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Dizzy iOS/Android: 'Xbox and PS3 are possible, but we've got Neggs Gen to consider...'

Codies game director on the return of the retro classic

This morning Codemasters officially announced the return of Dizzy the egg - not as a new game, but an iOS and Android update of 1991 classic Prince of the Yolkfolk.

In the hours since the CVG comments threads have flooded with questions and concerns; 'Why choose Yolkfolk?' 'How will the controls work on a touch screen?' 'Does anyone know any egg puns?'

Hot on the heels of the Dizzy announcement, Paul Ransom, project director on the original Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk (1991) and development director / lead programmer of its 2011 update, has stepped in to field your questions.

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Why is now the right time to bring back Dizzy? And why has it taken so long?

We're 20 years on from when Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk first appeared as the new bonus title in the box set Dizzy's Excellent Adventures. It just felt like a significant anniversary to bring him back on - it's also one of the most popular titles in the series from gamers' anecdotes.

The right time being 'now' has more to do with the way iOS/Android gaming has evolved, the gameplay that's being enjoyed on those formats and the amount of play time that's proven popular... and that the original Dizzy audience is more than likely to have those formats for causal gaming, and happy for their kids to play on them too.

Why do you think Dizzy remains so well remembered by gamers in Britain?

The puzzles, the humour, and the characters - the games were a great series of adventures and the delivery was all very panto-like really.

For many gamers, they grew up with Dizzy. From the first Spectrum/C64 title in 1987 through the turn of the decade into 16-bit and the early console days, his release lifeline pretty much followed every gamers' evolution through the platforms of the time. I think it's a positive thing that, as gaming changed, he was retired rather than pushed through a forced reinvention, which would have been his downfall.

Dizzy was also a perennial character, he was around for 8 years and the main series wasn't just pushed as endless sequels, it was never Dizzy 1, Dizzy 2, Dizzy 3 etc. The games were delivered like a series of books with thematic titles, each with familiar mechanics but a new adventure.

Then there were the arcade style games that featured Dizzy as a star guest - Kwik Snax, Bubble Dizzy, Down the Rapids... It really wasn't like an annual franchise that exists today - a player never had to worry which order to play any of the games in, so the series went on selling pretty much permanently.

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For example, during 1992 there were 9 different Dizzy titles, originally released over a 3 year period, that hit the top of the charts at one time or another during that single year.

How do you make a retro game like Yolkfolk relevant to current audiences without losing what gamers loved about the original?

It's a lot about time and place - iOS/Android gaming is very much the spiritual successor to Dizzy's original playground in terms of the games people are playing there and what they see as a good value experience.

It was the realisation that those platforms were a perfect fit for Dizzy and we wanted to bring him back as people remembered - half the joy is trying to remember the puzzles.

I've seen many people play the game in testing go through a kind-of-remember-but-not-quite experience 'Ooooh the lion, I remember! The thorn! I just need to find the, erm, what was it? Damn, what was it? And where was it?"

I also hope that a lot of people who played it back in the day are now parents and will relish the thought of experiencing it again with their kids... I am, and it's almost the perfect hand-me-down gaming experience between generations.

Can you explain your decision to opt for a remake rather than an entirely new game?

The familiarity appealed - POTY was one of the most referenced Dizzy titles by gamers when talking about memories and, having worked on the original POTY, in my mind it was very much 'my' Dizzy game. I'm also a big fan of how iOS/Android gaming has become a great destination for accessible games and offers a marketplace with pricing that is also familiar territory for Dizzy games.

How are you making sure it controls well on a touch screen?

We spent quite some time designing the control mechanism for Dizzy. We tried multiple systems one even using the tilt sensors so to move DZ we tipped the tablet left and right. A key consideration was that we had to make the controls as tight and accurate as the original keyboard mechanism.

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We adopted a three button interface for a long time. It simply had a left and right jump and pick up button on screen. However, we found that people struggled to make some of the tricky jumps. This was resolved when we added a jump left and jump right button.

Position of the icons on screen is so crucial. Remember the players are using their hands to support the device as well as to control Dizzy. One attempt had the buttons along the bottom of the screen but people found it too hard to hold and control at the same time. By putting the buttons at the sides of the screen we found that the players thumbs naturally hover over areas.

We used this experience to locate the buttons to where we have them now. Just slide your thumb over the appropriate icon and off Dizzy goes. There is no need to lift a finger physically on or off the icon it's hugely intuitive and unobstructive, just wait till you try it becomes quickly second nature and frankly you barely see them anyway as this is where you are holding the screen anyway. In play it's simple and unobtrusive - just wait until you try it.

If the mobile titles are successful, would you consider Eggsbox and PEggs3 versions in the future? (LOL)

We're at the start of what could be a great new eggventure and looking forward to seeing how this Dizzy is received when it's release. Anything's possible and of course there's the Neggs Gen to consider...

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