An Interview with Crytivo Games, Developers of The Universim

Crytivo Games talked to us about their new game The Universim, as well as their distrust and dislike of micro-transactions!
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The Universim is the latest project coming from the fine folks at Crytivo Games. It’s a planet management god-game that takes you into the universe and allows you to start your civilization from the ground up.

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The project is up on Kickstarter, and with only 46 hours to go they’ve surpassed their goal and gamers are ready to play! 

I spoke with the San Diego based studio and their founder Alex Koshelkov about the game and about their experience with the crowdfunding process. 

Q: What was your inspiration for the overall concept of The Universim? 

A: “We are big fans of god games! So much so that the latest ‘fallout period’ in the genre has left so many people wanting the next big thing, just like us. That is where The Universim was born. We wanted to reinvent what a god game could be and bring the genre into the next generation with innovative ideas and gameplay. We plan on doing so through intricate simulation and dynamic events, effectively transforming the typical static world into a truly living, breathing one.”

Q: Your team is a well-rounded group of designers and writers, and looking at your Kickstarter video, you seem to have a very animated and comic style of design. What kind of design appeal and atmosphere are you looking to achieve?

A: We definitely want to aim for a light-hearted and entertaining experience above all else. The dynamic news system that we announced is one such feature that will compliment this mood perfectly.

Another reason for the art-style and design choices was to make the game as gorgeous as possible without making it too resource intensive. There is going to be a lot of great eye-candy for those with higher-end rigs, but it should be able to scale down for the guys on the opposite end of the hardware spectrum as well.

The style is also not too cartoony as we want to give it a realistic feel to help sell the simulation aspects. Although in the end, it may not end up being all sunshine and rainbows for your gameplay experience.

There is still going to be a fair share of tragic situations and disasters. Emergent narratives will rise up in the most unexpected places from our experience with the dynamic behaviour of the world, perhaps even unintentionally pertaining to real-life situations and events. You should be able to take a lot away from the game that goes beyond just the endless hours of fun.”

Q: With only four days to go on your Kickstarter campaign and almost at your goal, you have been successful and probably have some strong opinions on the crowd funding process. Was this your first project funded through Kickstarter? How did you enjoy the process?

A: “Yes. this was our first successful Kickstarter as a team! It was quite an incredible experience all the way through. It was also a lot of hard work, though. Any aspiring Kickstarters should be ready to do A LOT of work during the campaign. It all pays off in the end. I mean look at the massive new community we have garnered, and each of them is just filled with a passion we never thought possible.

We never knew what kind of people we would meet and what kind of people we would eventually leave the campaign with at our side, but we honestly could not have been more fortunate. The last few days are utterly nerve-racking, but that just makes succeeding so much more exciting.”

Q: The Universim looks like the next frontrunner in a God game with tons of content; do you think that it will be a continuing project that has sustainability? Or do you want to make this game into a series?

A: The Universim should definitely become somewhat of a continuing project. The community will help us decide what features need to be removed or added throughout development, ending up with an absolutely incredible game. The thought of a sequel hasn’t even crossed our minds, and I don’t think that it actually will. We can always just keep adding more awesome content to The Universim if we want to. I am sure the community will help out with that as well! With the free DLC promised, additional features will most likely come after the launch of the game depending on its success. So yes, definitely sustainable!”

Q: Have you considered making a companion app for the game even if it’s just for the News System so players can constantly check the status of their populations and planets?

A: We have avoided even just thinking about putting The Universim on mobile devices, but a companion app could be pretty cool. We will need to see how it plays out with development and community feedback.”

Q: I see you’ve put a guarantee that there will be no DRM or micro-transactions in this game, a very bold statement in today’s gaming market. What played into your decision to make this a one-time purchase game?

A: “It is just so sad to see where games are going with that kind of thing, especially micro-transactions. If someone is going to pirate your game, they will do it anyway regardless of the amount of locks they have to break to do it. We are catering for those that actually genuinely want the game to succeed. There is no need to treat your audience like criminals and lock them inside your own special DRM service. Even if we eventually add a multiplayer mode, there would be no need for DRM. Those who have a legit copy will be able to play and those who don’t cannot actually access your servers if you build it right.

Steam is great, though. We honestly all love Steam for what it offers customers. That is why we got Greenlit. It may be a form of DRM, but I think Valve has taken the right approach. The pros far outweigh the cons at the moment, even though it does have the same issues that surround all DRM services. The community will receive both a Steam key and the DRM free version from our site, so they can always choose which one they want.

Micro-transactions are actually one of the dirtiest things you can put in a game that people are already paying for. They make sense for aesthetic items in F2P or online games, that is all fine. But expensive, paid games incorporating micro-transactions and actually building the game around the idea of eventually adding micro-transactions is just purely wrong. We can actually go on about it for a very long time, but you get the idea. Treating your community like intelligent, trustworthy people is always the best way to go. It works out for the best in the long run. That is how you want to be treated in today’s world.”

The Universim is on Kickstarter for a little while longer so make sure to go check it out! I want to extend a big thank you to Crytivo Games for taking the time to answer these questions! 

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Miranda Kirk
Former member and Senior Intern of the JTP program, woo!