Hi Reddit! I'm Alex founder of Crytivo, we're developers behind The Universim. The Universim is a planet management game where you play as a" God" guiding a clueless civilization of Nuggets.
We've received a lot of request from our fans to do AMA and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have along with my team.
Our team has been working really hard on The Universim, it took us a while to get here and we're very proud of what we achieved with the game. We still have few more months of work ahead of us before full release. So go ahead and ask anything you'd like, I'll do my best to answer without spoiling too much.
Ask me questions like:
- How did you get the idea for the game?
- How do you design systems in the Universim?
- What is your team like?
- How do you balance your work publishing games?
END OF AMA UPDATE:
Thank you to all that participated!!! It was really fun getting to hear from you all. If you want to keep the conversation going join us in our discord: https://discord.gg/crytivo
When will planetary exploration be in game?
Our team is working on it right now. We don’t want to spoil the experience for you but we’d like to release it as soon as we can. So, it’s coming your way soon :)
What inspired you to create of this caliber?
Well, to give you a "short" answer. Many great - successful games such as Black and White, Spore, Plague Inc. SimCity inspired me to make The Universim. I wanted to create a game where players could play not with an isolated piece of plain land but let them play with entire planets that have their own ecosystem - living, breathing worlds. Many developers design their game environment to be just static decorations for players, I wanted to change that and make a meaningful world where everything was connected, where if you cut trees your environment conditions will be worsened that will lead to oxygen depletion, which will lead to the temperature rise that will make water evaporate from oceans, winters will become shorter and etc etc etc.
What were the biggest challenges youve had to overcome during the development of the Universim?
There were multiple challenges along the way. It all started with getting a proper budget to make the dream game I had in my mind. Then putting together a team that could do good work. I had no experience at all, but I had a dream. It was challenging convincing people to work with me based on just a dream and some promises. But I would like to think we did a good job pitching our idea on a Kickstarter and securing initial funding needed via Kickstarter.
As for how we handle development for the game is kind of a unique and challenging process by itself, we call it Open Development internally, meaning that we're releasing updates almost every month and work with our fans very closely to make sure the game is fun and most of the issues are addressed in a timely manner. It gives our fans something new to play with and always keeps our developers on their toes, it’s a very energetic and fun process. Our monthly updates are usually so big that many other AAA developers would call them paid DLC :)
Why did you choose Unity as the game engine?
is there any chance for multiplayer option in the future? or Universim 2.0
We chose unity mainly because it was, at least back then, a friendlier and easier game engine to work with. After studying it for a while I decided to go with Unity, I think I made a good decision because the adoption and learning process was fairly easy.
Universim 2.0 that gave me spontaneous flashes in my eyes for some reason :D There will be no multiplayer in The Universim 1 for sure, that would delay it too much. Regarding The Universim 2, who knows maybe we will make it one day, what I know for sure is, if we make The Universim 2 it’s going to be so much bigger than The Universim 1, we learned so much during development time that it makes me kind of excited to make second part!
Will there be any chances of being able to disable nuggets autonomously building houses?
I haven’t seen a request like this before, and never thought about anything like that. So far we’re not planning to add this limitation. I would love to hear more about why you think we should have it. You can add me via Discord - AlexK#8888
What's your favourite aspect of the game?
The fact that your civilization can evolve from Stone age to Medieval, Modern Age and Space Age is my favorite part. Even though that created tons of work for us, I think it’s what really makes our game unique. We developed 130 different buildings, so that every single building could have an Age variation. It's a lot of work, so the art team had to do a lot of heavy lifting.
I also love the Nuggets design, they ended up being really unique, when I play I name my Nuggets and follow them around.
Dynamically generated planet with it’s own eco systems also makes it all really fun and different every time you play the game.
Does this game make you win or lose? (economically)
There is no Game Over screen or message in the game. Our goal was to design it so that it feels very natural and organic, meaning that your civilization will always strive to survive and recover. It really depends on everyone what they consider losing in our game. You can get to the point where it feels like your civilization is not evolving because of bad decisions you made earlier but you’ll almost always have the opportunity to recover. In some cases it might be really hard and it would be easier for you to start a new game.
When a sea or lake is empty on the mother planet can the terrain change to flat so we be able to build on top in a new desert?
