Dream Drop Interview: Tic Toc Games and Broken Toy Studios
With Dream Drop now delivering amplified smash-three puzzle-solving action on the App Store, we sat down with its creators from Tic Toc Games and Broken Toy Studios to ask them about the origins of the game, its storyline, and the mechanics and content that make it so engrossing.
We asked Producer Jeff Pomegranate, Programmers Lin Chear and Young Kim, Artists Mike and Vanessa Maglio, User-Interface Designer Skye Lee, Audio Director Carey Chico, and Level Designer Mike Flores about these and other aspects of Dream Drop, in which evil Nite Terrors have invaded the Dreamscape, keeping everyone awake and in fear. Playing as Fiona, it’s up to players to fight them off through more than 120 levels of increasing difficulty. As players rock on, Fiona gains terror-trouncing power-ups and companions in her quest to save the world one bedroom at a time.
The Story Behind the Story
505 Games: How did you develop the idea for the story? When did Fiona – as she’s presented now in the game – come into the picture? Is Fiona based on anyone in particular?
Tic Toc Games and Broken Toy Studios: The premise was always that a young girl was ridding kids’ dreams of Nite Terrors. Our composer wanted to incorporate some rock ‘n’ roll music, so he suggested she be in a rock band by day and a savior of sleeping children by night. We then changed her name from Rainey Pinkboots to Fiona, presumably while listening to Fiona Apple and reminiscing over a terrible ’80s movie, Hearts of Fire, starring Bob Dylan and a relatively unknown female rocker who went by Fiona. 505 thought it’d be a good idea to have a story tying everything in the game together (no easy feat), so our producer developed the tale that unfolds between the game’s levels which is reflected in the intro comic panels. She’s now an aspiring rocker tormented by bad dreams that’s enlisted by rock gods – “played” by collectible characters in game – to enter the dreams of children and rid them of bad dreams, all in exchange for the secrets of becoming a rock star.
505: Not a bad tradeoff. Shifting gears now to the game’s mechanics: Much like Panda Pop, Dream Drop is a puzzle-popper style of matching game. Are the mechanics of Dream Drop different in any ways than Panda Pop and mobile games like it – or do they innovate on/evolve the mechanics of those game?
Tic Toc and Broken Toy: That it’s a match-3 puzzler with popping animations and Tic Toc was involved is really the entirety of the similarities. In Dream Drop, we incorporated a few more arcade elements and conventions that we think casual and even more hardcore gamers will appreciate. For instance, we have a game board that continuously advances from above Fiona and she has to get the pieces before they get her, much like the venerable Space Invaders. Also, almost like a cross between Tetris and Puyo Pop, the game pieces can be manipulated to create bigger combos. We hope these and other additions to the familiar match-3 gameplay will invigorate the genre and please players of all types.
505: Can you describe some of the different types of levels you encounter as you progress through the game?
Tic Toc and Broken Toy: We have a number of different level objectives that are all super fun and adrenalin-inducing. Among them are: Total Collected (e.g., get X number of Nite Terrors); Score Total (rack up X amount of points); Bounty (collect X of a specific color Nite Terror); and Rescue, in which a special game piece is collected and along with it, a Sweet Dream collectible. These can be collected every 10th level and are random, so you may have to replay some levels to get them all. Rarer Sweet Dreams can be found in higher, more difficult levels. Additionally, we apply move- or time-limits to some levels to mix things up and make gameplay more challenging.
505: Who are Fiona’s companions in the game and how are they used to help solve the puzzles?
Tic Toc and Broken Toy: The aforementioned Sweet Dreams might be considered Fiona’s companions – after she heroically frees them from the Nite Terrors grip – but they offer little help other than motivation. What she does have in her arsenal is an array of Power Ups to assist her in her quest. They include Extra Time (adds 20 seconds bonus time), Chameleon (removes the colors it touches), Sweeper (‘sweeps’ away a row of Nite Terrors), Rainbow (destroys a column of Nite Terrors), and Black Holes (sucks up all similar Nite Terrors). Some levels have Bombs in the game grid which blow up surrounding Nite Terrors when grabbed and tossed back up. But that’s not all. Fiona apparently has an affinity for Heavy Metal. When the HUD’s Rock Meter is full, a metal fist appears that, when tapped, unleashes Metal Mode, which briefly enables Fiona to smash through Nite Terrors with every jump.
505: That’s so metal. What would a rock star be without costumes? On that note, how are costumes earned in the game? Can they be swapped out at any time?
Tic Toc and Broken Toy: Everything from bunny ears to roller-skates can be found in the game’s Store. Dream Coins are earned with every level completed (they can also be purchased) and can be used not only for Power Ups, but for costumes. We love the idea of being able to customize your own Fiona and have made sharing your vision, as well as your prowess, one tap away. Immediately after each level, you can watch a replay video and share it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even a good ol’ fashioned email. We’re looking forward to adding loads more things for Fiona to wear, and to see the crazy outfits players put together.