Funktronic Labs | Feature

Wave Break | Logo

Funktronic Labs is a game development company best known for their VR titles such as Fujii and Cosmic Trip. Their latest game, Wave Break, is a step away from the VR platform and into the world of pulling off waveboard tricks while shooting at enemies in a neon-soaked eighties atmosphere. Originally scheduled to appear at the INDIE Megabooth at GDC 2020, I caught up with Funktronic Labs over Skype after this year’s conference got postponed.

During Part 1 of our interview, we talk about the inspiration behind Wave Break, how the trick/shooting system works, and about the different gameplay modes. You can read Part 1 for yourself here.

Today in Part 2, we talk about what it is like developing the first Stadia-exclusive indie title, appearing at the INDIE Megabooth, the synthwave soundtrack, and more.

You can find out more about Wave Break by checking out the official website, chatting on Discord, subscribing to their Twitch and YouTube channels, liking them on Facebook and Instagram, and tweeting at them on Twitter.

You can also Wishlist Wave Break on Steam now.

Wave Break is scheduled to be released in Summer 2020.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Operation Rainfall: Back to Wave Break. Originally, you were planning on announcing at GDC 2020 that Wave Break was going to be a Stadia-exclusive title. Obviously, that did not happen. Why did you choose to make this announcement at GDC?

Kalin Houston: I think, you know, there’s a lot of stuff happening at GDC. The build was coming together into a good state [that] we could show. We haven’t showed off that much of all the game content, so GDC seemed like a good time to bring it all together and show off the story mode and all of the new animations and all the new levels that we’ve been working on. I guess, it was close enough to launch that it was a good point to bring it all together to show off the cool stuff and hopefully get people excited with the launch not too far in the future.

OR: Why did you choose to go with Stadia exclusivity?

KH: You know, we looked around for a publisher for quite some time for Wave Break, but nobody else really picked it up. We kept working on the game because we believed in it pretty strongly. But Google showed a lot of interest. The game is very multiplayer-focused, and I think the whole online multiplayer-connectivity is a big part of what Stadia is focused on. And they made an offer to help publish the game. So, it just kind of made sense for both of us.

“Like, Google has been incredibly supportive in being transparent with us, giving us tips, or letting us know ahead of time what to look forward to. And so, because we have that assistance from Google, it makes things a lot easier for us to project exactly what we want to do.”

OR: What has it been like developing for the Stadia platform?

KH: I’ve gone through a couple of console release games of varying complexity. And to be honest, I thought that this being a new platform- usually, new platforms are a bit rough around the edges. But it’s been surprisingly smooth, actually. It feels very much like doing a regular console release, but it hasn’t been a big deal. It has been pretty okay.

OR: Has Google been really supportive working with you on this development?

KH: Yeah, they’ve been very communicative. They’re really great [and] organized at documentation and stuff. I mean, to be honest, we’ve seen a lot of early stuff and I was genuinely surprised at how organized things were for something so early in its life cycle. Usually, consoles hit the ground running like everything’s on fire. But it’s been pretty smooth.

OR: Will there be any Stadia-exclusive features to Wave Break?

KH: No comment at this time.

OR: You were supposed to show off Wave Break at the INDIE Megabooth at GDC. How did you get involved with the INDIE Megabooth for what was supposed to be this year’s conference?

Yoonsang Yu: I can answer this one. We’ve had a long-standing relationship with INDIE Megabooth for several years now, and they are one of the better- if not the best- places to showcase indie games. Their staff, the way they curate things, they are very highly organized. And more importantly, they always offer opportunities to a lot of indies that normally you wouldn’t get [otherwise]. Considering the fact that any time you actually do anything with INDIE Megabooth, automatically you get a Steam Feature during the time of that convention. Which obviously helps us to drive Wishlists and drive viewership to get awareness overall for the game. We’ve shown Wave Break- this would be our third time showing Wave Break with the INDIE Megabooth if we had shown at GDC. Primarily, we showed it when it was in a prototype stage, when we were at alpha, and when we were close at launching.

And so for us, we wanted to not only work with INDIE Megabooth- but because we were working with a new platform, our hope was to bring some shine to that platform and hopefully be able to get some other indies interested in having their games on the Stadia as well.

OR: Is it scary being one of the first indie games on the Stadia platform?

