Mimimi Productions Interview With CEO Johannes Roth

July 26, 2014 by

We sat down with the founder, CEO and all-around big-kahuna Johannes Roth to talk about what makes Mimimi Productions tick.

For anyone who has had a chance to play any early RARE titles like Banjo Kazooie or Jak and Daxter, Mimimi Productions is right up your alley. But if you’re like me, you already know that, because you’ve already played their award-winning title The Last Tinker: City of Colors released in May (or, my favorite, the iOS offering Whowassit?). This German studio, founded in 2008, hit the ground running with the release of their first title Grounded in 2009 and haven’t looked back. Every game that this indie developer has produced has been award-winning, and so we were stoked to sit down with the founder, CEO and all-around big-kahuna Johannes Roth to talk about what makes Mimimi Productions tick.

Mariah Beckman: Hey there! Thanks for carving out some time to talk to us about Mimimi Productions.

Johannes Roth: Thanks for having me.

So, who are you and what do you at Mimimi?

JR: My name is Johannes Roth and I’m CEO and founder of Mimimi Productions.

Can you tell us a little about the projects that you or your team have worked on prior to forming Mimimi? How did your experience working on these titles shape Mimimi’s vision or mission–what sets you apart from other developers?

JR: We met during our studies and besides developing our own games, no one has a special job background. We started from scratch. That probably made us re-iterate on some of the “old-fashioned” ways to make games without blindly accepting them, which in turn led us to being a very efficient team.

We think a game should be fun first and foremost. We’re happy if players appreciate the underlying themes of the story, but we won’t force them on you. If you’re just enjoying the ride that’s perfectly fine. As long as you’re having fun, we did our job well. And if you even feel a bit touched by the ending or the experience itself, we are super proud.

Can you tell our readers a little bit about The Last Tinker: City of Colors, the colorful platformer recently released for PC, inspired by games like Jak and Daxter and Banjo Kazooie?

JR: We consider it sort of a modernization of the old action adventures we came to love, like the ones you mentioned. We wanted to capture that feeling we had back then using modern and accessible game design mechanics. Going back to the classics can feel quite unpleasant some times, because not all mechanics aged that well. I know, not everyone agrees with me on that point, but that’s how we felt about it. The pin-point perfection needed for some platforming elements can often be very frustrating nowadays.

In The Last Tinker: City of Colors you play as Koru, a young boy who lives in Colortown, where the best color in the world is produced. The citizens have started hating each other because they each think their favorite color is the best. That eventually leads to a destructive force called the Bleakness attacking the Colortown, and you are the only one who can save the city and its people. It’s a beautiful tale about appreciating differences instead of fighting about them.

For those unfamiliar with some of the great titles from Mimimi, can you tell our readers about a few of your favorite projects? For example, The Last Tinker: City of Colors has received rave reviews recently, but what about your prior releases?

JR: We started out with mobile games, tablets were still fairly new back then. Our first commercial title was “daWindci”, which won us an Apple Design Award in 2012 and has actually just been released as a completely overhauled Deluxe Version (www.dawindci.com).

After finishing our studies we put all our efforts into building up the company and getting “The Last Tinker” funded. We love developing for consoles and PC, since it allows us to craft experiences that are far more substantial than something you might only play during a 5-minute bus ride.

You’ve won some awards, yes? Let’s hear about those.

JR: When we won Best Project 2012 at Game Connection we were absolutely thrilled. We beat some top class AAA devs and their new founded studios, 115+ competitors in total, which we honestly didn’t expect at all. It was our first international award and a very special one, with publishers like Konami and Sony being part of the jury. Also, winning Best Game in Show Audience Award at Casual Connect 2014 was a blast, since there were so many other great and much more popular games there. Yet, we still saw a lot of gamers fall in love with The Last Tinker, which eventually lead to the award.

What other titles and development can we expect from Mimimi in the coming months and years?

JR: We hope that The Last Tinker will allow us to do more on the bigger platforms, we’d rather not go back to mobile games only. A couple of new projects, ranging from cuddly to bloody, are already in the works. But I can’t give you any more details yet.

Are there any developers or studios that your team champions or that you’re aspiring to? In your opinion, who are some of the industry leaders right now that gamers should be watching out for? (Mimimi aside, of course.)

JR: Many of us played all the RARE classics when we were younger, and we’d love to see the studio find back to their old class. Then there’s Valve of course. We liked them a bit more when they still actually made more games, and before turning Steam into another App Store.

I think if there’s any companies we currently aspire to it would be Double Fine or (a bit closer to home) Daedalic Entertainment. Both are highly creative, highly talented studios with a steady output of quality games that still have that spark of wonder and imagination we sorely miss in today’s AAA-industry.

What’s your favorite game? It can be old or new, one you’ve worked on or one that you feel is iconic?

JR: Personally, I’m a sucker for all things Zelda. I rarely have time now to finish any game of that length now, but that doesn’t keep me from owning every single one of Link’s adventures.

I like to include at least one fun question, just for kicks. This game really did recall for me hours of Banjo Kazooie achievements, and with the recent re-release of other popular games such as Killer Instinct for Xbox One, I hope there are other revamps on the horizon. If you could remake any classic game, what would it be? Obviously, this is speculative: I don’t forsee that if you say Super Mario we can expect to see two Italian plumbers acting out GTA-style missions from Mimimi in the future. (But you should totally do that. Please do that.)

JR: If ever, by some miracle, we get our hands on the Commander Keen license, it’ll become the highest priority in my life. It defined a lot of my childhood and made me enter the games industry. Too bad it’s so lost in some legal limbo. But meeting Tom Hall in San Francisco this year was already an awesome experience.

I for one couldn’t be more excited about the titles that Mimimi has in production, based on that description:  cuddly and bloody? While I wait with baited breath for more on these titles from Mimimi, you, gentle reader, can check out our preview of The Last Tinker: City of Color. You can also skip on over to Mimimi Productions to learn more about this successful German developer with an outstanding track record to learn more straight from the horse’s mouth, or visit the app store to check out Dawindci for iOS.

About Mariah Beckman

Mariah lives in Seattle, and is really 3 midgets inside a lady suit.