Side Quest Interview

SideQuest

Based in Hong Kong, Side Quest is an independent gaming studio formed from experienced mobile developers that have made it their mission to create high-quality games. Having recently launched the Card game/RPG hybrid ‘Cardinal Pixel’ on an unsuspecting public they’re already hard at work on their next title ‘Density of Destiny’ which looks set to be a Tactical RPG of considerable originality. My Boxed Universe has been lucky enough to catch them on the week of Cardinal Pixel’s launch and have a representative answer questions for us.

MBU
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. For those not already acquainted with your work, can you introduce yourself for us?

SIDE QUEST
Hello My Boxed Universe, I am Bowie Lee from Side Quest, the Game Producer (and also the Lead Game Designer) of Cardinal Pixel.

MBU
Obviously you’re based out of Hong Kong, how have you found Side Quest has been received by the foreign market?

SIDE QUEST
We found that our game has been well received by the foreign market through Touch Arcade, actually many hardcore iOS gamers in Hong Kong are the readers of Touch Arcade too.

MBU
Cardinal Pixel launched very recently and you’ve already released a patch with significant updates, is there a plan to continually develop new content and support for the game?

SIDE QUEST
Yes, we released an update on 2015-12-18. The new game mode “Arena” which fills the gaps between new & existing players, paid & non-paid players in the game. Cardinal Pixel is a mobile game at industry level, we will keep updating it to make sure all the players enjoy the game. In short terms, another big update with “Boss Fight” will be released in February 2016.

Actions are based on a roll of a D4.

Actions are based on a roll of a D4.

MBU
The first update broke the game on iPhone 5s and 5c, but your company was quick to pick up on this by monitoring feedback through forums on sites such as Touch Arcade. Have you found user feedback particularly helpful?

SIDE QUEST
We keep ourselves connected with players by communicating directly with them on forums and our Facebook fanpage. Many players, especially those in Taiwan, provided detailed bug reports (even with video record for reproducing the bugs) for us to fix bugs easily. With the helps from our players, 90% of the bugs from these reports and feedback can be fixed within 12 hours.

For the iPhone 5 & 5c problem, it is fixed and the build is being reviewed at the moment. Most iOS devices (including iPhone 4) will be able to run the game in the coming build!

MBU
How closely do you monitor or plan to interact with your fan base?

SIDE QUEST
Almost every comment or suggestion from our players on forums is replied to individual within 36 hours, we will keep this up and interact with our players directly.

MBU
How has Cardinal Pixel performed so far and what has user response been like?

SIDE QUEST
In terms of number of downloads, Cardinal Pixel is not doing very well since we lack a promotion budget to acquire players. However, the paid-rate is quite high (around 10%) while the ARPPU is just 30% lower than the industrial standard.

Our players love the concept and ecosystem of Cardinal Pixel, very positive comments are received on Google Play and Apple APP Store. Some users told us that they are very unhappy with the loading speed, we will release a new build which solves this problem completely after Apple’s Winter holiday.

Three spells are selected at the start of combat.

Three spells are selected at the start of combat.

MBU
When can we expect to see Density of Destiny and will it get an English translation/release? The trailer plays with English text so we’re very hopeful.

SIDE QUEST
Density of Destiny is expected to be finished in 2016, it is delayed since we don’t have enough budget to do it at this moment. DOD will be available in both English and Traditional Chinese once it is released.

MBU
Both of these titles use very different visual styles, Cardinal Pixel infers a throwback to pixel based 8-bit gaming with a modern twist whilst Density of Destiny looks like it’s using high quality illustrated 2D artwork. Was there a conscious choice to hit two different looks?

SIDE QUEST
Yes, we pick the art styles for our games carefully. The target audiences of Cardinal Pixel are casual players who do not play traditional trading card games as those games maybe too complex to them, we use the pixel art with a modern twist (inspired by Minecraft) for this game to attract these casual players. As a result, most of our players are female in Taiwan.

