Keitai is a five-people indie team from Taiwan, founded in 2005. They started with designing Java games for feature phones and have made various types of those and other apps. Keitai includes three main team members: Claire, the founder, Neil, the game producer, and Code Anonymous, lead programmer. In 2013, two new members joined the team: Ivan the programmer and Dani the business development professional. Claire talks about the development of their latest project, Rocket Cube.
At Keitai, we all have a great passion for games; not just playing them, but also making games that can entertain other people. We believe that as long as we keep ourselves devoted to making games, they will somehow come alive and enrich the world with lots of fun. In 2013, we continued our psycho process of game development while participated in several showcases. And we’ve learned a lesson from our game, which is “A game speaks for itself.”
A Game of Flashes and Strange Sounds for Developers’ Entertainment
There was actually another project we were working on, and most of our attention was paid to it. Rocket Cube was nothing more than a recreational project. In other words, we created Rocket Cube just for our own fun. What we wanted to make was a simple game that would bring us pure excitement.
The original design concept for Rocket Cube was to add more excitement to regular puzzle games. We decided to have cubes dropping constantly and stacking up, while gradually increasing the dropping speed. When the stacks build up to a certain height, strong warning sounds appear, making the player’s experience even more tense. Removing stacks of cubes in the same color by launching them, players get the exhilaration of destroying and surviving, which goes higher and higher.
At first, we developed the “1-minute” mode, where the player needed to complete an exciting and thrilling round of the game in one minute. We also added the speed-up button to increase the player’s experience of exhilaration.
It’s easy for all types of players to master the game because we’ve built Rocket Cube around the main mechanism of “touch to launch”. As players are getting accustomed to the increasing pace, the excitement grows, and tapping the “restart” button becomes irresistible.
Opportunity at Casual Connect USA: Rocket Cube’s Chance Showcase
The prototype of Rocket Cube was launched only a week before we set off to Casual Connect USA in July 2013, where we later encountered lots of trouble.
Of course, we thought it would be better not to showcase a game that didn’t even have a proper UI. We hoped to have our main project accomplished in time and showcased, but stumbled upon some technical issues. While Rocket Cube was still nothing more than a game just for our own fun, we asked some of our newly-met friends to play the prototype and give us feedback. We were so surprised that they liked it!
But our bad luck continued: I was robbed and the mobile device with the demo build of our main project was gone! You might think our journey to Casual Connect USA was doomed, but giving up is never an option for Keitai. We just didn’t want to think we had come all the way for nothing! At the very least, we could have fun. Besides, there’s always an alternative and anything can be possible. For us, Rocket Cube turned out to be that alternative, even though we still didn’t think it was ready, despite a recent upgrade.
“Since we had lost our primary weapon, a sidearm would do,” we thought. And the effect was fascinating! Some kept playing Rocket Cube for more than an hour, until the device died and needed recharging. Some invited us for a lunch because they loved the game so much. The just-for-fun game sent us a clear message through these new friends: “I would like to be seen by more people and be fully developed.” But we were still obsessed with “The Project”.
The Game that Makes People Want to Touch It
Now, after many versions, Rocket Cube has evolved a lot. I still remember the day we were testing a new version until 3:00 AM; all of us just couldn’t leave our devices alone! Even our business development guy Dani said, “I have never thought it could be this fun.” Dani didn’t like Rocket Cube when he first tested the prototype, but changed his mind after playing the updated build. He is now totally excited about the game and hasn’t put his phone down since he installed the app.
We dared to bring our creation to Tokyo Game Show (TGS). The Asian gamer’s dream is to be a part of TGS, and so was ours. But you know what? We were still thinking of “The Project”! At the same time, we had noticed the potential of Rocket Cube and decided to give it a shot at TGS. And it worked! People kept telling us Rocket Cube deserves the opportunity. They launched rockets over and over and over. Rocket Cube makes people want to touch it, especially the “Restart” spot on its UI. At last, it is not just a simple cube, but a cube that turns into a beautiful one with heat and energy.
The Best Reward Comes From Something You Don’t Mind
Rocket Cube taught us some lessons. First of all, don’t be too focused on just one aspect. If you are sticking to it too much, it might not help you at all. Due to the accident and unexpected network issues, we were not able to showcase our first mobile game on smart phones as planned at Casual Connect USA 2013. Rocket Cube, which was a test project at the time, stepped in and became the star. During the three-day event, we kept receiving positive reviews and feedback, which made us even more confident on speeding up the development plan. This is how something that you didn’t really pay attention to could happen to give you the biggest reward.
Secondly, make games that you really like and always keep that in mind. We made Rocket Cube because we simply wanted a game that would let us have fun. The origin of Rocket Cube is just a simple concept. However, it brings pleasure. We think this is also a development challenge: to keep the concept simple from the beginning to the release, without too much decoration or exaggeration.
Last but not least, let your game meet people, so that you could receive feedback. Give it a shot and find out how functional your creation is, and let people know what you have.
Rocket Cube is available for free download from the AppStore and Google Play. It’s a full version that includes three gaming modules: (1) Infinity, (2) 1-minute and (3) Cube War, where scores of players with the same nationality are added together to compete with scores of players of other nationalities. In the next version of Rocket Cube, we’re going to add new modes with the element of “stillness”.