The Diabolical Whimsy of Q-Games: An Interview with Dylan Cuthbert
Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games founder, answers our questions about soup, do-overs, and drops teasers for their next game like mad.
Cat: What are your core development values?
Dylan: Our core values are fun and technology. We want to push boundaries in both areas and that drives everything we do.
Cat: Which of your games do you identify with most?
Dylan: That's like picking a son or a daughter over another, it's a little impossible to do! However our upcoming game that will be announced soon really embodies everything we've been building up to over the years. Watch this space!
Cat: Where does the inspiration come from?
Dylan: The inspiration comes from a few sources, one of which is simply that I have played a *lot* of games and a little bit from all my favourite games creeps into everything I make. On top of that though there is a lot of influence from art, especially modern art of all shapes and sizes. Music can also play a part, for example, HFB's soundtrack for Shooter influenced a no. of decisions we made for that game's scenario.
Dylan's self-portrait. Or Nom Nom Galaxy concept.
Cat: Is being prolific (you are) a necessary part of being a successful indie studio, or a necessary creative outlet?
Dylan: It's a necessary creative outlet - we can only make a certain no. of games in our lifetimes and I still have lots of genres and ideas I want to explore.
Cat: If you had one extra life for a do-over…what’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made with Q-Games?
Dylan: At one point we didn't have a stringent enough control on the types of people coming into Q and we ended up with a small group of people who were only working for themselves and not with everyone else. The situation was resolved but it did create some stress for a short while. A small indie company like ours needs people who work with each other fairly and evenly, without creating holier-than-thou cliques. I don't have any hard feelings, it's just a personality type that doesn't match well with out size but on the flip-side of the coin it *can* be much more successful in smaller groups where there are no "others" to look over at and comment upon.
Cat: What do you think of the FaceBook gaming environment and its predatory structure?
Dylan: I really don't like it - we have PixelJunk Monsters on facebook and it earns us practically nothing simply because we really don't want to put ourselves in a situation where we even feel like we're ripping off or squeezing people. If we were to throw that feeling out of the window we could squeeze a lot harder and make it a profitable venture I think.
Cat: Economics or inspiration: PixelJunk Shooter got a stand-alone sequel, PJ Monsters got an Encore and a FB game - what’s it take for a game to get an "encore"?
Dylan: There was just too much content for it to be an encore. PixelJunk Shooter 2 had the same amount of stages *and* an online MP mode. The new combined "Shooter Ultimate" remake on PS4 is awesome by the way.
Cat: Music, monsters, cooking, soup - is it fair to say that we see a lot of "Dylan's Favorite Things" explored in Q-Games titles?
Dylan: Yes of course.. anything that I'm interested in at that point in time tends to get included into whatever games we are making. So what am I interested in at the moment? 1960s Russia, Clockwork Orange, Prague.
Cat: Platforms, you’ve made the rounds and settled on PC first for Nom Nom Galaxy, what’s the platform decision-making process?
Dylan: Basically, market size and reachability. I'm still not entirely convinced by Steam although PixelJunk Eden eventually did quite well for us. It feels like people just wait for prices to go dirt cheap and then buy up in bulk. It's very difficult for people to "discover" you on Steam I think, even though we have the PixelJunk brand/name etc.
Cat: ...and will it be coming to other platforms (Which ones. Go on. Tell us)?
Dylan: Well we've always liked Sony's platforms so keep your ears to the ground.
Cat: Tower Defense. Strategy. RPG. Terraforming. Nom Nom Galaxy is a game about... the viciously competitive nature of the soup market?
Dylan: It's a cross between a simulation and an RTS/base building game I think, including elements I really like, like the falling dirt/mud and lots of monsteres!
Nom Nom Galaxy
Cat: Which elements of Nom Nom Galaxy did gamers react to in unexpected ways? Parts they loved/hated that you didn’t anticipate?
Dylan: Nom Nom Galaxy is a weird concept to wrap your head around at first - I'm going to put soup in a rocket and ship it into space? There are always a lot of puzzled looks when we first demo it at game shows. People come in expecting Nom Nom Galaxy to play like other games, but when they start putting the pieces together, you see lots of smiles.
Cat: What are the best things fans have contributed to the soup?
Dylan: The fans have been extremely helpful! With practical stuff, like tweaking the keyboard and mouse controls, we got lots of useful feedback. For gameplay related stuff, we've got a backlog of great ideas we're working on, including ways to replenish the dirt around your base, different types of planets, and weather!
Cat: What is the development process like this time, having so many chefs in the kitchen at such an early stage?
Dylan: Early Access suits our development style quite nicely, actually. Even before we brought Nom Nom Galaxy to the public, it was being developed in an organic fashion where we iterated on ideas we came up with as a team. The main difference now is that our 'team' is the whole community and we're working with a little more focus to hit our weekly and monthly updates.
Cat: Does soup, arguably the most forgiving of foodstuffs, leave room for regrets?
Dylan: Never! Well, there are always things that you may want to work more on, or features that you have to cut because they aren't working. Some of that is hidden in Nom Nom Galaxy's code now! But as a team we're happy with the direction we're going.
Cat: What do you think of going 3D, even experimentally?
Dylan: Watch this space! Big announcements soon.
Cat: We've got kids that are nearly birthday buddies! Do you ever see yourself going down the edu-game road? Q-Games as the next Toca Boca?
Dylan: I've certainly thought about it since Jamie came into my life, so it's not ruled out. Toca Boca is awesome!
Cat: What does being an independent developer mean to you?
Dylan: Being independent is really important for me because it leaves a lot more control in our hands, it's up to us and we have the responsibility to do everything for our game and control every aspect of how it is seen, released, priced, or created. Game developers are almost all control freaks so being cogs in an non-independent company makes them uncomfortable, which is why you have seen a lot of creative people branching out by themselves recently thanks to the lower barriers of entry.
Cat: Reveal the future: what comes next for Q-Games?
Dylan: Watch this space! Big things are afoot! :)
Day 31 | Q-Games