Rubber Tacos: pesos optional

Local game designer William Dubé talks about his whimsical free-to-play game, released as an Android app today.

In the harsh, impatient world of free-to-play gaming, first impressions are everything. When Rubber Tacos, from local studio Sava Transmedia, made its soft launch on Facebook this past August, primary level designer William Dubé and his team noticed those early levels — the ones designed to rope players into the game’s strange universe of luchadores, stolen chilli peppers and bouncing physics — were too tough, which could make all the difference between a curious player giving the game a chance or moving on to another browser tab.

“For free-to-play games, in a way it’s only after the game is launched that the real game design starts,” says Dubé. “After we launched on Facebook, I spent weeks working on those first 10 levels, trying to make them easier but fun as well, so we weren’t driving players away in frustration. It’s so fast for players to turn off the game: one click you’re in, one click you’re out.”

With every pepper in its right place, this past Tuesday Rubber Tacos was released worldwide on iOS, with an Android release coming Thursday, Nov. 22, both as free apps. Fans of mobile gaming titans Angry Birds and Cut the Rope will feel a sense of familiarity with Rubber Tacos, as Dubé cites both as inspirations. Like Angry Birds, Rubber Tacos players get to fling their heroes (in this case a family of luchadores) across treacherous terrain, and similarly to Cut the Rope, the levels themselves can be interacted with. Each level is fitted with five floating chilli peppers, and it’s up to the player to assist the adorable luchador family, modeled after The Incredibles, in retrieving them with one flick.

So if the game is free, how does the team plan on getting those sweet pesos? Once inside the game, players can make hard money purchases: to buy power-ups, more options for the level editor and unlock more “energy,” which when depleted prevents you from playing further until it recharges.

“What drove us to make it free-to-play was that we really wanted to learn about that space,” says Dubé, adding that Rubber Tacos was originally conceived as a mobile game and not a Facebook exclusive. “It was only during development that we started looking at it as a Facebook game. I think mobile’s the best platform for the game, at least.” ■

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