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Making Chubbins, An Indie Journey - Part 3

Posted by Paul on July 24, 2014

Being the avid Nintendo fans that we are, and being the indie developers we are, it was a very exciting moment when we learned that the Wii U had an indie-friendly developer program. Console development could open up all sorts of possibilities to us, but first and foremost, we had a game that felt to us like it should have been on a Nintendo system all along, that never got a chance to appeal with its new, easier difficulty mode, and which we truly felt could find a good home on a system where the players would have the same gaming values as we did. It would be a great way to test the waters on a new market.

Porting the game was no easy process. On top of figuring out everything we needed to do to make the game compatible with the Wii U, we also wanted to revisit certain aspects and make some additions and improvements. The speedrunny goodness that Chubbins offered was one of its strengths, so we knew we wanted to add in a Time Attack mode where people could challenge each level individually as well as practice for improving their world times.

Chubbins World 1-2

Most people in the gaming world are probably familiar with Egoraptor's Mega Man X Sequelitis, where he talks about using the game itself to teach players how to play. We followed that example with Chubbins, introducing simple concepts throughout the first world. In Level 1-1 for example, you're obviously bouncing automatically, so it's all about moving left and right to get where you want to go. The player HAS TO move left and then right to proceed. In Level 1-2, we introduce the ideas that some blocks move and that some affect Chubbins's bounce differently. The level starts out with a moving platform above Chubbins that can't be reached until the player looks to notice that the arrows on some of the blocks move faster and therefore send Chubbins higher. It was a real eye opener to watch players go at the game and simply not grasp these concepts, so we felt we needed to add some beginner tips to Casual Mode, which we renamed to Soft Mode. We also rounded it out with visible tracks to indicate where moving platforms would go, which was really useful for new players. Classic Mode was renamed to Hard Mode, and still keeps the original release intact, unchanged.

Chubbins is very much a gameplay over graphics title, and we were quite happy with the simple, non-distracting style we'd created for the game. When we announced that Chubbins was coming to Wii U though, we got a lot of criticism on that front. We reached out for deeper feedback from the community and made reasonable adjustments to the visuals based on what we heard. We also had some people complaining about the game's music, but again, Chubbins is literally a $0 budget game, and neither of us are musicians. I ended up doing all the music myself, so it is what it is.

In the end, the hours poured into the Wii U version of Chubbins amounted to a 50% increase on the time it took us to make the game in the first place.

Chubbins End Goals

We've said it before, but it must be said again that the Nintendo news and reviews sites have been awesome in their coverage of Chubbins. We've also gotten some quality feedback from select Miiverse members. All in all, it seems to us that the two most important lessons learned are that A, iOS ports are going to get a lot of flak no matter what and B, the game (even on Soft Mode) is sadly still too hard for most players. There was no helping the former, but if we can manage an update for the game, we intend to help the latter with an in-world save system. That hinges on getting enough sales to make that and other updates worth the time and effort.

We as Dahku have loads of new game ideas we'd love to bring to Wii U, likely as exclusives. They too depend on how well we do in this trial period of sorts. So if you've bought the game, thank you so much and we hope you enjoyed taking a deeper look at its creation! And if you haven't got Chubbins yet, we hope that having read this far means you're interested enough that you will. As of today we're officially dropping the price from $5.99 to $3.99, so take a chance and show your indie support!