Interviews: QubicGames - Gnomz (WiiWare)

Learn more about the porcelain protectors

After the revelation of Gnomz yesterday we had to sit down with QubicGames' Michał Dys to learn more about the bizarre WiiWare fighting platformer. We'll also have a preview of the game coming up tomorrow, so don't miss it.

Nintendo Life: The first question has to be: why gnomes? What is it about them that makes them good but under-used game characters?

Michał Dys: I think it’s the beards, moustaches and pointy hats: typical alpha male traits.

Also, remember that this is a specific type of gnomes: Garden Gnomes or simply Guardians. They deserve a lot of credit for protecting our gardens from evil underground creatures (such as trolls, zombies and hipsters). What’s also fascinating, is that neither sun nor snow, wind, rain, dust will break them. Their stoicism and courage is striking.

Finally (and surprisingly you can’t learn that in school), Poland is one of the biggest producers of plastic garden creatures. Gnomz is a tribute to both our homeland and quiet heroes of our backyards.

NL: Why did you choose WiiWare for this game when your history is mostly on DSiWare?

Michał Dys: What we planned at first was a DSi/Wii hybrid but it was just impossible to fit so many gnomes and all the action on a single DSi screen. Secondly, Wii is the best console for playing with friends and Gnomz is all about competition. You invite friends, give them Wii Remotes (and they’ve never played before) and the entire evening goes missing in revenge-fuelled battle of the gnomes. And there’s money as well: more gold on WiiWare than on DSiWare.

NL: In a standard Gnomz match, how is the winner decided? Are there health bars, Smash Bros.-like stock lives or something else?

Michał Dys: Single smash = elimination = one frag for the smasher. Whoever gets the most frags (within time or frag limit) wins the level. When you set up tournament, each level winner gets 10 points, second gets 8 etc. and whoever gets the most points at the end wins.

NL: What attacks and moves do the gnomes have in their arsenal? Do they have different attacks or do they all handle the same?

Michał Dys: Gnomes are simple creatures and so the battle is simple. Gnomes have only one weak spot – the head (ever wondered why the weird hats?) so your goal is simple - jump on another gnome's head to eliminate him and get a frag. We tried shooting socks and throwing rocks but in the end it’s the simplicity that’s most entertaining and challenging. Can you imagine Bomberman with shotguns? I’m sorry but we can’t, so it’s just jumping and bumping and the power-ups and that’s enough.

Also, remember that the game is kids-friendly: there’s no blood, guts, faeces, sex, drugs, alcohol or anything you’d normally attribute to a regular video game.

NL: What can you tell us about the game modes on offer in Gnomz? Smash Match, Capture the Sock and Socker all sound pretty interesting.

Michał Dys: Smash Match is just a typical deathmatch skirmish.

In Capture the Sock you just grab the Golden Sock and run. All other players need to kill you to reclaim the sock. The one who holds The Golden Sock for the longest time wins. You can only eliminate the gnome that holds the sock. What I love about this mode it’s how often you obstruct each other in the chase and you need to cooperate to smash the fleer.

In Socker socks of various sizes and colours are falling from the skies and who collects the most socks within the time or frag limit wins. You concentrate on sock-catching and don’t get any points for frags but can smash and freeze the opponents for a few seconds.

NL: The power-ups are all somewhat unconventional too – flying elephants, rainbows, glowing reindeer. What will each of these power-ups do?

Michał Dys: Actually, elephants and reindeers are only decorations, but rainbows are as lethal as you’ve ever seen. 6 types of sock appear randomly and when collected immediately trigger power-ups:

  • Player can summon a deadly rainbow that kills every gnome in its path.
  • Ninja Rabbit appears out of nowhere, follows the layer and kills every gnome he touches
  • Berserk mode gives you invincibility and lethal touch.
  • Invisibility makes a gnome (you’ve guessed it) invisible and indestructible.
  • Super speed doubles gnome’s speed and jumps.
  • Finally, my favourite Bullet Time slows all opponents down and makes them easy prey. It’s so much fun when other players try to run away or hide but just can’t. And it’s even better if you somehow manage to counter attack and smash the slaughterer.

NL: What sort of price are you shooting for with Gnomz?

Michał Dys: Bear in mind that it’s not our decision but Nintendo’s, but we’ve suggested 1000 Nintendo Points.

This is the kind of game you can’t complete or get bored of. If you like it you’ll come back again and again. And there’s the business side: most of the games are 1000 points, people buy 2000 or 3000 Nintendo Points cards and even if we released Gnomz for 600 or 800, what would the gamers do with the 200 left? We’re kind of forced to decide it’s 1000 even if we wanted to make it cheaper. I’m happy things have changed now with eShop, I believe publishers and gamers now have far more freedom with their decisions.

NL: You've released several games on DSiWare in the past. Are you still supporting this format or have you shifted to other services now?

Michał Dys: I don’t believe we can spare any resources we have for DSiWare now the 3DS is growing so rapidly. We’d definitely like to shift to bigger games and bigger audiences and there’s a huge chance for that on 3DS’ eShop.

NL: What other games do you have in the works at the moment? Anything for the 3DS eShop, perhaps?

Michał Dys: I’m happy to tell you that Nintendo has just accepted our next project ‘2 Fast 4 Gnomz’. Our yet unnamed hero (who is unexpectedly a gnome!) runs through magical lands to find a princess bride and tons of precious socks. It’s a side scrolling platform runner for WiiWare but what we’re really trying to achieve is this amazing ‘so hard it hurts’ gaming experience delivered by Nintendo classics and recently BIT.TRIP series and Super Meat Boy. I’ll hope Nintendo Life will get their hands on ‘2 Fast 4 Gnomz’ preview in a few weeks.

We’ve also started working on AiRace sequel for 3DS (AiRace: SPE3D) with new tracks, new planes and finally online multiplayer but it’s scheduled for late 2012.

Also, something definitely 3DS, definitely eShop, definitely gnome-related will be released in 6-8 months but I can’t say more, because the Gnomz are watching me.

Thanks to Michał Dys for his time.