At the Halloween Playcrafting Expo I got off the elevator and was looking right at a giant fox. It was a really big fox. This is because it was Giant Fox Studios, developers of many games including Toadled and RoboBunnies in Space. As the two games they decided to bring to the show, I got a look at each of them. After that I had a chat with Jamie Fraina, the founder of Giant Fox Studios, who told me about his inspiration for the games, future plans, and some bad puns.
TechRaptor: I'm here with Giant Fox Studios. You have two games with you, the newer one being RoboBunnies in Space. So why don't you quickly give me the elevator pitch on this game?
Jamie Fraina: Yeah, for sure. So RoboBunnies in Space is a one to two player Steam game where you control two different bunnies with a laser beam that is connecting them. You try to navigate through this obstacle filled deep space, going around asteroids, planets, weird life forms, trying to protect your laser by using both joysticks on your controller, or your keyboard, to move the two bunnies and angle it and avoid the obstacles, collect coins for power ups. There's a bunch of boss fights too, every five levels, where you have to kind of trick the boss into hitting obstacles or fight back by shooting it. But really there's kind of unique controls by controlling two different characters at the same time, and the multiplayer works out really well too where you have to work together to protect your laser.
TechRaptor: So where did the original idea for RoboBunnies in Space come about?
Jamie: Uh... originally we were doing it as a mobile game actually, and you had two touch on your phone. I just thought it was really interesting to have you use two different fingers to control your characters on the screen. But the screen was really small, and we did release it as a mobile game a couple years ago actually, but it didn't really do as well as we hoped. With the controller it actually feels a lot better, and we've been focusing a lot on the feel and making it really meant for desktop instead of just a bad mobile port. So its been a lot of polishing it up and redoing the level design for the different screen size, and polishing and iterating a lot to make it better.
TechRaptor: So about how long have you been working on this?
Jamie: Uh... the first version of it probably took about four months to make for Android and iOS. Then recently, probably about a month or two we've been working on the Steam version. We're hoping we'll have the Early Access up within a month or so, late November. Then full release some time in January. So we'll be listening to all the player feedback through Early Access and just making it better over time. Definitely learned a lot already just watching people play here today.
TechRaptor: Anything really interesting you learned?
Jamie: Let's see... I think the main thing is when-- so the left stick is controlling the green bunny and the right stick is controlling the pink bunny, but you can kind of rotate them and have them flip so the green is on the right even though the left stick is controlling it. So its been kind of like a debate in my head of should I allow the player to flip controls to switch or just kind of like you did it to yourself of flipping them. So its been interesting watching different people get into that situation and seeing how they react like "aaah, this is really hard, what's happening?" or the others that have figured it out and know like "oh I just have to switch back."
TechRaptor: This isn't the only game you brought here today, you also brought Toadled. How'd Toadled come about?
Jamie: Oh man, Toadled... It's a funny story, I was actually in Thailand and I got an injury on my ear and couldn't go scuba diving, so I was sitting on the beach waiting for my friends to get back from scuba diving, and was like "I want to make a new game, what am I going to think about?" For some reason a toad popped into my head and just eating things. Next thing you know, about a year later, we have a mobile game where you play as a toad that just you tap on bugs and you get bigger and bigger and you grow some legs, then you start eating some mice and birds and then you get even bigger and... I think next is like some raccoons? Eventually people. At that point your toad has not only gown legs but some extra heads.
If you read through the storyline, because for each of these forms I kind of wrote a little blurb about what's going on in his weird little toad body, like the heads grow out and become these little things themselves but die. Eventually he grows these sacs on him, and wings, and a hat, and you become the size of a mountain eating buildings and continents. Then you become your own planet. It's a free game on mobile for the past few years, but recently, yesterday, we just released a new update to it so that you can become now bigger than the planet and have these two new forms that kind of loop back into being a tiny toad. Spoiler alert, sorry.
TechRaptor: It's all okay.
Jamie: You can also see all the enemies you've eaten, there's a little back story for each of them, it shows you how many you've eaten, how they know the toad, and all these ridiculous stuff. So it's been a really fun game to work on.
TechRaptor: Whats your favorite enemy to make in that game?
Jamie: Oh man, uh, lets see... the people are pretty ridiculous. The rabbit: "Toad used to be full of ribbits, now he's full of rabbits". Just some really dumb puns. If you want some really bad puns, definitely find a lot in here.
TechRaptor: Really bad puns is the point of video games.
Jamie: Yeah, exactly.
TechRaptor: Duh. Now, I have a question. Giant Fox Studios. How giant is the fox?
Jamie: It's pretty big. Yeah, I mean, probably not as big as the toad in this game? But, yeah.
TechRaptor: We're not going to see a fox expansion for Toadled?
Jamie: Potentially, we'll see. We're thinking of adding some more unlockable characters in the game, so potentially. I think the next one we're going to add in is a slice of pizza that shoots cheese, and like you just get bigger and more toppings added and the toppings just get weirder and weirder as you get bigger.
TechRaptor: The funny thing is that I'm entirely unsure how serious you are.
Jamie: Me too. Me too.
TechRaptor: That's how you do it.
Jamie: I'm probably just going to mention that idea to my artist and then like in a week he just sends me ten weird slices of pizza and we'll have them up whenever.
TechRaptor: Well they're handing out entire pizzas here so you can borrow one of those.
Jamie: Yeah, so many.
TechRaptor: Alright, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me, it's really cool getting to check out both of these games.
Jamie: Yeah, thank you.
We'd like to once again thank Jamie for taking the time to talk with us.