Tic Toc Games on Development, Kickstarter, Future of Pip

Your first Kickstarter for Pip didn’t work out, but you felt strongly enough about the concept to launch a second one — what about that core concept convinced you to give it another shot?

Marc: Well, what I can say about our first pass at it is I don’t think the clarity of the concept was there for our first Kickstarter . I think the idea behind the second one was just to make sure people understood it. You know, clarity in our videos, and the way we presented the content. So I think it was also kind of that we weren’t really ready the first time we went out. The second one really gave us a chance to clarify what we knew internally. That’s kind of what I got out of it.

Shereef: Mhmm. If you ever watch the video of us playing the initial one, Cathy is the one playing it and she’s —

Cathy: I couldn’t even hear the guy, I was just like ‘I’m just gonna keep playing…’ (laughs).

Shereef: That was a year ago at E3, and GameSpot did that video with us —

Cathy: We’re all sitting on a couch, there’s like a DJ playing super loud–

Shereef: Yeah, and Cathy’s concentrating really hard trying not to get hit or die —

Marc: There’s Kojima on the couch in front of us–

Shereef: Yeah (laughs), it was just this overwhelming moment of like, “Wow, we’re really here. This is awesome,” and the Kickstarter is not gonna make it. We’re really close, but we’re not gonna make it. And we’re finding the right reception then at that point, and everyone was seeing the game, but it also gave us a chance to pull back and say, “Okay. What weren’t people seeing in the game, and is there something wrong with the thing that we have?”. And you know, we brought in friends from even other groups, other companies to go through it with us and we brainstormed and came up with all sorts of different solutions, and then the new evolution of the core gameplay mechanic began to resonate. Not six evolutions for Pip but just focus on three, and really make them all distinctly different. And really make it easy for the player to understand what each one does, give that clarity, because six can be kind of overwhelming. So with that we simplified the core mechanic a little more, and making it simpler made it better, and it made it easier to communicate too. And then showing the community one more time, the Kickstarter backers were absolutely awesome. Most of them came back, and brought friends with them, and then it just took off. And then we were funded! And then Game Grumps got behind us, and Super Best Friends, and IGN, and Greg Miller, who’s huge, and you. We just had so much support on that second one, it was awesome. I think it was overwhelmingly awesome.

pip

Marc: But yeah I guess to answer your question, we did discover more about our concept ourselves as we went through from the first phase to the second phase. It wasn’t just trying to re-push what we had in mind, it was also how we developed it further from the first time out.

Shereef: And now Cathy’s gonna rap.

Cathy: No I’m not…

Marc: (Conspicuously) C’mon, do it like we planned! (Cathy shakes her head with a shy smile)

Shereef: Oh well, I tried man. There will be no rap from Cathy today.

That’s cool, I’ll take a rain check. But on the subject of Kickstarter, Adventures of Pip was your first game to use that model. How has that experience been different from your other games?

Shereef: As a studio it’s probably the first game going back to what we do best, you know? I think we’ve been kind of growing the studio slowly and doing smaller scope projects and stuff, and then we started getting a little bit categorized as one kind of developer, and we didn’t like that. So we decided to go ahead and make this concept, because this was…(to Marc and Cathy) man, how old is this concept? Three years old?

Marc: Let’ say three.

Shereef: Yeah, and we were wanting to make it the whole time, and then we saw the success with Yacht Club and Shovel Knight, we saw Wayforward go out with Shantae: Half Genie Hero, and we’re like “Dang, that’s awesome’. So we said “Okay, if we can raise one percent of what Shantae raised we can make this game” (laughs).  So we went for it, and that was a lot different, because there’s no publisher. It’s a much different experience because it actually gave us the freedom to make it how we wanted to make it, and we learned a lot about ourselves and what we could do with all that freedom, good and bad (laughs). It just makes us better as a studio so that the next one gets even better, and better, and better.

Adventures-of-Pip-Demo-Agile-Pip

Cathy: I think it also helped us gain a community. I mean in that first Kickstarter we got a lot of backers, and in the second one we got even more, and then just maintaining that communication with the community and making sure they’re happy —

Shereef: Yeah, we pissed them off a couple times (laughs). We have some really amazing backers, and some really amazing fans on twitter that ask us questions all the time.

Cathy: Yeah even though we don’t have a publisher per se we still have a community to kind of like, make sure we’re going in a good direction.

How did that community feedback influence how Adventures of Pip changed over the course of development?

Shereef: Ooo, that’s another good question. (To Cathy) Do you wanna answer that one?

Cathy: I’m trying to think…I’m definitely knee-deep in all that community stuff.

Shereef: Well I can say for starters that a lot of our backers actually appear in the game as villagers, which is awesome. So they’ve directly influenced it by being in the game, and telling us what they want to say and being rescued and running away from Queen DeRezzia.

Cathy: When we were doing early access, we got a lot of feedback on bugs that they found, but they also sent very detailed opinions and feedback, which I thought was super awesome, because there were things in there that I didn’t even pick out when I was playing the game during betas. A few people mentioned that the items weren’t very strong, so in the final version of the game we made adjustments to them to add a little more gameplay value.

Shereef: We had one backer make some comments about the script too, and we kind of took a deeper look at the script and said “Yeah, there’s really a lot more opportunities for humor here”, so we actually rewrote the entire script based on the feedback we got from one backer (laughs). It’s way better now, too. The difference between the Early Access and final build is kinda awesome.

Cathy: And there’s still a list I’m keeping in a backlog that has come from backers that I’m planning to fix in a future update, because it’s great feedback.

Shereef: Yeah, it is great feedback, and we want to keep growing the game and making it better. It feels like we’ve gone out and gotten all the content we want, and now we want to go back out and do more. So they’re definitely helping us form that plan.

Continue to next page →