Interview with Yui Jegnan from Cube and Me Kickstarter

Yui Jegnan sits down with us to talk about his dungeon crawling pet simulator, Cube and Me.

If you’ve taken a gander around the smaller games in the industry, you’ve probably noticed the rise of roguelikes and simulators within the gaming industry. Yet rarely will you encounter the unique combination present in Cube and Me by indie game developer Yui Jengan. 

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The game follows Lyle Dyson, an underpaid 22-year-old who randomly encounters alien life forms known as “Cubes”.  As Lyle, you must raise these adorable Cubes, continue your dead-end job, and take part in procedurally generated dungeons spread through the world – ultimately deciding whether or not you’ll help the Cubes or exploit them. 

The game offers three types of gameplay, home life, dungeoneering, and battle with the following features mentioned on the Jengan’s website:

  • Real time combat, with RTS-like micromanagement
  • Procedurally generated dungeons
  • Newspaper and Mail based passive story telling

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jegnan about more in depth about his experiences developing Cube and Me, and here’s what he had to say. 

What is your history with the games industry? 

I’m currently a full time indie game developer. I’m always trying to create something new or interesting by often merging different genre mechanics or making something from scratch. Cube and Me is the biggest project that I’ve worked on so far. 

What’s the story behind your decisions to create games?

It was around 2007 when I decided to make video games. I was inspired by an obscure RPG maker title that was only available in Japan. The game was so radical and interesting, to the point that it really convinced me I can actually have freedom of expression if I’m making a game of my own.

The fact that I could make something that people find interesting, was and still is a very big motivation for my work. After graduating college and doing a few jobs, I wanted to take game development seriously. That’s when I decided to make something full time.

What was your inspiration for Cube and Me?

Cube and Me has an odd beginning. I generally had this idea of a business simulator where you raise and breed something in a farm only to sell it off. At that time, Matt(coder of Cube and Me) and I were working on a different project, so I simply dismissed it into our idea box.

Then a game called Cookie Clicker became quite popular about a year back. That inspired me to make a simple skinner box game as a side project. I convinced Matt by saying “Don’t worry. It will only take about a month tops”. That’s when the early prototype of Cube and Me came to existence.A game of self reflection and morals where you raise Cube aliens and decide whether to sell them off or to keep them. That version of the game received mixed reviews. 

After a long discussion with Matt, we decided to redo the game and make it something entirely different – a hybrid of pet simulator and dungeon crawler. It’s been a year and a month since then. Cube and Me is now a totally different game compared to what I first imagined it to be.

Cube and Me at times feels like a unique combination of Pokemon and Tamogachi. Do you think fans of Pokemon and other “creature” games will enjoy the game, or will the roguelike elements be a turn-off?

The major difference of Cube and Me from the aforementioned titles is its real-time combat system and the sense of exploration and danger during the dungeon section of the game.

Uunlike Pokemon, this game has permadeath system implemented as a default, so I’m predicting this will get a lot of complaints. Despite its lighthearted looks, I consider death as an important theme of Cube and Me and I decided to leave the system in to give the players the feeling of being responsible to their pet’s survival.

We do plan on implementing a revival mechanic if too many people feel it’s unfair, but we’ll make it extremely hard to do so. You can compare this mechanics to the popular Nuzlocke runs of the Pokemon series, which is a voluntary play style where when a Pokemon faints during the course of a player’s journey, they release it.

If you grow too attached to a certain Cube you can choose to not go in a dungeon with it to keep it safe. The choice is entirely up to the players.

I did notice that you had tried a Kickstarter called “Do You Remember?” in the past. What did you learn from the failure of that Kickstarter project that you’ve applied to the “Cube and Me” Kickstarter?

A lot of the stuff included in Do You Remember Kickstarter campaign was a bit rushed. My previous coder and I simply didn’t prepare ourselves enough for the campaign. We made the main video at the very last minute and we didn’t mail as many gaming journalists as we could have. We were also not ready for the amount of pressure and fatigue the campaign itself brings.

With the Cube and Me campaign, we prepared almost everything ahead of time and specifically polished the game in attempt to meet the Kickstarter standards. As a result, our project got staff picked by Kickstarter and we were off with a good start. However, we didn’t get as much coverage as we had expected despite sending countless amounts of emails. 

What are your plans for the game if the Kickstarter campaign fails?

We are currently not releasing as much of updates as we planned on the Kickstarter page because we are considering a relaunch of the campaign with a better polished version of the game.

If that one fails, Matt and I may have to get a job to support ourselves, which means we won’t have as much time as we had for the development. If after all that, even the greenlight doesn’t work out fast enough, abandoning the project entirely is certainly a possibility.

Video game is our passion and we are really proud of Cube and Me, but as a responsible human being, we need money to feed ourselves and our loved ones.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to thank all the backers on the Kickstarter campaign for believing in the Cube and Me project. Also, to all the other supporters and close friends who provided help and opinions to make this game what it is today, I love you all.

 If Cube and Me has piqued your interest, consider donating to the Cube and Me Kickstarter campaign, and support the game on Steam Greenlight

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