Feature: The Development Process of Go! Go! Kokopolo
Posted by Zach Kaplan
NL: How did you go about the audio side of things, music and sound effects?
KW: For the music, I got in touch with a guy called Doug Boyes, who had a company called 2DB music here in the UK. They worked with us back when I was at Travellers Tales, and so they were the obvious choice when it came to Kokopolo. I obviously wanted an arcadey style soundtrack, and so I compiled a load of YouTube videos of game soundtracks for suggestions and inspirations and sent them over. I think I also hummed a few tunes that were in my head into a microphone too, and sent them along as well, but they created a great catchy soundtrack from that, which I am very pleased with.
Each of the music tracks actually has an official name as well, which I came up with, but they are not mentioned in the game itself. For the record, one is called "Chilli-Con-Carnival" and another one is called "Infuriate-Nine-Ten". I might upload these to YouTube one day with their correct titles, so people know!
The sound effects were done buy a guy called Andras Kover, who has his own company called Noteblender. Again, with him I compiled a selection of Sound Effects from YouTube and other sources for inspiration, and sent them over... and he did a good job with those. I think probably the "Go! Go! Go!" that you hear at the start of each stage is his voice speeded up... at least I hope it is, otherwise he's got a really high-pitched voice!
NL: You said in our previous interview that you left nothing out after the original retail design was reformatted for DSiWare. How did you manage to get it down to the size limit?
KW: Well, because the game design was thought out quite well from the start, it meant that there wasn't too much wastage in terms of what was put in the game. The main problem in fact was the music, as this took up a lot of the space.
When I originally laid out all the graphics files and sprites, In the back of my mind I was worried that everything wouldn't fit in, so I spent ages making sure I was very clever with the sprite layouts so that we could get everything in to the VRAM and the file size in general. Because of the big sprites and the amount of animations, this was a little bit tricky, but we did manage to squeeze it all in!
There were only a few hazards that were left out from the original retail design, but this was more due to the fact that they didn't quite work out as I had envisaged, rather than file size restraints, so they were left out on purpose. There are, of course a few hidden things in the game too, that maybe even those who've completed the game might never see, but we crammed them in too, just in case anyone stumbles across them!
NL: What was the bug fixing process like?
KW: The bug fixing took about one third of the overall development time, but this included stuff like tweaking certain aspects, and checking all hazards worked correctly and stuff. Anything relating to save files was an issue, as well as microphone-related things, as Nintendo have some pretty strong opinions on those aspects.
"It has been described as a hidden gem of a game on several occasions. I hope it doesn't stay hidden for long though!"
There weren't any major bugs all through the testing process, but one did get through the net in the released version. Most people know it has been fixed, but if you do find yourself getting stuck on certain boss fight, Boss H to be exact, there is a patch for it on the DSiWare store and eShop. Anyone who purchased the game after 22nd September 2011 is fine though, as they will already have the fixed version.
NL: Can you tell us some about the end stages of production, such as the ratings process and translating the game?
KW: It took a lot longer than I thought it would, that's for sure! There isn't a lot of text in Kokopolo, but the eManual included with the game needed to be fully translated, and the game information and descriptions that go on the Nintendo websites and appropriate channels all needed to have professional translations done. Obviously I wasn't allowed to simply use Google Translate, or similar, as there are a lot of specific translation rules that Nintendo adopts, and so I needed to go with a recommended professional translator.
Actually, thinking about it, the translations themselves came back pretty swiftly, but it was the ratings process that was more time consuming. I had to take footage of all aspects of the game that I thought contained any aspect of cartoon violence, and obviously in this type of game there is a lot! Also, many forms and questionnaires needed to be filled in about the game in order to satisfy the age rating process, and this is quite time consuming. A message to any future developers out there: be warned, this does take a lot of time, so if you are able to capture footage as you go along, that's probably the best idea, rather than leaving it 'til the end!
NL: Now that the game's released, how do you feel about the sales so far and heading into the future? And how are you finding the marketing process?
The sales are consistent at this time, it sells a few copies each day which is good! I hope it continues to sell, as it has been described as a hidden gem of a game on several occasions. I hope it doesn't stay hidden for long though!
It's interesting seeing how quickly news and positive opinions spread, so I'm keeping track of that. I may need to do another publicity boost, probably in the lead up to the holiday season, as more people will be getting 3DS's then. But overall, I'm very pleased with the critical response it's been getting!
You know what though, it'd be really cool to see some more fan art for the game though, as I love creating fan art for other games, so hopefully some gamers would like to do the same for Kokopolo. There are already a couple out there that are cool.
NL: So what's next for Kokopolo?
KW: As mentioned in our previous interview, I'd be very interested in doing a couple of Kokopolo sequels. I can tell you now that the third game will be entitled "Kokopolo Paradise" and will have more story based and simple RPG based elements in it, with a humorous narrative running through. It would also have hand-drawn graphics like the Paper Mario series (though not flat), but of course it will still keep the classic Kokopolo gameplay. Keep your eyes out for that in the future, as well as a few other non-Kokopolo related games too!
Nintendo Life thanks Keith Webb for his time. Enemy descriptions written by Keith Webb. Keep your home page set to Nintendo Life to check back for an exclusive sneak peek of his next project once it's ready to go!