IGF Factor 2010: Tuning

As the Independent Game Festival approaches, I thought a series of short interviews with all the PC-relevant short-listed entries would be an idea. First up is indie-Godhead Cactus who received a nomination for the Nuovo Award for the abstractly beautiful platformer Tuning, which looks like Nebulus as re-imagined by Escher. The interview and footage follows…

RPS: Firstly, a brief intro to those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?

Cactus: My name is Jonatan Söderström, though I’m mostly known as “cactus” in the gaming world. I started making games for no particular reason but to create something that hopefully would end up interesting to play.

RPS: And… the game. Tell us about it. What was its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What nags?

Cactus: Tuning – the game I’m currently nominated for – was made to experiment with how graphics affect gameplay. Basically it creates puzzles that forces the player to try to figure out what he’s looking at and how he interacts with the level he’s playing. It might sound a bit complicated, but the actual gameplay is basic to the extreme in contrast with the graphics.

RPS: What’s your feelings on the IGF this year. Pleased to be nominated? Have particular love, bemusement or hate for any of the other entries? Is there anything you think is missing?

Cactus: I’m pleased to be nominated, of course, and I really like some of the other games that were nominated. Unfortunately I can’t say I see many games that excite me among the nominees, since I’m already familiar with most of them, and there’s no game that seems like a completely “new” experience to me.

RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene generally this year? People have been relatively downbeat about 2009, after 2008 being so obviously incendiary. What are the themes, in your eyes? What are people missing?

Cactus: I guess 2009 was just a shitty year, I didn’t feel very creative personally, and maybe I wasn’t the only one. But there were a number of very good games released, although nothing I felt completely overwhelmed by. Like every year I am hoping to finally see a game released that actually tries to tackle a good plot.

RPS: And how does the future look for you? What are you working on now and the foreseeable future.

Cactus: I’m still working on Tuning, and after that I’ve got an action/exploration game concerning procedurally generated islands that I hope to get back to. I really want to create a game with a good plot as well, but it seems very difficult.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Cactus’ work can be found on his site. He’s a bit of an indie-hero, that Cactus.


  1. Gpig says:

    I’m always curious as to what people mean in particular when they say a game with a good plot, because the theoretical thing they are hoping for can be vastly different from one person to the next. Can adventure games have good plots? Are RPGs better suited for plots? Does he want a platformer or an action game that subtly has a plot? Is Ico a good plot? etc.

  2. Dominic White says:

    Cactus is a genuinely fascinating bloke. I get the feeling he just woke up one day, decided to make a videogame, and did. Then he found that he was rather good at it and made many, many more.

    My only grumble is that he has a very short attention span. He has about five ‘big project’ games sitting at around 80% complete, but always gets distracted and goes off to make something else.

  3. cactus says:

    Any game can have a good plot, but very few games do. Many games have fitting plots, but the plots themselves aren’t good enough to be interesting on their own (I can’t think of a single one, at least).

  4. Bhazor says:

    I do wuv Cactus but kind of wish he’d go back to the old game made in 8 hours style. If only because it would mean more games around.

    Still that music is pretty special.

  5. Nick Mifsud says:

    Nebulus! Yet another RPS blast from the past! I loved/hated that frog/alien.
    Anyone know of a remake?

  6. jsutcliffe says:

    Plants vs. Zombies had good plots.

  7. noom says:

    Note to Americans: Nebulus = Tower Toppler.

  8. lhzr says:

    until tuning’s out, donate some cash to cactus and get this: link to youtube.com

    link to cactusquid.blogspot.com

    it’s awesome.

    would love to see soulja boy review it, btw

    • lhzr says:

      oh, and if you gonna try out gamma, don’t read the comments from cactus’ blog, thar be spoilers.

  9. Cooper says:

    Cactus is my hero