So if Pip’s visual inspiration came from Mario, what sort of inspirations did you take for the platforming itself?
Shereef: That’s a whole ‘nother encyclopedia (laughs). I mean, we had to look at a lot of different games, because when you look at level design for a game like this and you look at the controls for a game like this you’re talking about basically designing levels for three different characters, you know, and having to be able to complete those levels with three different characters, and that wasn’t very easy. So there were a lot of different games we ended up going through, a lot of Donkey Kong Country, surprisingly a lot of Castelvanias. I think we got influenced by so many different games.
Marc: It looks like it’s a very straightforward game, like “Oh, just look at another platformer and copy what they did”, but it’s really like, “Oh, I like what they did in Mega Man X, but that wall jump is just a little off, that’s not how we’re gonna do it”. Or like, “Look how they did Gaucamelee, but yeaaaah there’s that one thing”. Look at Mario — everything is close, but we still had to put our own touch on it because there’s a very specific way I want to approach gameplay. But yeah we definitely got influences from all kinds of genres, we did all of our homework. I think this is about as close as we could get to making it how we wanted it to play.
Shereef: The game’s strong. I think to Marc’s point, it’s hard to come up with one point of reference. There’s just so many kinds of games to look through. You know like, “That works well for Pip one”. Even like, you know, Thomas Was Alone; Everyone will say, “Did you see Thomas Was Alone?” And we’re like —
Marc: “Yes, it has squares.”(Everyone laughs)
Shereef: Exactly. And you know with Donkey Kong County, everyone was saying, “Look at the switching between different characters there too,” because that would be a good way to show how you could have different characters solve the same level. And then there’s this whole evolution/de-evolution piece that just needed some sort of interrelation between multiple games. And the bosses are pulled from like the Castelvanias and such.
Marc: And the hard thing also is that because we wanna make it so the evolutions are even, we can’t overpower one evolution. So something like wall-jump that only Pip 2 has — all the different wall-jumps you see in a lot of games are really overpowered. So if we give that to Pip 2, it doesn’t work. You can’t just go to Super Meat Boy and give that kind of wall-jump to Pip, because then he’ll be way overpowered compared to the other two. So there’s a lot give and take you have to play with when you have three characters.
Pip is now coming to nearly every platform under the sun, but he was originally planned to feature on only Steam and Wii U. Why was Wii U an important destination for you from the start?
Shereef: Ooo…we don’t really want to alienate our other partners in saying this, but I mean…at the risk of doing it, I think we all grew up on Nintendo, and I think that when you go through the story and gameplay that’s associated with Pip it really feels like its cut from the DNA of Nintendo. And again like, not to alienate out other partners, but that’s kind of where we grew up, and it was a place that we felt strong and was something we believe in, and Pip really felt like something that was a Nintendo IP almost, you know? So I think that’s why it was kind of a no-brainer to go for the Wii U. That, and we love the Nintendo community.
Marc: I love all the platforms. (laughs)
Shereef: But they really did get behind us too. Nintendo has been super, super supportive, which is awesome. So we’re definitely glad they were right there in the beginning, green-lighting us and making sure we could get the Wii U dev-kits. Because like when we started the Kickstarter we didn’t even have the dev-kit, we just said “We wanna be on Wii U,” you know, and we had an application in pending at the time, and they contacted us and were like “You’re good!”, and were like “Awesome!”, and then they were like “You already have an application in pending so we’re gonna give you to this other guy,” and well…I won’t say the other stuff, but there might be some other stuff with Nintendo down the line that I’ll just tease right now with you and not elaborate on.
Marc: I think the Nintendo fan group is the most vocal, as far as what I’ve seen online.
Shereef: Yeah that’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good thing because they’re like “Yeaaaah!”, but if you do something wrong they’re like “Booooo!”. (laughs)
As Pip is coming to other platforms, do you have exclusive content planned in the vein of what Shovel Knight offered?
Shereef: We love what Shovel Knight did with the other platforms.
Cathy: And Battletoads!
Shereef: Yeah, that was brilliant. But yeah we don’t have any plans right now, because at this point we’re like… (to Marc and Cathy) How much do we wanna know here? We’ve been working really hard on Pip and getting all the content in there and really fine-tuning it, and we wanna do more with the other platforms, but we’re kinda at that point where we have to launch it. So we really had to start porting with the same gameplay and everything. And this way everyone gets the same experience, which is great, but will we do other things on those platforms later? Quite possibly, yeah.