Monkube Interview

While taking in 6th Planet’s story I couldn’t help but reflect on how poignantly it shows humanity – busy using all its faculties to sow division and bicker amongst itself – relying on a close relative who lacks speech capability but is able to carry out his mission faithfully. In choosing Darius the chimp as 6th Planet’s protagonist, did you have any particular message in mind? Or was the idea simply to find a protagonist who could stand out from more typical superheroes?

We did a fair amount of research to stay within the boundaries of what could be real. In a sci-fi story setting, of course. If you’re a space nut like we are, you will know that NASA was close to being shut down numerous times, and that civilian casualties played a big part in that. So when faced with something like this, it just felt natural to send the next best thing to a human, and some means of defense (the nuclear reactor that can be detonated). The fact that Darius is a unique character when compared to the competition in the sci-fi world, convinced us even more that he was the right choice.

6th Planet has an interesting approach to videogame music, its soundtrack apparently consisting of work from a number of artists as opposed to a single dedicated musician or small music team. How did that work out – did you spend a lot of time listening to albums from a certain genre and license tracks that suited the game well, or did Monkube advertise for contributions and the musicians came to you?

Another example of just having the guts to try stuff. When in design stage, my associate Jonas sent me a link to the track “Microscopic,” to have some idea of what kind of music would be best suited for our game. I liked it so much that I thought “hey, let’s send this guy an email and see if we can work out a deal to license his track.” The producer turned out to be a wonderful guy, who liked our concept and said yes. I’ve got some music producers among my friends and we found some more talent through Soundcloud, so we ended up with a full soundtrack.

The little otaku in me must inquire – do you see potential collaboration with manga artists in Monkube’s future, provided an interesting enough project proposal comes along?

The little otaku in me agrees. Comic and game combos will always be a big part of our projects, and we’re all fans of Tekkon Kinkreet, Ghost in the Shell, the Studio Ghibli movies and so on. Shapeshifter, one of the projects already announced, has a comic which is done in Asia. Maybe not 100% manga in style, but you’d do good to watch out for it.

What details can you provide at this point about Monkube’s upcoming projects, Shapeshifter and Retrobot? Will you be working with the same production team in whole or in part, and are there some surprises in store as far as how these games will further develop the integration of videogame and comic book?

Shapeshifter definitely has a more Asian feel to it, and will push the aircraft shooter genre towards more tactical gameplay. All that, with an unbelievable sci-fi comic book on top. While Shapeshifter is 100% our thing, Retrobot is a game done in cooperation with a Canadian investor called Endeavor Bros. Amazing guys from Canada, gamers at heart and who had a great gameplay concept which matched a story we had. I’m not gonna spill the beans just yet, but rest assured, no gaming press will pass up on a game this fun.

Finally, you must have a unique perspective on the game industry as someone who’s crossed the boundary between covering videogame development news and actually making that news. Do you see any challenges iOS developers face when it comes to interacting with news outlets and garnering press attention that console developers did not? Or distinct advantages that iOS developers enjoy over peers who develop console products?

Well, we learned a lot on the business side the last few weeks, but the basic opinion on the newly emerged digital download market remains unchanged. Apple has kicked off an industry where indie developers have room to breathe and consumers have a clear voice. Publishers, just like record companies 10 years ago, have lost their demi-god status, which is good for the industry as a whole. Not that we’re against publishers, but a good balance is just a healthier situation. This goes for developers, but for gaming websites too.

Apart from that, the numerous mobile gaming websites out there are a great way for indie developers to get the word out on any new project. But as with the console or PC market, your story has to be worth telling if you want it to be heard. Without exception, our experience with the press has been great, and we hope only to build on that. As ex-journalists ourselves, we’re aiming to do stuff we always liked in the past. Meaning polished games, engrossing stories and fun gameplay.

iFanzine’s thanks goes to Sven and his colleague Jonas for taking the time out to complete this interview. Monkube’s got some extremely intriguing projects lined up, so be sure to keep an eye on their website for the latest news!  Let’s leave you with that preview video for 6th Planet again, and don’t forget to check out our review: