Bobobua Developer Interview
Bobobua is an addicting and interesting game that has artfully combines a great story, aesthetics, mechanics and technology. It was first released on the iPhone platforms and generated a great following. This success has driven Bobobua's developer, Tripod Games, to develop an Android version of Bobobua exclusively for Android users to experience the fun. We decided to interview the game designer, Kiki and find out what it took to make this popular game stand out among others. Enjoy!
Zikun: The game bobobua's plots and scenes are very attractive. How do you come up with the idea, a game about meatballs and noodles?
Kiki: Actually, there is an interesting story about how we came up with this concept. As a team, we wanted to make an elastic-related project. Initially, we tried several themes such as a simple mix of artistic elements such as medieval fairy-tales. But the results were far from satisfactory. We reached an agreement, from the very beginning, that we wanted to create a product with a totally new and creative story background. The art designer and I would go out to dinner together almost every day after work so we could discuss the theme design of the game. One night, we were eating dinner at our favorite restaurent, a spaghetti house. All of a sudden, we came up with the idea to create a game about meatballs and noodles. We still joke about it till this day, but lucky for us, we were able to create an awesome game out of our experience.
Zikun: Which came first, the gameplay or the story?
Kiki: It's quite hard to answer this question accurately. I guess you could say we had a basic idea for the gameplay prior to creating the story. As we moved along, we went through a series of changes and adjustments with the gameplay and story. Basically, both the gameplay and the story really influenced each other, so it is hard to say what really came first. At the end of it all, we ended up with this product.
Zikun: How many people participated in the development of Bobobua? What were their roles?
Kiki: There were three developers altogether: one game designer, one artist and one programmer. The game designer was responsible for the game mechanics, story, level design, and game balance, among other things, of the program.The artist was responsible for all of the artistic aspects, including character design, animation, user interface, background, cutscene animations, as well as the company's external advertising pictures and videos. Lastly, the programmer was responsible for structuring the entire project, and programming the game for various platforms. Basically, we had a very clear division of labor. Moreover, we entrusted another outsourcing company with the music.
Zikun: How did you cooperate with each other? How did you control the progress of the project?
Kiki: The division of roles I mentioned just now was the most efficient way we facilitated cooperation. We had an internal contract before the start of the project to make sure everyone was aware of and understood their responsibilities and duties.After the completion of the Prototype version, the game designer would make a scrum every two weeks. The art designer would make resources according to planís priorities, then present this to the programmer. The programmer would submit a new version every Sunday. The three of us completed the testing together. In addition, we would have one regular meeting every week to assess our progress. In addition, we communicated with each other every day.
Zikun: How long was the development cycle for Bobobua?
Kiki: It took about six months from the creation of the idea to the completion of the project, and another three months for optimization. Altogether, it took about nine months, which really exceeded our expected time.
Zikun: Why such a delay?
Kiki: Well, we all had other full-time jobs in addition to working on this project and it is difficult to cooperate efficiently when everybody has their own schedules. So it took a lot of time for running-in. We spent about three months testing different kinds of physical and artistic themes in the early stages of the prototype version, which took the longest time.
Zikun: Whatís the most difficult thing you had to endure during the development? How did you overcome it?
Kiki: The most difficult thing was communication. Actually, I think we cooperated very well. Everyone was responsible and patient about the details. But the communication problem still existed, given the different schedules everyone had. For example, during the early stages of building the prototype version, we updated more than ten versions about the basic physical elasticity, and we adjusted the gameplay over and over again. At that time, the programmer was in the Yunnan province, while the artist and I were in Shanghai. I kept on drawing pictures for the programmer, calling him, sending emails to him, and communicating with him. So did the artist. The current images we have have been altered for many times. For just a simple meatball, we went through many changes and long nights of thorough planning. We needed to consider many aspects, such as whether or not to make the graphics three-dimensional or two dimensional, the size of the meatball's eyes,and the color of the body. After much planning and all of the artistís hard work, we finally decided to use the image we have now. We knew the iteration work was very necessary, but we also know that the design cycle would not have been so long if we had worked together in one office.
Zikun: Iíve heard that there are two versions of Bobobua, one for Android and one for the iPhone. Which one was easier to develop? What is the advantage of porting games on each of the platforms?
Kiki: There is no difference from the aspect of game design. As for the advantage of the platform, the iPhone is more popular in the market and it is more mature, while Android has a large quantity of users, so it is easier to be promoted on a large scale. We feel Android has a good prospect.
Eric: Itís easier to develop the iPhone version because the programming model is easy to understand, the tutorial is perfect, and the developing tool is mature. The iPhone version development is based on C++, so itís more efficient to execute. Also the machine performance is more powerful. So, the iPhone version is easier to design compared with the Android version. However, Androidís programming language is Java. Itís easy to develop and it has high efficiency. I believe that the Android platform will be promoted by the manufacturers step-by-step. For the Android or iPhone, each has a share, so it's a good idea to port to both platforms.
Zikun: Your game is very popular among players. Do you have any interesting things about the game you would like to share with us?
Kiki: I once saw that a player on androidin.com made a picture of our game with a real spaghetti and meatball. She said her boyfriend is so crazy about Bobobua that he forgot to eat. So, she created a bowl of noodles that resembles the picture in the game and posted it on the site. In addition, we have received several emails from many players that said playing the game actually reminds them to eat more. We thought this was funny and an interesting way to look at the game.
Zikun：Would you like to say something about the game you are currently working on?
Kiki：Well, Iíd like to say that we are enthusiastic about our new project. It will be another interesting game for our users.