Interview with QubicGames: History of the Company and AiRace Speed on 3DS
Are you ready to get to know the mind behind AiRace Speed on the Nintendo 3DS eShop? Recently, we were able to interview Mikael Bourget, at QubicGames about the company and the history of AiRace Speed. He was able to share quite a bit about the game’s development.
What is your role at QubicGames?
I am the Public Relations Manager at QubicGames. I am the one who makes sure that people get info about our games.
Could you tell us a bit more about QubicGames?
QubicGames is an independent video games development studio located in Warsaw, Poland. We have a decade of experience in creating games on console, handheld and mobile devices. Our team counts 16 dedicated and really friendly members, and we have released over 10 games for Nintendo and mobile platforms including the successful and critically acclaimed AiRace series. The Nintendo systems we have created games on are DS, DSi, Wii and 3DS.
What inspired you to develop video games?
Playing awesome video games is what inspired us to develop our own ones! It’s as simple as that. Gaming is one of the biggest hobbies of each member of QubicGames. We are from different generations but we’ve all played a lot of games since we are young. And that was enough to tease our creative minds into developing our own games.
What are some of your past game projects?
On Nintendo we started with C.O.R.E., a retail game for Nintendo DS. It’s the first FPS ever made on this console. Then we’ve released AiRace: Tunnel and AiRace on DSiWare. They were very successful and we continued on the racing field with Remote Racers. We developed My Little Restaurant for Nintendo DSi, which was also created for iOS, as well as My Little Garden. Our last projects before AiRace Speed are the Gnomz series which contains Gnomz on Nintendo Wii and 2 Fast 4 Gnomz on Nintendo 3DS and Wii.
What made you choose Nintendo platforms for the majority of your games?
We wanted to make a game for handheld devices. That’s how we naturally chose to develop for Nintendo DS, because it’s an interesting console and was one of the most important platforms on the handheld gaming market. Besides, we had the idea of making the first FPS ever on this device, and that’s how C.O.R.E. was born. Then we kept developing for Nintendo systems for three main reasons: our team got experience in this, we created a good relationship with Nintendo and we like Nintendo consoles and their digital distribution platforms.
What made you choose to do the first AiRace game on DSiWare?
After making C.O.R.E. for Nintendo DS we wanted to develop a different kind of game, and for DSiWare, to be published digitally this time. So we thought: what is really optimal for this handheld device? The console is great to take away with you and play when you have some time in transports or in waiting queues for example. So it’s great to be able to play just a couple of minutes and still feel like progressing. That’s why we found out that racing games are very appropriate for DSi, because you can race and pass the finish line on just one track and then close your console if you don’t have more time. Then the idea of planes came after wondering what could bring something original to the system. At that time, almost no games could let you race in the air. We were also influenced by the game Plane Crazy. That’s basically how AiRace originated.
What made you want to revisit it for AiRace Speed on the 3DS eShop?
AiRace Speed’s concept comes from AiRace: Tunnel. It is important to say that AiRace: Tunnel was originally created as a bonus mode to AiRace. We wanted to give a solo challenge with a good sense of speed. That’s how the ideas of tunnels came to life. In the last moment we finally decided to divide the games into two separate products, AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel. And the result is that AiRace: Tunnel found a big success on its own. It provided players with a fun and interesting gameplay experience. So we thought that we should push this concept in a bigger and better looking game. That’s how the AiRace Speed project for 3DS started.
How was the process different than creating the first AiRace for DSiWare? Further, what was your biggest challenge developing AiRace Speed?
On Nintendo 3DS the developers and designers have much wider possibilities because the console is more powerful than the DSi. On 3DS we improved the graphics and created complex and detailed levels using many more polygons and bigger textures. The lighting of the environment also looks more realistic with subtle nuances. Thanks to that the stages of AiRace Speed look fantastic and propose intelligent and interesting opportunities for the gameplay.
Apart from this, one of the most different and as well challenging aspects of developing on 3DS is the use of the 3D effect. Combined with the high-quality graphics, the 3D effects of AiRace Speed must put the players in the middle of the action. For us it was a really crucial point because we believe that the visual experience is extremely important for this game. Visually and with the 3D on, the game delivers adrenaline and sets the best conditions for the players to enjoy flying their jets with tight controls.
