We’ve got another interview for you, our lovely readers. This time we chat to husband and wife indie team, Steven and Kathleen Cassidy, co-founders of the studio Queen Bee Games. Read on to find out what it’s like to work with your other half, what their favourite tower defence games are and if they have signature dance moves.
To kick things off, how about you tell our readers a little bit about each of you?
S: My name is Steven Cassidy I co-founded Queen Bee Games. I wear a few different hats in the company on the production side. Art, animation, coding etc.
K: Hey, I’m Kathleen, co-founder of QBG, wife to best friend & co-founder Steve, and mama of two small toddler kids that both drive me mad and keep me sane. In our company, I also wear a lot of hats – Producer, social media management, business development, customer service, creative input… It is never boring.
Are there any advantages or difficulties in being a married couple dev team? Give us all the gossip, we won’t tell anyone, honest!
S:Advantages: Communication wise you’re always together for quick decision making.
Difficulties: Sometimes things that should be those ‘quick decisions’ can easily turn into long drawn out battles.
K:Advantages: The ability to be totally blunt and honest without having to beat around the bush during disagreements on business matters. HUGE ADVANTAGE: We can flip our wigs at each other and we can take it. It certainly keeps things interesting. We don’t get our feelings hurt (most of the time lol) if we have to be a bit harsh with each other.
Difficulties: Life and Work Balance. It can be hard to not talk about work constantly. I think we’ve been better lately, but there are times where that’s all we talked about. And it’s probably not very healthy. Balance is key.
And who takes credit for coming up with the studio name? Is there a cool story behind it?
K: We spent a long time on this. Names are important. We wanted to come up with a name that meant ‘something very small that makes a big impact’. We wanted a strong name that stood out and that was memorable. Our 4-month-old baby at the time’s nickname was ‘Bee’ and we thought that Queen Bee sum up our message in a pretty great way, plus it had that special element of our daughter in the name. It just made sense. Then Steve’s sister who is a killer graphic designer did up that amazing logo, and we fell in love with it.
Well now that we have the introductions out of the way, let’s talk about your game Onion Force. For our readers who may not have heard of it, quickly sum up what it’s all about.
K: Onion Force is a hybrid Action Tower Defense game where you play as one of three heroes to protect the last king standing from an onslaught of evil enemy forces. You battle these enemies by strategically building towers, blasting your way through an array of terrain, weather conditions and destructible environments. We wanted to make a challenging game, no hand holding, where you were forced to ‘git gud’– so fans of midcore and hardcore games might enjoy the difficulty more than the average casual players.
What was the inspiration for Onion Force? Where did the concept for the storyline come from?
S: It was off the cuff and just evolved as it went forward. Out of thin air. Not a very story driven game. The storyline serves to progress the game, it’s definitely not an Oscar winning script, it was never intended to be.
With it being your first title, was it something you’ve been planning to work on for a long time before you had officially started?
S: No, but it was a long time coming because of how many times I had attempted to make a game in the past. Two nights here and there and I’d lose interest. This ended up being a Frankenstein baby. Bits and pieces from games I have loved from over the years threw in. Going forward I will approach making games with more of a solid plan in place.
What have you done to Onion Force to make it stand out from similar tower defence games and freshen up the genre?
K: We introduced the action adventure element, controlling your hero. And we tried to get an interesting art style that we hadn’t seen before in the genre.
Were there any major issues that cropped up during the development of the game?
S: Yeah, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But, it was a learning process and should have been expected.
And following on from that, were there any moments that you were particularly proud of something during development?
S: All sorts of landmarks. I learnt to code along the way, so everything I could get to function correctly was a cause for celebration.
What programming language and software did you use during development? Was there any point where you thought about changing it?
S: GML Game maker studio. We were in too deep to change, but definitely considering our options for future projects.
The last question related to Onion Force now; do you have any favourite tower defence games? Personally, I’ll always enjoy the old Bloons Tower Defence series that I used to play in my IT lessons at school instead of doing work.
S: I also liked Bloons and Desktop Tower Defense, and definitely Starship Defense on the DS.
K: Bloons all the way, and Kingdom Rush is pretty cool.
Just a couple more general questions to tie things up; firstly what advice would you offer to those wanting to start up their own indie projects?
S: You get out of it what you put into it. Expect the unexpected.
K: Be sceptical of outside partnerships unless it’s a major well-known company (even still) – always look for track records, get references, don’t dive into deals when your gut isn’t completely confident. (Hard lessons learned) Try and get an established indie dev mentor, because chances are they have learned all sorts of lessons along the way, and those lessons can save you time and some heartaches/headaches.
One thing we’ve noticed since starting Full Sync Gaming is just how many Indie Devs there are all over the world. We’ve spoken to people in Adelaide, Dhaka and Oulu just to name a few. What’s the indie dev scene like in Canada?
K: There seems to be a pretty booming indie scene all across Canada. Specifically in Quebec, Ontario and Vancouver as they have more incentives for tech companies. There are a few companies located where we live in the smallest province in Canada. A lot of Awesome creative talent here in Canada.
Now for a topical question. Nintendo has just held their latest press conference on the new Switch console. Do you have any thoughts and opinions on what has been revealed? Will you be getting it at launch?
S: I was underwhelmed by the presentation, it could have used some more big names to excite me. Right now, it all depends on ‘Breath of the Wild’.
K: Totally a wait and see type system for me. However developing games for it should be something worth looking into.
And finally for a bit of fun; do you have any signature dance moves?
K: I do a two-fingers up, sit and wiggle madly when I’m very excited about something.
S: You know when those fools spin on the floor polishers? Picture that without the floor polisher.
That’s all folks! We’d like to thank Steven and Kathleen for taking part in this Q&A with us and wish them all the success with their new game Onion Force which we will be reviewing soon and also giving two Steam Keys away for, so keep an eye out on the site and our Social Media pages. If you want to know more about Queen Bee Games and Onion Force, as usual, we’ll leave all the details below for you.
Queen Bee Games is an independent game production studio with a focus on unconventional art styles, traditional animation and development of fun, memorable games. Queen Bee Games is based out of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and is committed to delivering a high-quality gaming experience through a broad range of platforms.