Warning, This is a long read about a developer confession on why he made a game based on a "Not so popular" genre.
Quiz game? Seriously?
I constantly questioned myself during the development of "What Are You Stupid.” Should our first project have been a crazy difficult platformer or horror game? Something with a more established default audience surely made more sense for a new developer's first endeavor, right? You could even argue an adult graphics game had a better chance at finding a broad audience.
I remember having a quiz battle with my six-year-old daughter and five-years-old son EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Before sleep, they would throw me some weird and random questions. It'd start with something really easy like, “Daddy, do you know what animal makes the sound ‘mooo'?” The sane questions would continue for a while until they got to ridiculous ones like, “Daddy, did you know that Optimus Prime has a girlfriend?”
“No, he doesn't,” I quipped.
“Wrong!” my son quickly retorted. “Optimus Prime's girlfriend is My Little Pony.”
But it didn't stop there. “Daddy, why does Megatron hate Optimus Prime?”
“Well isn't it his arch nemesis?” I answered back.
“Wrong,” he snapped at me again. “It's because Megatron also likes My Little Pony!”
I wanted to suffocate myself with his pillow!
Night after night, I'd say to myself enough with Optimus Prime! I started to make a simple quiz Android game that they could play. It was simple with merely text and answer choices. That's right, I was motivated to not have to talk to my kids. Eventually, I started thinking about positive and negative reinforcements for their answers - rewards for correct answers and punishments for incorrect answers. I sketched some initial drawings:
Although this was just a simple 2d ragdoll that showed expressions, these simple character reactions seemingly kept my children engaged longer. It was apparent they felt a greater drive to succeed. But still, I only loaded about 100 questions into the game so I wasn't sure why they were so excited to answer the same questions over and over. I had to ask. “It's so fun to watch the dolls get angry when we answer correctly,” they exclaimed!
This drove me to develop and experiment with more characters to see their reaction, such as :
, , ,
This was the moment I stopped to ask myself, “Is this thing actually fun?”. A couple days later, I pitched the idea with the first demo of the game to my team. Surprisingly, I got the same response from them that I did with my kids. You would have thought it was their new Christmas morning toy. They couldn't put it down.
I thought quiz game was dead. I was wrong. It just needed resuscitation.
It took roughly a month to develop the engine and the first character:
Meet Mom. She's a woman who loves her parrot and everything in the animal kingdom. She was my first drafted character for the game. I played around with her expression and mannerisms, but there was nothing special about her. I kept reminding myself that this game wasn't about a quiz, it's about beating the crap out of people who think you can't answer their questions. I needed a stronger visualization to express that. So I scrapped all the Mom art and halted my progress for a while. While pondering the project's future, I met with Gokuten, who became our art designer, to discuss how we could express our characters in a better, more interesting way. He suggested something with annoying and trolling features. Thus, enter our inspiration, our hero.
Yup, trollface is the inspiration for all our art. It's been embedded in our culture, and any frequent net-surfer is undoubtedly familiar with it. We decided to base our characters' expressions on trollface art. That's where our official pilot character was born.
Dad's the first character who will challenge the player in quiz battle. He asks many obvious questions, and it's almost impossible to lose against him. We added dialogue to express his joy, sadness, and frustration. We also enhanced his reactions and expressions that would hopefully give the player added satisfaction when he or she beat him up.
In less than a month we ran our first pilot test. We had the foundation for something great, but something was lacking. We unanimously agreed voiceover would take the project to another level.
After a few voiceover attempts for this crazy character's dialogue, a team member had an idea to make him speak gibberish. We loved it! Using a nonsense voice for the dialogue was perfect for the game feel we wanted. A few trial-and-error sessions to mix and match the voice tone to his color and BAM! our first character was done.
This was a tiresome and time-consuming process, but I was glad that all the people involved in the development were ecstatic with anticipation for the full version. However, there was something I had not done. I had been so focused on the development that I had yet to experience the game from the player's perspective. So...
That night I locked myself in my office, installed the demo and played the game all night along. I found myself engaged and even chuckling at Dad's expressive reactions. As someone who's never been a big quiz game show fan, I didn't expect to be enthralled in the game, but I was. That's when I told myself, this game's going to see the light of day. This game's unique perspective on quiz game has the possibility to resonate with a wider audience than I initially thought.
QQQQ - Game Designer