Ten thousand downloads a day

Is Cublast the new Minecraft?

HBO-ict student Stefan Dinkelberg developed Cublast, a game of skill for mobile phones. Soon a version for the Xbox will be released.

Rolling and bouncing with a pink little ball as fast as possible through a world of gray blocks while collecting as many points as you can: that is the core of Cublast, a game of skill for your smartphone. Stefan Dinkelberg (24), fourth year student ICT at Windesheim, developed Cublast with Djordy Donopawiro (21), former Windesheim intern and first year student of Game Design and production at Saxion. At first it was just for fun, but by this time the game has been downloaded around 350.000 times from the Apple store, Google Play and Windows Store. Together with recently added team member Stefan van Diemen de Jel (24, also fourth years ICT) they are working on a version for Xbox and Windows 10.

Super Mario
Stefan Dinkelberg and Djordy have known each other since they were ten years old. Stefan: “We were always busy with games. Especially with creating our own world in these games, which for example could be done in the well-known game Minecraft. I find that quite fascinating.” Stefan and Djordy attended the same intermediate vocational education study programme and came across each other at Windesheim, where they were working on a gaming project. Stefan: “At a certain moment we decided to develop a game together, just for fun. It had to be a very simple game, since you cannot make something complex with just the two of us.” Soon enough the idea of Cublast was born. Djordy: “It is a simple game: the only thing you need to do is move your phone and tap the screen, but the obstacles you come across make it challenging. Stefan van Diemen de Jel: “You could compare it to Super Mario, but without the flesh-eating plants and mushrooms.”

Frustration and satisfaction
In the development phase the students already received positive feedback on Cublast. Djordy: “We found a good balance between frustration from keeping on ‘dying’ in a level and the satisfaction from when you finally do succeed.” Last year the students decided to introduce the game at the Microsoft Windows Game Developer Contest, an international competition for game developers. There they won the second place prize: five thousand dollars. “We could make very good use of that for the further development of the game, since our current revenue model is not really successful,” says Stefan Dinkelberg. “The game is free of charge in the app stores, and once downloaded, players could do in-game purchases: themes that allow you to give the world a different colour. We have consciously chosen not to offer items that give you an advantage, so the game stays accessible for everyone.”

Source of income
With the Xbox version, the students hope to generate a good source of income. Stefan Dinkelberg: “We want to sell the Xbox game as a title, meaning that people will need to buy the game before they are able to play it.” Stefan van Diemen de Jel has especially been asked to join the team for this project. “You don’t get the opportunity to develop an Xbox game too often! I am working on new features at the moment, like the implementation of the option that you can play Cublast as a multiplayer game, where you work with each other or against each other. Players could also edit levels and play other people’s levels.”
As a game developer, you don’t just release a game on the Xbox, … Stefan Dinkelberg: “A concept first needs to be approved by ID@Xbox, the programme for independent game developers for the gaming device. They only want to release quality games of course. It was a difficult proces, because we had to adjust the concept many times. But after half a year of trying they approved!”

Conquering India
The release of the Xbox version of Cublast is planned for the 10th of March 2017, but before that happens Stefan Dinkelberg and Djordy will be travelling to India ‘for a bit’: “The Dutch Game Association was looking for game developers who are interested in the Indian market and want to go to a game fair in Asia. That was perfect for us: we’re developing Cublast with a programme that is supported by a mobile platform which is in large usage in India, so it is a great opportunity for us to conquer that market.” The Dutch Gaming Association received several applications, but chose Stefan and Djordy to go to the fair. Stefan Dinkelberg: “It is a good opportunity to gain experience and make contact with game professionals in India. And of course we will be presenting our mobile game and the Xbox game.
Half December, the students will also start a crowdfunding project via IndieGogo. “With the revenue that we will gain from this, we want to cover the monthly fees to secure the development of the game. And of course it is a good way to put the game further in the spotlight.”

The new Minecraft
The students hadn’t expected that their hobby project would assume such forms. “I can remember we were stoked with a hundred downloads a day,” says Djordy. “At a certain moment we even reached 10.000.” How this will proceed cannot be predicted, but as far as the students are concerned they will also work on a version for the Playstation and dive into the world of virtual reality with future projects. Stefan Dinkelberg: “First we focus on the Xbox game. I have no idea how that’s going to work out, but I sincerely hope I can make a living out of it. And if I could muse really hard? Then Cublast will become the new Minecraft!”

Janine Sterenborg
Photo: Gerben Rink

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