You able to fill that lake back by using your Rain Cloud - God Power and we’re also adding a “Hydron-Collider” that will fill empty lakes with water automagically. Unfortunately we’re not planning to add terrain terraforming tools. Planets are very complex and at this moment altering the surface of the ground is not possible, and might take us a lot of time to add something like that. We probably will allow you to build buildings in the areas where you had water earlier.
Did you ever expect for your game,especially The Universim to get so big as they are now? And if they failed, what other job would you have chosen instead?
I always wanted it to be big, but it became bigger than what I was imagining initially. I’m very proud of what we achieved with the game. I often recall how excited I was when the initial primitive features were added to the game, and I’m amazed how far we've come from then. The game looks great, a lot of hard work was poured into it and I’m very proud of our achievements. We will continue working hard and keep our fans happy.
If The Universim would’ve failed, I probably would’ve strategized and started making a new game. I have so many great ideas for games, I just don’t have enough time to work on them atm, The Universim is our top priority. We’re working towards the release and I want it to be great!
What programing language/s did you use to make universim?
Well, I’ll give you a list of languages that I know. They’re Russian, a little bit of Turkmen language (I’m originally from Turkmenistan) and “great” English :) . The crazy thing probably is that I don’t know any programming languages, I work with great minds that took leadership over that side of development and I’m handling pretty much everything else. But, to answer your question all the game code is written in c#, but we also use HLSL for shaders
Are you proud of the games you and your team have created?
Super proud, It feels like we can move mountains with this game. I don’t recommend starting your career and a game company with a game like this :) It was so challenging and big, with limited knowledge and experience, I had a lot of fun times I can tell you that. Our team is doing a great job and I’m very proud of our achievements, things can be better of course, but we’re always striving to grow and evolve our game along with us. Our fans make this process an enjoyable experience and we’re very excited to see positive feedback from them.
Hi, KS backer of Universim here. :) How did the publishing side of Crytivo come about? When you made the Kickstarter were you thinking about that? How has the experience been?
Sorry for all the questions, I'll be happy even if you can only answer one. :)
Hello there, happy to see you here. First of all, thank you for your earliest support, without you we wouldn’t have The Universim today, me and my team appreciate all the backers support so much, thank you! :)
After a successful Kickstarter campaign we received a lot of requests from Indie Developers about how to run a successful KS campaign and how to get noticed. We helped them behind the scenes for a little while then decided to start officially helping Developers about two years ago. We formed a new team to work on that, we secured some side investments and here we are. To make it clear, sometimes our fans get confused with this, our The Universim development team has nothing to do with Crytivo Publishing, two teams are fully separated and not affecting each other anyhow. Some of our The Universim devs don’t even know all the games that we’re working with.
When I launched Kickstarter I was never thinking about Publishing, I’m not sure if I even knew much about it back then. We learned so much since then, it was a crazy ride, I really love this industry and am heavily immersed in it. I’m really excited to have an opportunity to share my experience and chat with great fans like you, you guys always make our days brighter. Thank you for your existence!
Will you encounter other gods or is this truly just a sim management and not a god game?
We don't want to spoil anything, which answering this might. ;)
Since the beginning of the pandemic season, how has the team worked? From home or in the office?
We worked from home for a while. A few of us, mostly leads, will work from the office, but we keep a healthy distance and take precautions. It affected our progress slightly, but not too bad. I hope you and your family are staying safe!
When will the game be finished? (backer from years ago still waiting)
Thank you for your earliest support, you’re a big part of this. Our team is working hard towards a full release, we’re estimating several more months of work before we can call it a finished game. Covid-19 ruined a bit our plans, we wanted to release The Universim later this year, but we might move it to beginning of 2021. Thanks again for your love and support, I hope you’re appreciating all the hard work our team is doing, our goal is to exceed your expectations when you initially backed The Universim.
Will the world's ever become bigger? Will the sea's have more depth? Will we ever be able to have more than 3 huge cities with airports across the globes?
Planet scale is designed to be one of the challenges in the game, we want you to be strategic with your usage of free space. Game performance is also heavily tied to the planet size. With the bigger planets you’ll have a lot of objects that to be rendered on the planet. Even with what we have right now it’s already a pretty great achievement, we had to work really hard to maintain good performance with our current planet size. We will continue doing optimization and if performance will allow us to introduce bigger planet sizes for the sandbox gameplay we will make sure to add them.
