Ibb and Obb: Development Prototypes Document the Game’s Evolution

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Ibb and Obb: Development Prototypes Document the Game’s Evolution

We’re almost there. ibb and obb is nearing completion and we hope to release the game on PSN this May.

Getting to this point has been quite an adventure. Currently there are between four and ten people working on the project, but around seven years ago this all started with my graduation project and I could only dream of where it is right now.

I studied Industrial Design and always thought I would become a product designer. But over the course of my studies my interest for product design faded and at the same time it felt like something new was happening in the game industry.

It was around the time that Katamari Damacy made its first appearance on Playstation. I loved it and to me it signalled a start of more original titles finding their way to a larger audience.
I strongly wanted to be part of this change and decided to focus my graduation project on game design.

Part of the project was to design a game concept myself. I was convinced that the best way to design games is to work with prototypes as much as possible. The moment I had the idea for this double gravity world, I built it.

The first prototype was extremely rough. I had some experience with modding Unreal Tournament, so the first prototype became an Unreal Tournament mod. I inverted the gravity in the bottom half of the screen, made the character flip upside down and fixed the camera to the side so it looked somewhat like a platform game.

That first prototype didn’t look like much, but it already told me two important things:

  • The continuous flow of falling up and down feels really nice.
  • You can reach unexpected places, which makes it suitable for puzzle design.

From then on I kept iterating. I added a line in the middle with warp holes, put in the second player, enemies, trampolines, diamonds and so on. I made sure to continuously let other people test the game, which immediately tells you whether something works or not. Gameplay always came first. It’s a lot easier to add nice looks to gameplay than the other way around.

ibb and obb - world overview

At the end of my graduation I had a playable prototype, about the length of one level. Hoping to find some attention for the game I submitted ibb & obb to IndieCade and to my surprise they selected it for their E3 2008 showcase.

This was my chance and I booked a ticket to Los Angeles. Being there at the E3 felt really great and weird at the same time. Weird because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had no plan and mostly just wanted to find out if the world was interested in ibb and obb.

ibb and obb - E3

But already on day one adventure kicked in. I remember showing the game to a gentleman who kept asking questions. How did I get there? What were my plans for the game? Etc.

In response to my question: “And what do you do?”, he handed over a business card saying Sony Computer Entertainment and stated he was looking for new games to bring to Playstation.

I wish I had a picture of my face on that moment. Trying to look cool, but probably looking more like a five year old unwrapping a ninja turtle helicopter.

Back home me and Roland IJzermans founded our studio called Sparpweed. We finalized the plan with Sony, found the financial means and found partners to develop the game with. A little over two years ago all was ready and together with Codeglue we started the production that is now nearly done.

If you want to know more about the development, feel free to ask anything in the comments below.

You can also keep track of the development through Facebook and Twitter.

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10 Author Replies

  • Sgunna’ be gooood!

  • I’m excited for this game.

    Please tell me this will be simultaneously released on Vita too.

    I hope there’s a cross buy for it as well.

    • Hi, it will launch on PS3 first. Depending on how well it does we can look at other options like the Vita. I hope it does well : )

  • What are your thoughts on releasing a demo? Does this help/hurt sales? How do you figure that one out?

    • We’re going to release a demo.

      Whether it helps or hurts sales is a difficult question. Some say that with a demo you risk to lose players that had enough after playing through the demo, but might otherwise have decided to buy the game.

      But I don’t like the idea of players spending their money on a game that in the end they don’t enjoy that much. So I think a demo is fair to all. That way the players that really like the game, buy it and others can spend their money on other games.

  • E3 2008? What a long development process. That’s older than the Last Guardian. Nonetheless, good luck. I love to hear stories of how Sony supports young indie devs. Taking the long view is not very common in corporations these days so it’s exceptional that a very old company like Sony still thinks and spends money with the future in mind.

    Again, good luck. And I do hope you can produce a Vita version. Day by day, literally, the Vita library is growing and we need a wide spectrum of content.

    • Hi, it does seem like a really long time. It is a long time actually : )

      But in the years after my graduation I was not only working on ibb and obb. I spend most of my time on other projects and in my spare time I tried to get ibb & obb on the road. After we found the right people to work with and ways to finance the project we officially started full production a bit over two years ago.

      This being my first game production, it probably took a lot of extra time. I’m sure that future projects will hold a little less surprises for me and have a shorter development cycle.

      And I’m really happy that Sony’s getting more Indie games to their platforms. They have been really supportive throughout the process.

  • Hey I hope this game does really well. I will buy it to support you guys but I’m letting you know now that there are plenty of people who are like me, in that they want to play this type of game on the Vita.

    To be honest, I really hope that all of you Indie devs out there realize that all of these beautiful 2D games really belong on the Vita first and foremost. That’s where gaming is heading now, portable.

    Of course this game will probably be amazing on an HDTV but portability is what really matters. Being able to play this game on the go, WiFi with other people would make it outstanding.

    So just keep in this mind- Simultaneous development for PS3 (home console) and Vita is the future. There are always going to be people who don’t want to play these types of games at home or in front of their TV. Being on the go though, that’s another feeling altogether.

    • Thanks!

      Ideally we’d develop games and with the press of a button spread them to all platforms. But unfortunately it’s not that easy. Our development budget was quite limited, so we had to choose to focus first. We feel that the couch co-op way is the most fun way to play this game. There’s a lot of puzzles to solve and that works really well with two players next to each other, pointing to the screen and discussing their options. So that’s why we chose to go for PS3 first.

