What's the Deal with rymdkapsel?

Posted by Rob Rich on May 21st, 2013

rymdkapsel made a bit of a splash when it was released on the PlayStation Vita a few weeks ago. And in another couple of months this excessively minimal and abstract strategic base building “sim” will be making its way on to the App Store for everyone’s enjoyment. Martin Jonasson, rymdkapsel’s creator, was kind enough to tell us a bit about where it all came from, as well as what it all means.

148Apps: First off, how in the heck to you pronounce "rymdkapsel?" And what does it mean/refer to?
Martin Jonasson (MJ): When I started working on the game (unaware what I was getting myself into) I just named the project file "spaceblocks" because that felt nice and descriptive. But as the game grew it became clear that I would have to come up with something more interesting. I wanted something that sounded vaguely russian. I threw around a whole bunch of names before I finally settled on "rymdkapsel". It's the Swedish word for space capsule (rymd = space, kapsel = capsule). One thing I didn't quite expect was how much of a hard time Americans would have with it. The Y seems to really throw people off. It's pronounced "rimdcapsel". Either way, I'm stuck with it now.

148Apps: So where did all of this come from? By which I mean the gameplay concept, abstract and simplified visuals, setting, and so on.
MJ: I'm not quite sure where it all came from! I started working on the game right after GDC last year. I needed a bit of a break from what I was working on at the time and figured I'd take a week to knock out a quick prototype of this idea I had. The original idea also featured a space station, but the element that stood out in my mind was having your station be attacked, losing pressure containment and seeing your little space-station dudes get blown into space flailing helplessly. As I was fiddling with the mechanics of building the station I discovered that it was very pleasant to just build a nicely organized station. I knew from previous prototypes and plenty of Tetris playing that Tetrominoes are perhaps the most satisfying to build with, so I put those in early on and the building felt great. As the building parts felt so good I decided to focus in on that and put another week on the prototype. Those two weeks grew to a month, and then two months, and then all of a sudden I had a game.

The minimalism also comes from previous prototypes I've made. The concept of removing cruft [the leftovers] to expose the "core" of a game has proved very successful for me in the past, so digging deeper in that made a lot of sense. It also aligns very well with me being just a one-man team (arguably two with Niklas Ström on music), keeping the graphics minimal makes my work burden smaller.

148Apps: Was releasing on PSN before iOS a strategic decision or is that just sort of how it worked out?
MJ: The game was originally made with the iPad in mind, and the first teaser trailer I released back in June last year is in fact filmed off of the screen of my iPad 1. After posting that I was contacted by Sony who asked if I would be interested in putting the game on their platform. The game has evolved a bit since then, but it's definitely made with a touch screen in mind from the very beginning.

It also uses some magical technology to target all three platforms (Playstation Mobile, iOS, and Android) using essentially the same code base, so any improvements I make for one version will be easily brought over to the others.

148Apps: Please tell me you have future plans for rymdkapsel. More content/challenges, a sequel, SOMETHING. Pretty please?
MJ: I'm not quite sure what my future plans for the game are at the moment. I agree that it's ripe for expansion, but at the same time it's hard to keep it aggressively minimalist and at the same time add a bunch of stuff. I'd say it depends quite a bit on how it does once it hits the bigger platforms. At the very least I hope to get Game Center support in there before releasing on iOS, but I haven't had time to look into that yet so I'm not sure if I can make it in time.

Big thank you to Martin for answering all our questions, and especially for shedding some light on rymdkapsel’s pronunciation. You all should keep an eye out for it when it hits the App Store this July. No official price has been given but Martin promises it will be less than the current $5 going rate on the Vita.

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