Q&A with Different Tuna
We had the pleasure to meet up with Gordon Midwood of Different Tuna. After making a few Flash games in the late 1980s, Gordon turned his hand to the iPhone, on which he made the non-multiple award winning rhythm game lilt line. This allowed him to secure funding for his present adventure, the “World’s First Underwater Papercraft Video Game” Derrick the Deathfin.
post it gamer: Hey Gordon, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions. I am sure October has been a crazy month for you with the recent release of Derrick the Deathfin on the PSN. We noticed that Different Tuna is a joint venture between different cloth and Ronzo. How did this collaboration come to exist and what was the inspiration behind the name “Different Tuna?”
Gordon Midwood: We set up this collaboration specifically to make Derrick the Deathfin, and the name came from combining the name of my company, different cloth, with that of another company who were involved at the beginning of the project but no longer are, Tuna. Sorry that answer was not very exciting, things will improve from here on in I promise.
PG: Short and simple, their is nothing wrong with that. Derrick the Deathfin gives off that old-school vibe when launched, especially with the static voice announcement of “Deeeeerrrrrick” at the the main menu. Whoops, should we have put a spoiler alert there? How did you come up with the concept of a revengeful shark taking on the corporation behind the murder of his parents?
GM: I came up with the name and concept whilst drinking with some friends and arguing about SEGA Mega Drive games. I thought if Ecco the Dolphin could be combined with Sonic the Hedgehog & then we could give it a unique look we might be onto something. Ronzo is the man who came up with the papercraft aesthetic though, and he is also the genius behind all the dopey characters in the game, including Derrick.
PG: Excuse our profanity but the art direction of the characters and the environments in this game are f*cking awesome. Plenty of titles have tried to recreate that “paper-like” look but Derrick the Deathfin takes it to a whole different level since everything is handmade. Crafting each character and background looks like a very tedious and time consuming process, how long was this title in development?
GM: It took us 2 years – it was certainly time consuming but tedious might be a stretch. We always enjoyed what we were doing and, even when the tasks involved were a bit laborious, we always had this beautiful end goal in the back of our minds so that kept us going. Well, that and doughnuts.
PG: Creating video games while eating doughnuts, who wouldn’t love doing that for two years? This is a very charming title and you can’t help but get addicted to the gameplay. What inspired you to go in this particular art direction?
GM: Originally when I considered the artistic style of Derrick I was considering a papery cut-out style, sort of like a mixture between Parappa the Rapper and Viewtiful Joe. It was only when somebody with genuine artistic talent came on board, Ronzo, that the actual look started to take shape. Quite quickly he came up with the idea of making the world’s first papercraft game where all the characters, worlds etc. were made out of paper. As you allude to a lot of the charm comes from a sort of naivety, which is actually quite hard to capture in a video game, so we needed to be quite analog in our thinking. Hence it’s the irregular folds, imperfections in Derrick that give it its handmade charm.
PG: Since Derrick the Deathfin does incorporate some platformer elements, it would only make sense that he would need to collect a random item. Mario and Luigi collect gold coins, Sonic enjoys his gold rings and apparently Derrick loves to get his fins on diamonds. We attempted to come up with a theory behind it with an alcohol induced thinking session but we just ended up drunk. Why does Derrick need so much bling?
GM: Unfortunately I can’t give you a very in-depth answer, as paper sharks are not very psychologically advanced. Basically he sees them, thinks they look nice and shiny, and swims into them. It makes him happy as far as we can tell.
PG: Hey, we’re not one to argue with a shark. With the recent influx of sequels in the video game industry, do you feel that developers are beginning to lose their creativity or are publishers timid about investing in new and original IPs?
GM: I don’t think for a second there is a lack of creativity in the industry, so let’s go for option 2!
PG: On the Different Tuna website, you guys have stated that you are “dedicated to making finest quality organic video games.” What exactly does that mean?
GM: The idea behind our little company is to create more natural, analogue, hand crafted video games rather than the typical effect-y, digital fare. Which seems like a bit of a silly thing to say now I think about it. That said sometimes organic things can be silly without reason, such an amusingly large turnip or an oddly shaped banana.
PG: That sounds great, so we shouldn’t be surprised if your next release stars a large turnip and an oddly shaped banana? You’ve heard it here folks, a post it gamer exclusive of the next game being developed by Different Tuna. [Ha Ha, just kidding]. I am sure the first time you presented your idea behind the process of making Derrick the Deathfin many people were a little bewildered on why you guys would go in that direction. Any suggestions or words of advice you would give to someone who wishes to create their own video game?
GM: Yes, I would suggest they ignore everyone’s words of advice.
PG: We totally agree with you. Without the risk takers we wouldn’t experience such great titles like Unfinished Swan, Flower, Journey, etc. Will Derrick the Deathfin remain a PS3 exclusive or will XBLA users get a chance to experience some sweet shark revenge?
GM: Um, no, sorry! Derrick is a PS3 exclusive.
PG: We can literally hear the hearts of the Xbox 360 community breaking. Should we expect future titles from you guys?
GM: Oh yes there will be loads. Right now we are too busy promoting Derrick to think about it, but as soon as the dust settles and the papercuts heal up we will be back to plan our next move!
PG: We can’t wait to see what other unique and organic title you guys have planned for us. Maybe we should send over a keg of beer and doughnuts to help speed along the process. Until your next big release, our members can read our review of Derrick the Deathfin here.
GM: That would be useful for research actually, as we are considering making a game about doughnuts with unusually long legs.