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Super Meat Boy's super boys explain what it means to go mobile


Yesterday Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Team Meat dropped a gigantic, raw bomb on Twitter (gross), announcing their plans to strip down Super Meat Boy and rebuild it completely for mobile touch devices. They were vague on details apart from an intent to create a brand new game in the Super Meat Boy universe, and that they definitely wouldn't use "shitty touch controls."

We thought they were being coy, but it turns out they don't know much more about the touchscreen version than we do. It's still in the engine phase of development, McMillen told Joystiq, and they're pretty much winging it, playing with things that work and throwing out ideas that don't -- even if that includes the entire game.

"I mean, honestly, this is simply a challenge for us," McMillen said. "It's easy to poo-poo a new system because of its horrible use of touchscreen on ported titles; it's harder to attempt to try and figure out a design that works and make something worth checking out.

"So that's basically what we are doing -- no idea how it will turn out -- but Tommy and I wanted to jump back into dev again with something that isn't going to take a year-plus to make, so prototyping this idea seemed most appropriate and inspired."

The new game, whatever it is, may end up on more than the standard touchscreen staples, such as tablets and smartphones, Refenes said, and it may be different enough than the current Super Meat Boy to warrant a release on PC as well.

"We want to do it on as many things as possible so long as the performance is good, the game is playable, and the game is fun," he added. "It may make its way to PC/Mac but that is still up in the air. Ideally, we'd like to release it on everything at once so we don't get into another situation where the game is out and I have to do ports to other systems to complete our promised releases."

Team Meat still isn't sure what type of controls the new game will use -- aside from "not shitty" -- but they're not settling for a half-finished, unrefined title.

"Can we make a twitch platformer with touch controls simple enough to work, but in-depth enough to feel like a stand-alone, fully envisioned game for these systems?"

- Edmund McMillen, Team Meat
"For a while we tried to figure out a way to make good controls for touchscreens and it simply never came close to what we needed to make SMB on this platform at all," McMillen said. "We knew that if we were going to do SMB on touch handhelds we would need to basically totally remake it into a new game with the spirit and theme of SMB.

"We dont want to go in-depth on a game we are just now starting to prototype, and it was probably not smart for us to talk about working on it so early, but basically our approach and challenge is this: 'Can we make a twitch platformer with touch controls simple enough to work, but in-depth enough to feel like a stand-alone, fully envisioned game for these systems?'"

Sounds simple enough.

If the touchscreen venture doesn't work out, Team Meat has a backup plan (not that kind of backup -- we think).

"The next project would be the Big Number Two -- not poop, but game two," McMillen said. "A game much larger than SMB that we have been wanting to do since late SMB development. It will be a big undertaking, so we wanted to try and do something smaller first. But if this touch thing isn't actually fun we will simply can it and move on to the bigger project. Or maybe make up something else as we go."

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