I’m a decent Tetris player, and I can handle myself with strategy games like Stratego and even a little Chess from time to time, but nothing has got my attention when it comes to integrating simple, thought-provoking design quite like RYMDKAPSEL.
What is this mobile game that has already won over thousands of fans around the world; including receiving “Excellence in Design and Honorable Mention” at the Independent Games Festival in San Francisco, California?
RYMDKAPSEL is a fun, meditative, yet intense mobile game for iOS, Android and PlayStation Mobile that is made for everyone. It’s about space, “minion” management and the pursuit to maximize your space station. And yes, it’s coming out soon (August)!
Having tested the game over the past week-ish, I’ve been addicted to it since I placed my first corridor to let my two minions build and expand my space station.
I’ve watched as they built numerous reactors to generate energy, extractors to gather materials, gardens to produce sludge, kitchens to convert the sludge into food, weapons to provide safety and even quarters to house more minions because hey, you can never have enough minions, right?
But what the heck am I talking about? How does all of this come together to make a really enjoyable game? I reached out to Martin Jonasson, creator of the game, to find out:
[W2W] How did you get into game development?
[MJ] I've always been one of those computer people and there's something magical about having a device do your bidding. I made my first games when I was 10 or 12 and I never really stopped making them.
Years later I actually went to a Game Design school, although I'm not sure how much I really picked up there. But if anything, it gave me some time to sit down and make even more games.
[W2W] What is Grapefrukt Games and how did it come to be?
[MJ] Grapefrukt Games consists of exactly one person: Me. Unsurprisingly, grapefrukt is swedish for grapefruit, and I'm not even sure why I chose that name. I don't even like the fruit.
[W2W] For those that haven’t played the game yet, what is RYMDKAPSEL?
[MJ] Rymdkapsel is a meditative space strategy game where you build a base using Tetris blocks and order your minions to run the base as best you can. Exploring the space around you and harvesting its resources.
[W2W] What is the inspiration behind the game, and why set the game in space?
[MJ] The inspiration is probably mostly from me playing Command & Conquer as a kid. I'd play against really dumb AIs (artificial intelligence) or even disable them completely, and then I would build the coolest base that I could. I did that in every RTS (real-time strategy) that I could get my hands on and I never cared too much about the fighting.
[W2W] What programs did you use to develop RYMDKAPSEL; i.e., coding, audio design, etc.?
[MJ] Rymdkapsel is coded in a programming language called Haxe and most of the versions run on a framework called NME. I mostly code in FlashDevelop under windows, but also Sublime Text when in OSX. I can't speak too much about the audio since that's the one part I didn't do myself, Niklas, who did that probably used some mysterious old analogue organ.
[W2W] It has been said that you’ve used elements from your past games in RYMDKAPSEL. Can you provide some examples?
[MJ] I guess the biggest "heritage" is the minimal-input philosophy. A few years ago I started exploring how much control you can take away from the player whilst still keeping them engaged in the game. As it turns out, with some creative solutions, you can take away quite a bit.
The most visible example of this is probably the game Glorg: a one-button dungeon crawler. It takes that philosophy to an extreme, but it's interesting how fun it can be to play even though it's completely linear.
[W2W] What did you use to make the graphics for RYMDKAPSEL?
[MJ] It's almost all procedural; meaning that the software, with some preliminary direction from me, creates the graphics dynamically.
I did some of the mockups in Adobe Photoshop and all the "sprites" (the stuff that isn't the station floor) were created in Photoshop as well. I've also used Adobe Flash and Adobe Illustrator too.
[W2W] Why do you design your games to only require minimal input from users?
[MJ] I think this comes down to how much I enjoy seeing a computer do my bidding. Configuring a little system and just letting it loose to see where it goes has always intrigued me. This probably runs a bit deeper than I even understand myself, I mean, it's probably not a coincidence I ended up as a programmer.
[W2W] How has the “protoyprally” blog, a blog devoted to providing a rapid protoyping mechanism for Flash-based games, played a role in the development and deployment of RYMDKAPSEL?
[MJ] As most blogs tend to end up, it's been woefully under-updated lately. But, having it as a creative outlet has helped me become a far better game designer. It's also amusing to think I started it just as I was really getting into game making more "properly" and to have all that saved is fantastic.
[W2W] Do you plan on deploying RYMDKAPSEL on any other platforms; i.e., PlayStation 4, Xbox One, etc.?
[MJ] I don't have any plans to hit consoles, but if I do that it'll hopefully be with a new game. I am however looking into a PC version, but no promises there either.
[W2W] Do you have anything else to add?
[MJ] “Remember, a good corridor network is the backbone of every space station!”
Personally if I was sitting in any part of a space station and I needed a simple, yet elegant interface to know how things were going, RYMDKAPSEL is what I would want to see. It is a geometric symphony focused around pure purpose: build, defend, repeat. The music is cosmic and tranquil and in the vastness of space, RYMDKAPSEL takes simple shapes and makes them vital to your existence.
I hope you enjoy the game as much as I have and will for the foreseeable future. Thank you for reading.
Follow Brooks on Twitter: @BPWeaver