Berlin based studio, Pokoko is a small team made up of a small dynamic team making games for mobile. Established in 2014 the team has since gone on to create games such as 2016’s DinoBash which accumulated more than 15 million downloads on iOS and Android and proved to be popular among creators.
Now the team is ready to launch its follow up action defence game Dino Bash: Travel Through Time free on Android and iOS. We caught up with Pokoko's founders, André Hornung who is also the games producer and art director Philipp Brömme to discuss how they expand on the essence of the original Dino Bash in this new instalment and how they plan to support the game in the future.
Pocketgamer.biz: Can you tell us a little about Dino Bash: Travel Through Time? What can we expect to see from the game?
André Hornung and Philipp Brömme: Dino Bash 2 takes players on a wild time-travel adventure where cavemen and dinosaurs find themselves hurled through a wormhole. In this journey, dinos must protect their precious eggs across various historical eras while the cavemen make clever use of tools from each period. Your mission is to aid the dinosaurs in rescuing their captured friends and guiding them back home. To accomplish this, you'll need to skillfully upgrade your dinosaur crew, equip handy items, and harness the power of discovered spells. Players can also look forward to a fresh gameplay experience with a controllable hero, adding a whole new layer of direct interaction and strategic depth to the game.
The game will be released on November 10th, how long has it been in development?
We kicked off the development process in March 2021, and after 2.5 years of hard work, we're all set for the November 10th release. While it did take a tad longer than our initial projections, we believe it's a reasonable development timeline for our modest 3-person team. Our original plan called for a more compact feature set, but as we delved into the project, we couldn't resist the temptation to incorporate a few additional ideas to enhance the overall experience.
Eventually, we reached a point where the increased revenue from Dino Bash 1 allowed us to rent an office and have everyone working full-time on the project.André Hornung and Philipp Brömme
Were there any big development challenges? If so, how did the team manage and overcome those challenges?
One of our most significant challenges revolved around financial resources. Pokoko has been a self-funded venture without external investors or publishers, so our budget was quite tight. Consequently, not all team members could commit to full-time work on the project, and some of us had to balance side jobs. Additionally, we initially started working from home.
However, as we progressed with the development, we managed to increase the revenue of Dino Bash 1 through some improvements. This opened up opportunities, but we were often caught in a dilemma, torn between allocating our limited time to either Dino Bash 1 or 2.
Eventually, we reached a point where the increased revenue from Dino Bash 1 allowed us to rent an office and have everyone working full-time on the project. This resource boost significantly accelerated our production pace, enabling us to enhance the game's quality greatly in the final five months during the soft launch.
Do you still have members of the team who worked on 2016’s Dino Bash working on this new title?
Indeed, there is some overlap in the team that worked on Travel Through Time and the original Dino Bash from 2016. The core team includes ourselves. We have been working on the idea since the beginning.
Regrettably, the two developers who worked on Dino Bash 1 weren't available for the new project. However, we were fortunate to hire Martin, a very capable developer who seamlessly stepped into their shoes and contributed immensely to developing Travel Through Time.
How did the team ensure that Travel Through Time captures the first game's essence but expands upon it?
Ensuring that Travel Through Time retained the essence of the original while expanding upon it was a crucial objective for us. We aimed to introduce fresh elements that offer players a new and exciting gaming experience while staying true to the enjoyable aspects of the original Dino Bash.
This led us to incorporate a controllable hero, a pivotal addition that enhances direct interaction with the game and opens up numerous avenues for skilful and strategic gameplay. While we introduced a host of new dinosaurs, we also included some of our all-time favourites from the original game to maintain that sense of familiarity for players.
Regarding the meta-game design, we wanted to innovate to enhance the player experience. To achieve this, we introduced new items that players can equip, chests to be discovered, and the option to complete each level with one to three stars, making replays more engaging and enjoyable.
Throughout the production process, particularly during the soft launch, we tried reaching out to as many Dino Bash 1 players as possible to gather their feedback. While we're content with the results, we know some players miss certain aspects of the original game, such as the ability to select their own dinosaur team. To address this, we're currently working on an events system that will bring back many of these elements from the original game.
We initially kicked off the localisation process by using AI-driven translation tools, which proved to be surprisingly effective.André Hornung and Philipp Brömme
The game will be available in 7 languages, what was the localisation process?
Localising the game into seven languages was an interesting journey for us, given our constraints of limited financial resources. We initially kicked off the localisation process by using AI-driven translation tools, which proved to be surprisingly effective. However, we learned that while AI translations are a helpful starting point, they aren't perfect.
To enhance the quality of the translations, we reached out to our international friends, who kindly played the game in their respective languages and provided valuable feedback. Their input allowed us to fine-tune and optimise the various languages throughout the entire production cycle.
Looking ahead, as the game generates revenue, we plan to allocate resources for a more comprehensive localisation quality assurance process. This will enable us to further refine and perfect the localised versions of the game.
Can we expect updates once the game is out? It launches with 120 levels, but is there an approach to live ops you can tell us about?
Absolutely, we're committed to extending the journey of the dinos well beyond the initial launch. We have an exciting array of different time zones in mind, including the Middle Ages, Ancient Rome, a futuristic setting, and even a trip back to the 70s. These diverse settings promise a lot of fun and new adventures for players. We plan to regularly provide level updates, aiming for a release every two months or even faster if circumstances allow, like hiring an additional developer after the game's launch.
Furthermore, we're actively working on an events system that will enable us to introduce fresh content for special occasions like Christmas or Halloween. These events will offer new experiences and opportunities, even to players who still need to complete the entire storyline, ensuring that there's always something exciting happening in the world of Dino Bash.
We're working on a new game that combines action RPG and tower defence elements, featuring a Nordic archer girl as the central character.André Hornung and Philipp Brömme
And finally, is there anything else we should know about the game and what to expect in the future from the team?
Certainly, one fundamental aspect of our game is worth highlighting. When we started Dino Bash 1, we noticed that many dino-themed games portrayed dinosaurs as menacing monsters to be defeated. We had a different vision in mind; we wanted to craft a game where dinosaurs are friendly heroes, protecting against evil humans. We aimed to create a game that resonated with adults and was suitable for kids – something we could enjoy playing with our children, who have a profound love for dinosaurs. We strived to maintain this core principle in Dino Bash 2, ensuring that it strikes a balance between being engaging for adults and approachable for younger players. This has become a defining characteristic of Pokoko's identity.
In the future, our plans are twofold. First, we will continue to enhance Dino Bash, working on improvements and delivering exciting new content. Additionally, we're working on a new game that combines action RPG and tower defence elements, featuring a Nordic archer girl as the central character. We're excited about what the future holds for both Dino Bash and our upcoming project.