What will be the final goal of the game?
From our lead designer JJ: "We've kept a tight lip about the end of the game but we will be happy to share some information about what we have in store for you. Nuggets always wonder who they really are and what purpose do they have on Mother Planet. This is a question we don't intend on ignoring. But while it's natural for your mortal subjects to wonder about the meaning of their life... have you also wondered about the purpose of your guardianship over Mother Planet? Asking that question may bring you in conflict with The Others and pretty soon you'll need to deal with that too for the sake of your own Nuggetkind."
is multiplayer on the table?
Nah, it’s too complicated to add now. Maybe in The Universim 2 or 3!? :)
Will we see an overhaul on how population dynamics are handled by the game?
I was late to the party joining the patch just before beta began and it was fairly easy to grow a population. Then a patch or two later it became impossible for me to grow it past 250 since the nuggets do not breed on their own and I can't spam the Cupid power enough to force them to. They just do not breed enough for a population to sustain and grow and I ensure they have plenty of time for it. They are not overworked.
Our QA testers and Lead designer are currently working on Nugget population balance and we’re planning to roll out an update in a few days. Things are going a bit different and I hope you’ll like it. We also implemented a game analytics tool that will help us to see a bigger picture and make changes based people's playthroughs.
What made you go into such a different direction than the original vision was? I remember watching those videos you released way back in 2014 (I think it was 2014) and while there are similarities, it doesn't seem like the type of game we're getting now.
Most notably would I say that the playstyle has changed. Initially, I thought we would be getting a game, where you take more of an observing role, with you (the god) having few, but very impactful choices, like should these two cities go into war, etc. and not a type of game where you have to manage a single city and place single buildings. I'm not disappointed with the game we have now, but I liked your original vision simply more. I'd be very interested to hear if there's a reason for that change.
I don't think that we went different directions. We implemented and added so much more into the game, it grew exponentially through the time. There seems to be two groups of people in our community that are a little at odds, one wants to have more interaction with their civilization and another that wants to have a more hands off approach. We're trying to satisfy both sides and implement tools for different play styles. Like if you want to build buildings by yourself or build ministers and Nuggets that will build vital buildings by themselves. Our goal is to provide our players with the tools and let them play the game the way they like it. I appreciate your feedback and we will continue to listen and make changes based on the community's input.
I asked this question at the start of early access. I wonder how much it changed. How many working hours do the devs put in weekly. About a year ago the answers was 12 hours a day :).
You keep making the game better every update and it's starting to feel complete.
My question is. Is the development environment still the same. Alot of dedicated devs working long hours or do y'all just put in 9am to 5pm and party now that the game is almost done?
Also side note: me and my 2 younger kids can't get enough of this game!
Oh no, 12 hours a day? That’s not true. We care about our developers and we never have crunch periods. We’ve been developing The Universim for a while and we established a workflow that allows us to work on it without ruining the quality of our lives. Our developers work 8 hours a day, 5 days per week. We buy them an extra slice of pizza if we get a new Positive Review on steam and that’s about it :)
Ah this warms my heart you play the game with your kids! I’m really happy to hear that you’re having a great experience with your family. I promise not to let you guys down, we will continue working hard and strive to put smiles on your kids faces.
Thank you for your support!
Hello, who is that one-eyed alien from trailer?
Hello, who is that one-eyed alien from trailer?
We call him Gregory, soon you'll be able to pet him ;)
- How did you get the idea for the game?
- How do you design systems in the Universim?
- What is your team like?
- How do you balance your work publishing games?
These questions and some from myself.
Will a workshop be added where people can add mods or custom maps/challenges?
I noticed that "creator mode" (or something like that) was removed. Any idea when and maybe how we will maybe have a better "creator mode"?
Our team is very diverse, some of us working from the office in San Diego some work remotely. We have people from Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, USA, Moldova, Spain and etc. I love working with Creative - Talented people and very proud of our team.
