The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Bean's Quest

Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, Australian development team Kumobius adds a little Latin flavor to its gaming experience with Bean's Quest.


What's your game called and what's it about?

Bean's Quest: It's a retro platformer for iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC. In the game you play a man who's been cursed and transformed into a magical jumping bean.

So in the game you're constantly jumping and you just control the left and right movement. This allows for some surprisingly tricky level designs when you need to dodge enemies, spikes and other stuff. The controls also mean it's easy to pick up and learn, but it has some really hardcore achievements layered into it.

Graphically it is reminiscent of 16-bit platform games. Imagine SNES mixed with Sega Master System but with a modern physics engine. Lastly, it has a killer soundtrack by Flashygoodness.

Were you wary of the possible racial repercussions of making a game about a latino man being turned into a bean? Has anyone felt offense or hesitancy to play Bean's Quest because of that?

South American culture was just a point of positive inspiration for us and we genuinely meant no offense with it. This concern was only recently brought to our attention.

We've found the majority of customers don't interpret anything beyond the concept of the Mexican jumping bean. They see it as a light-hearted story and fun game, which is what we were going for – Emilio is without a doubt the hero of the story!

What inspired you to make Bean's Quest?

We wanted to make a fast-paced platformer for iPhone that played as well as possible. We designed the controls and gameplay to play perfectly on iOS.

So we realised we had this awesome control scheme and then we brainstormed until we settled upon the idea of a jumping bean. The motif was a perfect fit and we created a fantasy world with a hint of Spanish inspiration.

What's the coolest aspect of Bean's Quest?

One of the achievements for every stage is called Jump Par. It's like a variation on time attack systems but it works beautifully with the fact that your jumping is non-stop and mandatory. It's kind of like playing a game of hop scotch but with a brutal umpire criticising your every jump.

Now our fans flatter us by repeatedly telling us it's the best platformer on iOS, possibly because of the Jump Par achievement.

What was the difference in developing for iOS, Android and PC? Anything easier or harder on any platform?

Well our engine is pretty portable and now works across all the platforms but they each have their own quirks you need to deal with. iOS is probably the most straightforward since the software environment is so solid and you know exactly what to expect in the hardware – there's only a few iOS devices out there and there are no moving targets so to speak.

Android isn't as mature for what we call "native" development but it's improving. It was probably the hardest platform to get working but supporting all desktop platforms took the longest overall.


Anything you'd do differently?

We released the game slowly, rolling out new worlds via updates. People love the game now because it's so big but when we first released the game it was a bit of a tease with only one world. We still had lots of praise but some people were miffed.

Releasing early allowed us to start working full-time though, so all those early adopters really helped us, which was great. But now we're a bit more established, both financially and with the community, we will take our time with our next project's first release.

Why develop independently, rather than work for an established company?

Working for an established company usually means less risk to yourself but in the games industry things are pretty risky in general, especially in Australia in the last few years. Now with platforms like iPhone and Steam, with such low barriers to entry and high exposure for indies, it's so much more accessible for developers to strike out on their own.

If you have a vision or an idea of what you want to create and you're talented then you should try going indie. But having said that, working at an established company can give you really valuable experience, so always consider both.

Do you see yourself as part of a larger indie movement?

Nah, not really. We just enjoy making games.

Sell Bean's Quest in one sentence:

It's a gloriously 16-bit-styled platformer with all the old-school trimmings.

What's Next?

We made a physics puzzle platformer as part of the recent Global Game Jam event. We made this game called Omelette Boris in 48 hours and people really dug it. We're considering fleshing the game out further and releasing it for iOS and other platforms.

The current version of Omelette Boris (which we made in the 48 hours) is available for free on

PC and Mac here.

It seems you enjoy making games that involve food! Does food inspire you?

Haha! We didn't notice the connection ourselves until you just brought it up. When we did Omelette Boris, it was part of a 48-hour game jam. We really didn't have time to re-think the idea. Game jams are awesome because they force you to just push forward and put aside any second thoughts.

We do love food here in Melbourne but it's not inspiring our games at the moment. There seem to be a lot of casual games that go with a food gimmick though, maybe we should avoid it! Ultimately we'll just make the games we want to make though.

Bean's Quest is available now for iOS, Android and PC. Put some jump in your jive!

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.