🎤 Interview with kazu and Shibo

2024年 5月 14日

We spoke with kazu and Shibo, the husband-and-wife duo behind a staggering array of playful and fun pixel art games under tight one-week game jam deadlines!


English (translated)

Translated by Renkon

Preschooler chick recoiling in horror as the door opens not to its mother hen but to a mother cat

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I'm kazu. I'm a programmer. Shibo is my wife. We have been making games together for the past several years. We started doing this because we had free time. (kazu will answer most of the questions in this interview.)

How did you get started making games?

kazu: I used to like playing games such as board games, poker, darts, TRPGs, and so on with other people, but after coronavirus prevented us from getting together, I looked around for another hobby. It was right around that time that I had the chance to talk with an acquaintance and learn about a one-week game jam being held on Unity Room, and joining that was how I got started.

Puzzle screen for Yoji-kun's Kanji Quiz with picture tiles for unequal, old man, unequal, and a skull

(2022) 四字戯画 ~よじ君の漢字クイズ~
(Four-Character Caricatures: Yoji-kun's Kanji Quiz)

Can you tell us about some of your favorite games and genres?

kazu: I tend to like games with item-crafting. For example, the most recent Zelda. I have cleared The Flame in the Flood many times.

Besides games, what other media do you like?

kazu: I adore manga. And I'm always watching quiz-type YouTubers.

Starting screen of Osorubeshiritori with grid of pictures and keyboard underneath

(2024) おそるべしりとり (Osorubeshiritori)

Please tell us about Osorubeshiritori!

kazu: It's a typing game where you choose a picture, then type in its name to play shiritori! But it's not quite what you'd imagine from a typing game since you spend a lot of time searching for pictures and thinking about what to enter. It might be closer to brain training.

Can you tell us about the process of making Osorubeshiritori? Was it different from the way you approached making your other games?

kazu: I usually participate in one-week game jams such as Unity 1 Week and Brackeys Game Jam to make games, but I made Osorubeshiritori outside of any jams. The instant I thought of it, I just had to make it.

Game over screen for Osorubeshiritori giving the hint for 'nishikie' along with the ukiyo-e picture of Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa

What was your greatest influence when making Osorubeshiritori?

kazu: To tell the truth, I got the motif, or rather the concept, from this tweet. The legendary creator akio uploaded this "illustrated shiritori" for New Year's. I wanted to play this forever, so that's why I made Osorubeshiritori.

What was the most challenging part of making Osorubeshiritori?

kazu: Since I usually make games for jams, setting my own deadlines this time was probably the biggest challenge. Also, it was a bit difficult to implement the online multiplayer. It's such a hassle to check for bugs.

Detective Poirot examining a murder scene with a poisoned victim and two suspects, a chef holding a broken bottle and a suited person holding a mushroom

(2021) 即断探偵 ポワ郎 (Quick Detective Poirot)

Is there anything in Osorubeshiritori to which you want to draw the player's attention?

kazu: My wife and I have made more than ten games so far, and Osorubeshiritori uses a lot of pictures from our previous games. For other people who have played our other games, maybe they can enjoy looking for them like Easter eggs? That is my hope.

You two have participated in quite a few game jams and published many games on Unity Room and itch.io. What do you find attractive about game jams?

kazu: The deadline! Even someone like me can finish making a game. Osorubeshiritori is quite an exception, basically I cannot make games without having a deadline... it helps a lot.

I especially like one-week jams. For one week, I can share in my struggles of "thinking of ideas," "making the game," and "adding the finishing touches" with many other participants, and it's nice to feel a sense of solidarity with the other people I see on social media.

And I also like the jam rankings, because it makes it feel like a festival.

One panel of the DETECTICUBE open with two other panels visible. One is a large tree with a bird's nest and watering can, the other a dark room with a lit torch and a lock over it.

(2023) DETECTICUBE

Of all the game jams you've participated in, which games do you look back on the most fondly? Can you also tell us about what it was like working on them?

kazu: If I had to say which has a special place in my heart, I think it would be DETECTICUBE, which I uploaded to itch.io. It perfectly matches the theme of MYSTERY, and both its appearance and playstyle are perfectly compact. I remember during production there were moments when my wife and I had different directions we wanted to take the game, which was unusual for us.

Shibo: For me, it's REAL HORSE OR NOT REAL HORSE. It's a game where you sort out real horses from imaginary ones, and it was fun to draw as many kinds of horses as I could think of.

All of your games are very cute and often use colorful pixel art. What do you focus on when creating the artwork?

Shibo: I lowered the image resolution so that I can prepare many variations.

kazu: Often in our games, "picture variations" = "game volume/complexity," so we adjust the motifs and formats of our games to produce the maximum number of variations within one week.

Conveyor belt with three horses being guided into a chute labeled REAL, next to a chute labeled NOT REAL. Following the horses is a large dragon.

