It all started with a GIF of a gigantic frog terrifying a crowd of people in a high rise building.
I was at Playcrafting's Fall Expo. I was on a mission to find out more about the game behind the GIF. Toadled is the brainchild of Giant Fox Studios, and I had the opportunity to chat with Giant Fox Studio's CEO Jaime Fraina about their adorably horrifying game.
TechRaptor: Start off with your name, your company, and tell me about your game.
Jaime Fraina: Okay! So, I'm Jaime Fraina and I'm the CEO of Giant Fox Studios. We've made 160-something games at this point over four years of being a studio. Our biggest client has been Bored.com. We've done [a lot of] stickman games and “escape the room” kind of things. Our current project that [is] gonna be releasing in about two weeks or so is Toadled.
TR: How correct am I in my assumption that you're a giant toad [destroying the world]?
JF: That's pretty much the game. You start out as this little toad. You just tap on these enemies and you eat them. He starts eating crickets, flies, and spiders. And then he gets bigger [and bigger until he becomes a planet himself].[caption id="attachment_61606" align="alignright" width="1441"] This is the entire reason that I decided to check out the game. I've never seen a cuter giant frog causing an entire city to flee in terror.[/caption]
TR: When you start to get up to the size of the screen, the screen zooms out and the scale goes up? Does this just keep going out forever?
JF: It's the same scene. You don't actually move at all, [it just keeps zooming out]. You just get bigger and eat more things.
TR: What's the anime ... Gurren Lagann? Where you just keep getting bigger and bigger?
JF: Yeah, they started underground and eventually robots in robots...
TR: I can tell that the toad gets planet-sized. Does it get solar system-sized? Galaxy-sized? Universe-sized? Not yet?
JF: Yeah, not yet. There's ten forms. [The weirdest one] is just [like] a puddle. At the end of the game he becomes a planet and it zooms out and then just zooms out again with the planet.
TR: I was kind of getting like a ... Katarmari Damacy-esque vibe from it but really more simple.
JF: Katamari Damacy was a huge inspiration for this game. Also Alpaca Evolution. It's a mobile game where it's just an alpaca that absorbs other [alpacas].
TR: [I've honestly never heard of that game.] This is my first smart phone. I know [practically] nothing about mobile games [other than] Fallout Shelter is ruining my life and that's about it.
JF: I haven't played [Fallout Shelter] yet but I really want to.
TR: It's pretty good, but it [might] destroy you. You might actually never get work done again—at least in the first couple of weeks. So for [Toadled], [the] general idea [is] tap the good stuff, don't tap the bad stuff, [and] keep getting bigger?
JF: Yep. Just tap on everything except the bombs basically.
JF: Exactly. You collect coins and once you actually die it shows you [a screen where you can] upgrade with your coins that you've collected. [For example,] every time you get hit by an enemy you shrink a little bit so [you] can upgrade that to reduce that amount.
TR: How do you die?
JF: You also lose health [when an enemy hits you before you eat it].
TR: So basically, when you get hit you go backwards in the level and you lose health.
JF: It's also a minimal amount on both of them and you can reduce both of those with upgrades. The music is really interesting too in [Toadled] because there's ten different forms and there's ten different layers of the background music. So when you start out as just a tiny toad it's just kind of like a basic-
TR: And it layers a different track–
JF: It layers a different track [every time you get bigger].
TR: Musically that's an interesting approach. What platform is it going to be [available] on?
JF: It's gonna be on iOS and Android.
TR: What about your monetization model? Is it gonna be straight-up “pay money”? Ad-supported? Both?
JF: You know how you collect the coins to upgrade? If you, say, [want to] increase health and don't have enough [coins] for a second [upgrade], that's where you can buy more coins.
TR: So it's gonna be just a straight free-to-play [model]?
JF: This is free-to-play. You [can buy] the coins and there's ads that you can watch to continue when you lose [the game].
TR: So pretty standard fare. Are you gonna have a paid “skip all the free to play stuff” model?
JF: I mean, a user could just start off with the game and buy the biggest coin pack and just upgrade [a bunch] and they won't have to deal with anything. That's one way to play. But honestly I kinda think that takes the fun out of it a little bit.[caption id="attachment_61610" align="alignright" width="300"] The people behind Toadled from Giant Fox Studios. Thankfully I'm tall enough to have been able to get everyone in the picture in a crowded room![/caption]
TR: Well not necessarily something like a “buy everything” kind of thing but a sort of like ... when you have a [one time] purchased game that was free to play, mechanically it's different? Would you at all consider doing a separate version [like that]?
JF: I'd have to think about how I'd set that up to make it work.
TR: It'd be different balancing, basically.
JF: It'd be a different balance for sure.
TR: Is there anything else you wanna get out about your game?
JF: No, but I have another project that I'm starting up that's gonna be after this one. We're actually making personalized games for people's birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. We're actually taking Christmas orders right now where we'll make a Christmas gift that is an actual game.
TR: Kinda like [artists doing] commissions?
At this point we had to unfortunately conclude the interview due to Playcrafting CEO Dan Butchko beginning a speech to all of the attendees. I felt that I had learned more than enough about the game and their company, so I said my goodbyes to the team at Giant Fox Studios.
You can find their "Made to order" games project at GamifyApp.co. I think a custom video game would certainly be a neat gift for the gamer in your life, and their early bird pricing of $35 seems reasonable to me for what they're offering.
I think Toadled will be a fun little game on its theme alone. I won't be able to comment on the gameplay until I've actually spent some serious time with it, but it looks like it will be an interesting adventure for people who love to gradually wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting populace. It's set to be release on iOS and Android sometime soon and will be free to play, so go check it out!
What do you think of unbelievably cute kaiju? Would you enjoy a personalized game as a gift? How many flies do you figure you'll need to eat before you're the size of an office building? Let us know in the comments below!