Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Hugo Smits, the lone developer behind the upcoming indie eShop game, Tappingo. After putting out three other games onto DSiWare, Smits is ready to release his first 3DS game and told Nintendo Enthusiast all about it.

NE: Please introduce yourself, your studio, and your game to our audience.

Hey, guys, I’m Hugo Smits. I’m 27 years old and the endboss of Goodbye Galaxy Games. I started programming when I was 9 years old on the PC. I quickly switched to homebrew Game Boy programming and have been programming Nintendo handhelds ever since.

Back in 2010 I released my first DSiWare game called Flipper. I also made Ace Mathician and Color Commando. Now I’m finally working on my first 3DS e-shop title!

It’s called Tappingo and it’s a ‘reveal-the-picture’ type of puzzle game. A bit like Picross.

NE: What is the premise of Tappingo and where did the idea come from?

tappingo image

You can solve puzzles in Tappingo by extending numbered blocks into lines. The number on the block corresponds to the correct line length. When all lines are stopped at the correct length, the puzzle is solved. Lines automatically keep running and won’t stop until they hit another block, line, or edge of the screen.

So basically, it’s up to the player to block the path of a line with another line to make it stop at the correct length.

Sound easy but it will get very hard very quickly. :)

I came up with a lot of ideas and prototypes, just trying out all kinds of puzzle games. I developed a huge interest in puzzle games over the last year. So I was reading a lot of articles about them (mainly about the creation of them). It’s really fascinating to see how a small game like Tetris can take over the complete world (maybe faster than a big budget game like Call of Duty).

I don’t know where the original idea exactly came from (it was more a mash of prototypes and ideas that came before it), but I do remember the night it happened. It just plopped into my head. I opened a fresh bag of M&M’s and started programming right away in the middle of the night. :)

A few hours later, the first prototype was running (on Nintendo DS) and to my surprise, it just worked right away. No tweaking or anything. It just worked. It was fun.

It happens a lot of times that you have what seems like a great idea in your head. And then, when you build it and play it, it turns out it isn’t fun. So I was really excited to see it work like that :)

NE: Are you afraid that people may think it’s too similar to Picross?

I’m not afraid that people will think it’s too similar to Picross, since it’s a completely different game. The only real thing  similar to Picross is the fact that, in both games, the revealed pictures are pixel art.

Other than that, the puzzle system is completely different.

However, I do believe that, if you like Picross, you will love this! It’s just as addictive but it feels fresh!

NE: Where did the name Tappingo come from?

I asked if Chris (CEO of Circle Entertainment) could help me with the title, since I had no clue on how to name the game. He came up with Tappingo. It means something like tap ‘n’ go in Japanse. Which is fitting because that’s what you do in the game!

NE: How long do you expect Tappingo to be in terms of length? You already mentioned that the game will have more than 100 puzzles, but how long will each one take, and how challenging will each one be?

It’s always a difficulty question. I really tried to make it a long game, since people normally complain about the length of my games. The beta testers did an average of 3 minutes on the small puzzles while the spend around 4 minutes on the big puzzles.

There are 54 small puzzles and 50 big puzzles so that makes it around 362 minutes (or around 5-6 hours) of total play time. Considering we expect to price the game cheaper than Picross, that seems like a really good time.

NE: In comparison to other systems, how challenging is the 3DS to develop for? More particularly, is the architecture of the 3DS easier to develop for than the DSi?

Nintendo really did a lot of things to improve development. The basic tools that you get for free seem to work really smoothly and are easy to use.

On the other hand, it is a new platform that adds a lot of new features to the table. Because of this, there is much more to do from a programming point of view, which makes it more difficult. On 3DS, because of the 3D effect, everything needs to be programmed in 3D (even 2D games). This is something I wasn’t really used to (since I mostly make 2D games).

Honestly, though, I’m 100% relieved to see how smoothly development of Tappingo went!

I’m also really optimistic about the future; I know for sure we have seen only half of the power the 3DS has to offer. As developers learn new tricks in the coming years, we will see more and more amazing games!

NE: How easy is it to release a game on the eShop? Does Nintendo make that process a simple one or is it challenging to get recognized by the company?

It’s hard for me to say, since I haven’t actually released anything yet on eShop. We are about to enter lotcheck for Tappingo. I heard a lot of good things about lotcheck, though. It is supposed to be much quicker and easier. Mainly because the Nintendo OS takes a lot of little tasks out of your hands. Things like saving used to be a task for the programmer which, in its turn, could create lotcheck issues. Now it’s handled by the OS.

Also, the people over at Nintendo Europe (hey, Ed and Tim!) are super supportive!

I’m feeling really optimistic about this. :)

NE: Will there be any sort of Easter eggs hidden within the completed puzzles? Will there be a theme among the solutions or will each one portray a random object?

No easter eggs (awww!). The puzzles were made with certain themes in mind (like animals, computers, fruits, etc). But they are ordered on their difficulty level, so the puzzle themes are quite random in-game. :)

NE: When will the game be set to release, and what price are you speculating the game to be at?

We aim to be cheaper than most puzzle games. But I cannot make an official statement at this time about the price or release date (mainly because the game hasn’t passed lotcheck and I have no clue on how long that will take).

NE: Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?

Over the coming weeks, more news will be released on Tappingo. To keep track of that please follow me on twitter (@HugoSmits) or read my blog (http://goodbyegalaxygames.blogspot.com).

Thanks for buying my games and the support!

For any more information on the game, make sure to visit the official Tappingo website!

Written by Elia Pales

Elia Pales owns pretty much every single product Nintendo puts out, and due to his impulsive tendencies, he also tends to purchase every gaming product put out in general. When not gaming, he’s probably running cross country or writing. He makes sure to take regular gaming breaks, though.