Casual games and mobile are a perfect fit. Even a cursory glance at the most popular games in the app store charts will confirm that.
That being said, a game's popularity is never a guarantee of actual quality; an axiom that especially holds true for casual titles. Most casual games need only require an addictive gameplay loop that isn't too demanding along with a routine sensory thrill, and voila! they possess all the basic ingredients to be a success. The drawback of course is that it means most developers rarely push the boat out when it comes to innovation. Afterall, why complicate something when you don't have to?
So, with that being the case, it truly is a breath of fresh air for us when a studio like BebopBee sets out on a mission to change that. A mission that first began with hit games like Snapimals and Jurassic Go and looks set to continue with its latest match-3 title, What a Wonderful World.
Just like those aforementioned simulation games, What a Wonderful World delivers heavily on charm and a sense of serenity. It takes a holistic approach to the match-3 concept, expanding beyond the puzzles themselves and encouraging players to become immersed in the game world (as well as the real world) around them.
We recently spoke with BebopBee's founder and CEO, Rajeev Nagpal, to learn more about its promising new puzzler as well as discover their reasons for making it.
What do you think your game offers that you can’t get from any other title on the App Store?
What A Wonderful World brings together a fun way to learn about the world around us. Game is about the joys of traveling and is a window into our shared humanity, in all its glorious diversity - what makes us all unique and different and what makes us all come together!
It’s a beautiful game, wrapped around an intuitive puzzle genre and a zeitgeist that aims to showcase that there is so much good in the world that connects us and inspires us. That magic in the world is what we want our players to discover.
As the saying goes, great art has always changed the way we see the world, and we hope that What A Wonderful World changes the way we see each other, even if just a tiny bit.
What were your inspirations for making the game?
Anthony Bourdain was a big influence. He said that if people were to just sit down and eat together, and learn about each other a bit more, the world will likely be a better, more rewarding place for all. It’s true.
Bourdain exuded such an effortless charm with his remarkably open-minded curiosity and his worldly empathy that he nudged his audience to be better, and he did all this in an amazingly entertaining way. We always wanted to dedicate this game to him.
What challenges did you face during development, and how did you overcome them?
Creative challenges are inevitable when you set out to do anything unique. You always have to work in a constant cloud of doubt and uncertainty. Whether people will like it? Are we adding too much? Will we have time to finish it? We, as a team, are fortunate to have an aspiring spirit that pushes us toward trying new things, and eventually through trial & error the game reveals itself, almost magically.
Which part of the game are you personally the most proud of and why?
For me, the most innovative and promising aspect of the game is Tripstagram, which is where the game meets the real-world. Players progress to reveal artistic wonders like the Louvre museum in Paris, or meet people like Scarlett Johansson in NY, and learn about them via an artistically curated collection of quotes, images and videos. It’s like cultural storytelling - players get an immersive experience travelling to the place and feeling empathetic towards other cultures.
This experience is not only informative and entertaining, but also allows us to do UA creatively at-scale. Also, I think the way we have delivered on Pixaresque art appeal, charming narrative, delightfully dynamic match-3 with co-creative adaptiveness is pretty special too.
Do you have anything planned in terms of future updates and, if so, can you give us any details of what these might include?
We’ll have the usual LiveOps - events with leaderboards, streaks, new city every 3 weeks, etc. and a big focus going forward will be on utilizing game’s real-world connection for novel features and for UA-at-scale. The Travelogue-inspired ‘Daily Tour’ will be one-of-a-kind feature.
There are other real-world features like Google Arts & Culture’s viral Selfie feature which fits well with the spirit of the game. Then there are Travel brands who would like to expand to a massive gaming audience and then there are Micro-Influencers across networks, some of whom we showcase in the game. There is a lot to the game that is inherently shareable. We will be spending a lot of time to further bake UA into the game loop itself.
What's the next step for your studio?
Next step for us as a studio is to work toward owning the Next-gen of Match-3. We’ll keep refining it until its better than the current best, and we are not that far to be forthright. We also have plans to do a quick SimAnimals inspired Match-3 sequel to our extremely well-received first game, Snapimals, which is arguably the best mobile game about the love of animals. Finally, we also want to do a Civ inspired Match-3 RPG with AR features around discovering the world from a historical perspective. We can’t wait! :)