Hello and welcome to our latest interview here on NintyChronicle, this time with Collin van Ginkel of Two Tribes Games. Based in the Netherlands, Two Tribes have recently released the first of their classics pack, Toki Tori, on the Wii U’s eShop, soon to be followed by Rush and Edge.
NintyChronicle: With RUSH on Wii U, you’re doing something no other developer has done yet on Wii U, in that you’re using the GamePad’s screen as the primary display, instead of optional. Why is it that you’ve chosen to do this?
Collin Van Ginkel: Well, I think it’s the same issue some Nintendo 3DS games have where developers think it needs to be playable on the biggest display. For instance the not so good port of Swords & Soldiers (which is an awesome game on other systems) uses the bottom screen as a trackpad of sorts, only to be able to use 3D on the top screen. This limits the gameplay greatly and it would have been a much better game if the action took place on the touch screen itself. Same goes for RUSH. It’s a 3D puzzle game which screams for touch controls. So we decided the gameplay should take place on the gamepad, and we use the TV to let other players think along and give directions. It works pretty well!
NC: How long did it take to develop the original Toki Tori in comparison to Toki Tori 2?
CvG: Toki Tori for Game Boy Color was developed as a hobby project during our student days, so it’s difficult to compare. But we estimate we’ve spent at least eight times as many man-hours on Toki Tori 2 compared to the first one. And that’s not counting the hours put in by our audio partners at Sonic Picnic.
NC: Have there been any problems during the porting of the classics pack to Wii U, and if so, how easy have they been to resolve?
CvG: We had little to no problems. Most time was spent making sure everything works according to Nintendo guidelines and to make sure we use the gamepad in useful ways.
NC: How co-operative have Nintendo been to Two Tribes in terms of help to get the games ready to be released?
CvG: Compared to how it was with Toki Tori 2, they haven’t had much hands-on time with the games before release. It makes sense, because they are finished games being ported to their platform. But as usual they were there when we needed them, and they’re nice guys and girls to boot!
NC: Toki Tori 1 has also been released on WiiWare. What does the Wii U version offer that the WiiWare version doesn’t?
CvG: We have HD graphics, optional touch controls, time rewind, bonus levels and the Portal 2 ARG world called, the ‘test lab’.
NC: Aside from being playable on the GamePad, are there any other Wii U specific features in any of the games?
CvG: We mostly use the touch screen in Toki Tori and RUSH for direct input. Other than that, the games work just fine with the existing functionality.
NC: Which of the games, in your opinion, has been the hardest to port to Wii U, and why?
CvG: RUSH probably, since we needed to remodel the GUI and make sure it worked well on the lower resolution GamePad screen.
NC: As already mentioned, you published Toki Tori previously on WiiWare, a service which many developers weren’t too happy with. In the eyes of a developer, how does the eShop compare to the Wii’s shop?
CvG: The eShop is much better, and we are big supporters of how the system works. It’s the amount of Wii U’s out there that’s our main concern at the moment. This christmas should be an interesting time!
NC: Are you happy with the performance of Toki Tori 2 and Toki Tori 2 + on the Nintendo eShop, and will you still be considering development for the eShop after you release your classic games?
CvG: We had expected more, but it hasn’t made us want to abandon the platform. Our technology runs on many different platforms and Wii U is one of them, so we’d need a good reason not to support it for future projects.
NC: How are you finding the Nintendo eShop as a way of publishing your games? Is there any part of the process you would like to see be improved?
CvG: It’s fine. There is an editorial team you can actually talk to, which makes it much better than the App Store, which is like a black box for most developers.
NC: Do you have any plans to release any games on the 3DS eShop in the future?
CvG: Yes, we’ll announce the first one very soon!
NC: You recently had to shelve the Wii U’s level editor for Toki Tori 2+, handing out free Steam codes to owners of the Wii U version so that they can have access to the level editor, which provoked a rather positive response. Were you surprised at just how positive the response was?
CvG: We had hoped that people would see it as something positive and the average response was just that. There we some people who weren’t happy, and we can’t blame them since we did not deliver on our promise, but in the end I think we made the best out of a bad situation.
NC: Which parts of development are your favourite and least favourite?
CvG: I hate doing submissions and filling out documents. It’s a necessary evil, but I truly dislike that part of development. The best parts are seeing all the pieces coming together for the first time during development, and seeing what your players think of it when its released.
NC: What is it that inspired you to become a games developer?
CvG: It was always my hobby, so it made sense to start doing it professionally when I noticed we were on to something by selling Toki Tori for Game Boy Color to Capcom.
NC: Everyone has their dream franchises they wish to work on, so if you had the chance to work on any franchise of your choice, what franchise would it be and why?
CvG: I’d like to bring Starfox back to its original glory. I haven’t been very happy with the franchise since the N64 entry and I think there’s so much that can be done with it!
NC: What advice would you have to anybody who apires to be a games developer in the future?
CvG: DO IT! Go for it! Make it your top priority and get a group of talented people around you. It’s so easy to make games these days, there is no excuse not to.
NC: We’re seeing ever increasing numbers of ‘Indie’ developers using Kickstarter as a way of funding games. What are your thoughts on Kickstarter, and would you ever consider using it to fund a future game?
CvG: We’re keeping an eye on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. We’re considering using it for our next game. But it’s usually a well known franchise or famous developer attached to a kickstarter that makes it a success. I’m not sure we’re famous enough yet to pull it off.
NC: Has there ever been a point that has made you, or any other member of the team, contemplate quitting the games industry and if so, how did the situation arise?
CvG: Personally I went through some rough times a few years ago when I couldn’t handle the pressure of being a developer in the stranglehold of a publisher. Fortunately that has changed and we no longer need publishers, so I’m good again.
I’d like to thank Collin for taking time out of his schedule to partake in this interview, and wish him and the rest of the team at Two Tribes the very best of luck for their upcoming projects. You can follow Two Tribes on Twitter here – @TwoTribesGames or follow Collin personally here – @collinvanginkel