We like to regularly shine the spotlight on an exceptional XBLIG, and the developers behind them, in what we like to call the XBLIG Spotlight. This week, we take a look at Rainbow Rapture, possibly the most adorable rapture yet and Kindling Game’s second trip to the XBLIG Spotlight. Check out the trailer below and as always, my perspective and an interview with the developers behind the game (Author’s Note: I never read the response to the interview questions before writing my review to ensure that it remains unbiased). As usual on CBR, reading has rewards as you may even get a chance to win a copy of the game. Add Rainbow Rapture to your download queue! First, check out the game’s trailer:
First, tell the readers a bit about yourself: what is your history as a game developer, previous efforts, why you decided to start getting involved in making games?
A few years ago, we started up Kindling Games with some friends from the game industry. We knew a little about making games, but we were all looking for an opportunity to have more control over something small and learn new skills. Most of us took on roles that had nothing to do with our day jobs. Since then, we’ve released Hieronymus Bash and Bumblepig on XBLIG, and now Rainbow Rapture on Windows Phone 7 and XBLIG.
If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration (for this game or in general), what would it be?
For Rainbow Rapture the most obvious game inspiration is of course Tiny Wings. When we first started the project, we knew we wanted to try building something for Windows Phone 7, but we had never worked on a mobile platform before. We started with an initial Scorched Earth multiplayer meets physics puzzle concept, but we quickly hit stumbling blocks with controls, the physics engine, multiplayer networking, etc. and the whole project felt like it was spiraling out of control. So we put all that aside and decided to start over with something really simple, something we could build relatively quickly to learn the basics of working on the phone.
We looked around at other popular mobile games for inspiration, and Tiny Wings stood out as a great example. Tiny Wings took the simple one-button hill-riding gameplay from the original Flash game Wavespark and added a charming personality and sense of style, ending up with a really addicting game that’s perfect for the phone. At the time, there weren’t any hill-riding games for Windows Phone, so it felt like a good opportunity to bring this type of gameplay over to a new audience. As an added bonus, it fit great with an old concept we had set aside of an angry rainbow out to destroy the world (hill-riding + rainbow tail = epic win).
My main focus with the game was to try to create a memorable context and personality, and along the way, another obvious game inspiration snuck its way in: The King of Cosmos from Katamari Damacy – one of my favorite games. When I first started writing the rants for Rainbow he sounded like your typical alien invader, and it was boring and predictable. But when I thought of him as a really pissed off version of The King of Cosmos – deluded, pompous, and weirdly childish – I had a lot more fun with it.
Have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform? What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?
The Windows Phone 7 version of Rainbow Rapture was the first time we’d ever released a game on a platform besides XBLIG, and overall, it was a great experience. The phone has some real advantages over XBLIG. One of the biggest surprises for me has been how much easier it is to have a real conversation with the audience. In the phone version of the game, we’ve got direct links to our website and our email so it’s easy for someone to contact us. We also have a review reminder that pops up after a while asking people to tell us what they like or don’t like about the game. At this point, we’ve got well over 1,000 user reviews and many emails and tweets. That kind of response is extremely motivating, and for the first few months after releasing on the phone, we continued updating the game regularly to add new content and address bugs based on the feedback we received.
But our heart is still in XBLIG. We love controllers and big TV experiences and the wacky indie spirit of XBLIG. We first learned how to build games using XNA, and it continues to be a toolset we enjoy working with.
We made Rainbow Rapture with the Windows Phone version first in mind, and to be honest, it’s better suited to that platform. We ported it over to XBLIG because we felt good about the project and thought it would be fun to share with the XBLIG community – and of course, XNA made it incredibly easy. In the future we plan to do more mobile games, but we’re trying to think of concepts that work well on both the phone and the console.
How long did you spend on development? Can you explain, roughly, how the development process worked for you? What tools and programs did you work with?
Like usual, we got together for a few hours every week to make a little progress after work. We did this for about four months before releasing the first phone version of the game. We continued working on the phone version and releasing updates for the next couple of months, and then in December we took a couple of weeks to port the game to XBLIG.
We used Visual Studio and C# for the code along with our own custom game editor tools. Art was done in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and the music and audio was done in Cubase.
A game’s soundtrack can make or break a game, tell us how you selected yours. Did you produce in house, team up with a music producer or simply purchase royalty free music?
Bob wrote all the music. We wanted something that felt light-hearted but a little demented too. A music box is a good sound that can straddle both those feelings – it’s cute and kiddy, but it fits just as well in a horror movie.
If you had to pick one thing that you would improve or simply do differently in regards the game’s development what would it be?
Originally, Bob wanted to create a dynamic soundtrack with different music voices coming in and out based on how you were playing. (Bob did something like this in another XBLIG game, Slingstar.) Unfortunately, it turned out to be incredibly difficult to pull off on the phone, and we ended up scrapping the idea. It would have been cool to revive the idea and do it right for the XBLIG version of Rainbow Rapture.
How did you go about deciding on the name for your game and why did you end up with the title you have? Were there any rejected titles that didn’t make the cut?
We knew we wanted a unique title that summed up the core game concept: Rainbow + the destruction of the world. We experimented with a few silly combinations like “Rainbowpocalypse” and “Rainbowgeddon” but we learned our lesson back with Hieronymus Bash – pick a game title that people can easily pronounce and spell! It didn’t take us long to settle on Rainbow Rapture.
Tell us about your game’s virtual “box art.” Who designed it? Was there any specific inspiration or story behind the creation process?
I made all of the game art assets including the box art. Like with the title, the goal was to create an eye-catching cover that communicated the core concept – hence the angry rainbow leaping over hills, shouting out the game title while bearing down on a panicked little person.
Many gamers dream of making their own games, what advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to developer?
