The history of Tic Toc Body Pop

Posted on June 11, 2011

 

I’m taking what may seem a bit of a lazy approach to a blog today by talking about our latest release which came out this Thursday 9th June. I’m going to try and cover the history of the game which is possibly a bit longer than people would imagine. Hopefully people trying the game will realise that a lot of effort has gone into us trying to get everything right with it that we can.

 

The game idea was originally conceived by Simon Butler (see his website here and get in touch with him if you need some great artwork), a great artist and friend who we’ve worked with for many years.

The original text description had a few major differences to the final game

  • Possibility of two figures to fit through holes at once
  • Pickups that come along the conveyor to provide the speed up / slow down abilities

Coupled with the description Simon had also produced a mockup video which we’re showing here for the first time

Compared to a shot from the game as it is now

 

You can see the UI was a bit more complicated than it is now and at this stage we didn’t have the awesome art style that Simon developed along with the Tic Toc character. It certainly had the craziness aspect and the Abraham Lincoln character popping in was great but we decided to drop (for now) from the full game.

This original video + text description were sent across on 14th July 2010, we discussed the ideas for a few months before having original prototypes around the inverse kinematics we were going to use to help the control system only be driven by the ends of the limbs.

Simon had the first 50 levels of the game put together very quickly and we had what seemed like most of the final assets by November, the implementation was still in a very early phase at this point due to other project commitments. We were however talking regularly about the plans and design for the project.

In January we started showing the game mockups around to people  and getting a bit of feedback we also started working out the interface elements and arranging the game structure. We wanted to be familiar and try and emulate what Cut The Rope / Angry Birds (and many other games before them on other platforms) have done well in terms of the sets of levels and the simple advancement method that still encourages replayability  by giving you a gold/silver/bronze type achievement status per level.

In early February the implementation was working well and we had a nice data driven system for putting all the levels together, we also integrated the music for each of the levels (each level has its own short loop to match the level theme). We also established the logo for the game and introduced the concept of the unlockable costumes.

At this stage we also killed off the initial idea of walls that rotate to provide an extra challenge as with the obstacles we had on later levels the game was fairly hard as it was!

During March / April we performed a LOT of tweaking of the levels, our main fear during this time was making it too hard a game as many of you will know when developing a game it’s easy to start mastering it and then tweaking it to challenge yourself but then anyone new to the game faces an impossible task.

We integrated OpenFeint (who have been great to work with) and finished off essentials like the app icon, below is only one of the many pages of icons that Simon produced before we got to the final app icon.

 

May and the game is pretty much done, we’ve also been working on reducing the size of the game significantly and Phil performed his research into the simple but effective methods mentioned in the last blog post I did. We switched to zlib at the time as we wanted to keep the graphics lossless while we tested and evaluated other methods further which is why the game upon release is a fairly large 149mb.

I do believe that this could be a concern for us in terms of selling a lot of copies with it to start with and we do plan to reduce this down in the future (and also make some slight tradeoffs for <20mb lite versions if we choose to release one) however with the effort put into the art style I felt we should show it off the best we can upon release and try not to trade off on that.

Speaking of the artwork I’m going to leave it for another blog post but we have a lot of in progress art images that would be great to show, some of these show the subtle tweaks we made to the menus and level graphics which I believe have left us with a very polished feeling game.

At this point we were ready for submission, our final hurdle was some approval problems in terms of our OpenFeint use causing some concern with the Game Center features we were advertising, we got this turned around in about a week and ready to launch 6 days later. This delay unfortunately pushed us into WWDC/E3 week but we felt that we should still get launched.

We’re expecting slightly slow sales to start with but our marketing push has begun and we’ll hopefully see more of this coming online the next few weeks. From that the game should pick up a bit and get up the charts, if it doesn’t we’ll be pushing out a Lite version and trying some different tactics.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief (and hopefully interesting) look at the development of Tic Toc Body Pop and please try the game – available for 59p/99c for a limited time .

Click the icon for a link to the App Store.

Also a big thanks to our programmer Lewis for his pretty much solo work on most of the project and Gary, Phil and the rest of the team for their contributions in either tech or feedback.

 

Things we’ve been enjoying this week

  • Tic Toc Body Pop – oops mentioned it again 😉
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