Interview: Spirit City Lofi Sessions Was Originally Planned As An Adventure Game

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Spirit City Lofi Sessions - via Mooncube Games

Among the various productivity tools, Spirit City: Lofi Sessions stands out for being a gamified tool that allows you to create a cozy productivity environment on your screen with a variety of features. From numerous themes, and spirit companions to in-game virtual items like Pomodoro timer or habit tracker, the game features everything you desire from a comfortable and aesthetic productivity tool. 

The game is meticulously designed with some of the best chill lo-fi soundtracks that enable you to completely set the vibe of the surroundings. Plus an in-depth avatar customization is a major set towards attention to detail. In short, the game has everything you need from an interactive productivity tool. With all these details in mind, we interviewed Keith Ebanks, the Art Director behind Spirit City: Lofi Sessions, over email to learn more about the design choices, challenges, and upcoming updates.

Spirit City Lofi Sessions - via Mooncube Games
Spirit City Lofi Sessions – via Mooncube Games

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role in Spirit City: Lofi Sessions.

Keith: My name is Keith, I’m the Art Director and one of the Co-Founders of Mooncube Games. My main role in the project is creating 3D art for the environment, characters, and Spirits in the game. As a small team we all wear many hats, so I also helped with various other aspects, such as marketing and socials.

Mooncube Games is a 3-person indie team from Montreal, Canada. Aside from myself, the other two members and co-founders are; Felix, our Designer and Programmer, and Alex, our Audio Director and Business Manager.

In terms of customization, how did you approach designing the virtual workspace, avatar customization, and Spirit companions to enhance user engagement and productivity?

Keith: Our first goal was to create a cozy, welcoming environment. We spent a lot of time gathering references and looking at other cozy games. We wanted the space to be relatable, but also lean into the fantasy of having your own cozy loft looking over the city.

We approached characters the same way, focusing on comfortable clothing first. For the Spirits we started with ideas for ones that could be found inside or around a bedroom. We tried to create Spirits that embodied different aspects of coziness, such as reading with Chapterpillar, or a warm fireplace with Hedgelog.

variety of customization options
Spirit City Lofi Sessions – via Mooncube Games

While the overall inspiration is from Lofi's musical style, what was the idea behind combining all of these elements into a game tool? Was it initially a game only, or you wanted it to be both a game and a productivity tool?

Keith: Spirit City was originally going to be a platforming adventure game where the player had to chase down and capture spirits on camera! After creating our initial prototype, we knew that to reach the level of quality we wanted, the development would be too long. So to keep the scope manageable, we focused on one single feature of the initial pitch, a bedroom, where the player could chill to Lofi music.

With the popularity of Lofi playlists on YouTube, we found that it was the perfect music style to promote productivity and focus. From there it only made sense to add in productivity tools to make it a complete package.

Spiritdex was the highlight of the overall experience of Spirit City: Lofi Sessions. Especially, these small yet very impactful aspects finally merge the tool with the game. How did you design the mechanics for discovering and summoning spirits?

Keith: Throughout the development, we tried to ensure that all the additional features weren’t too distracting. This included not having distracting popups or notifications that could interrupt the player when focusing.

Spirits were a solution we came up with to add a passive discovery element to the game, allowing players to unlock them as pets, and little snippets of info in the Spiritdex. We wanted them to have a puzzle element to them, but nothing too difficult so as to not frustrate the player. Keeping them as pets was a natural evolution to this, who could resist a cute Spirit pal?

Spirit City Lofi Sessions - via Mooncube Games
Spirit City Lofi Sessions – via Mooncube Games

Can you elaborate on the process of creating interactive soundscapes that change in real-time to match the user's preferred vibe? What challenges did you face in implementing this feature, and how do you ensure smooth transitions between different soundscapes?

Keith: We wanted the soundscapes to create an immersive experience for the player. The first soundscapes we created were ones that we knew could affect the environment in different ways, such as rain and thunder.

The fireplace and vinyl player aspects in the room were created specifically to interact with their corresponding sounds. We allow players to choose what level they’d like for each soundscape, affecting the visuals at the same intensity.

Spirit City: Lofi Sessions is praised for capturing the right mood for its goals and offering a productive tool. How do you plan to continue refining the application to meet users' evolving needs and expectations in terms of productivity and stress reduction?

Keith: Listening to community feedback is essential. We plan on continuing to add quality-of-life features as well as even more Spirits and customization options in future updates.

Capture unique spirits
Spirit City Lofi Sessions – via Mooncube Games

Can you discuss the elements that did not make it to the final version of Spirit City: Lofi Sessions? What was the reason behind it?

Keith: As a team of 3, we had to be very proactive in setting our scope to be manageable. The game we released was very close to what we set out to create early on. We didn’t get to release all the customization items we wanted for the room and Avatar.

As the only artist on the team, there was always a balance between Spirits, Animations, Room items, and Avatar items. As mentioned above, we plan on adding lots more content in future updates.

How long was Spirit City: Lofi Sessions in development, from its initial concept to its release on Steam, and how many developers actively worked on it?

Keith: Spirit City was in development for about a year and a half, and most of that time we were working on it part-time while working other full-time jobs. We were a core team of 3. We also had some help from freelancers for concept art.

Spirit City Lofi Sessions - via Mooncube Games
Spirit City Lofi Sessions – via Mooncube Games

While the community feedback has been amazing so far, there are still a lot of areas that can be improved, such as the interface, an enhanced sound design, or even expanded character customization. How does the development team plan to engage with the community of players and fans of Spirit City: Lofi Sessions moving forward?

Keith: We recently released a survey to our players, receiving over 4000 responses! We asked players their thoughts on various aspects of the game and will use this to determine where to focus our efforts for updates.

We also receive tons of comments on our Steam forums and Discord channel. Players are very vocal about what they want to see!  We hope we can meet those expectations in the future.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Keith: I just want to say that we have such an amazing community. Every day players share stories about how the game has helped them in their daily lives. I’m very proud of the game we have created, and it brings us so much joy to know that players are benefiting from it.

We want players to know that we want to support the game as long as possible, and we have lots of exciting updates planned for the future! Our next major update should be coming out by the end of May or early June.

Spirit City: Lofi Sessions is a relaxing gamified focus tool, developed and published by Mooncube Games. The game tool was released on April 8, 2024 for PC. 

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