I think the advice Bob gave in our last CBR interview is still the best: pick a valuable production skill (either code or art), find a friend or two, and come up with the smallest possible game idea you can think of. Don’t worry about fleshing out the concept or learning everything you think you need to know – it’s too easy to get lost and overwhelmed that way. I’m a big believer in the sink or swim method. Just jump in, swallow your pride and your fear, and flail around until you start treading water.
XBLIG have had a mixed result so far, what can make it better? What one thing do you think would improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?
The latest dashboard update has been a mixed bag for XBLIG. Bing search results and recommendations are great, but the buried “Game Type” placement, the lack of a genre filter, the hidden top lists – these are all a huge step backward. If XBLIG games are going to be completely segregated from the “real” games, I’d like to see them give XBLIG its own tab in the Games Marketplace.
Also, like I mentioned before, the communication between developers and their audience is much better on the Windows Phone. After our experience there, it stands out as a real low point for XBLIG. I’d like to see XBLIG support text entry on reviews and actually notify players when one of their games has received an update. If they did, we’d be much more likely to continue working on our released games, constantly improving them rather than releasing and moving on to the next one.
What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?
At the moment, we’re working on an idea inspired by the Minotaur in the labyrinth – heroes are swarming your dungeon, and you have to build out your labyrinth to guide them into deadly traps. It’s still an early concept, but we’ll have more to share soon, so keep an eye on our website (http://kindling-games.com).
Anything else you would like to say?
Kindling Game’s appear to have a niche; simple game concepts combined with pleasant (even dare say ‘cute’) visuals that result in all around enjoyment. Rainbow Rapture continues this trend that they exhibited in their previous Spotlight game, BumblePig. In this version of the apocalypse you play as a vengeful, rainbow tailed, cloud fed up with the scourge of humanity and determined to wipe out as many humans as he can. Is this a rapture that you don’t want to miss? Read on.
In a somewhat rare occurrence, Rainbow Rapture is actually a port of a Windows Phone 7 game rather than the other way around. The game’s simple controls show in this regard, but the game doesn’t suffer for it. In what is ultimately a “see how far you can get” type of game, you make your way by using the slopes of the hills to build momentum and launch yourself into the air. Devouring humans and extended periods of airtime add to your overall health (see rainbow), while sliding on the ground diminishes it quickly. You press ‘A’ to slam to the ground when in the air, and when done correctly (i.e. at the top of a downward slope) it will help you go faster, but when done incorrectly it will cause you to slam to the ground and kill all of your momentum.
To help you on your way the game has three types of power-ups. A car will give you a speed boost, a Kindling blimp will allow you to suck up unfortunate humans below you as you fly through the air and an oil truck allows you to slide along the surface without taking damage. All three give you a solid boost, but only last for a brief amount of time and all three require hitting them at the right time to make it worthwhile; whereas if you go for a power-up when you shouldn’t it will end up costing your more than helping. Additionally, each time you make it above the cloud line in the sky you can gain an angel to help snag humans for you to devour. Lastly, to add to the experience, the game includes many different challenges to shoot for. Each time you play you can randomly select three challenges to go for, everything from making it a minimum of 450 miles to getting 25 power-ups. These challenges don’t add up to much, but they are certainly a nice addition to the game.
This simple premise and control scheme is surprisingly addicting and certainly has the “just one more” effect. Making a good run just makes you want to keep trying and once you get the hang of it you will decimate your previous best (which are marked on the map as you fly by). Add to the mix pleasing visuals and the occasional laugh worthy comment from the cloud (such as his views on the only people that still worship the rainbow) and Rainbow Rapture is a mechanically sound, visually pleasing and all around fun experience.
There are really only two negatives (well two and half) to consider. The XBLIG version of the game suffers from a lack of leaderboard, meaning that when you have an amazing run there is no one else to show it to except maybe the dog, if he’s in the room with you, but he doesn’t care. The other is that while it is nice that the map stays the same so that your distance traveled (and your previous scores) are consistent from game to game, having one or two other variants (even if just mostly aesthetic in nature) would have be welcomed. Lastly, and this is only a negative based on your point of view, is that as a casual game it is of course only fun for so long in any one sitting. Like most casual games, you have experienced most, if not all, it has to offer within ten minutes. The plus side of course is that it is fun for a short burst of gaming here and there, but you won’t be spending all night playing it either. Again, a matter of perception really.
Ultimately Rainbow Rapture is one rapture you actually don’t want to miss. For the low price of only a buck this is also probably the only rapture you can afford to be a part of this year as well. The simple but pleasing visuals perfectly accent the simple but enjoyable gameplay resulting in an all around solid experience. It may have taken many years, but finally the Rainbow is back on top; and not just for an afternoon parade in San Francisco.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Time to completion: N/A
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Kindling Games
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Not getting any lower, cause it can’t!
Add Rainbow Rapture to your download queue!
Kindling Games wants to make sure you don’t miss the rapture, so they have hooked us up with a download code for the game so that we can in-turn reward one of you with a free copy! You can gain up to three entries, please read the details on how to enter below:
First entry: There have been a lot of games about the end of the world (or the world after the end of the world) so tell us in the comments below your favorite apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) game! That’s it, whatever your answer, just tell us in the comments below and you have your first entry!
Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:
Another #contest! @ClearanceBinRev is giving away the #XBLIG Rainbow Rapture! Enter now at http://bit.ly/zdAhin
Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t, automatically forfeits their win. If you enter via Twitter include your twitter name in your post below, winners who have their twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.
Third Entry: Like our Facebook page and then simply like the post on our wall for this article. Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest and it may take a minute or two to post on FB)
Contest will go until Monday at 8pm CST. A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond. We do not always announce the names of contest winners, but do encourage them to post about their win.