We recently caught up with Andy Kniaz, VP of Incredible Technologies and project manager on the WiiWare title Carnival King to get the lowdown on their upcoming title. You can read the full contents of the interview below for a taste of what you can expect from this unique WiiWare carnival shooting gallery.
Nintendo Life: How long has Carnival King been in development?
Andy Kniaz: The Wii Version of Carnival King has been in development for roughly eight months counting the full debug cycle with Nintendo.
NL: How did you come up with the idea of Carnival King in the first place?
AK: Incredible Technologies is best known as a pay-to-play game developer and Carnival King was originally a coin-op title we released to arcades, movie theaters, bowling alleys, FECs and bars around the country. Ralph Melgosa, one of the original designers answered the question in this way, “The main inspiration was just the good old county fair that I went as a kid. Those games really drew me in. Local carnivals are a little more grimy these days. I was going more for a throwback to Coney Island & Luna Park back at their peak. The design team went to the local fairs, played games, & ate corndogs for additional inspiration. “
NL: Can you tell us a little bit about the actual gameplay in the game?
AK: Carnival King is a non-violent target shooting game for 1 or 2 players with online arcade-style leaderboards. Players choose one of three amusement parks, each with four different games and a unique bonus round. The 15 shooting games throughout Carnival King all have very different game play elements. As an example, Cluster Buster plays like a falling block puzzle game with a gun, while a level like Animal Match is more like a fast paced memory game, and of course there are classics like Saloon Shoot where you are trying to clear the bottles off various bars as they quickly move past. All of these games move with the pace of the player. A novice player who is less accurate or whose reaction time is slower, will see less action, with fewer and slower moving targets. Likewise an expert player will see more action, have a multitude of targets that move at a quicker pace, and they will access and discover more of each game. This coupled with the ability to adjust the game’s overall difficulty level means the player will never feel left behind or overwhelmed, but should feel consistently challenged.
NL: What controllers will be supported in the game?
AK: We support the standard Wii Remote and the various gun peripherals that use the Wii Remote.
NL: What was it like developing a game that makes use of such a unique controller as the Wii Remote and what does it bring to the table as far as play control goes?
AK: Utilizing the Wii Remote meant we could finally bring an arcade-style gun game into the home, without relying on the need of a specialized peripheral. To know that at the base level, all players will be able to download Carnival King and have the same authentic experience was very important. Internally we tested on a variety of different guns that the Wii Remote fits into, and there is no disadvantage to solely using the Wii Remote; there is only the preference of what you like to feel in your hand when you are shooting.
NL: How was your development process on Carnival King as opposed to that of your first WiiWare release Target Toss Pro: Bags?
AK: It is always great to work with n-Space and I believe we keep getting better and better at putting out Wii product. In answer to your question, developing Bags vs. Carnival King were very different experiences. In Bags, the key was getting the control down. We had to get accurate data back from the controller in real time, and make sure that the player felt good about their motion and what was unfolding on screen.
Bags on some level is very easy to understand, but like Bowling, the nuance is in the motion and manipulating the reaction of the targets. In Carnival King, while we had to get the gun and the player movement to feel right, it was less of an issue. The most effort was spent getting 15 different stages working and playing correctly. Since each level has different art and different game mechanics, we spent a good deal of time balancing, timing, and making sure every game was fun. Also, this time around we got some experience implementing online leaderboards which we did not get to do the first time around with Bags.
NL: Did you find it difficult to stay under the 40MB WiiWare file size limit?
AK: No. I think the limitation on file size is one of the first things you evaluate before you start to develop. If we could not deliver a game play experience that was complete without going over the line, then we would not have started working on it. That being said with more space, more budget, and more time we could make a bigger game with more bells and whistles – but bigger is not always better.
NL: Will there be any type of online play or leader boards in Carnival King?
AK: Yes, players will have local and online leaderboards. Its one thing to be the best player among your friends, but another to be the best in the world.
NL: Is there any chance of downloadable content at a later date for the game?
AK: At this point, we are first and foremost concentrating on creating a good game that people will like to play. However, if we can build off of Carnival King in the future, we would love to.
NL: What are some of the advantages/disadvantages to developing for the WiiWare service as opposed to a retail release?
AK: The Pros: WiiWare is a great opportunity for teams who want to develop a compelling game on a smaller scale. Getting physical inventory, shelf space, mind share, and the needed marketing budget for a WiiWare-sized, brick and mortar, retail release can be difficult. Even if you could make it to retail and come up with a good business plan for your budget title, there is only so much physical shelf space, and smaller games can get lost next to big franchise games. In contrast, people who gravitate to WiiWare are looking for that amazing, small game experience on an affordable budget, and there are no physical constraints on shelf space so your game can sell for a long time.
The Cons: Getting people to your WiiWare game. One of the big plusses for releasing a retail title is that the game is in front of the buying audience. Once your customer hears of a game, the first place people (non-Wii users specifically) look is a retail store. If grandma wants to buy a gift, it is far easier to go to a store and buy off the shelf than it is to explain how to do it through the Wii. We found with Bags we would get people interested in purchasing through press or our website but their Wii wouldn’t be online, or they didn’t understand how to purchase, or to gift a purchase. This of course is only compounded by the small marketing budget native to WiiWare development.
NL: How far along is Carnival King in development?
AK: We are in Lotcheck, which is the final stage of Nintendo QA before the game is released. Once the game is approved by Lotcheck, a price is set and the release date is decided. Cross your fingers, the short answer is soon.
NL: Any idea when we might see Carnival King released and do you have a price point in place yet?
AK: No price point is in place, but I would expect release hopefully within a month or so.
NL: What do you think will make Carnival King stand out on the ever-growing WiiWare service?
AK: I think Carnival King offers a competitive shooting game, across 15 unique stages each with a different art style and game play mechanic. Add to this, online leaderboards and scaling levels of difficulty, and I think we have created a game that anyone can play and enjoy.
NL: If you had to describe Carnival King in one word, what would it be?
AK: Funtastic-super-explosion would actually work as a descriptor , but seriously, it would probably something non-original like “fun.”
NL: Are there any WiiWare titles out there that have impressed you?
AK: I think the WiiWare titles like World of Goo, Bomberman, and the Art Style series are at the top of my list.
NL: Do you guys have any other WiiWare or DSiWare projects on the horizon?
AK: We are actually looking at both platforms, but we are focused on wrapping up Carnival King before starting on the next project.
NL: Is there anything you'd like to tell our readers in closing?
AK: Just that we hope you enjoy Carnival King, and that we thank you for your interest. I think if you give it shot you won’t be disappointed.
NL: We thank you for taking the time to take part in this interview with Nintendo Life and we look forward to playing your newest WiiWare offering.
AK: Thanks for making time to talk to me about Carnival King.