MBU
These games both use dice as a game mechanic in a manner similar to pen and paper RPGs, what it the inspiration behind that?

SIDE QUEST
In Density of Destiny, dice is just a item which allows players to gain special power in a short time. In Cardinal Pixel, dice is the soul of the game!

“A game with business card” is the original concept of Cardinal Pixel, I was going to design a game on the business card of Side Quest. Since only business card is not enough for creating a game (as the receiver usually has one or two cards only), I added 4-faced dice to the game and made the physical prototype of the Cardinal Pixel.
After transforming the “game with business card” into a digital and adding more game rules which fits mobile game environment, it becomes the game that you are playing now.

MBU
Is there a third title in the works behind Density of Destiny?

SIDE QUEST
There is no plan for a third title at this moment, we will announce when we have one planned.

MBU
How long have you been working on these titles prior to launch?

SIDE QUEST
We finished Cardinal Pixel in just 5 months. For Density of Destiny, the battle engine and alpha build was finished in 6 months, 9 more months are needed for the remaining content and systems.

The game has a challenge mode instead of story.

The game has a challenge mode instead of story.

MBU
What are your personal inspirations in terms of existing games and influences?

SIDE QUEST
Cardinal Pixel is our attempt on making “Marxism games” of a game that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his fun”, we release this game to fight against the existing games which emphasize revenue on the market. From the feedbacks and paying pattern of our players, we know this concept is working. We will fine-tune Cardinal Pixel and bring the similar concept to our games in the future.

MBU
Side Quest may be the most promising newcomer to the mobile market we’ve seen this year, how do you plan to capitalise on the success of Cardinal Pixel?

SIDE QUEST
We are seeking for publishers to publish Cardinal Pixel to the markets in different regions; on the other hand, we will translate the game into other languages like Korean and Japanese to acquire more players.

MBU
Just how many cards are there to discover in Cardinal Pixel?

SIDE QUEST
There are 46 hero cards and 18 magic cards in the game at this moment; each hero evolves at Lv 6 and Lv 11. Regular “Limited-Time Events” are held in the game twice in a month, 2 new heroes and 1 new magic are added in every new event.

With this chance, I would like to announce that we will allow players to create their own hero cards in the future version (Spring 2016)! You will be able to collect the parts of hero classes, attribute, skills and outfits, and create your customised hero card!

MBU

Do you have a favourite card?

SIDE QUEST
Yes! I love the 4-star hero “Reiter”! He is a guest character from Density of Destiny, his skills are all-rounded in Cardinal Pixel. And he looks cool after evolving at Lv11!

MBU
Have you considered marketing Cardinal Pixel as a physical card game?

SIDE QUEST
Yes! As mentioned, Cardinal Pixel was designed as a “game with business card”. We will make a physical version of Cardinal Pixel in the future.

MBU
What are the long term goals for Side Quest?

SIDE QUEST
We found that the mobile games on the Asian market is becoming more and more similar on game ecosystem, gotcha for stimulating In-App Purchase, weekly ranking with accumulated score for stimulating meaningless retention and In-App Purchase (again), unfriendly limited-time events which forces players to spend all the time in their life. Side Quest wants to start a new trend on the market, building games for players to ENJOY and saying no to pay-to-win.

We want players to enjoy games, we don’t want the players to be rushed and tired.

We want players to be delighted with games, we don’t want the players sink into games and ignore their real life.

We want players to drive games, we don’t want the players to rely on games mentally and do In-App Purchase blindly.

These are the visions of Cardinal Pixel, these are the visions of Side Quest. if you are sharing the same visions with us, you are one of Side Quest.

MBU
Are there plans to release on platforms other than iOS?

SIDE QUEST
Cardinal Pixel is released on both iOS and Android.

MBU
Thanks again for taking the time to speak to us today. If readers want to check out Side Quest for themselves there’s a section of the official website devoted to English HERE, and Cardinal Pixel can be found HERE.