Cubot is a puzzle game with a calming, minimalist aesthetic and a difficulty level that quickly ramps up. Released originally for Android, then for iOS, and finally for Mac, PC, and Linux via Steam, it has earned consistently positive reviews across all platforms.

Cubot is the work of one developer, Nicolas Pierre-Loti-Viaud. In this interview, he describes how he chose the presentation style, the challenges he's faced in porting the game to multiple systems, and how the game has evolved over time and what we can look forward to in his future games.

Watch the video above, or download the audio edition from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Mixcloud, acast, or TuneIn.

This interview is conducted through Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe. Transcripts of the interview in both English and French can be found below the video.


Ken: I was drawn to this game by the soothing music in the trailer. Even puzzle games often have very fast-paced music! Why did you choose such calm music?

Nicolas: Dès le début, je souhaitais une musique calme et reposante pour le jeu, ceci dans le but de ne pas distraire le joueur durant sa réflexion. Le trailer étant là pour présenter le jeu, il se devait donc d?avoir la même musique.

Antoine: From the start, I wanted a calm and relaxing music for the game, this from the perspective to not disturb the player during his reflection. The trailer aiming to present the game, it therefore had to have the same music.


Ken: Did you do all the music, art, and programming yourself?

Nicolas: Cubot étant un "petit" jeu, j'ai presque pu tout faire tout seul. Cependant, n'ayant aucune connaissance musicale, la musique et une partie du sound design ne sont pas de moi. En fait, la musique est une piste libre droit sur laquelle je suis tombée par hasard, mais c'était exactement ce que je souhaitais pour l'ambiance sonore, c?était donc parfait.

Antoine: Given that Cubot is "small" game, I have been almost able to do everything alone. However, since I have no musical knowledge, the music and a part of sound design are not from me. In fact, the music is a Creative Commons track found on the web by chance and it was exactly what I wanted for the sound ambience, so it was perfect.


Ken:How did you test the puzzles to make sure they weren't too hard? Did you have testers playing the game for you?

Nicolas: Je ne sais pas, il n'y a pas de recette miracle. Dans un premier temps, j'ai créé pas mal de niveaux, j'ai essayé de les classer par ordre de difficulté. Par la suite, j'ai fait essayer le jeu à des amis, ça m'a permis de voir ce qui fonctionnait et ce qui ne fonctionnait pas. Du coup j'ai fait des ajustements, pour essayer d'avoir la meilleur courbe de progression possible. Les derniers tests que j'ai réalisés ont été faits lors de salons, où beaucoup de joueurs ont pu tester le jeu, ce qui m'a permis d'avoir énormément de retours.

Antoine: I don't know, there is no magic solution. As a first step, I created a lot of levels, I tried to rank them in order of difficulty. Thereafter, I proposed to my friends to test the game, this allowed me to see the strengths and weaknesses of the game. So I made adjustments to try to have the best progression curve possible. The last tests I made were done at shows, where many players were able to test the game, which allowed me to have a lot of feedback.


Ken: What games most influenced or inspired you? The game most similar to Cubot that I can think of is Intelligent Qube for PSOne, or maybe The Nightmare Cooperative for Steam.

Nicolas: C'est marrant car je ne connais pas ces deux jeux, je vais me renseigner dessus. Il y a principalement 3 jeux qui m'ont inspiré. Bloxorz, un jeu en flash dans lequel il faut amener un parallélépipède vers un point d'arrivée. Devil Dice, un jeu PSOne où l'on contrôle un petit diable qui doit débarrasser le plateau de jeu en faisant correspondre les chiffres de la face supérieur des dés adjacents. Et finalement, la série Portal principalement pour l'esthétique épurée.

Antoine: It's funny but I didn't know these games, I will find out about them. There are mainly three games that inspired me. Bloxorz, a flash game where you have to move a parallelepiped to an arrival point. Devil Dice, a PSOne game, where the player controls a small devil which must clear the gameboard by matching the numbers on the upper side on adjacent dice. And last, the Portal series mainly for uncluttered aesthetics.


Ken: Your previous games were only for Windows Phone and Android. Was this your first game for Mac and iOS? What was the most challenging part of writing for those systems?

Nicolas: Ce n'est pas plus ou moins difficile de développer pour tel ou tel système. Ce qui est le plus dur, c'est de réussir à reproduire sur les différents systèmes/matériels la même expérience de jeu, j'espère avoir réussi.

En fait, pour parler un peu plus technique, les différentes versions du jeu partagent à 80-85% le même code. Les seules différences sont dues aux possibilités offertes par chaque système, par exemple l'ajout de l'achat in-app sur la version Android, pour proposer une démo du jeu. Ou l'ajout des achèvements dans la version Steam.

Antoine: It's not more or less difficult to develop for a system rather than another. The hardest task, it's to succeed to reproduce the same game experience on each systems/devices, I hope to have succeeded.

In fact, to talk a bit more about the technical part, the different versions of the game share 80-85% of the same code. The differences are due to the possibilities offered by each system, for example the addition of in-app purchase on the Android version, to propose a demo of the game. Or the addition of achievements in the Steam version.


Ken: How has the game changed each time you have brought it to a new system? – The game came out first for iOS last August. What feedback did you get from the iOS version that you worked into the Steam version?

Nicolas: Le jeu n?a pas vraiment changé à chaque fois qu?il a été porté sur un nouveau système. Avec les possibilités offertes par les plateformes de vente comme le Play Store, iStore, Steam, ? j?ai pu prendre en compte les retours des joueurs ?instantanément?. Ceci m?a permis de corriger des problèmes de level design ou des bugs. Bien sur, ces corrections ont été répercutées sur les nouveaux portages. La première version sortie sur Android n?a plus rien à voir avec la première version sortie sur Steam.

Antoine: The game didn?t really change each time it has been brought on a new system. With the possibilities offered by sales platform like Play Store, iStore, Steam, ? I was able to take into account the player feedback "instantly". This allowed me to correct level design problems or bugs. Of course, these corrections have been passed on new portages. The first version released on Android Is completely different than the first version released on Steam.


Ken: The Steam version of the game sells for $1.99, which seems pretty cheap for a desktop game! How did you settle on that price?

Nicolas: Oui, ce n'est pas très cher pour un jeu PC, mais j'ai voulu un prix proche de celui de la version mobile. Ce qui est intéressant à noter, c'est que sur mobile, certaines personnes trouvent le jeu plutôt cher alors que c'est le même …

Antoine: Yes, it's pretty cheap for a desktop game, but I have wanted a price close to that of the mobile version. Interestingly, about the mobile version, some people consider the game rather expensive while it's the same …


Ken: What plans do you have for future versions? How about a level editor?

Nicolas: Le principal problème avec l'ajout d'un éditeur de niveaux, c'est que je n'avais pas prévu de le faire dès le début et cela demanderait de modifier beaucoup de chose au niveau du moteur du jeu. Et si je commence à modifier le moteur, j'aurais aussi envie de modifier les menus, car il y a certaines choses qui me gênent, mais aussi les assets graphiques, d'ajouter de nouveaux concepts de game design, … et finalement, le jeu ne ressemblerait plus vraiment à celui actuel. Je pense donc que toutes ces améliorations/modifications/ajouts, je les ferai dans un "nouveau" jeu. Mais rien n'est sur.

Antoine: The main problem with addition a level editor, it's that I hadn't planned to do from the beginning and it would take to change a lot of things at the game engine. And if I start to change the game engine, I would also like to modify the menus, because there are some things that hinder me, but also the graphic assets, adding new game design concepts, … in the end, the game would not be the same as the current one. I think that all these enhancements/modifications/additions will be added in a "new" game. But nothing is certain.