

KS8: Great to hear, guys! Speaking of Corncobman, what inspired you guys to add this fun character to the standard formula? And how did the Piñata come into the picture?

Bogac: After a while of testing the gameplay we noticed that the player needs variety to the standard formula of accurate line drawing and icon tracing. As we wanted to add some powerups or bonus anyway we decided that something action-focused could spice up the gameplay a little bit. We wanted to involve both players increasing the interaction between them. So why the Corncobman in specific? The train of thought was simple: chicks need health – chicks eat corn – corn must be shot - corn needs to be moved – build a giant corncob, breathe life into creature, move lever at midnight with evil laughter and countless lightnings flashing – CORNCOBMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

The Piñata however was a boring present box in the creation phase and it was just falling down from the sky. But we needed something which kept the player busy. The player had to fight for his Power-Ups. That’s how the Ping Pong effect came to our mind. As the Power-Up item was something with goodies inside and got permanently hit by the players the shape of a Piñata was obvious.

KS8: Nice to know the thinking process that went behind these additions. Did early prototypes differ radically from what we see today? What were some of the ideas you guys were wrestling with but later abandoned?

Bogac: As mentioned earlier the prototype was based on the flash version. So besides the attack tracing part which we changed, the most radical change was that we introduced a completely new way of defending your chicks. Originally there were specific counteractions for each attack. For instance toxic mushrooms (this attack was replaced by the plant in the Wii version) were defended by drawing a pill icon. In the Wii version we gave the players more flexibility and added creativity to their defense actions. The player could decide on his own how he wanted to defend the attacks. Blocking the attack directly or keeping the chicks away from the danger zone? 

Other main differences are the possibility of sabotaging the enemy, upgrading the weapons, Corncobman and the Piñata.

Ivica: Oooops, now that we talked about the toxic mushrooms, I just remembered that the code is still active in the release build. Let's hope nobody can find a way to activate this weapon of mass destruction!

KS8: You guys also gave thought to additional attacks, is that right?

Bogac: Yes, initially we thought about some more attacks. But we noticed that the fun factor of
chick chick BOOM wasn’t depending on the amount of attacks. The combination of permanently jumping chicks, line drawing on the whole arena and the timing factor was resulting in a very dynamic gameplay, generating new situations and challenges every time you play. So we focused on the balancing of the basic attacks, their upgrades and the special attacks. Every attack has its own strength to be used in proper situations and for special purposes.

KS8: Well said! Out of curiousity, what did focus groups have to say about chick chick BOOM over the course of the game’s development?

Bogac: The testing was indeed a very interesting part of the whole process. We could see how chick chick BOOM was interpreted by people who played it the first time ever. As we knew that chick chick BOOM wasn’t a game to be played easily by just picking it up without knowing anything about the gameplay and rules, the tutorial was a very important point to focus on. We can say that the focus groups helped us tremendously to improve and optimize the whole game.
The fact that most of the testing people were non- or casual-gamers was very helpful. We knew if we managed to make the tutorial and the whole game understandable for those group that would be half the battle.

KS8: I’m sorry I couldn’t be a part of that. Promise you’ll invite me next time? No but seriously, I’m glad you guys arrived at that conclusion. I mean, I personally believe that the strong Tutorial played a key role in your demo’s success. Actually, since I've brought it up, maybe you can share with everyone here how well the demo has been doing in selling this new IP?

Bogac: You can definitely say, that the demo has had a huge influence on the download numbers. But that’s not a big surprise as the purpose of a demo is to offer the customer a free insight to the game and its mechanics. We where like nowhere in the Top 20 lists of the Wii Shop Channel before the demo came out (except Germany). After the release of the demo chick chick BOOM was in the Top 10 of every region – for example, 3rd place in Canada.

KS8: What would you say was your biggest challenge in developing this modest flash game into a WiiWare title? And how did Nintendo support you guys in your endeavours?

Bogac: I think the biggest challenge wasn’t actually in developing the game into a WiiWare title. Of ocurse there were new fields like the Pointer Interface, but our programmers did a great job here by adapting quickly to the Wii’s special development environment.
I think we all agree to the fact that the biggest challenge actually was to get our name out there. We are new to the business and don’t have the money for big marketing campaigns. Also things would have been easier if we weren’t located in Germany but in the US for example.

KS8: Just one more question with respect to early development of the game... I’m sure you guys have some funny stories you’re just dying to share, right? Rightttttt?