(2022) REAL HORSE OR NOT REAL HORSE

I get the impression that your works can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Are there any points that you are particular about?

kazu: We don't set out with the idea, "Let's make a game that people of all ages can play!" But we want to make games that we, a married couple (heavy gamer and light gamer) and our children (elementary school-aged) can play, so naturally the scope of our games might be broadened.

Do you have any indie games that you'd like to shout out? What do you like about them?

kazu: Since I've got the floor, I'll recommend a bunch:

Baba Is You: The concept for this game is obviously ingenious, but the artwork is also quite nice. Its roughness feels kind of good.

Nova Drift: The good thing is that one play session is short and easy to start, but it's so addictive that you can't finish in only one session. Love it.

Inscryption: It is apparent that this game was made with the belief, "We spared no expense to surprise our players." I am in awe.

Title screen of PICKUP PEEK - Find My Mom

(2024) PICKUP PEEK - Find My Mom

Can you tell us about other games you worked on in the past?

kazu: PICKUP PEEK was our entry for the most recent Brackeys Game Jam. The idea behind the game is a mother has come to pick up her kid from your preschool, but which door is she behind? I think that because it doesn't use much language, even English speakers can easily play it.

Can you tell us about anything you are currently working on?

kazu: I am itching to remake some of the browser games we made in the past, so I think I might start on that soon. But I haven't done any work on that yet. Basically, until there's a jam, I can't make any progress... since I don't have a deadline...

Level Complete screen for Yoji-kun's Kanji Quiz

Do you have any messages for your players?

kazu: Keep this a secret, but games are actually more fun to make than to play. I recommend making them with your whole family. Let's jam and compete together.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!


日本語 Preschooler chick recoiling in horror as the door opens not to its mother hen but to a mother cat

自己紹介してください。

かずです。普段はプログラマをしています。Shiboは妻です。ここ数年一緒にゲームを作ってます。暇そうだったので誘いました。このインタビューは主にかずが答えます。

ゲーム作りを始めたきっかけはなんですか。

かず:僕はもともと「ボードゲーム/ポーカー/ダーツ/TRPG」等の、対人で遊ぶゲームが好きだったんですが、コロナですべて封印されて、別の趣味を探していました。 その頃ちょうど知人と話す機会があって、Unity Room1週間のゲームジャムが行われている事を知り、参加したのがはじめです。

Puzzle screen for Yoji-kun's Kanji Quiz with picture tiles for unequal, old man, unequal, and a skull

(2022) 四字戯画 ~よじ君の漢字クイズ~

もしよろしければ、ご本人にとって一番好きなゲームや好きなジャンルをご紹介お願いします。

かず:アイテムクラフトがあるゲームを好きになりやすい気がします。最近のゼルダとか。「The Flame in the Flood」を何周もクリアしました。

アーティスト、テレビ番組などゲーム以外のメディアなどでお好きなものがあれば教えてください。

かず:漫画がめちゃくちゃ好きです。あとクイズ系のYouTuberをいつも見ています。

Starting screen of Osorubeshiritori with grid of pictures and keyboard underneath

(2024) おそるべしりとり

この度の「おそるべしりとり」という作品についてご紹介お願いします。

かず:「絵を選んで、その物の名前を入力してしりとりをする」というタイピングゲームです。絵を探したり考え込んだりしている時間が長いのであんまりタイピングゲームじゃなくなってしまいましたが。脳トレかもしれない。

「おそるべしりとり」を作るときに、どのようなプロセスで作成しましたか。他のゲームを作るときと何か違いがありますか。

かず:いつもはUnity 1 WeekBrackeysゲームジャムなどの「一週間のゲームジャム」に参加してゲームを作るんですが、「おそるべしりとり」は特にジャムとは関係なく作りました。思いついたらどうしても作りたくなっちゃったので。

Game over screen for Osorubeshiritori giving the hint for 'nishikie' along with the ukiyo-e picture of Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa

「おそるべしりとり」を作成するにあたり、最も影響を受けたものは何ですか。

かず:モチーフというかパクり元があるので正直に書くんですが、このツイートです。レジェンドクリエイターのakioさんがお正月にアップしていた「絵しりとり」。これが無限に遊びたくて作りました。

「おそるべしりとり」を作成するにあたり最も挑戦したことなどはありますか。

かず:いつもジャムで作るので、「自分で締め切りを設定する」が一番の挑戦だったかもしれないです。あと、通信対戦を実装するのがちょっと大変でした。通信はバグチェックが手間ですね。

Detective Poirot examining a murder scene with a poisoned victim and two suspects, a chef holding a broken bottle and a suited person holding a mushroom

