Typoman has been generating some buzz for the past week and a bit as one of the games part of Nintendo's Nindies@Home program for E3 2015. It being a Wii U exclusive has also contributed to its moment in the spotlight. But principally, its budding hallmark of distinctly clever puzzle-platforming is where much of its merit is derived.
It is a game where the environment gives way to the influence of letters, where a rain cloud's precipitation is wiped away with the addition of the letter 'D'. When the development team uses the word "innovative" to describe their concept, they certainly have the right to make such a claim. In fact, when GameZone spoke to Bilal Chbib, founder of Brainseed Factory, more words were used to describe the game's creative stylings and its mysterious tale.
From the outset, Typoman was conceptually rooted in typography, but its full mileage as a brave experiment did not materialize until later.
"The initial idea was to simply combine typography with gameplay — to have objects and monsters be shaped out of letters — and nothing else," Chbib revealed. But before long, the team reached the point of developing concept work for the game (one of which is shown below, courtesy of Brainseed Factory), and gradually the vision took hold.
"The result," Chbib continued, "went more into the direction of a traditional arcade game but with letters as building blocks for the game world. After thinking deeper about the gameplay, we ended up creating a puzzle platformer with a story being told on the fly."
It's that same story that will serve to guide the design in a large way. "Before we really started creating game assets and implementing them, it was important for us to have a complete story," Chbib shared, "especially as an orientation guide for the graphic design and the puzzles." While storytelling will be a key component in the overall scheme, the team at Brainseed Factory is remaining tight-lipped on what this will entail, to preserve the experience. "We are really hoping that players will figure them out for themselves with all the hints that can be observed during gameplay."
The surprises they have in store aren't limited to story, as Chbib also told GameZone that Typoman will make use of the GamePad in ways that have yet to be discussed in detail. "We were not able to showcase the use of GamePad features in our latest demo," he said, referring to the E3 preview build on the eShop, "but there will be at least three essential features which we can thankfully use the second screen and touch capabilities for."
Being that the game is an unconventional concept, Brainseed Factory is confident that the Nintendo eShop will make a comfortable home. "Nintendo's consoles and handhelds are different, as are their games. They like to experiment with new things, and Typoman is definitely something new, very different and innovative." When asked what he appreciates most about the platform, Chbib spoke on the warm feedback the team got from Nintendo. For what is, by their own admission, their first IP with no prior sales to stand behind, it's something that impressed him.
"I have visited lots of conventions and expos and had contact with high profile staff from various companies," Chbib related. "But with Nintendo, we've had the best experience. They are the nicest people in the gaming industry in terms of politeness and responsiveness. And that goes to each and everyone we have contact with." Their initial contact with the company was at an early stage in development — "nothing but a couple of concept art and a target gameplay video" — and yet, Nintendo was quick to receive them with open arms. For an independent studio to have a company like Nintendo demonstrate their belief in the concept and the team as a whole, is nothing short of motivating.
As these different variables come together, there is a core message the team hopes will be translated in the experience. "This game is a tribute to 'The Hero With A Pen,'" Chbib divulged. "Writers who devote their writing abilities to truth and freedom in all times and places. A homage to authors especially in times of war or oppression."
Scribblenauts carved a niche for itself on the idea of bringing words to life in pursuit of solutions. Typoman's vision of using letters to forge word-based solutions should be received well, too, by writers and puzzle solvers alike.