Thanks everyone for sticking with us these first few months of development. Today I'd like to talk about how we're going to structure Toki Tori 2, and why we're super excited about this.

Update 17: Knowledge Unlocks!

Whenever I’m playing games that use the unlocking mechanism popularized by the Zelda series, I feel conflicted. I like being challenged in games, so when I walk around and see something outside my reach, I feel motivated to figure out how to get there.

The games using this mechanic usually end up giving you an item or upgrade a while later, allowing you to go back and reach it. My initial excitement disappears and I end up making mental notes about where I need to go whenever the game decides it is time to give me a new item. At this point I realize I’m still on a pre-determined route set out by the game’s designers.

In Toki Tori 2, players will have a similar initial experience, where they’ll follow the main path but get teased by an alternate route or a seemingly impossible to reach collectible. We expect the player’s first reaction is to move on, expecting they’ll be handed a tool to reach it at a later time.

But as they continue they’ll start to notice no tools are being handed out. Instead, we teach the player more about the creature that was standing next to the seemingly impossible to reach collectible. It turns out it was possible all along, and he could have figured it out himself by experimenting a bit more with the creature.

We call this the ‘knowledge unlock’. Absolutely everything we put into the game can be accessed straight away with just Toki Tori’s stomp and whistle moves and some brainpower from the player’s part. Toki Tori will still need to move from level to level through the game, but the route and difficulty will completely depend on the knowledge gathered by the player. The more curious the player becomes, the more the game will reward him for it.

By introducing them to the idea that everything is always possible in Toki Tori 2, we hope players will start asking themselves the more difficult questions. Questions that can always be answered by trying it out inside the game’s levels.

“Could I reach that collectible by capturing the Bubblefrog inside his own bubble?”

“What if I block the path to the bird’s nest? Will it still want to pick me up?”

Aside from being a great tool to reward player curiosity, knowledge unlocks can bring us a few great side-effects too. Second play-throughs won’t drag on at the beginning, because players don’t have to wait for the game world to open up, and curious players can be presented with the more difficult puzzles inside the same levels as more casual players.

Exposing the knowledge unlock system will be our main design goal for the Toki Tori 2 build that we’ll show at GDC in San Francisco next month. We think it’s a really unique way of structuring a puzzle game and we can’t wait to show it to you all.


Collin, Sunday February 5 2012