In part one of our interview with Lisa de Araujo, the lead designer of the N-Gage bound virtual pet game Creebies, we talked about the initial ideas behind the game and how it's changed during development. In this concluding part, it's time to get into the details about breeding, community and the in-game currency.
Pocket Gamer: How many Creebies can you have at any one time?
Lisa de Araujo: You can have six at once. By unlocking new island environments, you have access to new Mobile Homes so you can either pick a Creebi from the base breeds or breed new ones. As long as you have a free mobile home, your Creebies can mate and have baby Creebies.
How does the breeding dynamic work?
Creebies is really quite sophisticated with regard to breeding. As long as two Creebies like each other well enough to want to mate, they can have baby Creebies. Two Creebies of the same species and breed will be easiest, but you can mate two different species if you can make them like each other.
For example, you might want to breed a cute Wappitus with a geeky Sharpus. They won't automatically be compatible, but if you can get the Wappitus to play some geeky games and wear Lederhosen or a SpaceCreebi uniform, you might find they get along better. Once they've mated, the baby will have a combination of attributes – also a pretty sophisticated system – and will be a mixture of the two parent Creebies, with some surprise recessive features thrown in!
So, essentially, you can change a Creebies personality over its lifetime, but its basic behaviour and appearance is genetically specified – just like in real life. We like that kind of thing.
Do you see Creebies as bringing an online community experience to mobile or is it more of a Tamagotchi/Nintendogs nurturing game with added community features?
Initially I think it will be the latter. There is certainly a lot of community potential beyond the Creebies Adoption Agency. I could easily see turn-based tournaments online using the Creebi Competitions (mud-slinging, wrestling, etc) or even user-generated content in the form of toys and clothing, but that may have to wait for a Creebies 2!
What's the plan in terms of community features?
Currently community features are limited to an Adoption Agency feature where you can upload your Creebi for others to download and play with. This becomes more interesting once you've managed to breed beyond the first generation or so. Also, any changes to its personality will accompany the Creebi, so other players can download some highly unique characters. And, of course, there are the N-Gage points you gain by playing games and doing various things in the world.
Does the Spondoolies currency link into any wider real money micro-transactions or is it purely a in-game resource?
It's purely an in-game resource. It's an important one though, as it drives the ability to breed different Creebies together. Or if you want your Creebies to do well at certain games, you'll also need to increase the relevant skills and you need Spondoolies to do this, through buying them toys or clothing items that influence their personality skills.
What has been the most difficult thing to get balanced?
We're still balancing it, but we spent a lot of time on the game progression and making sure there was always plenty to do. Our experience with Creatures was that virtual pets can sometimes be a pretty passive experience. You feed them, nurture them and… that's about it. We wanted to make sure that players could do that and amuse themselves as well.
We also wanted there to be a variety of challenges, depending on the individuals own play patterns. Some players just like earning money, some like to nurture, some prefer to spend time decorating their Creebies' Mobile Homes, others just want to play games or compete. You can do any or all of these in Creebies.
What part of the Creebies are you most proud of?
I'm really so proud of Creebies. I think it's an incredibly rich and deep title that could easily hold its own on a console or PC. It's quite difficult for me to say what I'm most proud of because it was a huge team effort that everyone put so much time and creativity into.
If I were to pick a personal aspect, however, I'd have to say it's the art style. I really wanted to do something that was unique-looking and fun and that reflected my personal love of retro design and mid-century furniture. I'm really happy that our lead artist Neil and the art team indulged me and put in some great little classic furniture items. I guess I'm just such a girl sometimes.
Our thanks to Lisa for her time. Creebies is due to be released by Nokia for the N-Gage platform sometime in 2008.