02 Nov Q&A with the Cut the Rope 3 development team
On the 13th of October we released Cut the Rope 3 on Apple Arcade together with Zeptolab. During this Q&A the Cut the Rope 3 lead team shared what development was like from pre-production to launch!
What was it like working on another Cut the Rope game?
Coen Neessen (Game Director): We were extremely excited to work on Cut the Rope 3, especially because we feel the game aligns with Paladin’s vision. A vibrant and playful experience for all audiences. To me that’s a Paladin game. When it came out, Cut the Rope 1 was a massive influence and inspiration for us and I’m extremely proud that we have been given the opportunity to give back and create the best sequel for the fans!
In the end it’s not just the final result, the game, what makes it Paladin to me. It’s also how we developed it. Ideas came from everyone, and everyone was critical of the work we did. There was a lot of positive energy that led to amazing results.
As a studio we aim to create an environment that lets creative people thrive. To enable this we emphasize collaboration, creativity and sharing perspectives. What made this project special for me is that all disciplines were intertwined. Designers found their inner artist, artists came up with technical solutions and programmers were dressing up levels. Basically everyone was involved in all corners of the game, and understood each other’s tasks and ideas. That really contributed to the quality of the game.
Shahab Djafarpour (Lead Designer): It’s important to get a clear vision in the early stages of development. Having that unclouded view of the game was essential once the team got to prototyping, to make sure we were all working towards the same thing. Investing in that alignment led to the first level that was drafted on the white board making it into the game. The clear vision for the game and the team being on the same page made a huge difference in that early stage of development.
For the whole of the project, the team had weekly prototyping meetings to bring ideas together and prototype levels. Designers would try new things, make decisions, shelve some things and come back next week to see if we still felt the same. The design team was united in the idea that we should be able to try something and let it go if it didn’t work out. That mindset allowed for quick iterations and pushed the creativity of the team.
Coen adds: From previous projects we learned that it would be great to have an ongoing idea board. That way we could easily grab back to ideas, add quick new ideas that might need some input as well as facilitate collaboration early on. Everyone within Paladin was able to add ideas to that board, you did not have to be part of the Cut the Rope 3 development team as all different kinds of perspectives are valuable. If there was life in an idea from someone that wasn’t on the team, they would join for the next prototyping meeting and help the designers bring their ideas to life.
What was needed to make development run smoothly?
Sam Alonso (Lead Architect): Even before the vision was set in stone, the tech team was already experimenting with an architecture that could support bigger ideas. Because we worked on Cut the Rope: Remastered previously, we had tools already laying around that we could use in the set up of this game. There was room to improve upon those tools and start building others that we felt could benefit the scope of this project.
Stijn Stiefelhagen (Lead Systems): Since Cut the Rope 3 is part of the same franchise as Remastered, the tech team was able to start before the pre-production kicked off. The fact that tech also had time to prototype architectural aspects before the rest of the team needed them to start building was great for laying the right type of foundation.
And how did this impact the rest of the team?
Jan Lehnert (Lead QA): QA benefited heavily from the early tech set-up and we also brought a lot of learnings from working on Cut the Rope: Remastered with us. This meant that testing was overall more efficient as expectations and risks were clear from the beginning. Supporting developers with testing their changes before implementation assured stability throughout the development cycle and spending the extra time to create cheats and debug tools helped both them and designers to tweak things, while also making it easier for us to test and report issues accurately.
Jan Castelijns (Lead Producer):That architecture of tools helped the allocation of people on the team. Having that foundation freed up developers. Designers were able to make levels, try whatever they wanted to try without needing a programmer as closely as without those tools. As a result, programmers were able to focus on other things that would improve the game experience such as art.
How was it to work with Zeptolab and Apple again?
Coen Neessen: Working together with Zeptolab again was great. There is a lot of trust between us, which makes for a great collaboration. The love and care Zeptolab puts into the franchise is incredible to see. While Cut the Rope has always been an inspiration for Paladin, getting to work with people that contributed to the original game was even more inspiring.
Apple Arcade has felt like the right place for this game from the very beginning. The values of the platform align well with our values and we feel we have been able to truly focus on creating a fun experience for the player.
Creating a game like Cut the Rope 3 is a collaborative effort on many different levels. From working together with the Apple Arcade team and Zeptolab to having a smoothly running (and happy) development team.
Melissa de Leeuw (Lead Artist): The synergy we experienced within this team has made a big impact from the start. A good example of this is the way we went about translating vision to art. There was complete freedom in art style as long as it would fit the Cut the Rope IP. Some core visuals for the project came to life early on, such as the Om Nom balloon you see a lot of. Everybody loved it and it helped the team see the same vision as well as spark more ideas.
For the environments, we started out with the jungle, but also didn’t want to steer too close to Cut the Rope 2. Because we wanted the game to be playable on devices ranging from iPhone to AppleTV, we needed our environments to be scalable. The idea to bring the background forward and integrate them into the level design came while brainstorming with Zeptolab. We were looking for ways to make the levels make sense and feel cohesive and we got there together.
Jan Castelijns: Team morale is so important. Development can be a rocky road, sometimes you hit a brick wall or things don’t go the way you planned it out. In many different ways, we tried to make the process as much fun as the end result. We tried to create an open and positive environment. We shared stories, ate a lot of pies, and introduced numerous traditions like a yell or sharing a random fact of the day. The daily standup in the morning, that focuses on alignment in the work that needed to be done, also turned into room for fun so that everyone’s day started with a smile.
We have had such a good time working on this game from start to finish. We have to thank Zeptolab, Apple and all Paladins involved for their creativity, passion and hard work The team that worked on Cut the Rope 3 hopes you have as much fun playing this game as we have developing it! Have you accepted the challenge to explore uncharted lands with Om Nom and cute little Nibble Nom yet?
Start your Cut the Rope 3 adventure today on Apple Arcade!
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