After the surprising success of Rasta Monkey, the #1 hanging game in the App Store, Nitako went on to make Eco Punk, the only game I know of that lets you "take the role of the insane blood-thirsty eco-friendly, skating punk bunny". Being the "investigative" journalist that I am, I reached out to Noam Abta to really find out what in the world is going on at the Nitako studios, and who would win a battle of environmental superstars.
Chris (148apps) - First off, I just want to say thanks for doing the interview with me! The first question here is a doozy. What was your inspiration for creating a game that revolves around a bunny on a skateboard that shoots polluting vehicles? Please tell me that you guys were on a bender and watched an episode of Captain Planet right after watching Donnie Darko.
Noam (Nitako) - Haha:) Donnie Darko's imagery certainly had a subliminal effect on the character design I made for the bunny, since I absolutely love that film.
Me and Yuval, my partner here at Nitako, arrived at the iPhone gaming arena a year ago. We were film makers before that (Our award winning 3d graduation film 'Smile' has participated in over 40 film festivals), so we naturally always look for a story angle on everything we do, even in games with such a minimalistic gameplay system like Eco Punk.
We sometimes start working on a game mechanics before trying to figure out the story. Here we were toying around, trying to create a game mechanic that would somehow resemble a computer mouse. The first initial version of the game was actually a racing game with shooting, inspired by the 80's classic Spy Hunter which we loved as kids, and then it somehow evolved in an almost endless process of trial and error into an traffic avoidance game.
To compliment the avoidance gameplay we added stuff that the character had to pick up, and from there the Eco theme just naturally popped in our heads. We really care about environmental issues, but we felt we needed a comic twist so the game wouldn't seem like it's too preachy. Since we have a band here in our offices and lately we've been playing a lot of hard rock stuff (we create all the music for all of our games) we figured out that it would be really funny if this eco friendly character would be a blood thirsty punk bunny with some serious attitude problems:)
Chris (148apps) - Where does the game go from here? Will there be more guns and power-ups in the future? I'm really looking for a gun here that becomes as synonymous with "unleash terror" as the BFG was in the 90's.
Noam (Nitako) - The Doom inspired idea is great! Ill do my best to come up with something unique:) There is a bidirectional gun you collect when you reach a certain progress in the game (I believe most of our players haven't yet).
What we really want to do in future updates, if the game becomes a success, is to base all our new features on the user feedback we get. Actually we've been doing it for quite a while with some really awesome and devoted beta testers from several iPhone gaming forums. These guys are simply amazing, and what's even more amazing is that you do see that some of the requests repeat themselves constantly so it becomes easy to spot what is really important.
In such a simple game with one level of ramping difficulty, every little change you make can radically change the game for better or worse so you wanna be careful and thoughtful when you do it.
Chris (148apps) - I see that Nitako is donating 5% of Eco Punk's earnings to real eco causes. Expand on that a bit... I'm always happy when developers give money to good causes.
Noam (Nitako) - As individuals we donate privately to Green Peace, and when the eco theme revealed itself , we immediately knew that we need to give back some of the profits to that important cause. I sure hope we get to the Top 100 paid apps and stay there for a while so that sum wouldn't be ridiculous, but I guess every little bit counts:)
Green Peace seem to have a policy of not accepting money from businesses so I'm currently checking for similar organizations who do. I think that more people in the entertainment industry should stop and think every once in a while on how they can do something positive with their power of influence. I know that Penguin Club donate 5% of their revenues to charity and I think that's really inspiring.
Chris (148apps) - Finally, the big question at the end. In an epic battle between the three greatest environmental forces of all time, the Eco Punk Bunny, Captain Planet, and Ralph Nader, who would win? Be honest, and most importantly, elaborate in great detail.
Noam (Nitako) - I think Ralph Nader doesn't stand much of a chance against the other 2, with no special super powers or guns:) I hope Captain Planet and Eco Punk could work together, although I seriously doubt it due to Eco Punk's serious attitude problems and excessive use of foul language (oh you son of a nipple!).