Alchemic Cutie is an upcoming title centered around capturing and raising creatures known as jellies. It’s set on the colorful Wimba Island, with a focus on relaxing gameplay. We caught up with one of its two developers, Tom Cashman at this years EGX.
Cliqist: Are you aiming for a relaxing experience with Alchemic Cutie?
Tom Cashman: Yeah, something relaxing. The type of game, that you can come home after work and chill out and just not be stressed by playing. Maybe that’s a part of me getting older. (Laughs) I don’t want to go home and play Dark Souls. I just want to go home, and not be stressed.
How’s it been for you working in such a small team?
I’m the programmer and Sebastian is the artist. We’ve been working on this game together in our spare time for like 2 and a half, maybe 3 years now. It has been a slow process because we’re both still working our day jobs. But it’s a game that we both really want to play. So it’s something we want to make.
It’s our first game together, but we’ve both worked on games as individuals before. We made a small prototype together and 6 months or a year or so he messaged me “hey, want to work on that game together?”. So we went from there!
He’s from Atlanta and I’m from Ireland. So the first time we ever met in person was at Gamescon last month. It’s been really cool to actually hang out and stuff.
Two Layer Approach to Jelly Raising
Are all 4,000 Jellies hand drawn instead of generated?
There are different shapes and colors, then permutations of each. We want to add in hats and ribbons to dress them up. Sebastian takes the base model of each then does different permutations. Different ear, each different nose etc. Like, give one rabbit ears, one a pig nose, then every combination from those options. Then we run it through a color palette generator.
You’re raising the jellies on farms. Giving them items to affect their stats. We’re approaching it like Pokémon. When I play Pokémon it’s water beats fire and that’s it. You know? Some people get really into the EVs and IVs… so that’s what we’re going for. You can play casually and feed them the items and they’ll eventually level up. Or you can get really into it! You can feed them one item at first, then do some alchemy to power another up. Then this combination of alchemy and items will give them a buff so they’ll level up much quicker.
You’re trying to make quite a deep meta-game for Alchemic Cutie?
We’re trying to do that two-layer approach. So casual people can play it, but some people can get really into it and crack down into the gameplay if they want.
Making a Game That’s Actually Fun
How have you found the reaction from the demo currently available?
We launched it last month and found a lot of things we need to improve. With the alchemy part of the game, we actually had a completely different system a month ago. The feedback we got from the first few conferences that we took the game to was that the alchemy is cool but it’s too tedious to do. So we re-wrote it again. But then people just did not understand it. it was too complicated! So we re-made the entire system again, for the third time! Now people seem to understand it, but it’s not tedious. We’ve been making sure the game is actually fun. What we’ve found is what we think is fun is not fun for everyone else.
That’s part of game design, I don’t actually think there’s anyone out there who is like a guru on game design. I think everyone has different things they draw on. With us, we both have a lot of experience with games but at the end of the day, you’re too close to the game. Looking at it close up all day. So it can be hard to take a step back and see how it actually feels for the player.
That’s why we need to bring it to conferences. People have said, “you’re not coming out till late next year, why come here now?”. We need people to play the game, to see them play it to actually see where the issues are. Where we’ve forgotten to explain how things work because we were too close.
What were the influences on Alchemic Cutie?
Sebastian drew a lot of inspiration from Minish Cap. He plays a lot of Animal Crossing as well. So we were both doing the writing for a while, but I just found his dialogue a lot quirkier and funnier. I just sort of said “Dude you’re like nailing it! so you can handle it from here”. Design wise, I’m a huge Pokémon fan and he’s a huge animal crossing fan so we tried to combine those.
I don’t even know how we came up with alchemy, I don’t actually remember how that came about. We just… Yeah. It kinda just happened.
Slice of Life
Is there anything locked through progression or is it more chill?
It’s definitely more chill. We’re taking an approach similar to Animal Crossing. In the final game, they’ll be a whole island. You’ll do an initial quest to get you started and show how everything works. After that, it’ll be like animal crossing where you can explore the whole island. Enter any competition, do anything you want.
You don’t even have to do the jelly competitions. Each character you meet will have its own storyline and plots, so if you just want to follow that. We want to let the player play however they want. Not force them down any storyline over another. So yeah, something chilled out.
How deep are you going with the character based approach?
The village in the world is filled with NPCs, they all have their own routines. There isn’t a world-ending storyline. It’s slice of life quests. They’ll be events. So there’ll be a port in the village. Some NPCs will arrive by boat and they’ll have time-limited quests. You can do them if you want but you don’t have too. There isn’t a world-ending storyline.
Will you be trying to work with a publisher?
We’ve been in contact with publishers to bring it to consoles. We’re talking to some of the console vendors about self-publishing if we can’t find a publisher. But to work on the game full time we will need a publisher. If we keep doing it in our spare time it’ll be another 3 or 4 years until the game comes out. So we’re hoping to get funding to work on it full time.
That permitting, aiming to release maybe Q1 2020. With Q4 2019, it’s never a good time for indie releases with AAAs coming out. So we’ll probably wait for a little to actually release.
We are in talks with some publishers. It’s a very kid friendly game so we think it’ll do well on consoles. So fingers crossed we can bring it to consoles. All the games I’ve ever done have been PC only. I’ve always kind of had this dream of going into GameStop and seeing a game I’ve made. So if I could do that in my life, then I would be happy.
Thanks to Tom Cashman for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to learn more about Alchemic Cutie, be sure to check out the demo.