Tablet Games 101: We Speak to TinyCo’s Andrew Green about bringing the animated insanity of Family Guy to iPads and Android tablets.
In bringing the show’s animated antics to tablets, the makers of The Simpsons: Tapped Out set a high bar for tablet games based on animated TV shows. But while the people behind Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff knew the comparisons were inevitable, TinyCo’s Andrew Green says his game’s origins are the only thing it has in common with Homer’s adventures on the iPad.
TabTimes Games: Let’s start with the basics. What kind of game is Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff? Because some people have assumed that it’s a Family Guy version of The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
Andrew Green: Well, there are some similarities. We’re both based on hit TV shows that people love. And we’re both free. Beyond that, though, our game doesn’t just following one character. You interact with the entire cast, and can do so at any time after you’ve unlocked them. Even when we have collectibles, they play into the story. For example, when dressed as mermaid Peter, you have different quest-lines, such as helping out fisherman, etc.
It’s also based entirely on story. It’s been a real collaboration with Fox to write what’s essentially a really, really, really long episode of the show, If you’re a fan, you’ll recognize a ton of in-jokes. And if you’re not…I’m not sure I want to be friends with you.
Family Guy is Seth McFarlane’s baby. He created it, writes for it, produces it, and voices many of the characters, including Peter, Stewie, and Brian. How involved did he get in deciding what the game would be?
Seth lives and breathes Family Guy, and we’ve worked with his production studio, Fuzzy Door, on a nearly daily basis since we began working on this over a year ago. They had input on literally every single joke in the game, and we worked incredibly closely with them to make this an authentically Family Guy experience.
While Family Guy gets bleeped when it airs on Fox, they actually put the uncut versions out on DVD. Will your game be censored or will it have f---ing curse words?
We didn’t water down any show content for the game. We weren’t willing to compromise on that; see the 17+ rating on the App Store. Anything you can expect to see in the show you can expect to see in the game.
As you said, the game features an original story by the Family Guy writers. What came first, their idea for the story or your idea for the gameplay?
What’s cool is that it was really a collaborative process. That’s how the humor on the show works, and it’s exactly how the game worked, too. We did have some trouble with length at first, but were able to solve this by instructing each writer to approach the scenario as if they would have to post the joke on Twitter, with their character limits.
The game features many of the voice actors who work on the show, including McFarlane, Seth Green (who voices Chris), Mila Kunis (Meg), and Alex Borstein (Lois). How many times did you have to send an email around to everyone you work with reminding them that no, they were not allowed to go watch Mila Kunis do her voice sessions?
Never. Everyone at TinyCo understands just how far Mila is out of our league.
The screenshots I’ve seen look a lot like images from the show, save for the aerial perspective. How hard was it to get the game to look right?
This was really difficult, but ultimately rewarding. We knew that we had to perfectly replicate how the characters looked, and it was tough at first, but we worked in super close collaboration with the folks from Fox and Fuzzy Door. Ask any of our animators now and I bet they could draw a pretty amazing Peter with their eyes closed.
The game is available for iPads and Android tablets. Are there any differences between them?
No, no difference.
And are there any multiplayer modes?
No multiplayer functionality yet.
Some free-to-play games have been criticized for being too aggressive about making people pay for stuff. How are you hoping to avoid this problem?
We thought long and hard about this, and ultimately came to the conclusion that “pay-to-win” games suck. So, in our game, players can choose to pay if they want to progress through the game more quickly or purchase such exclusive content as animated decorations. But there is never a point in the game where users are forced to spend money. You can complete the game without spending a cent. In fact, we’ve designed the game with the knowledge that the vast majority of people will play for free.
Finally, TinyCo. has done a number of games over the year. Of them, which do you think would most appeal to people who get really into Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff?
From a gameplay perspective, though it’s not nearly as funny, one of our favorites is Tiny Monsters, another free game that plays somewhat similarly.