Toki Tori 2 is a platform / puzzle game with a living, breathing game world where the creatures that inhabit it act as the tools for the player to solve the puzzles. The game is designed to reward player curiosity, and does not have any artificial gameplay limitations such as locked doors or invisible walls. Players are able to make their way through the game based on the level of knowledge they have of the game world.
An open world puzzle adventure without any text or tutorials to help you out. What were we thinking?
We were thinking that players would feel more satisfaction by figuring stuff out on their own instead of being told what to do. I’m happy that we succeeded in giving many players this feeling, with for instance EDGE online calling the experience ‘intoxicating’. At the same time I’m frustrated that we also got hit with the negatives of the approach, mainly a lack of direction felt on the player’s part.
Below you will find a few things that we did to improve the experience.
Originally we divided Toki Tori 2’s world into several sections, such as the wasteland, meadow and caves. We’ve gone further for Toki Tori 2+ and made sure each level can be identified by its theme or landmark. The big skeleton is hard to miss and easy to remember, making it easier to recall where that one missing collectible was. The world map has been altered to include more of these themes or landmarks so that there’s a better connection between the two.
The mole fixes a commonly cited negative that I’m not particularly proud of having overlooked. The world of Toki Tori 2 was laid out to only require backtracking when hunting for every single collectible. The straight path towards the next objective always had brand new puzzles, but the design completely disregarded the possibility that the player might still be figuring out what is expected of him and taking a different path.
To fix this, and make collectible hunting easier too, our mole will wait at the end of a section and dig you a tunnel back to the start. This means that when you’ve proven you can solve the puzzle, you can skip it the next time if you want to.
Knowing where the heck you are, is the first step in planning your route. Instead of waiting for the game to show you the world map, we added a new song that pops up the world map and shows your exact position on it. You can whistle the world map song at any given time. It’s optional, but I’ve seen people using it and getting a lot more mileage out of the world map.
If this were a realistic game, Toki Tori would be naked at the end of his journey. He’ll now leave feathers behind on the world map wherever he has been. This allows players to take a glance at the world map and see where they haven’t been yet. In hindsight the need for this is ridiculously obvious, but I guess we expected players to keep track of this in their minds.
Since we use a Metroidvania style setup, there are many alternative paths through the game world. The original plan was to introduce a new character to guide you through the early part of the game to avoid players from getting distracted by those. Some internal debate and player feedback convinced me that this would result in too much hand-holding, removing some of the fun of figuring things out for yourself.
Instead of adding a character, we gave our little grey bird greater responsibility by pointing out where to go in places where we thought too many people were confused. He’ll never tell you how to get there, but there will be less confusion as to which direction you should be headed in.
Besides these big changes, we’ve been able to go over every single level and make hundreds of smaller tweaks, which makes me feel very good about the Steam release!
Yes! Wii U will get these changes too ;)
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