(2021) 即断探偵 ポワ郎

「おそるべしりとり」において、プレイヤーに伝えたいこだわったポイントなどありますか。

かず:これまで妻と10個以上ゲームを作ってきたんですが、「おそるべしりとり」ではこれまでのゲームの絵をかなり使いまわして作っています。僕らの他のゲームを遊んだ人が、イースターエッグ的な楽しみ方ができたりしないかな?とちょっと期待しています。

お二人は、複数のゲームジャムに精力的に参加されておりUnity Roomとitch.ioのゲームを合わせてたくさん公開されています。ゲームジャムに参加する魅力について教えてください。

かず:締め切りがある事です!僕みたいなもんでもゲームを完成させることができます。「おそるべしりとり」はかなり例外で、僕は基本的には締め切りがないとゲームが作れないです・・・。かなり助けられています。

自分は特に1週間のジャムが好きです。1週間だと「ネタに悩む」「制作」「仕上げ」のタイミングが他の参加者と重なりやすく、SNS等で見る声で連帯感を感じるのがいいですね。

それと、ランキング。ランキングがあるとお祭りっぽくて好きです。

One panel of the DETECTICUBE open with two other panels visible. One is a large tree with a bird's nest and watering can, the other a dark room with a lit torch and a lock over it.

(2023) DETECTICUBE

参加したゲームジャム作品の中でお二人それぞれで一番思い入れのあるゲームは何ですか。制作しているときの様子なども併せて教えてください。

かず:思い入れというと、itch.ioにアップした「DETECTICUBE」かなぁ。お題の「MYSTERY」をちゃんと回収しつつ、見た目と遊びがコンパクトに収められたつもり。制作時に一部意見が食い違って、珍しく妻とちょっと揉めたのが思い出深いです。

Shibo「REAL HORSE OR NOT REAL HORSE」です。実在する馬と空想上の馬を仕分けるゲームなのですが思いつく限りの馬を描くのが楽しかったです。

いずれの作品もかわいらしくとてもカラフルなドット絵が魅力的です。絵作りにおいて何か気を付けている点などがあれば教えてください。

Shibo:解像度を落としてバリエーションをたくさん用意できるようにしています。

かず:僕らのゲームは「絵のバリエーション」=「ゲームのボリューム/複雑さ」になる事が多いので、1週間で最大数を出せるようにモチーフやフォーマットを調整しています。

Conveyor belt with three horses being guided into a chute labeled REAL, next to a chute labeled NOT REAL. Following the horses is a large dragon.

(2022) REAL HORSE OR NOT REAL HORSE

お二人の作品はいろんな年代の方でも楽しくプレイできるような印象があります。何か気を付けている点などはありますか。

かず:いろんな年代にアプローチしよう!とかは全く考えていないんですが、僕ら夫婦(ヘビーゲーマー/ライトゲーマー)と子供(小学生)が遊べるゲームにしたいな、と思いながら作ると、自然と間口が広くなっているのかもしれないですね。

おすすめのインディーゲームはありますか。おすすめのポイントも教えてください。

かず:せっかくだからいっぱい書いたろ。

「Baba Is You」:発想が天才なのは自明だと思うんですが、アートワークもすごく素敵ですよね。いい感じに力が抜けているというか。

「Nove Drift」:1プレイが短めで手軽に始められるのがいいところなのに、1回で終わりにできない中毒性があります。好き。

「Inscryption」:「お客さんをびっくりさせる為ならどんな手間も惜しまない」という信念が窺えます。頭が下がる。

Title screen of PICKUP PEEK - Find My Mom

(2024) PICKUP PEEK - Find My Mom

もしよろしければ、これ以外に作成したゲームについてご紹介お願いします。

かず「PICKUP PEEK」直近のBrackeys (2024.1) に参加した時のゲームです。保育園に迎えに来てくれたお母さんが、どっちの扉の向こう側に居るかな?っていうゲームです。言語依存も少なくて英語圏の人でも遊びやすいんじゃないかと。

今はどのようなプロジェクトを進めていますか。今作っているゲームなどをもしよろしければご紹介お願いします。

かず:昔ブラウザで作ったゲームを復刻したい気持ちがあるので、そろそろ作り始めようかな、という気持ちがあります。が、まだ何もしていないです。基本的にはジャムが来るまであまり進まないですね・・・。締め切りがないから・・・。

Level Complete screen for Yoji-kun's Kanji Quiz

プレイヤーの皆さんへ何かメッセージがあれば一言お願いします。

かず:これは内緒なんですが、ゲームは実は遊ぶより作る方が楽しいです。家族ぐるみで作るのもオススメです。一緒にジャムやろうぜ。対戦よろしくお願いします。

この度はインタビューにご協力いただき誠にありがとうございます。

Masked MelonVisit kazu and Shibo's itch and Unity Room profiles for all of their games. You can also follow kazu on Twitter @maskedmelon and Shibo on the Fediverse @to_nyoko@mastodon.gamedev.place.