Developer Interview: Unicube (Sheltered)

Developer Interview - Sonny Meek (Unicube)

I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak to Sonny Meek at Unicube about their upcoming game Sheltered, a post-apocalyptic family survival game.

Note: This is a re-issue of an email interview from 2014. My only modifications were for grammar and spelling as well as adding the closing paragraph.

How long has the Unicube team been around and what other projects have you worked on?

Unicube has been together for around two years, but we’ve been fairly inactive for most of it. The last time we released a game was for Ludum Dare earlier this year. The game was kind of crazy…it’s called No Mistakes. I think you can find it on Game Jolt (Edit: You can).
Prior to that is was mainly just me and Dean messing around and experimenting with little personal games. It wasn’t until about three months ago we realised “Hm, maybe we should stop messing around and actually apply ourselves.”

How long has Sheltered been in development and when are we likely to see it going gold?

Sheltered has been in development for about two months now. We had started a few other games that were similar in style before Sheltered, so we’ve harvested anything usable from those which gave us a little boost.
Currently we don’t have an absolute estimate for when it’s done, but it’s likely to be mid-2015.

What inspired the setting and the art style?

I consider myself a bit of a fraud in the art department, as I only seem to be able to consistently make this particular style over and over. Our games are generally pixel art, but I’d like to try other things in the future.  I like that the family has little detail, it warms a player to them more. Their faces are featureless, so the player can fill in the blanks.
As for the setting, the nuclear holocaust is something I’m terrified of, and have been since I can remember. This is the kind of game I’ve always wanted to make, and the setting plays a big part in that.

A lot of people are raising comparisons with Fallout, but how does having to look after an entire family create a different experience from just one person?

The original Fallout games are close to our hearts. I’m a big fan, and we didn’t set out intentionally to have such a close comparison. I personally believe that the genre is the only thing that they have in common. In the Fallout games, you’re a lone survivor, which is extremely fun to play,  but it can get pretty lonely out there in the wasteland. Having a close-knit family trying to scrape by is something interesting enough to explore, and will definitely create a unique gaming experience.

What are the main mechanics and features players can look forward to seeing in your take on the apocalypse?

After the groups of marauders that want to rape and pillage your shelter, you’ll have to make extremely serious moral decisions daily, fend off mutant beasts that roam the surface, keep your shelter in good working order, keep your family fed and healthy (if you run out of food they’re probably gonna start eating each other…), and a myriad of other features that would make this article very long indeed. We don’t want to release everything we’re planning to put in the game just yet, as we want some of it to be a surprise!

Sheltered has already been Greenlit for Steam and you’ve almost hit your Kickstarter goal. Is launching a project that relies so heavily on public support a scary thing to do? How does it feel knowing that there IS support for what you’re doing?

It is VERY scary. Knowing that if we fail to gain funding, we’ll have to continue working jobs we don’t like whilst working on the game. It’ll make the development more stressful, and it’ll take much, much longer. So far the support has been overwhelming though. When people are paying you their hard earned money because they believe in a project so strongly is heartwarming, to say the least.

There’s a lot of focus on indie games and developers across the industry these days with Kickstarter, Indiegogo and even the latest generation of consoles launching with support for them.  Why do you think there’s so much love out there for the little guys these days?

I think there comes a point when people are tired of the same industry standard over and over again. I won’t name games, but there’s plenty of them out there. People like something different.

This industry started with a few people in a dark room pouring hours of time into a terminal screen. It’s slowly going back to grass roots. Our screens are easier on the eyes now though.

Sheltered released on 6th August 2015 and the expansion (Stasis) currently has a Very Positive rating on Steam.