Couldn’t find a thread for this game, so here’s a new one.
This is the first game supported by the Indie Fund to be released. (Full disclosure: I am a partner in Indie Fund!) The game is made by 4 guys who just graduated from school. The game had sort of a stealth launch a couple of weeks ago, but it has just now been released on Steam, which is sort of the big / real launch.
I like the way the game starts with a simple and clean concept that requires no verbal explanation, which they then build on over the course of the game. (This is actually what I found really enjoyable about it, going way back to the original prototype, and is one of the main reasons I found it exciting to fund the game).
It seems to be doing all right, too; currently it is bobbing between the #3 and #4 top-sellers’ place on Steam. So it’s good to see some young guys who are just out of school make something original and interesting and also get an audience for it!
Ehhh, I have evaluated hundreds of school projects for festivals and/or potential investments, and this game is in a category well above any of them. I think you might be underestimating both how hard it is to put a game together and how bad student projects generally are.
I think what you might be sensing is rather “inexperienced team”, which is certainly true.
I tried the demo today. It was neatly put together, but it made me think about the difference to Portal. I was missing something and that was narrative. Does this game have it or is it just a string of puzzles to be solved? While arguably Portal’s narrative was superfluous to the game mechanics, it provided some motivation which seems to be lacking in CUBE.
I played this thing when it was released on Desura. I thought it was quite good, even though Portal comparisons were unavoidable. But that’s just how it goes, I guess. Still, I think Q.U.B.E. managed to find its own identity outside of the visuals as a solid, polished puzzle game. I had issues with how some of the ideas were implemented, but generally it’s fun and chock full of good ideas.
The biggest treat was seeing how they managed to restrain their concepts, designing manageable and fun puzzles. I could definitely see the same thing becoming weary and frustrating in the hands of lesser developers.
There’s actually a minimalistic narrative at work, though if you’re looking for the same degree of exposition, story and dialoge as in Portal, you’re really playing the wrong game here. This is a puzzle game first and foremost, meant to sling you from one puzzle to the next.
It’s not really a contradiction, because we never require a developer to do what we tell them. We give advice (sometimes we won’t shut up!) but it is always up to the developer to choose to follow or disregard our advice.
(Also, our terms are really mellow, so the goal is to help developers attain financial independence and then stay that way, rather than being tied to paying us royalties forever. The goal here is to provide an alternative to publisher-style funding terms which are generally designed to prevent developers from becoming independent.)
Also just a question about indie fund. Why not allow developers to just contact you directly ? I think it’s a bit against the philosophy of the whole thing, and the whole “go to conventions and stuff” only makes it sound like “meet me personally, be my friend and I’ll fund your game”, specially since not every developer have the money to attend those conventions and festivals and/or submit their games there, and not all of them may have something complete enough that would attract the attention of sites like rps or indiegames.com.
Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing sounds like a great idea but that (rather important) bit makes it all look like something of a circle jerk which is rather disappointing because I’m sure there are many developers who could really use the funding and do something cool with it but won’t be able to because they don’t have the means to go to a convention or have something complete enough to deserve the attention of the press.
We used to let people submit games to us directly. After poring through 300 submissions, most of which were extremely far from anything we would ever fund, we had only ever signed one through this open process (Q.U.B.E., in fact). That is a very low hit rate, and it seemed to us that not only were we wasting our own time, but also the time of all the people who were filling out the web form, making a demo video, etc.
While we signed one game from this open process, we signed 4 via other channels, so those other channels seem a lot more effective (and it seems likely we would have seen Q.U.B.E. around sooner or later, without the open submissions process). So we are doing it a more-private way now, and after doing it that way for a while, we’ll evaluate the effectiveness and see if we want to change again. (Though frankly I like it a lot better now… and I suspect most other Indie Fund partners do as well! When you are plowing through dozens or hundreds of submissions, almost all of which are terrible, it is very easy to build a negative or at least dismissive attitude toward the people submitting, and that doesn’t help anyone.)
This game is definitely an addictive puzzler. I especially enjoyed the timing element. There are several puzzles that require you to roll a ball down a corridor and direct it either by moving piston-like blocks or by rotating the wall. A couple of them involve the same room set-up but require you to roll the ball through different sections of the corridor-maze and end up in different places using different pistons or rotations. There have definitely been a few places that required me to stop simply guessing and checking and actually sort of plan my movements. I’ve put over an hour and and I’m in Sector 4 of about 9, and have enjoyed every minute of it. And it was on sale on Steam for about $13.
My only complaint about the game is that it’s too damn short. I played for 3 hours and beat it. I have to say, though, that there wasn’t a puzzle that I didn’t enjoy solving. I think I repeatedly shouted “NEAT!” every time I got to a new level. The higher levels add some interesting twists-no “sector” has the same type of puzzle, or at least has added a twist to the old puzzles. I really wish the higher levels had lasted a bit longer, the part where you actually choose where to place which types of blocks.
I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a few hours of puzzling; I don’t see that there’s any replay value, though. Similar to Portal in that once you’ve figured out the puzzle and know how to work it, you can never get the same satisfaction out of solving it.
I hope these guys go bigger and better for the next one, and I’m glad I bought the game simply to support people who are making such creative games.
I tried the demo, it seems a nice, well done puzzle game. It seems a bit in the simple side, but that’s because the demo merely the start of the game, I have seem some screenshots and it seems later levels have more block color types/complexity.
IMO, They should have put a trailer showing off the game in later levels when you finish the demo.