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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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