Eggstracting the answers: Philip and Andrew Oliver on Dizzy Returns
For many Spectrum and Commodore 64 owners in the 1980s, an oval-ish shaped character in boxing gloves was something of a gaming icon. Dizzy the egg starred in numerous flip-screen, puzzle-adventure titles; from his original clash with pesky wizard Zaks, to battling dragons in Fantasy World Dizzy and figuring his way through a fairytale realm in Magicland.
The final Dizzy title, Crystal Kingdom, was released in 1992. Now though, the series’ original creators Philip and Andrew Oliver want to bring back the world’s most recognisable egg for a brand new adventure.
I asked the Oliver twins about the decision to bring back Dizzy after all these years, the legacy of the series and their efforts to fund the title through crowd-funding platform Kickstarter.
IncGamers: What prompted the decision that? ?2012? ?was the right time to return to game development and bring back? ?Dizzy??
Oliver Twins: Dizzy Returns is the game we’ve wanted to make for? ?20? ?years,? ?but it’s? ?Kickstarter? ?that prompted us to bring him back in a new and original adventure.? ?Not only does Kickstarter provide a means of financing a project,? ?it more importantly allows us to gauge interest in the idea of a new? ?Dizzy game.
IG: Who owns the intellectual property rights for? ?Dizzy at present?? ?Is it still a situation where Codemasters owns half,? ?and how will this affect any eventual game release??
OT: The rights? ?to Dizzy? ?are owned jointly by The Oliver Twins Ltd and Codemasters Ltd,? ?and the contract allows us both to make Dizzy games,? ?with a standard royalty agreement.? ?If we’re successfully funded the release of the game won’t be affected by this at all.
IG: What do you think the lasting legacy of the? ?Dizzy series has been?? ?Have you seen its influence in other games out there??
OT: The Dizzy games were to many their first experience of playing a computer game,? ?and we’re humbled by the feedback? ?and comments? ?we’ve had from our backers,? ?who have incredibly fond memories of playing Dizzy.? ?What fans constantly tell us is that they loved the challenge of those original games,? ?the fun they had solving puzzles,? ?and the memories of playing socially,? ?with their family and friends?! ?We set out to create fun,? ?rewarding and challenging games,? ?and judging by the comments of Dizzy fans,? ?we succeeded?!
IG: Which were your favourite? ?Dizzy games to design and develop??
OT: Fantastic Dizzy is by far our favourite Dizzy game? – ?we were incredibly proud of the finished game,? ?which took over a year to make? (?much longer than any of the previous games?)?.? ?It was a combination of the first three Dizzy games,? ?because Fantastic Dizzy was designed for NES and was going to sell for? ?$40/$50? ?we needed to make it much more impressive.? ?It was around this time that we started our own company and began employing people? – ?they were exciting times?!
IG: A lot has happened in gaming since? ?Dizzy’s heyday.? ?Which games have influenced you over the past few years,? ?and will any of those influences be seen in the development of? ?Dizzy Returns??
OT: The? ?Uncharted series is a great example of games that use story to superb effect? – ?the locations,? ?puzzles,? ?great action sequences all? ?make for an exciting and breathtaking experience.? ?Whilst of course the action and story? ?will have a different feel in? ?Dizzy Returns,? ?character and story-driven gameplay has always been a cornerstone of the Dizzy series,? ?and something that we really want to shine in? ?Dizzy Returns.
IG: The Kickstarter blurb notes that you have approached publishers in recent years to try to get a new? ?Dizzy title in development,? ?but were turned down.? ?Are you able to name any of the publishers who rejected the concept,? ?or talk about their reasoning??
OT: It’d be unprofessional of us to mention any names,? ?of course.?
IG: How do you respond to concerns that big-money projects from established developers trading on nostalgic concepts are to the detriment of Kickstarter??
OT: The wonderful thing about Kickstarter is that it celebrates creativity and originality?; ?we firmly believe that those things aren’t dependent on the size of the company or group of individuals involved.? ?A project should be judged on its own merits,? ?not on how big or small the team behind it is.? ?That’s also an important point that is largely missed? – ?there are talented,? ?creative and passionate people behind each project on Kickstarter,? ?whether it’s a team of? ?50? ?employed by an established studio or an individual working on their own.?
We are extremely proud of the talented,? ?creative and experienced people at Blitz Games Studios and we know that if successfully funded,? ?we will deliver on our promise to make the biggest and best Dizzy game ever.
IG: In the update about the project’s finances,? ?you mention professional voice acting.? ?Do you have anybody in particular in mind to voice? ?Dizzy,? ?or some of the rest of the Yolkfolk??
OT: The specifics of the voice acting is something that we’re still discussing? – ?there has been a mixed reaction from our backers about Dizzy having a voice,? ?which is certainly understandable.? ?It’s something we’ll be exploring in our backer-only design surveys? – ?whether to have a narrator,? ?fully-voiced Yolkfolk and a silent Dizzy,? ?or a combination of these things.? ?Bear in mind though that iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse were originally silent and then voiced in later years?!
IG: Likewise,? ?do you have anybody in mind for the musical score?? ?What kind of tone will you be going for here??
OT: We have an extremely talented audio team at Blitz Game Studios,? ?and our? ?ultimate goal is to use the music from the original games as an inspiration for? ?the score of? ?Dizzy Returns? ?– staying true to the spirit of Dizzy whilst adding a new and up-to-date twist.
IG: Will any of the ideas from the unreleased? ?Wonderland Dizzy be making it into this new project,? ?and what went wrong with? ?Wonderland Dizzy’s release??
OT: There were lots of things that we couldn’t include in all of the original games due to financial and technological limitations at the time,? ?so we’re hoping to remedy that in? ?Dizzy Returns?! ?The history of games development is full of games that never quite made it to release,? ?for all sorts of reasons.? ?There were several things that led to? ?Wonderland Dizzy being shelved but times have changed a lot since then and you can trust that? ?Dizzy Returns will definitely see the light of day if we hit our Kickstarter target.
IG: You’ve noted that? ?Dizzy Returns is aiming to be? “?five times?” ?as large as previous? ?Dizzy titles.? ?These varied in size though,? ?so is it aiming to be five times larger than? ?Prince of the Yolkfolk,? ?or five times larger than? ?Spellbound??
OT: Dizzy Returns will certainly? ?be? ?larger than? ?Prince of the Yolkfolk,? ?which? ?of course is the smallest of the original Dizzy games.? ?We’re looking to create around ten game areas,? ?self-contained worlds arranged around a central hub.? ?Unlike the original series,? ?these worlds will of course be scrollable in all directions and they will be packed with puzzles,? ?platforms and hazards.? ?Gone are the days where one screen equated to one or two interesting things?; ?our aim is to create locations alive with detail and full of gameplay.?
IG: Egg puns:? ?what are your favourites?? ?Or are you heartily sick of the lot of them??
OT: In all honesty,? ?they still make us smile,? ?even after hearing them over and over again.? ?You’d be hard pressed to come up with one we haven’t ever heard oeuf?!
IG: Oh dear.
The Dizzy Returns Kickstarter page can be found here.