Minis Week: Kahoots

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Honeyslug is a game development company we started in the summer of 2008, with the aim of creating games with interesting mechanics which we could make with just a couple of people.

Minis - Kahoots

We’ve found Flash to be a great platform for prototyping our game concepts – most of which are 2D games – and one of the ideas we had was Kahoots – a fusion of Zoo Keeper and Lemmings – where you guide your little guys (called Kahoots) to an exit door, but aren’t able to control them directly. Instead you swap adjacent blocks – things like bounce-pads, spikes or reverse blocks – to alter their routes. As we started to build levels with the basic features, we came up with ideas for new ones – and added cannons, which the Kahoots can be blasted out of, Cardborgs – nasty creatures which kill any Kahoots within reach, and cardboard boxes, which must be crushed or torn up by Cardborgs to clear the path – meaning that you often have to juggle things around in order to keep both Kahoots and Cardborgs alive, without allowing them to make contact.

Minis - Kahoots

Based on the pixel art prototype, we worked with a Flash games portal who published the flash version, and funding its completion – and at this point we started to think about ways we could really make the game stand out visually. Since Nat had done a animation degree, focussing mainly on stop-motion plasticine animation, and Ricky was a dab hand in Photoshop, we decided to bypass the route of paying an artist to create polished assets for us, and instead make all the art ourselves – with the strict rule that everything in the game would be real – either scanned, photographed or hand-drawn. We set a budget of £30, and went down our local high street buying things for the game – buttons, beads and fabrics from the local haberdashery, sweets and chocolates in the pound shop and of course, loads of plasticine for the characters!

Minis - Kahoots

At this point, we created the Pegbeast, from a knitted juggling ball for a body, a peg for his mouth and a button for his eye, who quickly became the Tutorial character of the world of Kahoots – singing all of the tutorials to the player. Ricky wrote and sang all of the songs, and his brother Rob did all the musical arrangements.

Minis - Kahoots

When Sony came to see us earlier this year, we showed them a number of our prototype concepts, and were delighted to be asked to develop one of them into a minis title for PSP. At that time, the Flash version of Kahoots was really coming together – just some final tweaks needed – and it seemed like the combination of interesting gameplay and the quirky charm of the art style and music would make it a great fit for the new platform.

Minis - Kahoots

A few weeks later, we had a devkit up and running, and were hard at work on the conversion process. The PSP is fairly powerful – similar to the iPhone – and relatively easy to get to grips with. Sony’s Developer Support team were great – turning around patient and helpful answers to our newbie questions really quickly. The mouse-based controls of the original translated pretty smoothly to the PSP D-pad, and we couldn’t resist the temptation to add a load more songs for Pegbeast to sing!

Kahoots will be out on the Minis store from October 1st

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