Story of a Cube, from Swedish developer TinyAtomGames will be released today (March 4th) on Steam. We were lucky enough to catch up with the one and only Fredrik Madsen, who happens to be the one and only employee at TinyAtomGames. Fredrik was nice enough to give us a glimpse into the development of the twin stick shooter/shmup/adventurer that started just over a year ago, start to finish.
Update: Martin is showing us some love by giving us a free downloadable track from the OST!
To celebrate the launch today of Story of a Cube on Steam store.steampowered.com/app/440750/ and in conjunction with the great guys over at Uniquedrops.com I am giving away an exclusive download from the soundtrack. Grab the Pixel Bytes track from below and be sure to check out a great interview with Fredrick Madsen developer and creator of this awesome title.
Hope you enjoy guys!
Unique Drops: What is Story of a Cube?
Fredrik Madsen: Story of a Cube is a colorful game with lots of fast-paced action about a cube who has to save the lives of his friends and family from the evil circles. It plays like a twin-stick shooter, but instead of the usual arena-like maps it takes place in linear story driven levels.
UD: How did the idea for the game come about?
FM: I remember originally wanting to make some kind of 2D shooting game. Since I'm not very good with art and couldn't afford to hire a professional to work with I decided to keep the art style simple while still trying to make it look good. I ended up achieving this by using basic geometric shapes for everything but also trying to put a lot of detail into it. Also there was the clever use of camera effects that made everything look much better. :D
After this I started making a huge mindmap of all the features I wanted to include in the game. That mindmap is what formed the foundation for what Story of a Cube was going to become, and that's how the whole thing started.
UD: What was the early development process like?
FM: The first thing I did was to create a prototype of the gameplay so I could determine early on if the game would be fun to play. After only a few days I had a simple level with some basic AI that you could shoot at. It quickly occurred to me that the prototype was in fact rather entertaining, so I refined the mechanics and started working on the actual levels. The level design was based on a few concepts that I wanted to use, but other than that it was mostly improvised and later changed quite a bit to make the levels as fun as possible.
UD: How long was the game in development?
FM: The development started early 2015. The earliest record of it that I have is a screenshot taken on Valentine's Day 2015. From the looks of it, development was started 2-3 days before that. This means that the game took just over a year to finish.
UD: Did early prototypes of the game look/play very different?
FM: The main mechanics were nailed down after only a couple of days of development, and I was so satisfied with them that they haven't changed since. Of course the early versions of the game lacked some features that were added later, but the game basically plays the way it did early on. Although the graphics changed quite a bit along the way. From the beginning it was just a few geometric shapes and a background color. I quickly decided that a more 8-bit style would go well with the feel of the gameplay. The shadow system was also a very important graphical addition. It took quite a bit of programming to create but ended up making the game look much better.
UD: Were there other games that influenced your design or gameplay?
FM: Certainly. The main gameplay mechanics were of course inspired by other twin-stick shooters, most notably Super Stardust and Meteor Blitz. Also a little bit of Tilt to Live. Other than twin-stick shooters, the gameplay and things such as the health system are inspired by vertical scrolling bullet hell games. The graphics, especially the shadows, were inspired by Thomas was Alone.
UD: The game is running on the Unity engine - have you worked with Unity before on other projects? What made you go with Unity?
FM: Unity is a very nice engine. It's really fast to work in which is great when you're a solo developer. The main reason why Story of a Cube uses it is because of how much experience I've had with it, as I've worked on several other projects with it for a couple of years. Anything related to game development usually takes a considerable amount of time to learn, so when you're working on a serious project, you generally want to use the tools you're the most familiar with.
UD: Were there parts of gameplay that didn't make it into the game that you wish could have?
FM: There was actually an unlockable weapon that didn't end up making it into the game. It was going to be the most powerful weapon in the game, but I realized that another weapon was actually much better, and there wasn't really any good place the new weapon could be unlocked. It was really fun to shoot with though, so I kinda wish I could have included it. There was also a really powerful bomb-like extra weapon that I couldn't fit into the main story, but it was so awesome that I ended up hiding it behind a wall that the player can walk through.
UD: Final Question - Martin Millar (who we featured previously for his art and music work) was the one who let us know about this project - how was it working with him and how did soundtrack development process go?
FM: Martin came to me and asked if he could do the game's soundtrack after the game was about half-finished. I listened to some of his previous work and thought it was really great, so I let him join in on the project. He simply looked at some screenshots and videos of the game and got to work. A couple of weeks later he got back to me with an early preview of the soundtrack. He hadn't even played the game and yet he managed to perfectly capture the feeling of it with the soundtrack. We worked separately and didn't really have to communicate much. I knew what I was doing with the game and he knew exactly what he was doing with the soundtrack. It ended up being really great and was also perfect for listening to while programming. So yeah, I'm really happy with it and I'd definitely recommend Martin to anyone who's interested in an awesome soundtrack for their game.
Many thanks to Fredrik for sharing with us, and please check out Story of a Cube.