Interview: Two Tribes on the Toki Tori 2 Delay and Improvements
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"The game is much better on all fronts"
Late last week developer Two Tribes published a blog post with some explanation for the delayed release of Toki Tori 2 on the Wii U eShop. We've followed up with one of the studio's key figures and the blog's author, Collin van Ginkel, to get a few more details.
In the mini-interview below he reveals a little more about the improvements being made, as well as how the decision was taken to delay release.
NL: In your blog post you explained that the decision to delay was taken shortly before the submission to Nintendo. Did you have concerns about the reaction of Nintendo and gamers, or was the focus solely on making the game as good as possible?
Collin van Ginkel: Nintendo was great! I wasn't looking forward to that particular call, but they basically told me they felt bad for us and to let them know when we thought it was good enough.
I wasn't worried about the reactions from gamers. You kind of expect some people to bash it while others will understand. In the end it comes down to launching the game at the quality level that we're comfortable with, which in the end benefits everyone, even the people who responded negatively to the delay.
NL: Can you confirm whether Toki Tori 2 is still due in the "launch window", up to 31st March?
CvG: We're close to finishing the game, but we need to be a little bit further before we can commit to a date.
NL: Do you have any regrets about missing the pre-Holiday period?
CvG: I think we made the right call. My main regret is not realizing it sooner so we wouldn't have had to disappoint people this close to the release date.
A game is never truly done, there are always ways to improve them. But please believe me that the Toki Tori 2 we had in early December really wasn't done.
NL: You've explained that it was a decision possible due to the lack of an external publisher, can you explain in more detail how self-publishing has altered the whole development process so far?
CvG: Before 2008, we worked mostly as a work-for-hire company. So publishers would turn to us for the creation of their games, in exchange for a development fee. This means that the publisher is basically in charge and influences the outcome of development effort.
With Toki Tori 2 we don't have that, because we're doing everything ourselves. So this means the only people we have to please are the gamers out there who want to buy our games. This changes how we can approach our game development, but in this case I think we forgot about that for a while.
NL: Do you feel there's a danger of seeking too much perfection when self-publishing?
CvG: Yes! A game is never truly done, there are always ways to improve them. But please believe me that the Toki Tori 2 we had in early December really wasn't done.
NL: Are you able to share more on the open world aspect, and how it's being adjusted to be more suitable for novice players?
CvG: The core idea behind the gameplay in Toki Tori 2 is that you can achieve everything with just the stomp and whistle moves. Having said that, the game starts out with something we call the 'path of least resistance', which we're pretty sure 90% of gamers will follow.
After a couple hours of playtime, we basically tell people to go find their own path through the game. You can compare it to how in The Wind Waker you learn how to control the wind and suddenly everything seems to open up.
In Toki Tori 2, in part because we don't use any text in the game, this meant a LOT of question marks appeared above player's heads. That's something we've aimed to fix in the last few weeks, to make sure people know what's expected of them through the game's layout and visual design.
NL: Has this extra development time led to more puzzles and content than the title of 9th December 2012 (when the delay decision was taken), as well as technical improvements?
CvG: Yes! The game is much better on all fronts. Aside from the things I mentioned in the blogpost, we're going over everything again to see what needs to be improved.
The amount of content has increased slightly, but it's mostly a case of much better content. Better tested and tweaked based on player feedback.
NL: How has fan reaction been to the delays so far?
CvG: Mostly positive, fortunately. People seem to understand that quality much come first, which makes me glad.
NL: On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you about the improvements being made, and their impact on the game?
CvG: Easily a ten. Before we delayed the game, I remember looking at it and thinking that it was a shame some of the things we worked so hard on weren't used properly or functioning as intended. That is now mostly gone!
We'd like to thank Collin van Ginkel for his time. Two Tribes plans to announce details on content that will be included with the game at launch, as well as content due to arrive after release through an update; we can expect to know more later this week.