Review Fix Exclusive: Mike Bybee Talks ‘Cygnus Pizza Race’

Review Fix chats with Cygnus Pizza Race lead developer Mike Bybee, who lets us know what influenced it and the lessons learned during development.

About Cygnus Pizza Race:

In Cygnus Pizza Race you compete against the computer or engage in two-person, head-to-head, split-screen local races against your friends. Speed, accuracy, and well-timed sabotage are vital to win.
Smugglers of Cygnus: Cygnus Pizza Race Season 1 was launched as a VoxPop exclusive in June 2020. Season 2 builds on the ten tracks and three ships of Season One and adds new tracks, new ships, and new music.

Review Fix: How was this game born? 

Mike Bybee: Cygnus Pizza Race originally came from a desire to produce a bit of small content in the same game world as our primary game, Smugglers of Cygnus. Cygnus Pizza Race is a fun minigame in the Cygnus galaxy, and not only contains characters, events, and items from the main game, Cygnus Pizza Race will also unlock some special abilities and plot items in the main game. In this way, it allows players to get a little taste of the work they can expect from Longplay Games, it helps them see what the Cygnus galaxy is going to look like. (With regards to general styles, UI, character and species concepts, etc)


Review Fix: What is your role in the game?

Bybee: I am the lead developer. There’s a small team behind Longplay Games, with all of our talents coming together to make great new games for folks.


Review Fix: What has development been like?

Bybee: This game was developed fairly quickly, with Season 1 coming out in June. We are now releasing Season 2, which is now mult-platform (Steam and VoxPop) as well as including 10 new tracks, 2 new ships, and lots of fun new details. 


Review Fix: What makes this game special?

Bybee: We believe the secret sauce that makes Cygnus Pizza Race special is the combination of arcade racing with strategy and sabotage. Our game requires a combination of racing skill and strategic thinking in order to collect the items you need to win as well as sabotage your opponents to get an edge. A properly timed and placed topping drop can put your other racers way behind!


Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?

Bybee: We consider our primary influences to be Hydro Thunder, Loony Tunes Wacky Racers and Mario Kart. A lot of people consider it a spiritual successor to F-Zero, though I have yet to play that one!

Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?

Bybee: We’ve had so much controversy about the inclusion of pineapple as a pizza topping! We had some discussions about that in-house but didn’t think anyone would really notice. It turned out to be one of the most commented parts of the game!

Review Fix: What were the major lessons learned?

Bybee: We learned a lot about performance tuning for lower-end video cards.


Review Fix: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?

Bybee: Gameplay mechanics are gameplay mechanics. Once a great idea is found, it can only get better through refinement and use. We have tried to keep some of the classic mechanics of racing games in our game, while adding our own new spin.


Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?

Bybee: My favorite memories are all about playing local multiplayer games on the PS/2 and N64 with my kids. There’s nothing as great to me as that experience of playing with (or against) someone right there with you. 


Review Fix: How have your previous experiences in the industry helped this game?

Bybee: I believe our previous industry experiences have helped for certain. Our team had a prior success with GYATM and learned a lot about Steam, about marketing, and about some of the things gamers want from a studio. I don’t think we have mastered these lessons, but I hope that with Cygnus Pizza Race Season 2 we’re giving gamers more of what they want, and less of what they don’t.


Review Fix: How do you want this game to ultimately be remembered?

Bybee: Ultimately I’d like this game to be remembered as a fun experience that brought light and laughter into a rather dark time. 2020 has been hard on everyone, and we wanted to make sure that our work was a light-hearted and fun break from all that.


Review Fix: What’s next?

Bybee: Next up from us is of course a year of tracks! There will be a new track coming every month (10 in all), and then we have a few more games in the pipe. Our next game is a space station simulation game called Waypoint. It should be coming Spring of 2021. 


Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Bybee: We appreciate people taking a chance on small indie games like CPR. We hope that we’re able to provide people with great gaming experiences!

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About Patrick Hickey Jr. 10466 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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