Ooga Chaka! Ooga, Ooga! Ooga Chaka! No no… That’s not working… Shark bait BruHaHa! No no… Still not working. Dang, Maybe I can’t really appease the Tiki gods. I sent questions to them but didn’t really get a response but we did get the next best thing! We got a response from the team over at Last Minute Entertainment over their game Tiki Trials So come on and run this interview based gauntlet to see if we can appease them!
Can you tell us about the game Tiki Trials for those who may be new to the game?
“In Tiki Trials you will undertake a fast-paced gauntlet of platforming challenges to appease the Tiki Gods! Jump, dash and sprint your way through 150 quick-fire trials. Gather shiny coins, buy funky masks, and beat the clock!
Now with a Level Editor as of our most recent update!”
How did the Tiki Trials project get started?
“Bit of an origin story incoming, during 2016-2017 All 4 members of Last Minute Entertainment met while studying in our respective fields (Game Design, Game Art, Programming etc) at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) in Adelaide, South Australia and we all graduated in January 2018.
Between Feb 2018 – Feb 2019, we all undertook and graduated for the second time a Graduate Diploma in Management Learning (GDML for short) through AIE again which involved establishing a company name/brand, business goals/decisions, marketing strategies, cash flow projections etc.. It was basically the very dry and boring stuff of game development as we were often told but was absolutely a vital thing to understand going forward. But it was during this time Tiki Trials began development.
In early February 2018 Tiki Trials’ initial prototype was developed and used side by side with our studies to help support all of the paperwork we were required to do for GDML. As development continued, initial feedback was very positive and the game began to transform into its own beast that we were all very excited to continue pushing forward with!”
Can you tell us a little about the game character design?
“Tiki Guy” was designed to be almost cartoon like in its proportions (Big head, small body) and intentionally very basic overall. This is due to having only one artist on the team who created EVERY single 3D model in the game single handedly! There may even be a few easter eggs on Tiki Guy’s tattoos that he snuck in! (shout out to our artists Stephen Gregory! you legend!)
But we knew the “Tiki Masks” would be the most identifiable feature of Tiki Guy! We really had a lot of fun designing all kinds of masks that players can enjoy purchasing, wearing and enjoy the flashy / cute effects while undertaking the Trials!”
Did you have any interesting challenges while working on the game?
“Programming, Programming, Programming!
It was and still is the toughest hurdle for Tiki Trials!
The reason for this is because the team is made up of 3 game designers and 1 artist meaning no one on the team is a dedicated programmer. I had programmed quite a few games in the past, but the other two game designers had only done some through our studies. So programming was handled by myself and Project Lead/ Game Designer (James Buttfield).
One other interesting side challenge was learning how Steam’s backend systems worked. But I cant talk too much about that unfortunately.”
What got you interested in game development?
“My biggest influences are Sonic 3 and Metal Gear Solid 1. With Sonic 3, i played it back in 1994 (I was 8 at the time Jeez!) and with its overall fantastic level design, addictive soundtrack, and use of cutscenes to help progress the story but also show how Sonic and Tails would reach the next Zones in a believable way as each environment was so different from each other! This was a big deal to me as i remember sonic 1, 2 & CD using a fade in/fade out between zones which I did question constantly.
Playing Metal Gear Solid 1 as a 13 year old back in 1999. MGS blew me away on my first play through with so many game design decisions that were “outside the cardboard box” way of thinking at the time! It was also the first time when finishing a game that i actually sat through to read the credits and see who did what on the game. Which of course was the first time I saw that one name, Hideo Kojima.
I officially made my start in game development when I was 15 years old in 2001. I was designing assorted game mechanics and ripping sprite sheets for my own Fan Games using programs called The Games Factory and Multimedia Fusion. I would submit my games on several Sonic/ Kingdom Hearts / Megaman forums that were popular in my crowd at the time.
By 2008, I started creating my own original titles which actually resulted in the start of my first indie studio called Steel Blue Zebra (SBZ) being founded in 2012. I developed several phone titles for iOS devices between 2013-2016 that you could play in one minute or less since they were designed for people on the go.
Unfortunately SBZ “closed its doors” by the end of my first year of study in 2016 at AiE. But thankfully, all of my game ideas from SBZ have now been moved on to Last Minute Entertainment. So in a way, my first studio is still with me as I move forward with LME. Which is a great feeing!”
Do you have any projects you may want to work on in the future?
“There are so many projects we would love to do! But most of these projects would require a few more hands on deck to bring to fruition.
Being just over a full decade older than my co workers, I’m personally a very big fan of the PS1 era of gaming and would love to revive or create a spiritual successor to many titles released at that time. Bust-A-Groove or Bushido Blade series for example”
How did you balance the game difficulty?
“Since Tiki Trials had levels you could finish in under 10 seconds each, there needed to be A LOT of them!
Our Game / Level Designer (Stefan Scuteri) designed 80% of the levels with myself and James making up the remaining 20% where we could.
The challenge here was making sure all levels flowed well together and the difficulty didn’t suddenly spike too drastically either. This is where Quality Assurance comes in! Very important!
We have quite a few different block mechanics in the game (e.g. spike, shrinking, bouncy blocks) that was constantly either being removed or shifted around to help reach that balance of challenge and difficulty. The amount of times we have moved these levels around for balancing would astound you haha!
Since we are currently working on adding even more free DLC, it gets even tougher to balance everything but its the challenge we love at LME!”
What advice would you give to those new to game development?
What are you waiting for! Jump straight in and start designing, drawing, and/or programming! Its a ton of fun!!!
Compared to when I started back in 2001, there are now so many different tools and so much community support to get started in game development which is fantastic!
It is understandably daunting when starting out but remember; take your time, breathe, and that google is your best friend here!
I suggest using Unity to get started as it is free to use and there are so many tutorials on Google/Youtube to help with getting stared and don’t be afraid to ask questions either!
You’d be surprised how much we used Mr/Miss Google’s help during development of Tiki Trials! We absolutely didn’t have all the answers during development!
One last thing, once you have something playable start showing and giving it to people for testing! Put it into their hands and write down ALL feedback given. It’s up to you to figure out which feedback is helpful towards your product.
My game design philosophy is “Building the future, and keeping the past alive, are one and the same thing”. For me this means don’t feel bad if your 1st, 2nd or 50th game doesn’t turn out as well as you want it to. All developers have experienced this and the only way to improve is by learning from what came before to improve on whats coming next.
Finally, set a development cut off date for your product! Its easy to get stuck in endless dev cycles. But once it’s out, Celebrate!!!! You released something out into the world and that is not an easy thing to do! We celebrated with tiki themed cupcakes and KFC, it was awesome!!!
Message from the Team:
We hope you will pick up Tiki Trials on Steam and give it a go! Be sure to tell us your experiences, likes and dislikes as well! We are always looking to improve where we can!
See you out there running the Gauntlet of the Tiki Trials Avenger Friends!
I hope this interview has gotten you hooked on a feeling for playing this game and you have the desire for Finding all 100 trials in Tiki Trials. Please go check out Tiki Trials! All of their social media will be linked below! So please go check them out!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TikiTrialsGame/
Team Website: http://lastminent.com/
Steam Page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1046130/Tiki_Trials/