Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Four Horses director Mick Waites, who discusses the indie smash hit “Miles & Kilo” on the Nintendo Switch, inspired by the “Adventure Island” and BIT.TRIP RUNNER, it’s the perfect combination of old-school fun and modern-age indie game development.
About Miles & Kilo:
Miles & Kilo is the sequel to Kid Tripp. Whilst out for a flight with his dog, Kilo, Miles gets trapped in a storm when a mysterious character appears and causes them to crash land on a haunted island. To make matters worse, this character and his cronies steal various vital parts of Miles’ plane. Take control of Miles and Kilo to run, jump, bounce, swing, roll, surf, crash, smash and hop your way through 36 challenging levels across five beautiful hand-drawn worlds.
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Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Mick Waites: I started working on Miles & Kilo pretty soon after I released Kid Tripp on the App Store back in 2013. Kid Tripp’s initial reception far surpassed my expectations, so I was really eager to jump right back in and make a bigger and better sequel.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What was development like?
Waites: Development was fun! I worked on the game in my free time during my last three years as an undergraduate in college. I was of course learning a lot about programming then, and often when I learned a useful new technique I’d go back and rewrite a large chunk of Miles & Kilo’s code to apply it. Those rewrites always paid off big time too, since the code became more manageable and easier to add on to. In retrospect, it was really great to have this project going on during that time – I wasn’t in a rush to finish the game, I just took my time and had fun with it.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?
Waites: The fact that it is the work of a single developer. Whilst that isn’t a new thing, the game is a cohesive, focused product as a result. When multiple people have creative input into a game it can be difficult to share the exact same vision for what the end result should be. Miles & Kilo is exactly the game that
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Waites: I think the biggest influence on both Kid Tripp and Miles & Kilo was probably BIT.TRIP RUNNER. I absolutely loved that game when it first came out on WiiWare — it felt so solid and fast and smooth, and I’d feel like an absolute ninja whenever I finally managed to complete a level. I was really trying to capture that game’s fast-paced energy in Miles & Kilo.
New Adventure Island on the TG-16 also influenced me a lot. The cute tropical setting and straightforward level design really appealed to me, and I loved how you could speed through levels almost non-stop once you learned their patterns.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Waites: Honestly, not really, haha. It was just me writing the game in my free time and doing all the art/design, so there wasn’t much room for anything particularly crazy to happen.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Waites: Not necessarily important, but I feel that it is important that games don’t evolve away from being gameplay driven in favour of cinematic scripted experiences. Games of old only had gameplay to fall back on to keep a player hooked. These days gameplay often seems to be an afterthought with story and the fidelity of the visual experience being the driving forces that determine the quality of a game.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you think your game “fits” on the landscape of the Nintendo Switch?
Waites: Like a grain of sand on an enormous beach! The Nintendo Switch does not have a shortage of great games. Miles & Kilo is a relatively short, fun, high-quality arcade-like experience and there are quite a few of those on the console already. We feel that Miles & Kilo is a complete package – great gameplay, great graphics, great design and great audio all at a great price, so of the similar experiences on Switch, it is amongst the better ones.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Waites: My favourite memory is the first time I ever completed an arcade game on a single credit. That game was Wardner, and as a result is my favourite arcade game of all time. It could be compared to Ghosts and Goblins in terms of its gameplay – move left to right, jumping on platforms and attacking enemies, but without the brutal difficulty level of that game. I’d love to get the chance to work on a re-make for current generation consoles, but I’m not sure how well known the game is so I doubt there’d be a huge demand for it.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Who will enjoy this game the most?
Waites: People looking for a fun arcade style action platform game who are up for a challenge.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s something about this game no one knows?
Waites: Well, a few people already know about this, but during development I experimented with a ground pound move for Miles, where he could jump up and then slam straight downwards to smash through breakable floors. Unfortunately it had some glitchy behaviors and I was never super happy with the way it felt, so I ended up deciding to cut it.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What did you learn about yourself through this game?
Waites: I learned I prefer small, motivated teams to solo development. Doing everything yourself offers a lot of satisfaction, but it can also be exhausting and super time-consuming.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Why do you think one-man dev teams are making a return to the industry? Would you have wanted to do this game with someone else?
Waites: You can learn a lot developing a game solo and I think it’s certainly a bit more viable now than it was in the past because of the amazing tools that are out there now, but one of the biggest drawbacks of solo development is that it can take a LOT longer to get stuff done. Something I’ve always enjoyed about developing projects with a team is that I regularly get to see the cool new stuff that other people create and how excited they can be about showing it off — it helps keep the project fresh and motivates me to work faster. If I do another big project I’d probably want to do it with a small team of like-minded developers/artists.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Bottom Line, why must someone play this game?
Waites: Simply to have fun. That is what this game is all about. It isn’t going to make you look at the world differently or teach you something you never realised about yourself, that is not what it is about.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Waites: I just hope people remember having fun with it! My goal with Miles & Kilo was to make something lighthearted, fun, and challenging, and improve upon the foundations I set with Kid Tripp. I know it’s not a perfect game, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Waites: I’m currently working on getting Miles & Kilo and Kid Tripp working on Sony and Microsoft platforms, after that, who knows? I have a ton of ideas rolling round in my head and no spare time to prototype any of them to work their ways into finished games.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Waites: A demo of Miles & Kilo is now available on the eShop and Four Horses will be exhibiting Miles & Kilo and Kid Tripp at EGX in Birmingham, England in September 2018, so feel free to drop in and say ‘Hi’ if you are there.
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.