By Anni Simpson on May 29, 2014 at 12:00pm
AAA games and indie titles alike are a certain kind of beautiful. Whether you’re playing “Skyrim,” “GTA,” or “Battlefield,” realistic graphics, detailed environments, and the particle effects that explode on your screen when you do something significant are often stunning. If they’re not hyper realistic, they’re often stylized like “Don’t Starve,” “Dead Pixels,” or “Binding of Isaac.” However, most of them have one thing in common: there’s a lot of violence.
That’s what makes “IABO” so interesting. There isn’t violence. While you can still lose the game by getting smacked in the face, you’re smacked in the face by adorable, fluffy clouds. Developer SuperSugoiSoftStudios “premiered” their idea of a happy, cutesy arcade-style game on Reddit, Player Theory was excited to talk to them about what made them think outside the box of violence and death for their own development project.
Player Theory: You’ve just released IABO alpha, and that’s a pretty massive step towards full release. How does that feel? What’s your next big step towards your release?
SuperSugoiSoftStudios: It feels like being a true developer. Before you release anything, when you are just on the developing stage, you don't feel that you are actually doing anything. You test your game, make assets, and fix bugs, but all those actions don't seem to amount to anything big in particular, even when you build it. When you make it available, the feelings are different. You released something. Not only you completed it, but you've also exposed it to people who are not you. And that feels really good.
Our next step is making other in-game elements available, such as the other characters, high score boards, maybe a boss or two, and possibly a multiplayer mode.
PT: What’s the rest of your game’s timeline looking like?
SSSS: We plan to have it thoroughly developed by the end of August. The first thing we want to complete is to have the rest of the characters available. The game will have a character unlocking progression. We'll also be able to include our awesome secret character as the final character. This should be done by end of June, along with high scores. We are also discussing a possible competitive multiplayer mode.
PT: What was the community response when you uploaded teaser content?
SSSS: Some of them were pretty excited, saying how the industry and indie scene in general needed more happy games. Other were pretty curious, they wanted to know “what those cute clouds were about.” We even had some people pointing out it was “too homosexual.” We had a better reception than we initially thought we would.
PT: What inspired you to make an arcade game? What inspired you to make such a sugary sweet game full of happy characters?
SSSS: We both like happy things. As a self-proclaimed cat company, we enjoy cute, happy, and soothing things.
We wanted to make an arcade game in which the player would slide from side to side and shrink to avoid enemies. Then it occurred to us that this mechanic was more or less the opposite of “Breakout” from Atari (that's when we came up with the name). When designing the game flow, our artist, Maruki, came up with the idea of having different colors for the player to choose from, inspired by the different colors in the “Breakout” wall. After that, we couldn't help but put cute faces in those characters and take the game towards the sugary path. Later on the development, “IABO” became the word used to refer to the characters.
PT: How did the three of you (Maruki, Sugoi, and Yubatake) meet? What was the story behind deciding to make a game together?
SSSS: Me (Maruki) and Sugoi are wife and husband. We met back in 2005 in a IRC anime channel. We've been together ever since, and we've been meaning to set up a game company and become game developers for a while - we're both addicted to games. Even Maruki's academic career is centered around games. She became a master in game narrative and narrative theory last year.
We've come across Yu Batake via OGA. We were looking for chiptunes musicians, and his tunes pleased us very much. We got into contact [and] explained our ideas, and he offered to make a song for this game.
PT: How difficult is it to design a game with such a small team?
SSSS: It's hard. Not only we are a small team, but this is the first game we designed. My formal education is literature, and Sugoi's is Math. We both had to study a lot, research, and work hard in order to get the visuals, effects, and mechanics we wanted.
We are only two, but we have very similar ideals, so we could swiftly make decisions and set up our milestones.
PT: Why did you choose to have it be web-based with standalone versions also?
SSSS: We want people to have the choice to play it where they prefer, and Unity3D already has the ability to build for lots of different platforms. We also plan on creating iOS and Android versions out if the reception is good.
PT: Based on my first few play throughs, it’s surprisingly difficult considering the happy tone. Was that direction intentional? What kind of learning curve are you looking at for the final version?
SSSS: It is meant to be difficult, for three main reasons: first, its mean to be a fast-paced game, with short play throughs; second, we're fond of difficult games; and third, the story of the IABOs is a difficult one. They are six colors that have to travel through the clouds in order to take the rainbow to the night sky - their biggest accomplishment so far.
We meant to make a game in which the character's powers were used all the time. So, in “IABO,” the player is supposed to slide, shrink, sweep, and boost all the time. That's why so many power ups fall all the time. Items like the SuperShrinker stack: the more you get, the longer you can stay super shrunk.
The final version will feature a progression of characters: the player will unlock the new characters, one by one, by collection the items called “dye particles.” At the end, when all six characters are unlocked, the game will enter into a different mode, the final mode, let's say, which will wrap it up. You can't stop dat rainbow.
PT: What is your favorite arcade game of all time?
SSSS: “IABO, of course. Also, surprisingly, Puzzle Booble (Bust-a-Move). We play a lot of Touhou too. It's like IABO, but with flying girls and loads of bullets. IABO does have significantly more rainbow, however.
SuperSugoiSoftStudios’ desire to create something interesting and new points to success for the developer couple. Check out IABO if you enjoy arcade games, cute characters that would put “Neopets” to shame, and gameplay that rivals the old classics like “Pacman” and the original “Mario Brothers.” The alpha version is a great sign of things to come.