Interview: Honeyslug on the Making of Kahoots

kahoots2Flash games are all the rage these days, and Kahoots is no exception. The game is going to be a PSP Minis launch title on October 1st. I had a chance to talk with Honeyslug’s Lead Designer Nat Marco and the C.O.O. Mark Inman. October 1st is right around the corner, and Kahoots is one game to keep an eye on, so be sure to check back on the site for a review later in the week.

Kahoots started out as a flash game and is now coming out as a launch title for the PSP Minis. How was it moving a game that relies heavily on a mouse to a d-pad?

Mark Inman: It was reasonably painless, obviously one of the first things we had to get working was the d-pad mechanic as it was probably the biggest change in terms of how the game plays. Ricky, our coder and CEO, has worked on enough platforms in his time now that he can get stuff up and running pretty quickly, also we’ve benefitted from the quality of Sony’s example code and the tech support, so the transition to PSP as a whole has been pretty smooth. In terms of the control mechanic, we did look into keeping analogue mechanics early on, but nothing felt as satisfying as the block movement we settled on.

There is something to say about a game that has a unique art style these days. What inspired the look of the game and was there anything you wanted to do with the style, but couldn’t?

Nat Marco: Kahoots originally started life as a pixel art prototype made by Ricky.  Although this looked cool, we wanted to try something a little different but still keep dev costs down – it was the credit crunch after all!  As a result we decided not to hire an artist and headed off to the local charity and haberdashery shops for some bargains instead!  We managed to find all sorts of useful things like candies, buttons and beads and we were lucky enough to borrow some beautiful vintage fabrics.  Not only did they look great in game, but we could eat the edible art assets once we finished scanning them!  Since my background is in stop-frame animation, we swapped the pixels for plasticine and the Kahoots and Cardborgs were born!  Making a game with plasticine graphics was something we had wanted to do ever since playing a PC adventure called “The Neverhood” years ago, so it was definitely part of our inspiration!  There’s nothing in particular that we wanted to do, but couldn’t, however, I would definitely advise people to steer clear of trying to animate tinfoil covered plasticine, the Cardborgs limbs turned out to be a pain!

Did you have to cut anything from the flash version out of the Minis version of the game or did anything get added that isn’t in the flash version?

Mark: There is more to the PSP version. We listened to the feedback we got over some of the gameplay elements on the Flash version and adjusted them for the PSP, so for example there is now fast forward on the right shoulder button, meaning that you no longer have to wait for the level to complete itself. We also witnessed a lot of love for the Pegbeast and his songs, so he makes a fair few more appearances in the PSP version. I think one of the big differences is that all 50 levels are available from the start with the PSP version, whereas the Flash has 20 with a further 30 unlockable for a fee.

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The Flash version has an online leaderboard, is that something we might see added in the future?

Mark: We take the requirements for leaderboards on a case by case basis. With the Flash version, it’s almost a given that a form of high score table is required. In terms of the PSP, we felt the puzzles themselves should be left to be the goal (well, that and the awards), plus dealing with a smaller screen, a timer similar to the one in the PC version may have occupied too much screen real estate. I don’t think it will be missed on the PSP.

If someone is only getting one PSP Minis title on October 1st, what is it about your game that would make it stand out?

Mark: Blimey, where to start! The unique look of the £30 art budget? The charm and humour of the Pegbeast and his songs? The extremely easy pick up and play mechanic? The fifty levels of puzzling fun? Oh, and Cake!

Is Kahoots something you’d like expand on and visit again in the future?

Mark: We love how the game has turned out, and we’d certainly think about expanding on the current version with new levels, songs, etc, or perhaps a sequel, though in all cases it really depends on the success or otherwise of Kahoots in its current guise as to if we do return to it. We tend not to rest on our laurels here, you only have to look at the fact our current crop of games includes a stealth puzzle game, a time management game, virtual pets and a zombie shooter to see we’re not big fans of more of the same.

I just have to ask this question… who’s Pegbeast and where did he come from?

Nat: The Pegbeast is the all knowledgeable being who watches over the sofa dwelling Kahoots.  His favourite hobby is singing and he hates brussel spouts.  As for where he comes from, nobody knows*..but he’s certainly here to stay!

* The Pegbeast actually began life as a charity shop juggling ball, a peg, a ribbon and a button.  We only bought the ball as it’s label suggested not to get it wet since it’s full of mustard seeds – we wanted to see if it would grow!  Eventually, we put aside the gardening experiment and after some Photoshop love, the Pegbeast was born!

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Thanks for spending time answering our questions.

No problem

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Comments

3 Responses to “Interview: Honeyslug on the Making of Kahoots”
  1. Count says:

    I don’t really like the graphics. But I don’t really care about graphics lol.
    I’ll wait for some gameplay vids heh.

  2. David Black says:

    I wish this had launched in the US store : (

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