Bplus Interview #2 - Plättchen - Twist 'n' Paint

Way back in March we caught up with the charismatic Bernd Geiblinger of Bplus, the Austrian developers of the upcoming WiiWare game Plättchen - Twist 'n' Paint. It was a fascinating insight into this mysterious game, but we were still left wondering quite how the gameplay would work in practice.

Seeing as the game is finally due this month in America we thought it would be rude not to pester Bernd again for an update to find out how the game was developing. Fortunately he was only too happy to answer our questions and he even gave us screenshots of the game which you can see in our gallery below. Read on WiiWare fans....

WW: We understand that shooting elements have been added to Plättchen in order to make the game more appealing to the 'hardcore' Nintendo fans. Can you tell us more about this? What do you think it adds to the overall gameplay experience?

BG: The decision to add the shooter part changed everything. We did not just want to create a new and cool puzzle game with a new kind of control, we wanted to deliver a really new gameplay experience. PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint is one of the most demanding games I have ever played and it is definitely a game which needs many hours of practice before you really get the feeling of mastering all aspects of the challenge the game delivers.

WW: Twist 'n' Paint really jumps off the screen with its use of wild and vivid colors. Was there a conscious effort to make Plättchen stand out in this way?

BG: There are too many gray-brownish games outside there, so we decided very early that colors should be what the game is centered on. The color scheme varies greatly within all the different fantasy worlds and always matches the structure of the levels. You can change the color of the Plättchen as you like while always being restricted to the colors you have available on the Color Wheel. Sometimes you have just two colors to paint but the number and hue may change depending on your Energy Level. You see – Colors really matter!

WW: We've read about the lamp avatar used in the game that will light up the Haunted Wood. Can you tell us more about these avatars and their special powers?

BG: Some FantasyMEs have special advantages over others. For example: the Butterfly is an all-rounder, the Astronaut can move upwards really fast and the car is one of the fastest FantasyMEs but has to steer to change its direction. A few FantasyMEs have also hidden abilities that may only be helpful in specific Fantasy Worlds. We don't want to spoil you too much because Secrets are an important part of PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint.

We wanted to create many different FantasyMEs so that every player has a character he can identify with and to make the game even more varied and exciting. It takes many hours of gameplay to unlock all of them.

WW: There are a number of different play modes in Plättchen it seems. Which is your personal favourite?

BG: Nothing is better than playing together with friends who are with you. That is why I absolutely love all the different Party Modes in PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint. My favourite out of them is the 'Out of Control' Party Mode where you lose the ability to control the Color Wheel which is instead automatically spinning. This provides a whole new challenge because all players also have shifted Color Wheels which means that everyone has a different color. With enough people it can get a real mayhem!

WW: Can you tell us a bit more about how the game is played with the Wii Zapper accessory?

BG: The real innovation is that the Wii Zapper is detected automatically. You can activate the special pump action shot by holding the Zapper upright for a second and quickly moving it down to load your gun. When you fire this shot it has a much greater spread and does not twist Plättchen. Additionally, you can direct your FantasyME using the Analog Stick which is great if you are a real hardcore gamer. This gives you the ability to avoid crashing into obstacles with ease.

WW: Were you disappointed that Nintendo requested for you to drop support for the DK Bongo peripheral? What was the reasoning behind that decision?

BG: We were shocked and disappointed about Nintendo's decision, but we understand it that Nintendo does not want to exclude any gamer that might not have that peripheral. We knew that it would also sadden the fans so we quickly looked for an appropriate replacement. We also knew that it has to be something really wacky – the Bomb Rain Mode was born.

WW: What are the various controller schemes currently available in Plättchen?

BG: You can play with: The Wii Remote only, the Wii Remote and the Nunchuck (Color Wheel controlled by tilting the Nunchuck while aiming with the Wii Remote) and with the Wii Zapper which is the favourite way to play of everyone who has played PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint to date.

In Party Modes, two players can also play together by sharing one Wii Remote and one Nunchuk which allows up to eight players to play together.

WW: Did you as a developer find it overly difficult to keep the game within the file size limitations of the WiiWare service?

BG: Some WiiWare games are huge because of the way they save their music. Instead of that, we decided to take the hard path of Midi composing which saves many Megabytes of memory. We took this space and packed in the huge amount of levels, graphics and content the game is filled up with.

WW: Very little has been said about the music in the game so far. Can you tell us a little bit about the music used in Plättchen?

BG: The music in PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint is as crazy and at the same time as atmospheric as the game itself and fits perfectly well into the fantasy worlds. We wanted to create catchy songs which emphasize the fun of the game.

Sound is one of the most important things in a game and we took every opportunity to play around with music, sounds, effects and with the speaker of the Wii Remote.

WW: What was your main inspiration for creating a game like Plättchen? Which other games would you say are your touchstones?

BG: I like the aspect of tilting the Wii Remote, action based games and the hunt for the high scores. I think the puzzle part was influenced by games like Meteos for Nintendo DS and maybe a little by classics like Dr. Mario and Tetris. But these were just inspirations – the puzzle/shooter fusion concept itself is like all things in PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint a completely original and unique idea. Modes like the Copycat Mode and the Mission Mode play totally different than the Classic Mode and are also concepts where it would be hard to find something similar.

WW: As a developer, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of developing a game for the WiiWare service as opposed to a full-blown retail release?

BG: Bigger companies are trapped in their own paradigm of only releasing games that match the mainstream and make profit because they always worry that their pressed discs could sit on the shelves.

On WiiWare, we are our own Publisher and therefore we can try out really crazy ideas. We don't have to fear that our games gets overlooked or that it vanishes from stores. There are no production costs for discs and distribution is much more streamlined in the Wii Shop Channel.

Development for WiiWare is not different to developing a disc game. I consider PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint as a full-blown Wii game with just a different distribution method. WiiWare games can be as big, rich, beautiful and immersing as disc games can be, depending on its developer.

WW: At 1500 Wii Points, Plättchen will be one of the most expensive WiiWare titles to date. What would you say to people who are concerned that the price is too high?

BG: Games like Lost Winds for 1.000 Wii Points deliver fun for about 5 hours. PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint provides you with 100 hours of fun and more. Let's calculate!
CLASSIC MODE - 100 Levels
COPYCAT MODE - 100 Levels
MISSION MODE - 100 Levels
A huge bunch of FantasyMEs and FantasyWorlds
5 multiplayer modes which can be combined

I think this is a lot of fun for just 1500 Wii Points.

This price gives us the resources to create big and beautiful games that offer more than every 1000 Wii Points game can. Don't be shy to invest those Wii Points if you want to see more bigger games on WiiWare.

WW: Is the 8-player mode as insane as it sounds?

BG: If you can finish one level together with seven friends and all multiplayer modes activated without going crazy and getting dizzy eyes, you are the one.

WW: When do you expect Plättchen to be available in North America and Europe roughly?

BG: PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint was finished in June and we expect to be available in both Europe and America in July or August 2008. We cannot wait to get the final release date from Nintendo.

WW: Is there anything you'd like to share with our readers about Plättchen that they might not know about?

BG: The main hero of our game is the gearwheel ZeLeLi. PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint is only one in a series of games revolving around the story and the world of ZeLeLi. The story will be told in games that are all of a totally different kind. Stay tuned.

WW: Which is your favourite Arnie film excluding The Terminator?

BG: I think it was “True lies of the last action hero on the 6th day”

Thank you for the great questions. We hope you will all enjoy playing our debut WiiWare title PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint soon.