Plenty of new game developers choose to start out with a simple 2D platformer, but very few of those developers make a 2D platformer like IGF Student Showcase Finalist One and One Story, which features a game mechanic inspired by a romantic relationship. We talked with One and One Story designer and programmer Mattia Traverso about the development process and the transition to iOS.
Tell me about the team behind One and One Story. Who worked on it, and how did you all meet?
Mattia Traverso: We are a team of three guys: Gabriele "unpx" Bonis made the art, David "DVGMusic" Carney did the music, and last but not least, me-Mattia "MaTX" Traverso.
I made the core of the game (with very rough graphics) in about a month, and then I started looking for artists and musicians. David was easy to find because he was very well known in the Flash game scene, but before finding Gabriele I wasted two months with various artists around the web who couldn't get the mood of the game in their drawings and mockups. I realized a few days ago (maybe seven months after the development of the game) that I have never talked directly with them! We used Skype to text, but we've never heard each other's voices. Strange, huh?
How did you come up with the design for One and One Story? Did you draw upon any life experiences or memories?
MT: I think the best way to describe the game is that I had a relationship, but it was full of crates and spikes so we had to break up!
Joking apart, the design phase worked in a similar way as Jenova Chen's Design (I'm not saying I'm that good, of course!). His design philosophy is different from the common one: Normally, you take a mechanic and make sure it is fun. But Jenova does not start from a mechanic; he starts from an emotion, from a feeling that he wants to transmit to the player.
And that's how we worked on One and One Story, exploiting the game mechanics to work towards the narration and therefore the emotions of the player.
Did you decide to do One and One Story in Flash from the beginning, or did you start with something else?
MT: Sadly, I was forced to use Flash because I'm just starting my developer career and that's the only tech I know. Since then I have come to know a lot of programmers, but back then, nobody would have listened to a boy with such a simple idea. We are now remaking the game for the iOS devices thanks to a very good C++ programmer, Tommaso Checchi.
Recently, you found an unauthorized copy of your game on the iOS App Store. How did you respond to that? Were you able to find anyone who could help you deal with the legal matters and get the copy pulled off the store?
MT: When I discovered the copy, I shouted some not-so-polite words on Twitter. Surprisingly, that helped a lot: I was retweeted by around one hundred indie developers and my problem got spread around the web very quickly. I got a lot of contacts willing to help me, to name a few: Adam Atomic (Canabalt creator) sent me the DMCA module to take the app down, IGDA and the Vlambeer guys (Super Crate Box) contacted Apple... I got a fantastic wave of support from the community. A few lawyers also contacted me even though I never intended to sue the "thieves."After two weeks or so, the app was removed from the store, though I haven't heard about anything else from Apple!
Now you're working on your own iOS port. Is it hard to make One and One Story work well on a phone and tablet?
MT: A lot! Since it's a platformer, the controls are a major issue. I personally don't like games with a lot of buttons on the screen, because that's just a way to adapt a game that was not originally designed for iOS. I'm trying to rethink the control scheme to work without a single button on-screen. The system is up, now we just need to playtest it!
Another problem is that the game is too short to be in a paid form: We need to add content, but without ruining the atmosphere and the mood, which is tough.
Besides that, I should thank Apple: The art now needs to be redone twice as large for the new iPad!