When it comes to showcasing video games in certain events, those of the mobile phone variety tend to struggle with becoming noticed or recognised in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Tucked away on an iPhone or an android, they are often ignored for simply lacking presentation. This was a sentiment that Asobi.tech developer Quang shared with us at MCM while presenting his title known as MaoMao Castle.
Sticking to the classic pixelated art we’ve come to cherish over the years, the game follows the adventures of a cat dragon known as MaoMao, who travels through a seemingly endless world of obstacles and rainbows. The combination of solid gameplay, tuney soundtrack, and colourful world, should’ve been more than enough to fill your mobile gaming needs, but they upped the ante a little bit during their MCM presentation. Guests got a chance to try out the game through the use of a projector screen and a unique motion controller. Using only the way you shape your hands, you got to control which direction MaoMao moved, and how fast he smashes through each obstacle when you make a fist.
We sat down with Quang himself and asked him about the game, as well as the technology he used for the presentation.
— Asobi.tech #indiedev (@asobitech) May 31, 2017
What is Mao Mao? Where does the name come from?
Mao is a cat dragon, it’s a fusion of cat and dragon. If you’ve ever seen the movie Never Ending Story, the dragon in that practically resembles a dog. We made a counterpart being the cat dragon, hence MaoMao.
The name Mao is actually the Chinese word for cat, so when you translate it, it comes out as CatCat!
What other game modes can we expect? Is any other unlocks we should anticipate in the final product?
Traditionally we don’t make these kinds of games, being Asobi.tech we do a lot of arcade style games. We also understand its for the mobile market, and because of that these games need to have some longevity. For this we have added more cats, so far we have five and counting. You haven’t seen them yet, but they are hidden away across the game’s world. The final game will have 20 different waves, and once you get through them all you’ll get to the final castle. After 10 waves there will be a boss battle each time, adding a little bit more challenge, but that is also something currently under wraps. After that we’re probably going to add an endless run mode where you just try and get a high score.
What is the technology you’re using today? How does it work?
So the game was originally made for the mobile phone, so you would normally control it with the touch screen. When we were showing this off at different expos we felt it to be a bit small and that nobody was really seeing the game. This is when we asked ourselves “how would we make this bigger? How do we get people to see this?” So got a large projector, and then we got a motion controller known as ‘Leap Motion’. It’s very similar to a kinect I guess? But Leap Motion has been around for a few years now but it’s not really popular. It’s about $100 in store and we got one earlier on when it first came out, played with it a few times, but never got to do very much with it. Then when we made the game, we thought that this would be a perfect match. We paired it to the controller, saw how it felt, and it all just worked brilliantly.
While this works well with MaoMao so far, do you think you’ll be using this tech in any other future projects?
This was mainly done as a show piece for MaoMao, but there’s no reason for us not to use it in the future. Another game we’re working on ‘Doctor Harrison and the Blood Crystals’ is a platformer on mobile phone, and when we present it at shows we use a dance mat. So it follows your movements, such as when you want to jump, you actually have to jump off of the dance mat. We’re all about making alternative controllers, and we’re also doing this to have a more fun spectacle at shows.
When the game does get released, will the controllers still be compatible?
We get asked a lot about the leap motion controllers and the version we have now, and the sad thing is not a lot of people have or can even afford these controllers. But if there is a demand and we can see it, then we’ll give the public what they want. As for Dr. Harrison and the dance mat controls? I guess people have dance mats so it may be very possible that we can release that version too. For now it’s all about mobile first, and maybe we’ll release on steam. So if the public wants it, then you can’t say no can’t you?
While the game is being released on iOS and Android, will it be possible to see the game on something like the Switch or 3DS?
That’s all down to Nintendo themselves. Being a huge Nintendo fanboy as a kid, I would love to see MaoMao on the Switch. I feel like it would be such a good fit for the system, but we’ll see really. If Nintendo wants it and we agree to something, then I would be more than happy to port it over.
A few more tid-bits we’d like to share include the origins of Asobi.tech’s name. Asobi in Japanese means play, and Quang has suggested that their aim is to experiment on the various ways to play. Hence this reflects upon their company’s slogan ‘the science of play’, a novel way of motivating themselves past the conventions of the industry.
MaoMao Castle’s development team impressively only consists of Quang himself doing the coding, and his brother doing the art. The music is produced by a close friend of theirs, whom is willing to do the job when asked ‘nicely’ apparently.
You can try out a demo version of MaoMao Castle on Asobi.tech’s official website, or by clicking on this link to land you there directly.
We at MachinimaSBOC still cannot get the theme tune out of our heads, and we hope to see the game officially released very soon.