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Interview | odenis studio Talks Pop Island (Nintendo DSiWare)

odenis studio’s Pop Island introduces frenzied Capture The Flag fun to Nintendo’s DSiWare service with a variety of coloured characters. Cubed3’s Mike Mason caught up with Olivier Denis, founder of odenis studio, to discuss the philosophy of the game, the reasons for its multiplayer focus and the future of odenis.

Image for Interview | odenis studio Talks Pop Island (Nintendo DSiWare)

Mike Mason, Reviews Editor at Cubed3: What are some of the inspirations behind Pop Island?

Olivier Denis, Founder of odenis studio: The main idea was to create a joyful game, a fresh universe where you could play with your family and your friend! To create a game for both of these groups is simple to say, but truly, it's far from obvious. Because you have a lot of chances to disappoint both adults and children.

To succeed, Pop Island had to be easy to handle and have a pure intensity when you master it! We would like to put on the table something really fresh, something you've never played with before. There are not so many studios who have success in this way. Obviously, when Nintendo of Europe selected Pop Island and invited us to show our game to the London WiiWare and DSiWare event , we deeply received this invitation as an awesome reward! At this event, we received a lot of journalists and, at the end of the show, some came back and played together just for the fun. This moment was simply great! Pop Island is a celebration of playing together and having fun.

MM: Pop Island allows anybody who buys the game to share it via the DS Download Play function, so even DS and DS Lite players can play for as long as they keep their system switched on. How much of the game is transferred. Is it the multiplayer alone, or is the single player sent also?

OD: Yes! And this is a great feature of Pop Island! We worked a lot on it to avoid the loading time. Usually when you share a game, you'll have to wait a lot of time between levels. With Pop Island, the result is simple: you can share it with your friend in less than 45 seconds. After this, there is no loading time; you just have fun with them. And because you have the best friend in the world, they deserve to play in solo mode. There is one restriction here: they can play only on the Earth map. With this, you should stay the best player.

MM: Are there any restrictions with the shared multiplayer?

OD: No, there is no restriction in multiplayer with the shared version. Play with all the characters on all planets. Simple!


MM: There is no online multiplayer in Pop Island. Please could you explain your reasoning behind this approach to our readers?

OD: Obviously I cannot explain everything behind this because we share confidential information with Nintendo on this aspect. But I deeply believe that online features would not be a tremendous addition to Pop Island - maybe just a marketing asset - because online mutiplayer would not be the best way to play Pop Island. This is for two reasons: lack of player, and lack of laughs.

When you play online, you could play only with other DSi (bye-bye Nintendo DS). Your friend must get a copy of Pop Island on the DSiWare marketplace and be available at the same time! There are not so many friends who can play with ! On the opposite side, because there are millions of DS in the world, you should find and play with many more players - up to seven other friends - with Pop Island. Between us, Pop Island should be played face to face to have the most fun and laughs.

MM: What are some of the benefits of the different characters?

OD: To start with the basics, to win the victory, you and your team have to get the most flags. There are two game modes: multiple flags on the map or a Capture The Flag . You'll have to choose a living papercraft to get these flags. Your choice will be easy and intuitive: fly with the winged characters, swim with fish, run with the lion. If the map is more sea-based, the easy choice is to take the shark, or the fish, or the surfing penguin. But you could find some roads to use the speed of the lion or the black cat…

MM: Was it always designed with so many players / team members in mind?

OD: Yes! But you can change the number of players for each match. You could choose an easy mode with five players on each side, or you could select the crazy mode with 16 players on each side. The term "crazy" is simply the best word to describe games with this setting.


MM: Pop Island has been in development for two years or so. What has taken the longest to get right in this time?

OD: We have taken our time to test a lot of things, tune the physics, create the characters, create an appropriate 3D engine, include the multiplayer part. There is no development schedule; we create the right thing. Each aspect should be well done. The universe of Pop Island is unique. First there is this colourful art direction. At the end, everything is moving; the vegetation, the sea and obviously the living papercrafts. We have three different particle engines: the 2D particles, the weather particles, and the 3D particle effects. We use the different hardware chips of the DS at their maximum for this result.

Each character has its own animations which are linked with the physics. And when you see the number of polygons used, for example on the lion, we are far from just a cube! Take the body, and the wheels. Add the hairs, which are individually moved by the air, and you have more than 100 animated polys just for this character! So we work on the landscape, to have different levels of detail on it. We are using all the polygons available on the DS, but what is important is the framerate. At 30 frames per second you just ‘play’ with the eagle. At 60 frames per second, you will ‘feel’ it. The good news is: Pop Island runs at 60 frames per second. And with this framerate, it's really a new experience of gameplay on the DS/DSi!

Obviously each character was finely tuned. Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay is our favourite word. We have our difficult time with the camera. The DS screens are not very large, so we have to find the best way to use them.

MM: Was there any difficulty working within the limitations of DSiWare?

OD: Coming from the DS, we did not find any limitations DSiWare. So because we do not have to talk about this, we could spend some time on the sound and music...

There is a real choice in the . The music was created to increase the intensity of the game. It starts nicely and finishes with frenetic Spanish fiesta! Use headphones and you will discover a 3D sound environment. I really think that the sound in the game is 50% of the game’s fun! You couldn't have a great game without great music and sound. And behind the music, there is Raphael Gesqua. This guy is a great musician.


MM: Pop Island is a large shift in theme from Glory Days 2. Why have you moved in this direction?

OD: I deeply feel that we have one life to do what we have to do. So when you start a game, you make a choice of life and you have to do your best. Pop Island was inside me and wanted its own life. When I see it, now, I'm not sure that we've created it. We've just opened the DS and discovered this living world.

MM: Would you ever want to return to Glory Days?

OD: Yes. Definitely. We had a lot of nominations; from IGN for the Best Action Game on DS 2007, Best Use of Sound, Best Local Multiplayer, Best Music. On 1UP, Glory Days was nominated for the Best Strategic Game of 2007 award. Next time we hope we can transform nominations into awards.

MM: Would you like to work with WiiWare at some point?

OD: We will see!

MM: What is your favourite aspect of Pop Island? What are you most proud of?

OD: I'm living video games as an art. In France, we have the word "artisan". We try to do our best, to be proud of what we done, not only because we are living an adventure for each game, but also because we can share some joyful moment with other people. Yes, sharing laughs with people is definitely what I'm proud of!

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17.05.2010 18:27

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I did enjoy Pop Island a lot, but I'm glad to hear Olivier's thinking about doing a Glory Days 3. I'm more of an action person in general, rather than messing around with multiplayer fun.

( Edited 17.05.2010 20:30 by jesusraz )

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