Behind the Game: Mike Kribel

Join us as we get to know the people behind the current games we enjoy to play and future ones we will come to love. This issue we got to chat with Mike Kribel from in Principle Inc!


Scott: Hi!, thanks for taking the time out to chat! What role do you each fill at in Principle Inc?

Mike Kribel: I’m the sole developer and owner of my indie dev company, in Principle Inc. I also do contract work from time to time.

Scott: What is the first game you remember playing?

Mike Kribel: It’s a long time ago, but I think it was MicroPorse’s Grand Prix (1992). I remember not understanding anything of what was going on, yet wanting to play.

Scott: What is your favorite game?

Mike Kribel: The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth++

Scott: What is the Premise for Thrusty Ship?

Mike Kribel: “Pilot your Thrusty Ship in space. Fight gravity, collect Cores and smash a bunch of space junk, but watch your fuel! In Thrusty Ship, the only enemy is yourself…” – I like to describe it to players as Super Meatboy with Rocket League controls. It’s a game about skill, practice and finesse. It’s all about the controls, and there’s nothing in the game that helps you do well, other than getting better over time.

Scott: When did you start working on it?

Mike Kribel: September 2018

Scott: What made you want to make Thrusty Ship?

Mike Kribel: Thrusty Ship isn’t a game I invented. An individual I met online was working on it, he was struggling with it so I decided to help him out. Pretty soon I joined him and we formed a team. A month later he decided to quit. As I had invested too much of my time in the project I decided to buy it from him. So it started as an act of mentorship (for want of a better word) and then it evolved into a very advanced game. My favourite thing about it, developing it, is that it developed itself. The mechanics I was developing were all inspired by the game itself. It was very organic. So it’s not so much that the game became part of me, I became part of it. And I played it non-stop while designing the levels, which made me quite competent at is as a player. Players that perfect levels should rightly feel like they are beating me personally.

Scott: What would you feel is the biggest influence on Thrusty Ship?

Mike Kribel: There are two: Rocket League, without a doubt. It’s one of my favourite games. What I wanted to recreate is that sense that the player is getting better over time, and that the game is a lot deeper than it first appears. The other one is any platformer with tight controls. So something like Celeste, VVVVVV, or Super Meatboy. One thing I should also mention is that I am inversely influenced by modern gaming. Thrusty Ship has no pay to win and no grind to win. It’s old school. Thrusty Ship is meritocratic.

Scott: What’s one moment, during the development, that sticks in your mind?

Mike Kribel: It’s not so much a moment, but a discipline. I immediately understood I had to pack the game with content, which in this content meant I had to do lots of level design. I coded lots of tools for myself to improve the process, but I had no experience in level design. It was very satisfactory do discover I have a real knack for it, as evidenced by the feedback I got from players. Apparently the level design aspect is people’s favourite part of the game. It was gruelling to make 96, very complex levels (especially later on), with many competing concurrent mechanics, but what a feeling when it’s all done, looking back…

Scott: If you had any advice to give to other people wanting to make games?

Mike Kribel: The ancient debate whether games are art or a business was never more starkly obvious than the development Thrusty Ship. I made the game I wanted to make, the way I wanted to make it. I approached it like I would writing a song. I’m doing what I want, because I want it that way. And if you, the player, don’t like it, then so be it. I spent all of my effort making the art as art. That means I spent no money or effort on publicity at all. The result is a product few love, most don’t know exist. You can be an artist, if you want, but it’s not a viable business option. My advice to young people wanting to join the industry as artists, like I see myself, is as follows. Start off as an employee of an established company and make and save lots of money. When you’re ready, try to strike out on your own, if you want to go indie. Be ready for financial hardship, if what motivates you is passion and not the wallet.

Scott: How do people find out more about Thrusty Ship, yourself, and in Principle Inc?

Mike Kribel: Well, the web page is here which also has my other games too! You can also follow and keep up with updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can play Thrusty Ship on Steam here plus till April 20th its 50% off!

Scott: Thanks for your time!