KH: I don’t think so. There is a lot of opinions on the internet about Stadia, but I’m an avid PC gamer who likes 144 hertz and [I’ve] gotta have my internet as fast as possible. I guess I was worried it wouldn’t play very well, after trying out previous-gen streaming and games. But now, playtesting it everyday, I don’t really think about it. It pretty much just works most of the time.

I guess I had my doubts, but just playing Stadia every day and playing the game on Stadia every day, it just feels fine and I don’t really worry about being one of the first indies on the platform.

YY: It’s a scary kind of exciting. We definitely know that we’re venturing into the unknown. And at the same time, a lot of the stuff that we’re doing- we’re trying to figure out what would be the best way to optimally showcase the game, or more importantly- to get this game out in front of people. Like, Google has been incredibly supportive in being transparent with us, giving us tips, or letting us know ahead of time what to look forward to. And so, because we have that assistance from Google, it makes things a lot easier for us to project exactly what we want to do. So it takes a little bit of that anxiety away by having Google basically supporting you all the way in the things that we are trying to do.

But at the same time, it also gives us an opportunity to explore and look into new ways to promote the game. Because, every other game and company has almost like a given set of things to promote their game for a lot of these different consoles. Because this is a brand new platform, it seems like there is still certain areas that Google allows [us] to explore until they know definitively what works and what doesn’t.

So we have been given a lot of creative freedom to come up with different campaigns and different things that we’re looking to do. Like, pre-launch and post-launch. It is a little bit scary, it seems like that at first, but when you have all of the support and all of the idea that you have the ability to try out different things, it’s actually very exciting.

“We wanted to really capture that feeling and have a cool track- eighties-themed, synthwave mixtrack that twenty years from now, people will be ‘Man, remember that song from Wave Break?’”

OR: So with GDC 2020’s postponement and this Stadia announcement being postponed, has it affected [Wave Break’s] development cycle in any other way?

KH: No. The bulk of our work is the core game. Building out those levels. I guess, if anyone has seen the levels, they are quite detailed. We still have quite a small team and building that much 3-D art content to that level of detail is pretty time consuming. Honestly, the bulk of our time is still spent cranking out as much game content as we can. If events and dates for other stuff outside of that shift, it doesn’t really change the core game dev. We just put a build live at a different time.

Wave Break | Rail Grinding
Rail grinding is one of the many different tricks that you can perform in Wave Break. As previously talked about in Part 1, the multiplier scales to the number of tricks you do. (Image courtesy of Funktronic Labs).

OR: You mentioned towards the top of the interview that you have a “synthwave soundtrack”. Can you tell me a little more about that?

KH: Yes. The Miami Vice 80’s theme- there is a whole genre of synthwave music that is really on point for that era. We’ve been working with a lot of the top artists in that field, and we want to put together basically ‘mixtape’ style-album of great synthwave music in the game. You think back to all the skating games, and the soundtrack is one of the most iconic things. And twenty years later, people still have really fond memories of the songs that they really liked on the Tony Hawk 2 mixtape or whatever- like Goldfinger.

We wanted to really capture that feeling and have a cool track- eighties-themed, synthwave mixtrack that twenty years from now, people will be ‘Man, remember that song from Wave Break?’

OR: When can we expect Wave Break’s release?

KH: No comment.

[OR Note: Since the interview was conducted, Funktronic Labs has confirmed a Summer 2020 release date.]

OR: You mentioned ‘other platforms’ a bit ago for Wave Break. Could you elaborate on that a bit, please?

KH: We are still bringing it to PC/consoles with no hard dates.

Wave Break | Boating Aurora
There are multiple levels for you to pull off tricks and shoot enemies during in Wave Break. (Images courtesy of Funktronic Labs).

OR: So Stadia first, then PC?

YY: Exclusively on Stadia first, with future plans to put it on PC and consoles.

OR: Final question- what is next for Funktronic Studios?

KH: Wave Break is not done when we ship. We’ve got the other platforms that shouldn’t be too far away. And we have a lot of stuff that we still want to add to that game. So I would expect a lot more Wave Break in the future. We also have some cool experimental projects being worked on internally, and a very, very cool new VR game that I can’t say anything about. But it’s cool.

OR: Thank you.

Are you looking forward to playing Wave Break exclusively on the Stadia platform?

Do you want to see more indie games come to Stadia?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.