We sat down to chat with the couple behind Lofita — a new solarpunk cozy MMO coming to Kickstarter this August.

When you think cozy games, what's the first game that comes to mind? Stardew Valley? Animal Crossing? If you're a close follower of the genre, maybe the answer would be Loftia.

Lofita first rose to viral fame via TikTok where the creators, Michael Su and Martina Qin, introduced themselves explaining how they had quit their jobs to create their dream cozy game.

That dream game became Loftia, a cozy MMO set in a solarpunk world. We reached out to the creators of the game ahead of the August 1 Kickstarter launch to talk Loftia, what exactly solarpunk is, and how they expanded their team from just a couple with a dream, to a dedicated team:

Going viral on TikTok - the creator's story

One of your TikToks about quitting your job to create a cozy game blew up, and this got a lot of eyes onto your game. What was your reaction to this?

"We weren’t expecting this at all, and were completely blown away by the viral response to our TikTok video! It was really amazing to see so many people interested in our game, and our story, and even more heart-warming to read comments from aspiring game developers who want to pursue their own game dev journey. Overall, we’re so excited about the attention that Loftia is receiving, and it’s made not just us, but the entire team, more motivated than ever to deliver this game for everyone!"

Another one of your TikToks and recent blog post you stated that Loftia started as a couple’s project but you have now expanded into a larger team. Has it been difficult expanding the project to include more people?

"Expanding the team has been both difficult and incredibly rewarding at the same time! Even though we poured all of our savings into funding the initial development of Loftia ourselves, we couldn’t compete with what more established studios were offering. However, the silver lining is that everyone who has come onto the team has brought an incredible amount of passion and commitment to the table, more so than we could have dreamed of.

What also has been quite unexpected is the sheer number of people who have reached out asking to be involved on a purely volunteer basis — with many of them having some serious experience behind them. There have been far too many for us to count! Early on in our journey, we had a few volunteers join the team, and most of them have since transitioned to being more involved in a part-time or full-time capacity. The team is super tight-knit and this journey has definitely brought us all closer together too."

(Image courtesy of Qloud Games)
(Image courtesy of Qloud Games)

'Tis the season for cozy games

Why a cozy game in particular? It could be seen as quite a saturated market.

"While the cozy gaming genre has been a popular gaming trend, especially in these last few years, we believe that there’s still ample untapped opportunity in the market. Namely, when it comes to MMOs, there haven’t been many cozy games that have explored an online, persistent multiplayer world. Most of the traditional MMOs in the market focus on more hardcore gaming mechanics like PVP/PVE combat, with an art style that matches the more combat-oriented themes of these games. While we still love and play many of these popular MMO titles, sometimes we just want to indulge in a more relaxing environment, whilst still being able to socialize and make new friends. Through Loftia, we hope to provide players with a “home away from home”, and a virtual community that cherishes kindness and happiness at its core."

Loftia took inspiration from the couple's own favorite cosy games (Image courtesy of Qloud Games)
Loftia took inspiration from the couple's own favorite cosy games (Image courtesy of Qloud Games)

You’ve already said that The Sims, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing are major inspirations. Are there any other games that have helped inspire you when creating Loftia?

"Games like World of Warcraft, and (the old-schoolers are really going to love these next two) MapleStory and Runescape definitely also serve as sources of inspiration for the MMO side of things. Moreso the social aspect than anything else; the ability to meet and befriend someone who might be on the other side of the globe, and the feeling of cooperation when working together to strive towards a huge goal.

On top of that, games like Club Penguin and Toon Town are also in the mix. We’re really looking to mold Loftia into a mix of all of these sources of inspiration, pulling the best parts of each game to create an experience that is simultaneously reminiscent of, but not quite like, any other."

A solarpunk experience explained by the creators

On your website it describes Loftia as being set in a "solarpunk world." What exactly is solarpunk for those not familiar with the term?

