Space Qube is a fun new addition for fans of voxel games with cool twist–you can bring the characters you build out of virtual reality and into real-life by ordering 3D prints of them. The retro-style space shooter for iOS gained traction after scoring the Best In Play award at this year’s GDC, as well as placing as a Sense of Wonder Night’s finalist at the Tokyo Game Show. Space Qube was created by Qubic Games, a Taiwan-based studio founded by Louis Lu and Owen Wu.
The two first met in Taipei before moving to North America to pursue job opportunities. Lu went to California to work at Sony Santa Monica, where he was lead character artist for the God of War series, and Wu served as a senior graphics engineer at AMD in Ontario.
When the iPad came out, the friends were excited about the new possibilities it gave independent game developers. They began collaborating on the prototype for Space Qube before moving back to Taiwan last year.
Space Qube has two main parts. The shooter game, controlled by tilting the iPad or using its touchscreen, lets you fight monsters and collect “qubes,” or voxel blocks, through 13 levels. You can use your qubes in Space Qube’s Ship Builder, its in-game 3D editor which makes it easy to build characters and vessels layer by layer. The amount of qubes you use affects their attributes (for example, more qubes increases a vessel’s armor but makes it less nimble). Creations can be shared through social media or on Space Qube’s website and you can order 3D prints through the app’s in-game store.
After working for years on the increasingly gruesome scenes in God of War, Lu tells me he now wants to focus on creating non-violent games (he’s also a member of LND Games, the maker of kids’ music app Color Band).
“We were using all our creativity to make games as bloody as possible,” he says. “It didn’t feel right.” Qubic Games’ mission is to create games that will appeal to a wide range of ages. You can create very complex characters in Space Qube’s Ship Builder, but it was designed to be easy enough for a child to use (Wu’s five-year-old son tested the prototype and is described by his dad as Qubic Games’ “co-producer”).
Lu and Wu say that about 30% to 40% of Space Qube’s players have built their own characters or vessels and they plan to continue adding more features to the editor. In the pipeline is a marketplace that will allow people to make their creations available for other players to order as 3D prints, as well as embedding chips in the figures so they can be used as interactive game pieces on iPad screens. Qubic Games also plans to create educational apps that will use voxel editors to teach kids spatial awareness.
Space Qube is currently available for $2.99 on the App Store and will eventually be ported to Android, Windows 8, WIndows Phone 8 and console platforms.