Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Smoothie Showcase: Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory/Turtle Cream
Smooth Town is back with another edition of its new "Smoothie Showcase" feature where we take a look at some of the rising indie developers available in the industry today. Our feature this week will focus on the wonderful studio straight out of Korea, Turtle Cream.
Smooth Town: To get right into things: what was the inspiration behind the almost surreal yet cute art direction behind the game? Were you looking for a bigger audience through such simple and endearing visuals?
Turtle Cream: We didn't have intention to "attract people with cute graphics". It's like this: our main character is sugar cube, background is sweets factory. We would like to deliver "sweet feeling". So at first, I asked our graphic artist to watch the movie 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. She's very creative, so I tried my best to let our artist work as she liked. :D
ST: Was the tile-flipping mechanic something that one person came up with or was it a team-effort?
TC: We got the idea while we prototyping another game. We tried to make a platformer which used every keyboard. When proceeding to the next level, all background tiles are flipped. I really liked the idea "background tiles are flipping". So I gave up old prototyping and started making the 'Sugar Cube' freeware.
ST: How do you see Sugar Cube fitting in with the rest of the plethora of indie games that have come out in droves in recent years? What sets this game apart from all the rest?
TC: 'Sugar Cube' was a 15-level freeware game. [At that point], we didn't have plans to make it commercial. We got positive feedback from some media and we even won [Best Game] at IGF China 2010. We decided to make a commercial game after that. We thought the basic idea [of 'Sugar Cube'] was interesting. So we polished it better and made 'Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory'.
ST: Was Sugar Cube always intended to be difficult because of games before it or were you hoping that it would be a nicer, more merciful experience?
TC: We had to consider feedback which we got when we released [the 'Sugar Cube'] freeware. "Too difficult & complicated". So we tried to make early stages comfortable to understand basic mechanics. We wished to let players enjoy the game smoothly. Right before our Steam release [for 'Bittersweet Factory'], we tried to make the levels 'kind'. This is what 'Bittersweet Factory' means. Game mechanic is bitter, but gameplay is sweet. Some player don't like that sweetness, so we are thinking about releasing 'Bitter' DLC as a free update.
ST: This game sold more in two days on Steam than it has since its original release 9 months ago. Why do you think that is? Why did a release on Steam take as long as it did?
TC: We already knew Steam is very big. Yes, world's biggest. We couldn't wait forever for a Steam release, so we released it by ourselves. Desura, Indievania, Humble Store, more. Promotion was much more difficult than we expected. So even right before [the Steam launch], we were anxious. And, wow! We realized 'Steam is a powerhouse' by ourselves.
ST: Are you looking to port this game onto the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 or on mobile devices?
TC: We don't have plan to port yet [although we're thinking about a Mac version]. Anyways, we will decide based on the selling score of the Windows version. We're thinking about a mobile version as a spin-off; similar mechanic - different way to play. Not sure if we will really make [that mobile version].
ST: How did the team go about making the song "The Sweet Song"? It has honestly become one of my favorite songs out of any game I've played rivaling that of Portal's "Still Alive".
TC: Thank you! We really like this song, too. In [the 'Sugar Cube' freeware], there was a scene which the sugar cube & chocolate sing to each other. After we started making the commercial version, we thought, "How about we make a real song based on that?" It could be a good source to promote the game. Our composer is my girlfriend, so there was more heart needed than money. :D The vocalist [for "The Sweet Song"] is 'Yeongene' from 'Linus' blanket', who's famous for a collaboration with BMX Bandit. I was big fan of her work, so it was an interesting experience.
ST: Any last words you'd like to tell our readers to go out and get Sugar Cube? Any website or Twitter or Facebook page you'd also like to give a shout out to?
TC: We hope more people will have a SWEET time with our game. Our official blog is www.turtle-cream.com, Twitter is @turtlecream. Don't forget [to like our] Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/turtlecream. And stay tuned for our upcoming game, "6180 The Moon" coming next year!
Be sure to also check out our review of Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory!