You may not know about Cloudscape yet, but I would implore you to look into it. Cloudscape is a Stardew Valley-esque survival game that simply looks incredible. What makes it all more impressive is that it’s being developed by one person! I had the chance to ask them a few questions to get an insight into Cloudscape, the processes behind it, and indie development as a whole.
Have you ever been curious as to the process behind game development? Who isn’t? It’s easy to YouTube tutorial videos, and there are more than enough resources regarding the technical side of things, but what about everything else? I managed to glean an insight into the process from Cloudscape developer Chris Gottron.
He has listed the game under Konitama Games on Steam. You can check out the Cloudscape Steam page here: Cloudscape Steam Page
Anyway, let’s get right into it.
I Asked Gottron About The Inspirations That Have Led To Cloudscape
Although the similarity to games such as Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing is clear, as Gottron himself recognised, he seems confident that Cloudscape will still find its own unique place in the plethora of titles that exist in that genre.
“I’ve wanted to make a game like Cloudscape since I was a child. I think the thing that most inspires me is that I haven’t seen a game quite like Cloudscape, at least not what I’m planning to do with it.”
Gottron stated that he believes it is a game that needs to exist, and I am inclined to agree with him. Cloudscape seems like a title that could easily hit the heights Stardew Valley has, if not go higher.
Then I Asked About Kumo, The Playable Cloudling…
While I was looking through the progress of Cloudscape, the development updates on Twitter and the YouTube Dev Logs, I noticed something… The adorable Kumo wasn’t always quite as charismatic. In early builds, Kumo was more of a gender-less base of a playable character sprite. I wondered as to whether Kumo’s development was just a progression of this base sprite, or if there was something else there… Here’s what Gottron had to say:
“ When I started the project I just knew I wanted a mix of survival, crafting, farming and socializing. I wasn’t really sure as to who or what the player would control. The prototype had a sort of blank character that was just a white blob with arms and legs. I ended up just refining this character more, and eventually went with it being a cloud… mostly for my love of the Nimbus people from Super Mario RPG, particularly Mallow. I also liked that the character is just sort of a blank canvas that allows the player to fill in the blanks. Kumo is very neutral.”
Kumo is an LGBTQ+ icon and I am here for it.
Interested Yet? I Didn’t Want To Spoil Anything, But I Asked About A Possible Story
Kumo and the mysterious beachside sign they discover at the start of Cloudscape is just the start! Gottron expressed that he wanted to develop Cloudscape into a rich world that’s full of characters that fit naturally into the story he has in mind. This doesn’t mean that it’ll be limiting and linear, though… The story will act more like a guide. I’ve been recently playing No Man’s Sky again, and it seems like it may act similarly to that.
“The story is there to just give the players a main focus… The story will never be forcing the player to do anything. Also, the player is more a part of the story than the central focus point. I’m kind of burned out on games where you are the destined hero or the legendary chosen one.”
Me and you both, Chris. Sometimes, the best narrative stories are those that nestle into the grey area of heroics and morals. I don’t expect anything quite as intense from Cloudscape, but I think of The Last Of Us Part 2 and it’s dancing on the line of the perceived acceptable.
Following on from this, I asked Gottron about his history with game development and how he has prepared for Cloudscape, or as much as anyone could before venturing on solo development.
Have You Had Previous Experience In Game Development? If So, How Has This Helped Prepare You For This Project?
Gottron’s comments on his experience might prove to inspire some of you, as it has inspired me. Gottron has had a passion for video game development from a young age.
“ I’ve done a lot of learning and self-teaching and experimenting. I practiced pixel art, animation, game design, programming, and learned a bit of music as well.”
However, in terms of professional experience, Gottron hasn’t had as much as you’d think, looking at Cloudscape.
“ When I worked at Nickelodeon I actually was tasked to prototype various mobile games and I did most of the design and all of the programming for that. I had the help of talented people providing art and sound, but I sort of just did the rest on my own. It was mostly just as a test to see what we could accomplish with a small team and budget. I did eventually make an actual game for the Nick App, unfortunately I don’t think it made it onto the app due to performance issues… but that’s a story for another time.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s a story I want to get into… But, right. Isn’t to do with Cloudscape, so another time. Following on from this, I asked a little bit more about Sound Development. In the most-recent Dev Log (at the time of writing), Gottron discussed how he needed to start with this. I was surprised, if I’m honest, that he was undertaking the task himself on top of everything else. It seems like a lot of work, right?