Bogac: Not for the early development but in general you can imagine that the term “chick” tempted us to make cheap jokes or come up with stupid ideas. One of them was about hiring 2 girls – one blonde and one black - for a games fair. Both of them hopping through the fair and spreading the word about chick chick BOOM.

KS8: I’m sure reviews can be a funny thing from your standpoint. I’m very interested to hear what your response is to the reception your title has received to date. Forgive me for sounding cynical here, but I’m especially curious to know what your thoughts on the less-positive responses you guys received.

Bogac: In total we are very pleased with the rating scores for chick chick BOOM. The game has something around 82-85% in average, which is a very good score for a newcomer in our eyes. However we knew that there would be also some reviews which were not that enthusiastic. You get them for every game, no matter how brilliant it is. So knowing that the majority gave us more than 80% and having some 90% ratings equalizing the less good ones, we didn’t bother much. But we could see very easily after reading a review if the editor played chick chick BOOM long enough to understand what the game really is about or if he didn’t get 2 or 3 important factors. Then it was obvious that he didn’t pay attention to the tutorial or wasn’t creative in playing the game.

KS8: The team must feel very accomplished now that the game has not only released, but has also met with some very positive response from the gaming community. Now that chick chick BOOM is a "done deal", where do you guys plan on concentrating your efforts moving forward?

Bogac: A warrantable question which we heard a lot of times the last weeks. But to be honest, we don’t know in detail what the next project will be. We have plans to release the next game for more platforms. And we will define what the next project will be the next weeks. As soon as we have something worth showing we will publish it.

KS8: Of course the main reason why
chick chick BOOM was developed was to provide a strong multiplayer experience amongst friends. I’m sure you guys conducted research and looked into current multiplayer titles on the WiiWare service. Have you tried any of these out for yourselves and if so, what are your personal opinions on them?

Bogac: Actually we didn’t pick Multiplayer games from WiiWare and analyzed them. The whole team has an immense experience in playing games of all kind, as all of us were doing this since our childhood. So we already knew what to implement for a good Multiplayer experience. But regarding the WiiWare games we also knew that the Multiplayer support for 4 players and with coop as well wasn’t  covered very well. In fact coop is not covered strong enough in the games world at all. The most underestimated option for players in our eyes anyway.

KS8: I know this next question might sound a little personal, but what did the development of this game do for the team morale as a whole? What are some more practical, less obvious benefits that you guys gleaned from this experience?

Bogac: Fortunately the morale wasn’t influenced directly by the relation between the team members. So there were no big quarrels regarding the game itself. The morale was affected mainly by the financial pressure, having the the game finished before everything collapses. But that’s nothing new and just logical.

KS8: I imagine resources have a big role to play with this, but do you think you guys might ever give thought to developing a sequel, perhaps with online play? Or is the gameplay mix a perfect marriage as it is?

Bogac: We could think of a sequel, but the main issue is that chick chick BOOM is limited to the Wii only, because of the need of having 4 pointers simultaneously (PS3 Move excluded). That’s one thing which newcomers should watch: Not limiting their options by the possibilities of the platform (or specifications of their game). But as already mentioned we plan to release the next title on more than one platform, so a sequel is not likely in the near future.

KS8: So what does everyone think of the 3DS, and what titles are you looking forward to most?

Bogac: I am curious to see what impact the 3D view will have on the market and if this technology will offer new possibilities for the developers.

KS8: What sort of big possibilities do you think exist with "3DSWare", and is this a platform you guys might look into developing for?

Bogac: Personally I don’t want to make an evaluation about 3DSWare as I even don’t know how good DSiWare is as a platform. Apart from the market the 3DS of course would be a very interesting platform for us. But we have to wait and observe first.

KS8: And now, I’ve saved the best question for last... Who is everyone’s favourite team? I love the Snobs!

Bogac: Hehe, nice question. My personal favourite is the Egghead team on the black side. I just like the simplicity, the color combination and the context. For mostly the same reasons the Little Devils in black as the follow-ups.

Steve: I think the black pirates are kind of stylish. Especially on the ship setting a perfect match! Obviously my second favourites are the Chickings then :-)

Ivica: I like Team Rainbow and Team Mushheads the most. Don't ask me why.

This brings us to the end of the second episode of the Wiiloveit Lounge. A big thank you to Ivica, Steve and Bogac for being such good sports and taking part in this fun conversation! I'm sure our readers will enjoy this as much as I did. If you haven't yet purchased chick chick BOOM, check out our full review to find out why it's definitely worth a buy! 

chick chick BOOM
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Bogac, Steve and Ivica were talking to KnucklesSonic8
For more information on this title or the developers, click here.

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