We probably aren’t going to add a workshop, since it needed to be planned from the beginning of the development with this kind of game, even though I would really love to have it. Maybe in The Universim 2 ? :)
We disabled Creator mode because it was taking a lot of development time, every time we added new features to the game it needed to be balanced again, which meant that some systems needed to be reprogrammed. With our development style where we release updates on a monthly basis, it meant that even smaller updates would need to be reworked for Creator Mode (taking up more time). So we decided that adding more unique and fun features was more important than creator mode. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have it, we might add it back when we’re happy with the game after it’ll be released fully.
Will we see bigger planets and populations in the future? The population cap feels rather small at the moment. Also, when we're able to expand to a new planet, will we be able to expand on several different planets or do we have to stay on one planet at a time?
There is no population cap, population really depends on your play style. We’ve seen some of our fans reach over 2000 Nuggets in the game. As game designers our goal is to keep your game moderately challenging, we want you to always have a need for available nugget labor for your civilization. We’re continuing balancing the game, this upcoming patch will have a population progression update.
During the space age you’ll be able to colonize planets at the same time, but you will need to be careful with it. You’ll need to make sure you’ll have enough resources for your new colony to survive. Like properly establishing resource deliveries from other planets if it lacks particular resources.
First off I would like to say I have been a fan of the game since the beginning, all the changes and evolution of the game have been awesome.
My wife and I both enjoy the game, and would like to be able to tag team a planet. Is that something in the works?
I do have one fear with the Universim, how will it avoid going the way of "Spore?" (no offense to Spore but once it went to space it was ..... well no fun)
Will there be custom Mod supports?
How can I become a beta tester and help the Dev team?
Hey, really happy to see you’re having fun playing The Universim with your beloved ones. If you’re asking about multiplayer or about co-op mode, unfortunately we’re not planning anything like that to the game at this moment. The technology is very complex and it will take us tons of time, it would require us to redo a lot of systems. But maybe in a future Universim?
As for Spore... I get it, The Universim is big and it took us a while to get here (reaching the space age) Even though we’re doing our best to make space as fun as possible but we might not meet all the wildly diverse expectations our fans have. What I can promise for sure is that we’re working hard to make it an exciting experience. :)
There probably won't be mod support, we haven't planned it from the beginning and it will take a lot of time to restructure game core to support that. We will research it a bit more in the future.
Thanks for your interest in testing! We have a team of volunteers that help us test the game before we release it publicly. You can join the team by joining our discord server www.discord.gg/crytivo and applying to be on the Test Squad.
How do you balance your life/work with publishing games?
Do you have a go-to music playlist for getting more done? What is it?
Why the name "Nuggets"? (I love it, but curious how you landed there)
Are there any plans to expand the nuggets ability to get off-planet and do space colonization? (sorry if this is in a roadmap somewhere, I just haven't seen it.)
It takes a lot of time. Since Publishing is a very new direction our company is taking I’m working really hard and almost all the time when my eyes are open. On top of that I have a little kid who is 3 years old. He is a super, extra, duper hyper active kid. He needs a lot of my attention and energy. I’m thankful to have him, he is a very healthy and active boy and he is keeping me on my toes all the time.
I listen to a lot of different music during the day. I love music with minimum words, Movie/Game Soundtracks. Music helps me to be creative. When I create something I listen to loud music, it really depends on my mood to what I listen. Right now I’m playing this https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DXb2oE8NhWxT6?si=spR6AZSyQ8m3ciZHt4MjOQ
Are there plans for more viewer interactions in Twitch Integration? What's there is great, big fan of the explosions, but sometimes it feels like there should be more positive interactions other than just filling reservoirs/wells and researching items.
There are some improvements and new features on the way for the Twitch Integrations that will be rolled out within a month or so.
Had some ideas for indie Games any good resources I can use or read? (I do go to pax east every year if that helps)
I suppose it depends on what you want to know :) There's as many ways to make a game as there are games. So here are some general suggestions:
- igda ( https://igda.org/ ) they have local chapters and have a plethora of information
- game jams, its a good way to learn new things and test out ideas. They can be found through itch.io, your local igda chapter, or other channels.
- discord servers dedicated to game dev. Its a good way to meet people and potential collaborators.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
We just wanted to say bye before we switched the lights off in the office for the day :D (don't worry it was just me, not making people crunch).
Did Epic Games try to make an exclusivity deal with you? If yes, I'm glad you said no.
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