Last week I had a chance to speak to Dylan Cuthbert, a leading member of the original StarFox team and the President of Q-Games. I prepared a number of questions regarding PixelJunk Eden only to throw them out the window at the start of the interview.
That topic was off the table and an impromptu chat began with Q-Games’ previous project, PixelJunk Monsters. As the conversation shifted we strayed from Sony and moved to Nintendo where Cuthbert mentioned a surprise for Nintendo DS owners. Sometimes the best stories come out of the most casual conversations.
Where did you get the idea to make PixelJunk Monsters from?
DC: I’ve always liked RTSes (real time strategy games) like Command and Conquer. The people at Q Games as well, they were Japanese people, that became familiar with Command and Conquer as well. I kind of introduced them to it and they are really addicted to it. I really wanted to make an RTS game. I saw the Tower Defense stuff. You know the Flash Tower Defense stuff that started making rounds last year? It really interested me how they took one element of an RTS and made it accessible via the mouse.
We were going to take this genre and put it on a console where you can’t have a mouse. What are we going to do? We have to use a character. We want to make it more familiar to console gamers so we need a look which is more like a console game. We sort of built it up from there and it just came together really well.
I’ve pitched RTS games to a lot of companies over the years and none of them have been accepted.
Yeah. The problem with RTSes is they are very good multiplayer, but the one player side of an RTS is quite difficult to develop with the AI and everything. I think that just makes it difficult to make an RTS a full out RTS. With the tower defense formula you take out the AI. It makes it much easier to develop and much easier to play. You end up with a simpler and much more interesting game in some ways.
Japan is starting to get into RTSes. FeelPlus is working on Blue Dragon Plus, Think and Feel did Revenant Wings, oh and Brownie Brown did Heroes of Mana.
So have you thought back to your original plan of making a full RTS?
I would like to make one, but to make a full one you need to have a much bigger team, a much bigger budget. Right now we prefer to make smaller games with a small number of people.
Have you thought about making PixelJunk Monsters a downloadable PSN game for the PSP?
No, not yet. Think about it. I mean one of the things we try to push is the 1080p side of the game. The PSP you know has a great resolution, but it’s not 1080p. 1080p is something we would really like to push.
True, but one advantage of using the PSP is you can have ad-hoc matches.
Yeah there is that side of that.
Just a thought, I guess.
There is that that side of that, but we can probably do it on the PS3 if we took it online.
Have you thought about porting Digidrive over [to the PSP]?
No, Nintendo wouldn’t let us do that. I mean I would love to make it, but you know.
That’s right, Nintendo published the Bit Generations games.
It was our idea, but Nintendo funded the development of it so they get all the IP (intellectual property).
That’s unfortunate. Have you thought about making more games like Digidrive?
Definitely. Yeah. I really like interesting puzzle games, which are different in an interesting way. Hopefully, in the PixelJunk series I would like to make a puzzle game later on that is something very unique.
Is the PixelJunk series the main focus of Q [Games]?
It’s not the main focus it’s one part of Q.
What is the other part?
We work directly with Nintendo on second party titles.
Yeah, like for StarFox Command.
We’re still doing that.
Oh! You still are?
Not StarFox Command. We are working on a Nintendo DS title. Hopefully it will be announced soon, but we don’t know yet. It should finish up soon, but we don’t know when it will come out.
What about the PSP are you planning to do anything with that?
No nothing right now. We’ve done stuff in the past though. You know the tech demos at E3 a few years back? The Harmonix City demo and a duck in the bathtub thing. We did all that stuff.