Mimi’s Delivery Dash Developers Talk Turning A Ghibli Film Into A Game In Ten Days

By Joel Couture . April 13, 2018 . 3:00pm

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Mimi’s Delivery Dash is a video game take on Kiki’s Delivery Service, having players control a witch as she flies all over town making deliveries as quickly as she can without bashing into anyone. The faster the player makes those deliveries, the more they make for their hard work.

Siliconera spoke with the developers behind Mimi’s Delivery Dash to talk about its inspirations, how the developers worked to preserve the spirit and look of the films with their game, and the challenges they faced in bringing it all together in ten days.

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Mimi’s Delivery Dash is a tribute to Kiki’s Delivery Service. What drew you to create an homage to it?

SaKo, Artist & Programmer – I just wanted to participate in a game jam and the Movie Game Jam looked interesting. Martin (Wright) and I discussed various movies we could adapt into a game, including other Ghibli movies like The Cat Returns, but we settled on Kiki’s Delivery Service because it felt like the easiest to pull off. We loved the bright, open atmosphere of the film.

Martin Wright, Artist – One thing that sticks out in a lot of Ghibli movies to me is the lack of a traditional villain or confrontation, which makes them more about the characters and their personal struggles. I guess that appeal is what gave us a more interesting groundwork to build from.

How did you design gameplay around the premise of Kiki’s Delivery Service?

Wright –  The game we ended up with is very different to everything we discussed in the ideas stage! I originally pushed the concept of a side-scrolling shooter – minus the shooting. It would have been more linear, with a goal of reaching a destination as quickly as possible while avoiding various obstacles that would slow you down.

Nathan Scott, Programmer – The early idea was based on the film scene where Kiki rushes to save Tombo from a runaway dirigible. We tossed a few ideas around but weren’t sure if it was the best representation of an otherwise light-hearted film.

Wright – That’s when the 2D Crazy Taxi idea came up. The gentle ease of flying around this large looping area definitely seemed like a much better fit, so that’s when the real work began of making that concept the best it could be in the time we had.

What was important to capture with the look and play style of the game, for you? What did it need to feel right?

Wright – It was really a mixture of everything. We felt it was important to capture the relaxed and cosy nature of Kiki – be that the bright colour palette, the fun feeling of flying around, or Nathan’s interpretation of Joe Hisaishi’s original score. I personally tried my best to make the key art look like as close to coming from a Ghibli movie as possible. It’s one of the first things people see, so hopefully it puts players in the right mindset before they even start playing.

SaKo – I tried to choose a nice, colourful palette that suited the art of the film. When making the tileset and other assets, I always referenced screenshots from the film – I wanted to match the aesthetics as close as possible.

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What thoughts went into creating challenging play for a witch who can fly anywhere on a broomstick to make fast deliveries? How do you challenge a player when they’re trying to fly quickly?

Wright – One of the most common responses we saw from people that played it were “I wish there was a health bar” or “I wish you could die”, which kind of isn’t the point, right? No one really gets hurt in Kiki, so it would be unintuitive to have Mimi straight up killed by crows or for going too fast.

Scott – We didn’t want to add any consequences that were too violent, so design became a balancing act of giving better players bonuses for quick deliveries and stunning them for a few seconds if they got too careless with the boost ability. For high scores, learning the level layout becomes a lot more important.

Mimi’s Delivery Dash was created in 10 days. What thoughts go into creating a fun, charming game in such a short amount of time? How do you decide on what you will focus on as time runs out?

Wright – It helped that there were three of us, each having different strengths.

Initially it was just SaKo and me. SaKo was experienced in programming and making sprites, while I was there for various art jobs such as the character design, key art, and the logo. Nate (Scott) was then brought on because he can make his own music, but also has experience making his own games so he ended up doing a lot of the coding too, leaving SaKo more time to work on all the amazing background art.

Even so, there were actually a lot of assets left to make quite late into the process, so I ended up making all the NPCs and their animations without any real prior pixel art experience, completely on the fly! It’s a miracle they turned out as well as they did.

Scott – We kept a big Trello board with planned features and assets and tried to prioritise what was necessary for a complete game loop, then add extra details and polish during any downtime. Occasionally, there’d be a late idea for a feature that wasn’t exactly a priority, but we’d work on it because it made a lot of sense. Martin suggested a looping level late in development and I dropped everything else for a day to implement it. It took some liberal use of smoke and mirrors to pull off, but I knew the game would feel a lot worse without it.

SaKo – Once the deadline started looming, we realised that we had to focus on actually making a presentable, playable game before anything else. I was getting increasingly worried about the state of the game, as there were still heaps of placeholder assets and bugs up until right before release. On the last day though, I was surprised at how quickly we wrapped things up!

I got extremely burned out from the development of the game and I don’t think I’ll stay up late working on something for days on end again. Despite that, I’m still glad I was able to do this and I’m really proud of what our team accomplished!

You have said that you will continue to update the game. What is next for Mimi’s Delivery Dash?

Scott – We have a couple of small quality-of-life updates planned in the short term – mostly little things we didn’t get done in time for the jam like customisable controls, more varied NPC and level assets, minor bug fixes etc.

We’ve had some internal discussions of bigger features, but most of us have moved onto other projects now and only work on Mimi in our spare time so I don’t want to promise *too* much at this stage. We’d love to do more with the money you earn at the end of each game day, though.


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