[As part of a series of "Road to the IGF" interviews with 2011 IGF finalists, Mike Rose speaks with SpikySnail Games about physics-based "stunt-em-up" Confetti Carnival.]

SpikySnail Games is an independent game development studio based in Israel, consisting of programmer Niv Fisher and designer Sagi Koren.

The duo's first title, Confetti Carnival, has already received much attention, including a nomination for the Technical Excellence award at this year's Independent Games Festival.

We spoke with the developers about their individual backgrounds in game development, how the concept for Confetti Carnival came about, and what we can expect from the finished product.

What is your background in making games?

Niv: I started to take an interest in programming when I was about 14. My main passion was graphics and interactivity. My first programming job was for a game development company (of the very few that were in Israel at the time) but that company didn’t last very long and the project we were working on was never released.

I did a lot of ‘video game development’ for surgical training - what people now call ‘serious games’. It’s a very challenging field, technically, and utilizes much of the same tech video games do, but it can get very constraining creatively.

Sagi: Niv took the programming path at the age of 14 - I took graphics and animation. I remember working on 3D Studio since its first version. Back then, it was the very beginning of 3D graphics and I remember sitting at home, having fun orbiting around a 3D box and giving it different materials.

Doesn’t sound much today, but in 1990, it was quite a thrill.

What development tools did you use for Confetti Carnival?

Niv: Mainly, Visual Studio 2008. For our internal tools I used OpenCV a bit to support our (kind of unique) image-based level creation tools.

Sagi: Softimage, Photoshop and AfterFX.

How did you come up with the concept?

Niv: Basically it was all due to iteration; we had a very long phase of experimentation. We only constrained ourselves to what we were good at (technically) and what we were able to achieve in terms of production.

Other than that, the game started out as kind of a clever ‘match-3’ game with elastic blobs, and slowly but surely progressed to what it is today. I think the most important thing was to keep an open mind for a long period of time and be flexible enough to change the design.

Sagi: From the very beginning we came up with a few guidelines that we kept in the back of our heads as the game design progressed:

1. A completely original gameplay experience (not another match-3 / racing / shooting game);
2. The game should be fun to play but also fun to watch others play;
3. Totally satisfying whether you are a beginner or a hard-core gamer.

Are there any elements of the gameplay that were added later on when you realised they complimented the main concept well?

Niv: Oh sure, there’s one stunt we recently added - we call it “The Hammer”. You slam your Splatter (blob) in the opposite direction you need to and then need to quickly ‘Flip’ the motion so it flies back to where it came from and creates a massive liquid explosion.

We like it so much because you need to be more accurate than usual to pull it off, but it’s so satisfying when done well.

Sagi: I think one of the great things about being independent (not that we know any other way of developing games) is that you can do whatever you want. So there was no point in time we said, let’s stop adding new stuff in - if it make sense for the game, it’s in!

Were there any ideas that you experimented with but later removed?

Niv: Absolutely, we tried so many different things and not all of them worked out the way we planned. We had a list of ‘Super Splatters’ (basically power-ups) that we wanted to include but we couldn’t find a way of working them into the game without breaking the balance in unexpected ways.

How long have you worked on the game for?

Niv: It’s been a little over 2 years since we started.

What are the next steps in the development of Confetti Carnival?

Niv: Well, we’re tweaking and polishing the level structure and the difficulty curve. Despite its ‘casual’ appearance there’s a lot of skill players can develop in the game, and we want to make sure they can get it all.

There’s a point in the game where you have enough skill and you realize you can play faster and more action-like, and then it gets very interesting all over again. But since players pick up skill at their own pace we need to figure out how to do that without making it too difficult to some.

Have you played any of the other IGF finalists? Any games you've particularly enjoyed?

Niv: I only played Super Crate Box, and loved it. Bastion looks absolutely amazing, I can’t wait to see it in action. Nidhogg seems like a lot of fun!

Sagi: I plan to play all of them one by one on the GDC floor.

What do you think of the current state of the indie scene?

Niv: I’m just happy to see it grow and hope it keeps doing so, gaining more recognition so that spirit never goes away. We’re seeing quality, thought-out work getting out there and I’d like to see even more.

But overall it’s just fantastic - diverse and bursting with creativity. That’s what inspired me to go back to game development, a childhood dream I almost gave up on.

[Previous 2011 'Road To The IGF' interviews have covered Markus Persson's Minecraft, The Copenhagen Game Collective's B.U.T.T.O.N., Alexander Bruce's Hazard: The Journey of Life, Nicolai Troshinsky's Loop Raccord, Chris Hecker's Spy Party, Frictional Games' Amnesia, Monobanda's Bohm and Gaijin Games' BIT.TRIP.RUNNER.]