A good 3D effect must be in the same time strong and clear. It must be impressive but not disturbing. It isn’t an easy thing to implement. And for each game it needs to be thought in a relevant way. We’ve already used the 3D effect for our game 2 Fast 4 Gnomz. But using it for AiRace Speed it is a completely new challenge. It is necessary to have an extremely clear display of the environment when flying at very high speeds inside tunnels. While it must be immersive, it must also let the player be able to entirely focus on his attempt of flying as fast as possible. To reach that, one of the difficult things was to properly balance the contrasts and the colors in the levels.
If you wish to know more about the development of the game, we invite you to read the “Behind the Scenes” articles posted on the AiRace Speed website: http://www.airacespeed.com/
In what language was the game programmed, and how did you create your 3D models?
The game was programmed in C++ and the 3D models were created with Blender. You can learn more by reading these two articles:
In total, how many people worked on this game?
The team counts 16 people. We’ve all been working on the game, but more or less. Depending on which step the project was, some people were involved on AiRace Speed or on something else.
If you’re interested, there’s a short presentation of each member of the team there: http://qubicgames.com/en/team
How long did it take to develop AiRace Speed?
It took 10 months in total to develop AiRace Speed, with different amount of involvement throughout this time, like mentioned earlier. It’s interesting to mention that AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel required in total together 8 months of development.
What are some parts of the game you hope players will notice and appreciate?
We hope that the players will appreciate the level design. The idea of time trial challenging racing is at the base of AiRace Speed level design. To have a challenging gameplay we need tricky levels. The levels are not automatically generated in AiRace Speed. They are all designed from scratch. It’s definitely one of the biggest advantages of AiRace Speed for two reasons: Firstly, the levels give players a spectacular gameplay experience, and secondly, they now feature shortcuts and split ways. It is therefore crucial to know the maps in order to achieve good finish times. It took a lot of time and efforts from our designers but it was worth it. The only exception is on the two endless levels, which are automatically generated.
Besides that, we want players to enjoy the high quality graphics this eShop title delivers.
Are there any future projects for 3DS or Wii U that particularly excite you, and you want to share with our readers?
Creating a new game with an open multiplayer air racing style, more like AiRace on DSi, is a serious option for us. It could be on Wii U or 3DS. But we first want to see how the reception of AiRace Speed is. We are already authorized developers for Nintendo Wii U. We have the devkits and we currently prepare our own game engine C-Way to feature the proper technology to handle development on this console. We do hope that we could release a game on Nintendo Wii U in the next 12 months. But let’s see what we will decide to make. Today it’s too early to set projects in stone.
What could you say to others who are thinking about becoming a video game developer?
We would recommend them to read blogs and articles from indie developers. It’s a good way to get some views into the industry. Then they should decide on which fields of the development they want to get skills and knowledge. We believe that every person can quickly feel what fits them best between programming, managing, designing, drawing etc. Once they get some education and work experience, they’ll have a better idea of what it’s like to develop games. And they should be able to continue walk on that path naturally if they enjoy doing it. As for what and how to develop, I think that there are no rules, no right or wrong. That’s the beauty of the art, everybody is free to create what they want.
I would give one advice: make your own opinions, experience things by yourself. Of course you should read, watch and listen a lot but do not entirely rely on others’ sayings. You must truly get an own understanding of the stuff you work on or with. That will give you much confidence, speed up your learning and help you become an outstanding game maker.
Other than your own games, what are some of your favorite Nintendo games?
It’s very tough to choose, because we like many games, and we also don’t have always the same taste from one team member to another. But I can at least say that we love Rayman Origins and Legends, Animal Crossing, Pokemon (all of them) and Resident Evil: Revelations. And the classic Mario Kart (awesome on all platforms!).
You can find more information about QubicGames on our official site: http://www.qubicgames.com
We would like to thank the team at QubicGames for taking the time out of their busy schedules to do this interview. Be sure to read our review of AiRace Speed. Also, there is now a free demo available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, so you can check it out without having to spend a penny.
AIRACE SPEED GAMEPLAY TRAILER