Interview: Big John Games (Cube Creator 3D)

Cube Creator 3D LogoThere can be no denying the popularity of a game like Minecraft. It’s been one of the best-selling games on numerous systems and is the most watched game on Youtube by far. It only made sense then for a game of that style to come to the most popular dedicated handheld gaming device. The buyout of Mojang by Microsoft essentially shut that down.

Big John Games has stepped in to fill that void with the development of Cube Creator 3D. There is a demo of the game currently available on the 3DS eShop if you’re interested in checking the game out for yourself. Evan Patterson, Producer, and Matt Heinzen, Lead Developer, from Big John Games took a few minutes to talk to us about Cube Creator 3D and what you can expect to see when the game launches on the 3DS later this year.

I want to thank both them and Big John Games for talking to us today.

Thanks for joining us today. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you and Big John Games?

I am Evan Patterson, Producer of Cube Creator 3D. Also with us is Matt Heinzen, Lead Developer of Cube Creator 3D. Big John Games is an active studio that has been focused on making downloadable Nintendo games for the last 6 years. We have been dedicated to providing quality games for our consumers. We have a lot of fun making games, and are really happy when we see people enjoying our games.

Cube Creator 3D LandscapeCube Creator 3D obviously takes a lot of inspiration from Minecraft. Many people would say it’s a simple Minecraft clone. What is there about this game that’s going to set it apart from Minecraft?

Our Survival Mode is similar, but there are some differences in how players are going to play the game. We have Light Blocks instead of torches. To make the Light Blocks players will have to kill an enemy ghost and collect Mana. Then combining glass and Mana will make a light block. The storage system is a backpack and when you die you will have to retrieve your backpack to get all of your items back. You will have a portal that will connect you to 4 different environments; Forest, Desert, Snows, and Mountains. Each environment has unique features and enemies. Minecraft got a lot right, we wanted to bring a voxel based game that worked well with the 3DS.

What was the thought process behind bringing the game to the 3DS? Was it just because there wasn’t a game like that on the system or something else entirely?

We wanted to see if it was possible, to see how far we could push the 3DS. We wanted to create a stereoscopic 3D voxel type game. When we started there wasn’t a 3D voxel game on the 3DS and we wanted to bring one onto the system.

Cube Creator 3D Eiffel TowerWhat about the controls? Playing the demo I found I had trouble because the movement and camera functions were backwards from how most people play. Will players be able to optimize the controls in any way to their liking?

Since releasing the demo we’ve added features to allow customizing the most important controls. The look and move controls can be swapped to move with the Circle Pad and look with ABXY. The L (jump) and R (action) Buttons can also be swapped, and the look Y-axis can be inverted. In the past we’ve received questions from users who have broken shoulder buttons, so we’ve mirrored the L and R Button functions on the Control Pad. We also support the New 3DS C-Stick and Circle Pad Pro. We think that these options will allow the players to play however they want to.

How much interaction will there be with other players in the game? Can you play online with other people, share creations or anything like that?

Multiplayer won’t be available in the initial release. We are looking into it for future updates. You will be able to share screenshots on MiiVerse.

Cube Creator 3D Eiffel Tower 2Will there be different modes of play in the game, and if so how many?

There will be a Survival Mode and Creative Mode. You can have 1 Survival Campaign and 8 Creative Worlds.

Has there been a thought to designing or putting in some sort of texture editor so that players can come up with their own blocks to play with?

We are exploring all sorts of ideas for future updates. We hope to gather feedback from the players and then figure out what are the best features to add. We want to have the game evolve into something that the players will continue to play,

How many different blocks can players expect to use in the full version of the game?

There are 29 blocks; along with tools, doors, portals, armor, buckets, meat, and some other trinkets.

One of the reasons that many people talked about as to why Minecraft couldn’t come to 3DS is the hardware power itself. What goes into creating something like this on the 3DS? Was it difficult to get the game running on the system?

The limited power and storage of the 3DS was an obstacle, and has shaped some of the direction of Cube Creator 3D. Limited memory prevents loading large worlds all at once, so instead we came up with the system of using a portal to travel between distinct worlds in Survival mode. The limited GPU prevents rendering large worlds at comfortable framerate, which is why we limit draw distance while moving and increase when stopped to fill out the view. Even using these techniques to reduce the memory and processing requirements, Cube Creator 3D would have been very difficult to develop if our studio didn’t have several years of experience developing 3DS games.

Cube Creator 3DWas Nintendo helpful during the process of creating the game? Did you reach out to them for ideas on how to best utilize the hardware?

Nintendo was very encouraging. We have a really good team here that has been doing this a long time so we were able to figure it out by ourselves.

I imagine you’re expecting players to come up with some crazy builds in this game. What is the craziest or coolest thing you’ve seen built in Minecraft or even your game during testing?

I love going on Youtube and looking at people’s mega builds. I made the demo level back in the beginning and made a German castle that I was pretty proud of. Recently I built the Eiffel Tower to get some good screenshots. We have also seen user videos of players that have made some really cool stuff in the demo, which is a lot of fun for us.

Do you have any plans to bring this game to another system like Wii U in the future?

We are looking into it, nothing in motion yet. We love making games for the 3DS so that is where our focus is right now.

Thanks again for talking to us today. Do you have anything else you want to tell our readers before we finish?

Thank you for the opportunity to interact with you and your readers. We can’t wait for Cube Creator 3D to get out onto the eShop and see what people come up with. If you want to see what we are up to give us a follow on Twitter @bigjohngames or Facebook www.facebook.com/bigjohngames.

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