Review Fix chats with “Magic Twins” developer Carlos Hernando, who discusses the game, its influences, creative process and so much more.
Review Fix: How was this game born?
Carlos Hernando: It was born from a simple concept from Diego, our programmer. The first prototype was a simple color matching game featuring balls. And I think that’s the only thing that remains today.
Some elements that didn’t make the cut are the use of elements (fire, water, etc.), the possibility of shooting from the bottom of the screen or even the very nature of the characters (at one point they were chameleons instead of witches!).
Moreover, the game was a mobile game at first. But as we iterated, we realized that it was a really good concept to adapt to two players in PC and console. Although Magic Twins also offers a great single player experience thanks to the AI.
Review Fix: What is your role in the game?
Hernando: I am the Creative Director, which means I oversee the game to make sure everything is coherent. I have also designed the mechanics and several levels. In addition I also wrote the story and lent my voice to one of the characters (Cauldron).
Review Fix: What has development been like?
Hernando: At first, it wasn’t a high priority project for us so we jumped in and out depending on the needs of the company. In fact the first prototypes weren’t really fun and the team wasn’t motivated to work on it. Part of that team didn’t make it to the end of the development. I wasn’t involved either.
However, when we decided to make it a coop game, we had a couple intense months to create new mechanics, adapt the gameplay and try to find a general game design philosophy that worked. Our goal was to create a vertical slice that could be put in front of an audience so they could tear it apart.
And once done, we brought the Magic Twins Alpha to a live event (this was just before Covid-19) and tested the game with real people. They loved it!
From that point on, development was much simpler and more straightforward. Along the way there were some tricky points (like the tutorial) and we had to decide which game modes stayed in and which ones went out, but it was a pretty smooth and fun process.
Also, the fans have been supporting us all along the way (some skins featured in the game are designed by them!).
Review Fix: What makes this game special?
Hernando: Although the game has clear game inspirations (which I will talk about later), it introduces new mechanics. Especially the chromagic spells, which allow players to manipulate the colors of enemies to achieve their goals. Objectives that are different for each level, offering a great variety and replayability and forcing players to devise strategies for each level.
This is coupled with a very comical narrative, supported by a kawaii aesthetic and music designed to continually motivate the player.
The icing on the cake are the very social interactions that emerge from the game’s mechanics, creating a very satisfying, fun and unique experience.
Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?
Hernando: There is always a trio that I cite composed of some of my favorite games from three very different eras in the history of video games:
- Puzzle Bobble. Of course, the color matching mechanics, but also the cute vibes and focus on fun satisfying moments.
- Plants vs Zombies. The defense structure and square level-based levels. Also the absurd sense of humor it exudes.
- Overcooked!. Probably the most subtle reference of the three, as I have not included specific mechanics or structures, but rather the focus on communication and the stress generated by having to do several things at once. Cooperative games should not be based on two players doing things individually and who happen to be playing on the same screen. Strategy development and mutual understanding of each other’s actions should be the basis of the gameplay.
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Hernando: Once, some customers came to our office to propose a development project and, during the introduction, we presented them our products (finished and under development). When we showed them Magic Twins, they tried it out and spent three hours playing. We had to postpone the meeting to another day.
Review Fix: What were the major lessons learned?
Hernando: Sometimes what seems like a bad idea just needs to be confronted from a different perspective. It is easy to try to stick to a pre-established framework, instead of making radical changes to a formula that has potential, but does not really work in its current state. It is something that can also affect the team’s morale.
Review Fix: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Hernando: I suppose it is of relative importance. The main thing should be to choose the mechanics that best fit each product.
Of course, nowadays we live in a time when triple A games tend to be more and more similar to each other, so the role of indies in keeping alive, not just mechanics, but entire genres, is very important.
More than preserving mechanics, I believe it is important to preserve the variety and plurality of interactive media.
Review Fix: The marketplace is crowded. How do you think you stand out?
Hernando: We have a unique aesthetic, yet it takes references from kawaii products, so we can appeal to an audience looking for cute cartoon games, but without looking like a generic product. This is also supported by the skins available for Abra and Cadabra (the main characters) and their voice acting.
The mechanics are novel, but thanks to their references, they feel familiar. The fact that it’s so much fun and the humorous side add value for influencers and encourage word of mouth.
In addition, Magic Twins supports Remote Play and has Leaderboards for its Endless Mode.
Review Fix: How have your previous experiences in industry helped this game?
Hernando: The main objective behind the development of Magic Twins (beyond making a good product), was to create a system with simple mechanics that would allow for a lot of variety in terms of gameplay without making major changes or introducing new elements.
It’s a completely different philosophy from A Rite from the Stars, where we added variety by introducing new mechanics in each level that were rarely used again throughout the game.
Achieving that kind of situational gameplay is something I couldn’t have done without my previous experience.
We have also made a better marketing campaign, a more effective publisher search process and closer communication with fans.
Review Fix: How do you want this game to ultimately be remembered?
Hernando: As a great experience to spend time in company. A game that players have installed on their PC or console and to which you return from time to time to have a good time with a friend or family member.
And for the most hardcore players, a game that, despite its simplicity, offers challenges in the final stages that test their game skills
Review Fix: What’s next?
Hernando: It all depends on how well Magic Twins works, but our goal would be to release DLC and even a sequel. The mechanics have great potential and there are many ideas and even game modes that we couldn’t include in the game.
Therefore, it would be relatively easy for us to expand what we already have to create another great game.
Personally, I would really like to make a comic out of the story.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Hernando: Magic Twins is a game in which we have put a lot of effort and love to make it as well rounded as possible. We think it is a good way to have a good time in company and test friendships or even relationships :D. There is a playable demo on Steam, so it is very easy to give it a try.
The game also includes several colorblind filters, so that color matching is not a problem for anyone.
And of course, thank you very much for reading my words.