Interview: Trevor Stricker at Disco Pixel


Trevor Stricker with no introduction is the man behind iOS and Android game, Jungle Rumble.  Jungle Rumble is a game where the player drums on the screen to control a tribe of monkeys. A rival tribe invades to steal bananas. The player drums on monkeys and drums on trees to swing those monkeys through those trees. The player drums on coconuts and drums on invaders to throw those coconuts. It’s a Rhythm-Puzzle game.

1: What inspiration went in while developing Jungle Rumble?
I was at a wedding on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The dance floor was full. (This happens in Puerto Rico.) Suddenly, the DJ stopped. The whistling of frogs could be heard over the silence. A bunch of guys slowly walked onto the dance floor. They smiled. They started banging on hand held drums and blowing on brass horns. A guy on a mic started freestyling. The dance floor erupted. The horns would blow at the mother of the bride, and she would catch their eyes and spin. The drums would bang-a-bang-bang at the nephew of the groom and he would go wild. The band snaked their way through the crowd as uncle Tito grabbed maracas to follow along.

I wanted to make a game like that band.


2: What was the character design process like and what made you stick with using monkeys as the characters?
I like monkeys. They work for the game’s story—everybody knows they group into tribes, fight each other, and like bananas.

Of course, the truth is they don’t really eat bananas in real life. But Freedom, Happiness, and Figs just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

3: What makes Jungle Rumble different from other rhythm based titles?
In Jungle Rumble the player uses rhythm to control. There is a rhythmic grammar that the player uses to send his monkeys into the fray.

A typical rhythm game has the player follow a script. The player doesn’t make decisions. There are no tradeoffs to make. There is no branching.


4: Jungle Rumble has been shown quite a few times now at previous events, how has the feedback been from the public and has anything changed within the game since?
The game is pretty crazy, and rhythm game fans have responded strongly. The first time we showed it, at PAX East 2013, we had a really early, rough demo. But we still had people playing through it for 30 and sometimes 40 minutes, bobbing their head and trancing out. And that’s time they could have spent waiting in line for Assassin’s Creed. We showed an almost finished build at BitSummit in Kyoto last month. It was the same thing. Except with almost complete content, we had some people spending two hours in our booth, getting partway through the second world.

It is definitely a rhythm game fan thing, though. Jungle Rumble splits the room and you love it or hate it. It’s not an easy game. It’s not a press-here-to-win type of mobile game.

5: Any big updates planned for Jungle Rumble in the future that you don’t mind sharing?
We have a few updates in the pipeline. We will follow up our release with more content. We will follow that with a level editor to allow people to make their own puzzles. Lots coming!

6: Jungle Rumble features an incredible dynamic soundtrack, will new genre of beats pop up as the game develops?
Absolutely! There are a lot of different beats in the game. The music ranges from congas when swinging through the jungle to industrial when people show up with their infernal factory.


7: PlayStation loves Devs. Any thought on bringing Jungle Rumble to the PlayStation Vita?
I literally just opened up our Vita dev kits. We’re talking with Sony about this very thing!

8: How has working with Unity made developing this specific style game easy? Any problems you ran into during early dev stages?
Rhythm games require sophisticated engineering to be responsive. Dynamic soundtracks require sophisticated engineering to work in real time while the rest of the game executes. In Unity, you can only write what’s basically interpreted code. It makes doing things responsively difficult.

We started before Unity supported 2D in the engine We didn’t get to take advantage of this.

Fortunately, Unity is well thought through and pretty amazing overall.

The biggest tech problem we’re facing is that a lot of Android devices just have audio latency built in. Whoever designed them figured that taking “only” a tenth of a second to play a sound is fast enough. Maybe that’s fine for a menu button. But hearing a blast lagged from when you saw an explosion is pretty bad. For a rhythm game, it can completely kill it.

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