"Solarpunk is a literary and artistic genre that imagines a utopian future where humanity, technology and the natural environment grow and thrive in harmony. It can be seen as an antithesis to the more mainstream cyberpunk genre, which tends to focus on a dystopian and decaying future.

Loftia’s “solarpunk world” essentially projects what life would be like within this bright, sustainable future. Game mechanics like hydroponic farming, renewable energy generation, sustainable crafting and upcycling, are just some of the solarpunk features that already exist in our game, and we’re always seeking new ideas from our community. We also have team members whose expertise lies in gathering the facts, data and knowledge behind these scientific innovations, so that we can accurately portray them in the game.

We hope that our game can provide a source of inspiration, and perhaps education and exposure to different ways of approaching the world, for those who seek it."

Bringing a new vision to gaming

What was it about creating a game that appealed to you and why did you want to get into game development?

Michael: "I’m definitely an entrepreneur at heart — I love creating things, and seeing others benefit from, or enjoy interacting with things I’ve made.

I’m a software engineer by profession, and it was a keen interested video games that had initially sent me down this path. I poured hours upon hours into various different games many years ago as a teenager, and learnt to program and subsequently became involved in some large gaming communities and game development. So now it’s only fitting that my journey has come full circle and I’ve stepped out of big tech and back into the gaming space."

Martina: "Similarly, I’m also quite entrepreneurial and creative in nature, so it’s always been my dream to make something. I’ve always loved world building, writing interesting stories with complex characters, and creating visual art, so developing a game just has the perfect balance of all those elements. Though the most appealing thing for me has definitely been community engagement, and being able to build something that will bring so much joy and good memories for so many people has been the highlight of this journey so far!"

(Image courtesy of Qloud Games)
(Image courtesy of Qloud Games)

What can we expect from Loftia as a game? What do you imagine sitting down to play a few hours of Loftia looks like?

"Loftia will have a little bit of everything for all different types of players! What your play sessions will look like will depend on your own personal preferences. On any given day, you could spend your time engaging in a mix of relaxing farming activities, explore the far corners of Loftia Island and beyond in search of energy sources, upcycling resources to craft and build clothing and housing items to customize your character and home with, or go on adventures with groups of fellow players.

Instanced group content like dungeons and raids from the aforementioned MMO sources of inspiration will also be present in Loftia in the form of “adventures”, with the caveat that there is no combat. However, the core of what makes instanced group content fun — solving problems together with a group of other people — will still be the foundation of Loftia’s adventures.

And while there are all of those multiplayer, social aspects of the game, there’ll also be plenty of things for solo players to enjoy, so you won’t be forced into any styles of play that aren’t for you!"

Crowdfunding video games and looking towards the future of Loftia

According to your webpage and social media, you’re going to crowdfund this game on Kickstarter – what made you want to crowdfund as opposed looking for traditional methods, like pitching a studio, or self-funding?

"We’ve always been incredibly transparent in our game development process, having shared every step of the way with our community, and it’s now grown into a collaborative journey with them which we love. So crowdfunding just felt right to us - it allows our community to have a say in what features they want in Loftia, and gives us insight into what our audience will enjoy! A successful crowdfunding campaign is the best evidence of a strong fanbase, and as an MMO game with socialization and community at our core, this approach also makes the most sense for the genre of our game."

(Image via Kickstarter)
(Image via Kickstarter)

Question: Obviously with the major success of your social media, what are your hopes for the future both with Loftia and for Qloud Games overall?

"Our sole focus right now is on delivering the best game possible to all of the amazing people who have supported and cheered us on throughout this journey. Our hopes are mainly that Loftia will be well-received by its future players, and that we can grant a great experience whilst also providing some cool and cute (even if not always completely realistic) insight into all of the innovative ways in which we can engage in sustainable practices in real life.

Game development is such an arduous path, so we’re just keeping our heads down and making sure to take things one step at a time. With that being said, we’re not taking anything for granted, and every day we are so grateful for all the support and encouragement we receive from our community. Thank you all so much!"

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