Interview: Workhorse Bytes, developers of Fuzzy Cubes for iOS
Workhorse Bytes, a game development duo located in Gainesville, FL, just released their first game on the App Store, Fuzzy Cubes. Releasing a game, even if it's just for mobile devices, is no easy feat, so we wanted to know about their experience, which they were happy to share with us. Thanks guys!
GameDynamo: Who are you and how did you come up with the concept for Fuzzy Cubes?
Simon Chen: My name is Simon Chen, and my background is in Digital Arts and Sciences. My specialty is in programming, but I've always enjoyed making programs that involved creativity, which ultimately led me to making games!
The concept of Fuzzy Cubes came from my friend and business associate, D.A. Jackson, who specializes in all things media, like drawing, painting, screenwriting, film editing, and special effects. He came to me with the concept of a 3D tetris-style puzzler mixed with rubix cube, and in about 15 seconds, I saw it in my head and realized it had great potential for success. After we decided on the background story to accompany the gameplay, I came up with the name, Fuzzy Cubes!
GameDynamo: What was the biggest technical hurdle you've had to overcome with the development of Fuzzy Cubes?
Chen: The biggest technical hurdle was developing the user interface that was natural and comprehensive, yet simple. This is primarily the touch-interface used to manipulate where the cubes landed and being able to freely look around in 3D space.
You see, many 3D block games are not made from a game-player's standpoint. Some of them are technically well-made, but not fun to play due to complexity and game-flow hindrances. Our game specifically conquers this, which is what allows for a unique arcade experience.
GameDynamo: Tell us some more about the gameplay of Fuzzy Cubes. Did it have any influences from other games beyond Tetris?
Chen: Aside from Tetris, the other big influence was the Rubix Cube and anime. Fuzzy Cubes can be broken down into three simple tasks: matching shapes, matching colors, and defusing bombs. Players control a highlighted cursor and attempt to fully cover a side of a cube. This allows the protagonists (the Fuzzies) to reassemble their spacebus time machine. Opposing them are the Wuzzies, who constantly dispatch bombs to foil their efforts. They provide the catalyst for many of the events in the story. The mystery of the Wuzzies also allows for future sequel opportunities.
GameDynamo: How did you and Des keep track of bugs, tasks and deadlines? Do you use any specific project management software?
Chen: We used our brains and good-old-fashioned notebooks. During development, we didn't have the entire project laid out, but we were able to see a couple of steps ahead and planned for it accordingly. After each element was completed, we immediately tested it for errors. Any bugs or glitches we found at any given time were also immediately tackled to prevent pileup.
GameDynamo: It's tempting to keep adding great ideas into games, but ultimately it needs to be finalized. How did you and Des team decide when it was time to wrap it up and stop adding features?
Chen: We ultimately stopped adding features when we decided on a sequel. We took the remainder of our bright ideas and put them on reserve for either the next addition of Fuzzy Cubes, or for the next big update. This allowed us to focus on getting a strong title that we could release by putting emphasis on core gameplay and overall presentation. It also gave us a plan for the future.
GameDynamo: What kind of requirements did you have to meet to qualify for the Apple Store?
Chen: One of our first-born children, one left-big toe, and our eternal souls. We also had to have a support page in place. And some stringent requirements we got nervous around was having to have specific pixel dimensions for icons for each device, i.e., we needed a 57x57 and 58x58 icons that were also 24-bit format. We had to go back and forth between Photoshop and Microsoft Paint to meet these standards. We were nervous about the icons being 1-pixel dimension off on any one of the half-dozen, which may have resulted in our app getting rejected. That was not fun.
GameDynamo: What can we look forward to in the future from you two? More features? A sequel? An entirely new game?
Chen: Yes - to all of the above. As we said earlier, we have already flushed out a sequel to Fuzzy Cubes, and we have about five other games on the roster. Our main goal right now is to help Fuzzy Cubes thrive and climb the app charts. We're doing everything we can, short of selling our souls to game publishers, to reach the New and Noteworthy and Top 10 sections. So tell all your fans to help us out! [i.e. buy the game! Or try the free Lite version!]
GameDynamo: Finally, if you had to share one bit of wisdom about game development to all aspiring game developers, what would you tell them?
Chen: It just takes a little time and work, but it is all worth it. It took us a little over a year to do what we did, and we are only two people. If you can dream it, you can do it.
GameDynamo: Thank you, Simon, for taking the time to talk with us. We're looking forward to your future developments, and maybe a sequel!
If you're an iPhone gamer, be sure to give the free version a try now! If you like it, you can purchase the full version. Android gamers, don't worry -- they're working on a version for you. Also check out their web site, developer commentary and their Facebook page.
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