Devlog #14: The Past, the Present, and the FutureHi!

I'm Christopher, the lead developer of Cube Universe. Today I'd like to tell you about the past and future of my game.

How everything started
I have always dreamed of making a game since I was a child. I bought a book about game development with C++ but it was not the right one apparently and I gave up, not understanding where to start. That was before I had access to the Internet. I started making websites instead and quickly realized that they looked terrible. But I gained some very important programming experience.

It was not until 2014, during my studies of computer science at Technische Universität Berlin, when I started learning Direct3D 11 using some online tutorials. I tried a lot of things and originally wanted to create a procedurally generated RPG with ordinary graphics. I realized that this approach was doomed since I could not create good enough high-quality 3D models and textures myself and would have needed a lot of help from volunteers.

Then I thought about CubeWorld where the developer had promised quests in a voxel world but as of today has not delivered on his promise. And I watched some videos of Starbound, which in my opinion was a really cool concept but I didn't like 2D games that much.

I then decided to combine these concepts and build a voxel RPG. But not only that, I wanted it to be something special and experimented with smaller cubes as I disliked the limited possibilities you have with one meter sized blocks. I realized the best size was 0.5 meters as it's not as much data as 0.25m but still an improvement over the standard size.

It took me some time to figure out how I could get everything to work and optimize it but eventually, I did it and it was time to add a universe to the game. I think it was around that time that No Man's Sky was released and I was very disappointed with the way they handled the actual universe. Going from one star system to another was essentially just a loading screen. I didn't want that and instead generated random stars, some with and some without planets, and gave the player a space ship to fly between them. And I made the planets orbit around the star and rotate around their axis, just like real planets.

2018: Steam Early Access
In early 2018, it was time to add quests to the game. It was not an easy task as I had to look at a pretty large area (1.5x1.5 km) at once to have enough room to generate quests. And because I had to look at such a large area, I could not simply generate all the chunks and all the blocks and just generate the quests. I had to use some fancy logic to make everything work.

Having finished my studies in May 2017 and working on my dream in full-time, I had no time left to actually earn some money and had to live from the support I got from my parents - and I feel terrible for accepting it, but I was so committed to make a game for you that I just couldn't work less on it. But I needed to make some money...

So in April 2018, I released Cube Universe on Steam Early Access. I knew it was not ready to be released but I had not much of a choice because I needed money. I uploaded a trailer and some screenshots and that was basically it. I knew that every bit of effort I put into marketing would be wasted because due to my lack of skills in graphics design I could not create animations and textures for my characters - most of them were just plain white, untextured... things. So sales were poor, but enough to get the money necessary to pay freelancers who were actually capable of creating animations and textures. And I kept working on the game, focusing on the things I was good in, like programming.

It was in Fall 2018 when something changed. That something were the Steam algorithms. Many developers suffered, their store page visits dropping by 20, 50, or - in my case - 80%. And with less visits come less sales. And I realized that this was not acceptable. If I wanted to run a sustainable business, I could not trust a platform where my sales could drop by 50% or more just because of some algorithm change.

I announced that I would leave Steam and sell the game on my website. It was a hard choice to make, but I had to. There are many more reasons, including missing features like customer support (people ended up writing reviews to get support because the review button is easier to find than the link to the forums) or recruit-a-friend, an Early Access system not made for games that are actually actively developed (you get all the visibility (and sales) at launch and basically nothing when you are a good developer and actually update the game), the 30% fee which is too high especially if you have recurring costs like hosting official servers, ...

2019: Adding the really cool stuff
Having left Steam, I could take the time to work on a larger update after informing people about that in some announcements. Adding roads and villages definitely was a big thing. So was generating storylines that consist of multiple quests. I don't want to go into the technical details but let's just say there is a reason that procedurally generated quests are very rarely seen in games in general, let alone in voxel games.

I also made a much better website for the game and my company. It's still not perfect but I'm happy with it for now.

The present
So, here we are. The last few weeks before Cube Universe will launch on my website. Now everything that is left are some minor changes to the game and then it's ready for release.

But what do I plan for the future?

Coming soon™
After releasing the game, I plan to hire people and together we will work on finishing the game. If you want to know what features are planned, head to our forums where I have written a rather long post with details about all the planned features.

I will post some development videos and vlogs on our YouTube channel, giving you some hopefully interesting insights into game development - or at least into how we do it.

We want to work with the community to create a game that you love. You can use our forums to give us feedback, we are trying to read all posts that appear to be feedback or support requests. We obviously can not implement everything you may wish for but your comments will give us a general idea of what the community wants. And who knows, maybe your idea for a dungeon boss ends up being used?

Thank you
Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who was and is involved in the game's development.

  • Ajlan "Noc2" Altuğ (freelancer for animations)
  • Joshua Allen (who made the raptor, ship computer, and some other models (voluntarily))
  • Cody Stein (Cube Universe and Beosar logos (paid), some textures for luminous planet (voluntarily))
  • Lewis Rangel (freelancer for textures)
  • Sandra Konik (freelancer for textures)
  • Stefan Sommer (who allowed me to use his block texture pack)
  • Steven Troiano (sounds (voluntarily))
  • Eetu Tähtinen (sounds (voluntarily))
  • Maximilian Hörstrup (some programming for the launcher (voluntarily))
  • Christian Kasim Loan (some programming (voluntarily) that I didn't end up using (sorry))

And big thanks to all the players who put their trust into me and bought the game on Steam despite its early stage back then. Your support made all of this possible.
Alpha 0.3.0.7 Patch notesRead the current patch notes here.Testing of the Alpha 0.3.0 Update has begunWe have just released a new update that adds villages, storylines and more! Devlog #14: The Past, the Present, and the FutureLooking back and ahead into the past and future of Cube Universe.Quest Update Preview Released!We have released a preview of the Quest Update for you to play on the Public Test Version.Devlog #13: Villages & moreFind out what you will find in the new villages in this Devlog.


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