Sound Development Is “A Lot Of Trial And Error And Experimentation”
This might be a little bit of an expected answer, but I am sure everyone has an idea of what they’d expect and want things to sound like. Gottron has expressed that his approach will essentially come down to hoping he has a keen enough ear to decide what “sounds good and what doesn’t”.
“I’m going to attempt to do the music for the game but I don’t have any real training with that… So it’s going to also be a lot of trial and error. Fingers crossed!”
The soundtrack of a game does more than fill the silence between in-game action effects. It dictates the tone, a lot of the time, of the whole experience. Not to put any undue pressure on Gottron, but it is interesting how much it affects how people experience a game. I find myself much more erratic when playing games like Call of Duty if I am listening to high-tempo music. I sprint more, sometimes get more kills, sometimes make more mistakes. It makes me feel on edge. Cloudscape isn’t just a game about farming and exploration; it also has combat! It’ll be interesting if Gottron decides to develop a number of situational background tracks.
I Then Asked About Any ‘Ideal World’ Mechanics Gottron Would Like To Implement Into Cloudscape
Gottron has, again, expressed high hopes for Cloudscape and frankly, I believe it could hit these with ease. Gottron wants to push world-building mechanics to the limit, but he expressed that he isn’t sure he has the expertise to improve the current mechanics in play. It’s hard to imagine how much more limit-pushed world-building mechanics can get, but Cloudscape’s format seems like a great place for Gottron to try it.
Multiplayer is another thing that Gottron wants to add. As he mentioned previously, socialising is a big part of what he wants for Cloudscape. However, Gottron wants to make sure he has the single-player experience first.
What Do You Hope For The Future Of Cloudscape? Does Konitama Games Have Any Plans For Another Game?
Okay, I know that this is a bit of an open-ended question, but I think it’s an interesting insight into the mindset of game developers. Some, I am sure, are very focused on a particular title presented in a particular way. Their Magnum Opus. However, it seems Cloudscape is only the start for Chris Gottron and Konitama Games.
In regards to the future of Cloudscape…
“ I hope people like it, for starters! I can only hope that people enjoy what I’ve made and that it’s successful enough that I can keep making games for as long as possible. I’d love to see it grow into something big. I think that’s the dream for a lot of game developers. I’m totally open to keep building on to the game and making it better.”
Cloudscape isn’t the only game Gottron has toyed with, though. Further in his response, he expressed that he had “prototyped” a whole host of other titles over the years but ended up shelving them. He found them to be too large in scope or too technically demanding for him at that time.
Will we see anything more from Konitama Games? Hopefully.
“ If Cloudscape is successful I would definitely try to get one of those games created next. As for whether I’d make a sequel to Cloudscape… I suppose if there is demand for it, I surely wouldn’t be against the idea.”
Finally, I Asked If Gottron Had Any Advice For Anyone Else Who Wants To Get Into Indie Development
For the next part, I’ll let you read exactly what Gottron said to me:
“ I wouldn’t want to just say “go for it!” without really knowing a person’s background and experience. I’ve spent many years learning every aspect of game development, and I’ve worked on a lot of unfinished games that failed for one reason or another. I think it’s important to fail, because it’s an invaluable learning experience. If you haven’t failed at game dev yet, I wouldn’t suggest taking on a huge game project. (or do it, and fail, and learn from that!)”
“ Some advice I can give is to always be learning and challenging yourself. Don’t wait around and make excuses, just find a way to learn. I know a lot of people get hung up on which programming language to focus on, or what game creation software they should use. I think it’s more important to just settle on something and learn as much as you can.”
“ Game development skills are applicable across all sorts of software and languages. Learning how to program in one language makes it really easy to learn how to program in another. Learning how to make great pixel art or 3-D models in one piece of software makes it really easy to learn in others. If you really enjoy game development you won’t hesitate to learn new things if it means it will help you make better games.”
To summarise, I found myself learning a couple of important lessons from Gottron that can apply to more than just indie game development.
Lesson one… Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do fail, find out why and learn from it. Making the same mistake twice might happen, but that doesn’t mean everything you’re doing is bad. It’s an important step in refining any skill.
Lesson two… Learn everything you can. This, again, can be applied to a lot of situations. It’s alright to be indecisive, but learning one thing doesn’t mean you’re tied to that forever. Transferable skills can be found in just about everything, so learning one thing will undoubtedly help when you want to move on to something else.
Cloudscape might not have a release date just yet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on it. I would be sure to follow @KonitamaGames on Twitter and join the Cloudscape Discord Serveryou can find there.
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