Interview: Hop and Bop

March 10th, 2014 -

hop and bop

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Flip Industries about their new game “Hop and Bop.” You may remember Flip from our Super Kid Icarus interview that we did in 2012.  Check out the full interview after the jump!

As a bit of an ice breaker, we’ve decided that each FFoP interview must start with… Do you like sandwiches? If so, with or without bacon?
  • Well if you count a cheeseburger as a sandwich then yes and definitely with bacon. One team member was trying to stay away from pork though but we all like sandwiches.

What is Hop and Bop, and how would you describe it to someone who has never seen it before?

  • Hop and Bop is a nostalgic retro platform game that features a 16 color palette, custom pixel art, as well as a chip-tune soundtrack produced by JMF. If you played video games in the 80s, this game should be very familiar to you.

How far along is Hop and Bop in the development process?

  • Currently it is a complete one world demo. It is meant to be what we consider the basic building blocks of a platformer which we want help from people to finish. So it has things like a player, basic physics, a handful of basic enemies and items, as well as a boss.

What are you hoping to gain from making the project public at this point in development?

  • In short we are hoping to get people involved. We hope they would try the game and if they chose to, send us their suggestions/feedback etc. How many other opportunities do people have to get involved in game development like that?

Where will we be able to play Hop and Bop when its finished and do you have any plans for other platforms once it’s released?

  • As it is a Flash game, it will be playable on the internet at the very least. Currently it’s hosted on comcast.net but might get its own site or be released for other platforms. It really all boils down to the level of interest people have. For example, it’s safe to say we are not going to spend tons of time and money to port it to Xbox if like 3 people are interested in it.

How much will the final product cost?

  • Absolutely no idea, again it all comes down to the level of interest in the game and how much work is put into the game. Basically we would need to first establish what people want from the game, then what they would be willing to pay and finally if we are willing to do the work for that price. Simple supply and demand really.

When can we expect to play the final version of Hop and Bop?

  • Again this all depends. For example, simply making 8 worlds using the existing graphics and music would be pretty easy and take very little time. If people were to let’s say want multiplayer, a level editor, unique worlds with different graphics/music, tons more items and enemies as well as it ported to other platforms, well it would obviously take significantly longer. So basically, what happens with the game next is directly based on how interested people are.

Was your decision for a rabbit protagonist based on the clever marketing of a platformer named Hop and Bop, or did you start out making a game about a rabbit?

  • None of it was originally planned actually. The original purpose was simply to create a generic platformer and build up our graphic and music production abilities to have a solid team going forward. The original protagonist was literally just a red square placeholder. During the creation of the pixel art, the character began to look most like a rabbit so that is what he became. It is tricky to make a character look like anything when all you’re dealing with is 16×16 pixels. When it became time to create the title screen for the game, we figured it needed an actual name, so came up with Hop and Bop because the main character is a rabbit and that is the type of game we were making. It just seemed to fit.
Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 11.47.44 PM

Can we expect more vegetables in the final game?

  • Maybe, do you want more veggies? Mom always said they are important after all.

Was the aesthetic inspired by any other games, and can we expect more visual details from the final product.

  • Of course it was. The visual design was meant to be like a NES game. So the resolution is 256×224 (scaled 2x) and the palette is limited to 16 colors. The NES had more colors but we find the db16 palette far better and part of this exercise was to see what a NES game would look like using the db16 palette. We also wanted it to be un-cluttered so it is clear what is an enemy, an item, whats in the bg etc. Again, all stemming from how NES games were created. Visually, it is most influenced by Mario, Kirby, Zelda 2, and Megaman to some extent.

NES games are considered exceptionally short by today’s standards. Are you planning on staying true to the length of a traditional NES game?

  • Yes. With people’s attention spans measured in seconds and the overall simplicity and shortness of today’s browser games, we feel it fits in well.

So far, you have produced the SNES style remake of Kid Icarus (Super Kid Icarus), and now Hop and Bop. Would you like to make a game with a larger scope or scale in the future, or do you prefer the classic appeal of NES/SNES era gaming?

  • Definitely prefer the classic appeal of the NES/SNES era. The games were simple, but from a programming standpoint were incredibly efficient and the simple pixel art made things uncluttered and easy to follow. The focus was on gameplay, not graphics. Unlike many Flash developers out there, we kept the code very low level (bits and bytes) as it would have been on the original hardware. This allows the game to use virtually no memory other than what Flash requires in general and can run at full speed, at full screen, on a Pentium 3. Now most people have very fast computers these days so won’t even notice or care about the efficiency of the game, it is more of a personal thing.

The current control scheme that you have for Hop and Bop is quite different than most other platformers on PC (spacebar = jump, etc). Was that a specific design choice?

  • It was a design choice and everyone has their opinion of what controls should be. The game really should only be played using a gamepad, but for those who do use the keyboard, we found that most games use this control scheme. Super Kid Icarus actually used the spacebar for jump but we changed based on feedback. The best way to handle it is to allow people to change the controls to whatever. A future build of Hop and Bop will allow you to change the keys to whatever you want.

Have you considered adding any different features to the game, like puzzles or mini-games, to break the mold of the ordinary retro-platformer?

  • Yes, we already added in a few twists like the invisibility potion instead of the typical invincibility potion. The invisibility potion is a double-edged sword, you won’t take enemy damage, but also can’t collect items. We also added the time-up items which makes World 1-3 a time trial and is something unique. Bonus rooms with mini-games and other stuff have been thought of and may make it into the game.
Are “Hop” and “Bop” the names of characters? If so, is the white rabbit Hop? Who is Bop? Is he DLC? If not, and if they are after this interview, we expect 15% and stock options. Haha just kidding, but seriously, where’s bop?
  • Yes, that is exactly what it is, Hop is the white rabbit. The tiles for Bop exist and he is brown. At the minimum he will probably be added as an alternate character choice for the single player game. Will he be more than that? Well, like everything, it will depend on interest. Good try on the equity, but we’ll have to decline, 15% it pretty high and it was already planned ;)

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What gaming studios or personalities does Flip look up to as inspiration?

  • Probably Nintendo R&D1, the group that created many of the early NES games like Mario, Kid Icarus, and Metroid. It was just a small group of people who worked well together and turned out great games.

Since you are hosting on a Comcast server, how does the recent announcement of a merger with Time Warner make you feel? Has it begun to affect you and the game?

  • Unless they decide to flat out cancel the web hosting for whatever reason it would have no affect.

Want to try Hop and Bop for yourself? Check it out right now at this link: http://home.comcast.net/~hopandbop/

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