      That said, I would really love to see it on the Vita. It all will depend on how things go.

  • Although a handheld version may be neat, I think this game was designed for couch co-op….which is why I want it.

  • What a beautiful game, I’ll def check it out. Thank you for bringing this game to PS3….and hopefully Vita. ^.^

  • This game looks great! How will single player work? Based on the video, this is a day 1 buy for me.

    • Basically there will be four ways of playing the game:
      – Local two player (Two friends on a couch)
      – Local single player (Also known as brain split mode)
      – Online coop (You get matched to a random other player)
      – Friend invite (Invite a friend to play online)

      The single player is for those who want to test their multitasking capabilities : )
      You control both players using the two analogue sticks.
      There is no single player campaign or AI player since the whole game is really designed around the two player interaction.

  • Ugh man seeing this BEAUTIFUL game makes me sad that it isn’t on Vita. I still may have to pick it up on PS3 but boy would it have been nice on Vita.

  • who signed the psn plus on 3 March 2013 by spending $ 49.99 will earn $ 10 in April?

  • Seeing the prototypes was really interesting, and I was surprised to learn it goes back as far as 2007. This game looks really amazing, and like someone else said though it’d be good on Vita couch co-op seems like a more natural fit for this title. I hope I have the money to buy this day-one.

  • Awesome on the single player mode! if x will make one jump, which button will make the other jump? :)

    • The setup that worked best for us is to have the full controls mapped to the two sticks. Left and right obviously move the character left and right. To jump you press up when you’re in normal gravity and down when in reversed.

      It seems a bit strange at first, but when you get used to it, it feels quite natural. Also we tried putting the jumps on the shoulder buttons, but in the end prefered the stick only approach.

      (When you don’t play single player you can use any of the face buttons to jump and the vertical stick movement won’t trigger the jumps)

  • Hey I know it’s been a while since you posted by I hope you get a quick chance to read this:

    What do you think about implementing Cross Controller for the PS3 version. That way we can use our Vita connected to our PS3.

    This would be especially helpful to me because I only have one controller and a Vita. So even if a Vita version couldn’t get off the ground, the added benefit of my Vita as a controller would save me $$.

    • I’m going to check if this is doable for us now. What you say makes a lot of sense. I hope this is relatively easy to implement.


  • This looks really cool! Day one purchase!!….(when it comes to vita)

  • It seems as though a good handful of people (myself included) are hoping for this game to be released on the Vita as well.

    It would be an incredibly fun experience to play this on the go with my Vita and I know those gorgeous graphics will look amazing on the Vita screen. Especially as comment #5 stated, being able to play this via WiFi on the Vita with others, would make Ibb & Obb an outstanding Vita game.

    I’d also like to point out that I’m extremely glad you guys decided to add online co-op to this because while I understand this game was initially designed to be a couch co-op game, not everyone has someone to play with locally. Which makes it great for people such as myself, to still be able to enjoy playing with a 2nd player.

    I am really excited about Ibb & Obb! I’ve had my eye on this for a long time and I’m happy to hear its release is coming soon! I wish you the best of luck and I hope Ibb & Obb does well. Thank you for making such an awesome game! This is a day 1 purchase for me and I’m looking forward to playing this on my PS3!

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      It is true that we expected to launch with local coop only. We had planned to patch online coop at a later stage, but I’m glad that we’re now going for a release with online coop.

      Many of these decisions for us are quite tricky. We are a relatively small team and adding features such as the online coop has quite a big impact on our development.
      The same goes for a Vita release. I’d love to make that happen, but right now we have our hands full with the PS3 launch.

      Also I was taken a bit by surprise by the amount of requests for a Vita release. Mainly because for this game the focus is so strong on two player and the Vita seemed less suitable for that. But we’re definitely going to consider this option now.

  • From what I’ve just seen I like the concept, I’m sure this will do great & then make it’s way to PS Vita.

  • “a gentleman who kept asking questions” <- I have feeling he is Mr. Shuhei Yoshida!

  • absolutely loving this game

  • looks like a fun co op game, make sure the voice chat works perfect, alot of games seem to have that issue and its really annoying

    • We’re working on the voice chat now. Can you elaborate on what kind of problems you run into? We’d love to prevent those kind of anoyances.

  • I understand this is a couch co-op puzzle game (and there are not enough of those around), but I think vita owners are drawn to artstyle/retro releases on their handhelds because of the amazing oled screen. I honestly think a lot of games simply look better on the vita, and all the artsyle/retro games look especially juicy.

    While I understand you are a small first time developer and this probably wouldn’t be practical for this release, cross-buy is a MAJOR draw to me and I feel it would be in your best interests to consider it as an option for future titles.

    lastly, don’t worry about the long development; it’s refreshing to see devs taking their time to make things perfect before launch. Please don’t ever rush the process in the future.

    • Nice comment, thanks.

      I agree tha rushing is not the way to make great games, so don’t worry about that. Some things will just go quicker, because there is a lot of organisational stuff that we’ve now gone through once before.

      And yes I think the game would look really nice on a Vita. We’re definitely going to seriously consider this. But as said before, first things first and we’ll have to see if the game sells.

  • This is very awesome and gives me and inside view of things to come as a fellow dev.
    You can be reassured I will get this to support it but also to let you know I want the PSVita version as well.
    That little machine needs games like this!

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