Think about space and how big it is. The stars, the planets, the different galaxies that are all up in space. If given the chance, would you go, would you live, would you party like it was nothing of the world that you knew? I know that many of us will not be going into space any time soon, it is still fun to think about. But what if we could go with others and just forget our troubles? So when I heard that there was a game that would be casual and fun while also having leaderboards, I had to learn more. So I reached out and the CEO, and Founder of Starcade Arcade, Alexander Clark, was happy to give us a closer look at their newest game, Space Slurpies, and to also talk about Virtual Reality.
Interview with CEO, and Founder of Starcade Arcade, Alexander Clark
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Starcade Arcade?
“Hello! I am Alexander Clark, the CEO, and Founder of Starcade Arcade. Most of my hands-on work for the studio is in the code development and setting the creative vision. While we work with many talented freelancers, artists, and developers to make our games, I still stay very hands-on with every game, coding daily and hand drawing the concept art.”
Growing up, what has been your favorite genre of games, and what was that one VR experience that made you really want to start making games in VR?
“My favorite games growing up were strategy or building games, in particular Fire Emblem and Minecraft. Playing Minecraft in VR was a special experience for me because it showed me how much more immersive a game could in VR and inspired us to create games in genres that had not previously been made in VR, like our first release, Starblazer, a real-time strategy game.”
Starcade Arcade has created Starblazer and Virus Popper. What has the feedback been like and what do you think you have learned most since those have been released?
“Since releasing Starblazer and Virus Popper, we have learned that what people love most about our games are the positive energy, the design of the worlds and characters, and the unique spin of musicality that we bring to our universe. We have made a point of leaning into those strengths in all of our titles now, and of course in our newest game, Space Slurpies.”
Your newest game, Space Slurpies is about to release. What can you tell us about the game?
“Space Slurpies was inspired initially from exhibiting at international conventions pre-COVID. We felt the urge to create a game that could universally be learned quickly and played by anyone, regardless of the language they speak or the experience that they have in VR. The concept of Space Slurpies is simple – wherever your hand moves, the slurpie follows and grows in length by eating various edibles on the map. The goal is to survive and avoid hitting other players, yourself, or enemies on each map. In a lot of ways, it’s a modern re-envisioning of several arcade games that people are familiar with and played before, but never like this in VR!”
How does the multiplayer aspect of the game work and any tips for those who are about to experience it for themselves?
“A multiplayer game pits you against three other players in a four-player, fast-paced battle to eat edibles and survive. I’ve seen several different but successful strategies. Some people like to move fast and try to cut other players off. Other people like to play more cautiously and defensively, protecting themselves in elaborate patterns. Either way, the most important tip I can give you is to play it with friends! While we offer match-making, we personally think that the best time is when playing a game with your friends.”
Will there be any leaderboards to see is the best slurpie in all of space and time?
“Absolutely! We know how important it is for players to track and compare scores. There are leaderboards for all of the single player maps, as well as a global matchmaking rank. You should always know who is the best slurpie of all time!”
How many players can play at the same time?
“At launch, up to four players can all play together, whether in online matchmaking or in private games with friends.”
Now, a few things I noticed when I first heard about Space Slurpies. One, there is something about their eyes that just draw you in, and two, the slurpies are in the club with a DJ and lights. Did the eyes look different from the beginning to what they are now and please say that the space scene with the DJ is an actual stage or at least, a place to hang out with other players?
“The slurp designs have definitely evolved over the course of the game. Believe it or not, it can be difficult to make a snake or worm that’s truly cute. They are a creature that is all too easy to make creepy and gross to players. After a few iterations though, we landed on a slurpie design that just looks friendly and fun-loving. I’m glad that you think so as well!
I do agree that the opening sequence with the DJ is something that has turned iconic and needs to be expanded on. It started off as an arbitrary set-piece, but it’s also really grown to define the game and the slurpies that you’re playing with. I love the idea of it being a space for players to hang out and might need to work that into a patch!?
Are there any plans for future DLC or more content such as stages that are planned for the game?
“Most definitely! We are really hoping that Space Slurpies catches on and is a success because there are lots of ways we want to grow the game and add more content. There are two big areas we want to expand. First off, we want more snake customization and types of snakes. The snakes should be just as zany and fun as the rest of the game. Next, we want to bring a lot more maps, creative ways to progressively add challenges and variety to the gameplay.”
Starship Arcade has some catchy music with the games with the theme song from Virus Popper to now Space Slurpies. Is it an important item to check off the list before the game is finished is to make sure it has that special song?
“I appreciate that! The music is very important to us and is actually one of the first things that gets created. I am grateful for how patient our musicians are given how long they have to wait until release. Even now, we’re sitting on lots of music for the unannounced fourth game… just because we think it’s that important to tackle! Music for us can make or break a game, so we have only ever used custom soundtracks for everything we’ve made.”
VR can be both challenging and surprising, what is the most challenging and surprising thing so far about Virtual Reality?
“We have been really surprised to learn about the variety of users coming to VR that are not traditionally gamers. We are seeing artists, tech enthusiasts, designers, and many more types of users join the VR community. They bring a lot of fresh insights with them and also change how we engineer our games, knowing that we may be introducing a gaming genre to someone who has never played it before.”
“What do you feel is the most important when it comes to the visuals in VR?
“We personally do our best to offer a visually rich experience without compromising too much on the design to make performance work in VR. We steer clear of low poly visual design and instead choose to bring extra life to the scenes with a kaleidoscope of colors and lights.”
From your experience, is there something that you feel is still hard to make work in VR?
“Most of the controls and user interaction is all still new, uncharted territory. We really felt this while working on Starblazer, as real-time strategy games are typically a complex genre. The truth is that it has proven to be a challenge in any genre, so we’re always looking for new ways to simplify our designs and make them easier to play. VR is unique that the cognitive load of just simply processing a new environment is hard enough as it is, without adding in additional game mechanics that need to be learned.”
If you found a door that allowed you to enter another dimension in Virtual Reality, but you could never return in any way, where would you go, what time period would it be, and who would you be?
“Love this question. I have always been fascinated by the concept of Limbo, as told in the movie Inception. In this world, they were able to infinitely build anything that they wanted with no limitations. I believe that is the world that I would want to be stuck in, one in which I am free to create whatever I wanted to create, with no bounds on reality or time. I don’t think the movie made that dimension out to be a good one, but I still think I would be a sucker for it!”
So now that we are just mere days from Space Slurpies releasing, how does it feel knowing how the idea came about to the finished product?
“It is always humbling more than anything else. A lot of the major work is done, and with that comes satisfaction. But the emotion that never ceases to sneak up on me is the overwhelming humility that comes with people loving the game. And regardless of how it fares widely, there will always be one or two that see the vision, believe in what we’re making, and love the game. Never underestimate how much a single encouraging Tweet or a single heartfelt review can mean to us. I literally hang onto the encouraging feedback and remember it for years to come.”
With VR content continuing to slurp its way into new content, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Space Slurpies?
“The #1 thing said about Space Slurpies is that it’s relaxing. That was not originally the adjective we would have expected, but we love it and I think you would see that too once you play it. There is something chill about slurping around in the starlight eating glowing edibles. And if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that everyone had a really hard year in 2020 and needs some time to chill and relax. We hope that Space Slurpies can be that fun and positive game for someone to just chill, decompress, and have fun with their friends.”
I really want to thank Alexander for taking time out of his busy schedule and day to give us a closer look at Space Slurpies and as well as talking about his experience with Virtual Reality.
To learn more about Starcade Arcade, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, follow them on Twitch, join their Discord, and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.