Interview: KinifiGames on Bringing Imagine Me to Wii U, Small Studio Challenges and Getting the Call From Nintendo

"Think of Spelunky mixed with Zelda"

There are a number of intriguing projects on the way to the Wii U eShop, though not all have featured at expos or in Nintendo Direct sizzle reels. Imagine Me by KinifiGames is one such game, a title that was Kickstarted over two years ago for PC, Mac and Linux, and has now emerged as another experience bound for the Wii U eShop.

We wanted to learn more about Imagine Me, so caught up with KinifiGames founder Chris Figueroa and level designer Alex Rhofer for a brief chat to learn more about the game and how it came to make the move to Nintendo's home console.

Nintendo Life: Imagine Me initially raised a little over $5000 on Kickstarter back in 2011, with PC and Mac as target platforms. With over two years passed and the Wii U eShop listed as the key platform, are you still delivering to other formats for those original backers, or is it exclusive to Nintendo's system?

Chris Figueroa: Yes, I am a huge PC gamer and personally it's my favourite platform to develop for so it will be on PC, Mac, Linux.

NL: Has the relatively long development period caused you any issues with Kickstarter backers?

CF: Yes/No. Some people want everything right away. The moment that Kickstarter clock ends, they want everything right away. I had to explain to them that life got in the way and that I'm not giving up. I just need time. A lot of them have been super supportive. I think everyone can relate when you say "Life is just so busy I can't even think."

NL: Are you still happy, in hindsight, that you utilised crowdfunding?

CF: Of course I am! I learned so much from that experience! We have a small fan base already waiting!

NL: The KinifiGames team has grown since you started, so has that been an expected progression or has it caught you off guard?

CF: It was really weird when Nintendo called me. I applied a while back in March at the Game Developer's Conference and thought it would never happen. So the moment I was approved I hit the ground running! I come from a background of Q.A. at Activision so I called up some friends that I know could help me and we got working on it!

NL: Imagine Me is described as a platforming dungeon adventure — can you outline the general style of this game for our readers?

CF: Think of Spelunky mixed with Zelda. Rooms that make you solve puzzles that are randomly generated. Of course there is a boss room but you don't know when that is going to happen!

NL: Your website states that Nintendo contacted you in September, can you tell us more about how that happened and your emotions at the time?

CF: I mentioned this a bit before but it was really weird. I applied at the Game Developer's Conference and didn't hear anything for months. Then I get a call from Washington and it's Nintendo. I was so happy! Working with Nintendo is a great opportunity!

NL: Has work on the Wii U version begun, and if so how are you finding the development process on the Wii U?

CF: Development has been super smooth. I hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that! I think one of the main reasons development has been so smooth is because I worked at Activision and did QA for all 1st party consoles. I know from the start what not to do and what to do.

Alexander Hofer: Having worked with the Wii U in the past, I'd agree development is going super smooth. Nintendo has gone to great lengths in making development as easy as possible for indie developers.

NL: We've had some developers explain that it's a "no lose" prospect to publish on the Wii U eShop, especially if using the Unity engine. Do you agree with that, and can you tell us about the tools you've used for the porting process to date?

CF: Nintendo provides us with everything we need and more. I couldn't believe how helpful they are. I can't comment on if we are using Unity3D or not.

NL: Has Nintendo been active in its support, and does it generally reply quickly when consulted?

CF: Nintendo has been great with support. I can call someone and they can help me through anything. Even if I'm having a technical problem they will help me out.

AH: Every time I work with Nintendo they are extremely helpful and quick to respond to any questions we may have. Sometimes even before I realize I have a problem.

NL: You mention GamePad features in your promotional material, can you expand on how you'll be utilising the controller?

CF: In Imagine Me you will be discovering rooms in a dungeon. The GamePad will be used for your map so you can always have it displayed. You'll need it when you start to get down deeper!

NL: Is this going to be a relatively short, affordable title in terms of its volume of content, or wider in scope?

CF: The scope is small. I want it to be a fun short experience for the main story but after, you can jump into a randomly generated dungeon. This allows the game to live on longer and have experiences the story didn't provide along with deployability.

NL: What have been the biggest sources of inspiration or influence for this title?

CF: This is hard because I'm inspired by so many indie devs and their games that I can't even list them all!

NL: Is there a target release window at the moment?

CF: February is our date with Nintendo. The PC version will be larger so it may take longer. I want to have give the community more control over the game.

NL: You say the PC version will be "larger" and come later, is there scope for the Wii U version to be expanded in future with that additional PC content?

CF: The PC version will be larger in the respect that I can add content monthly. If Nintendo allows me to add multiple updates then I'll be more then happy to do those on the Wii U version also.

I hope this clarifies everything!

NL: What's your overall opinion of the Wii U, its market position and prospects right now?

CF: I don't have any really. I know a lot of people say its not good but they are trying to run a full business, I'm just doing this because I love making games. I just want to make a fun game for people to play and tell their friends about, if I happen to make decent money on it then I'll continue to provide what the community asks for.

NL: Are you happy with the progress of the Wii U eShop to date, and what do you think of the lineup of titles confirmed to be on the way?

CF: The indie titles coming out of the gate are amazing. Teslagrad looks really great!

NL: Have you considered working on the 3DS eShop?

CF: I'd love to but right now that's not in the cards. I've always loved my 3DS and if I was ever given the chance to bring Imagine Me or any game I make to 3DS I would.

NL: We've seen various platforms introducing indie-friendly policies, so can you tell us where you think Nintendo stands in comparison to the competition?

CF: Nintendo stands along side the rest of them. I think the problem is they didn't know how to market the Wii U when it came out in America so people have a weird feeling about it. In all honestly it's a great platform and people need to just give it a shot and they'll see it's what they were looking for.

NL: How prominent a role do you think download-only, indie titles will play in the upcoming generation of home consoles, including Wii U?

CF: Download-only is huge for everyone. It makes it much easier to provide games, updates, and DLC; developers don't need to deal with packaging and stores.

NL: Do you have a final message for Wii U owners, on why Imagine Me should be on their radar?

CF: Imagine Me is a game about discovery. I want this game and the development process to feel like we are working together and making something together. Come be a part of development! Check us out at and talk to us on Twitter or Facebook.

We'd like to thank Chris and Alex for their time.

Sponsored links by Taboola

From the web