With the development team wrestling through the final days of Toki Tori 2 development, here's a blog post about the game's writing. Or really the fact that there's no writing at all!

No Text For U Toki Tori 2!

I shouldn’t be writing this, of course. Instead, I ought to design a puzzle level that forces you to discover for yourself what I want to tell. That would be more appropriate for a puzzle adventure game that has ‘no text’ as one of its design fundamentals.

I’m told that it all started as a clever way to cut the development budget (which is game dev jingo for both time and money). If your game has thousands of words in it, and you want to reach a broad international audience, you have to translate everything into at least a dozen languages. It’s easy to see that you might prefer spending the necessary budget on gameplay polish!

So someone said: what if we just skip the writing? If we don’t have any words, we don’t have to translate them either. Thinking about this idea, the team at Two Tribes got philosophical about text, especially tutorials.

As developers, they’d noticed that a lot of players don’t pay attention to text anyway. The original Toki Tori’s Bubble Barrage level, that introduced the Bubble Suit item, went through many iterations on different platforms. Whatever the developers tried, people still got stuck. In the most recent version, the tutorial states clearly what you had to do. However, Two Tribes still gets messages from frustrated players.

As gamers, the team had no problem ditching the tutorials either. They remembered many games with endless unskippable screens of text, that sometimes spoil the joy of discovering how things work by yourself… Boring!

By this point, a smart development trick had turned into a full-blown design challenge. Could the team create a game that would just speak for itself, by the way the levels were designed? (Jumping forward for a minute, it took a lot of effort to make the game as self-explanatory as necessary, but I think the team nailed it!)

Around this time, I was brought in to create a story without a story. Two Tribes wanted to have a better ‘reason’ behind Toki Tori 2, as well as some exciting (and perhaps quirkily funny) events during the game. But they wanted to convey all of it without dialogs, pop-ups, voice-overs or anything like that.

Writing without words: that was a fun challenge for me, too. We kicked ideas around for a while, and ultimately came up with a couple of interactive cut scenes that explain what’s wrong with the island, and why. Well, not everyone may notice everything. But it’s all there!

The bad news is that we had to make a small compromise on the no-text policy: the Wii U eShop version of the game comes with a Nintendo-imposed e-manual, that was translated into seven languages, plus two local dialects (Brazilian Portuguese and Canadian French). The good news? It’s extremely short!

Niels 't Hooft , Monday February 25 2013

I jump before I read the signs so the text won't be missed ;)

Gervais, Tuesday February 26 2013, 19:22

Ik heb echt zin in deze game :D

Linksquest, Tuesday February 26 2013, 19:37

I like it. Gratz on breaking out of the typical video game mold.

steventheslayer, Tuesday February 26 2013, 19:42

Awww, no text at all?
And here I offered my (free) services to translate the game in Italian something like a year ago.
Anyway, I hope the great will be great and I can't wait to play it!

PS: if you still need some text translation for the main menu or other stuff, just let me know.

bloody skull, Tuesday February 26 2013, 20:49

Hi guys!
I'm just normal person from Finland and i have loved to play Toki Tori 2. I think its awesome and you should buy it. When i first come across Toki Tori series when it was 75% discount at steam. I played Toki Tori 1 near finish and couple of maps i couldn't solve. Now with Toki Tori 2 new concept that new level design courage me to try new things in the game. The beautiful world of Toki Tori 2 makes it absolute must game to your library. I hope that there will be active and large community over Toki Tori.

Nuudeli5, Tuesday February 26 2013, 21:18

Ah, whatever. xP
Czech translator (and since last 'bruary a game reviewer/amateur journalist, yay!) on stand-by ;)

Tomires, Tuesday February 26 2013, 22:24

Thanks for offering your services guys! We really truly have no text whatsoever in the game, not even in the pause menu. It's pretty scary, but I hope we've nailed it and players will appreciate what we've done.

Collin Ginkel, Tuesday February 26 2013, 22:43

The Only thing I found was, watch out for the Letter I. sense then Torki Tori been in limbo with no way out as yet.

Papa, Tuesday February 26 2013, 22:45

Euhmm what? :)

Collin, Tuesday February 26 2013, 23:02

Sounds like you lot have the right idea. :) Having a manual with text is fine - then the player can refer to it only if they want/need to.

Josee, Wednesday February 27 2013, 0:55

amazing game )

MAJOR, Wednesday February 27 2013, 5:48

Had fun playing & the game is perfect all the way . Very good visuals & sound :3

Syedur Rahman, Wednesday February 27 2013, 9:41

No text is really smart move, I really do not like new games where every second they are bringing up a chart showing the controls ect. really anyoying

Kyle, Thursday May 16 2013, 2:11

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