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Posted on February 10, 2011, 4:37 pm

Here is an exclusive interview with Simon, one of the head developers of Cultris. He also gave me a prerelease version of the upcoming Cultris2 to be released in 2 weeks, so look for a review in the near future.

IPB Image
IPB Image

First, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. The Tetris community has some loyal Cultris fans, and many of them are highly anticipating the next Cultris version.

Yes, sure. It’s always great to get free publicity.

Can you tell us how many people work on Cultris, and what each person does?

Back in 2005 when we started Cultris there were four of us. Nowadays GEWALTIG entertainment consists of only two remaining developers, Marco and me. In the early days all the work was clearly separated but these days both of us work in most areas. Marco takes care of all the networking stuff and I focus more on graphics.

Some fans noticed last year that Cultris II wasn’t progressing too fast. So they formed another Dev-team that works independently on Cultris I. We’re not actively involved with that effort but they talk with us from time to time to bounce some ideas. Jasper and cfb do the coding and a horde of loyal fans give feedback and work on themes.

Compared to all other Tetris games, Cultris seems to be one of the most unique in its gameplay. What inspired the developers to use its current combo-speed type system?

Cultris started as a project at our university. We were avid fans of Multiplayer-Tetris on the Gameboy. Back then we didn’t know that a Tetris community existed or what TGM was. Before starting the project we downloaded a few multiplayer-clones, I can’t remember their names. But most of them either didn’t work, looked like they were Windows 3.1 compatible (Yes, even uglier than Cultris I), were complicated to learn, had usability issues or simply weren’t fun to play. Also many clones tried to “improve” the Tetris formula by adding new kinds of blocks. So we set out to create the easiest, fastest, classic multiplayer Tetris possible.

Early versions were very successful with our fellow students. Nik and me came up with all the gameplay ideas, Combos was one of the first things we added. At first we reset the combo counter every time you dropped a piece that didn’t clear a line. We soon found out that this sucks… Faster gameplay was better - not only because of the adrenalin and flow – but also because that meant we could insert garbage lines more often. The only gripe I always had with the Gameboy version was its slowness.

Players have been waiting for team support and changable piece orientations in Cultris v1, will these new features be coming? What is "new" about the upcoming release?

Team play is coming along nicely in Cultris I from what I can tell. Apart from that there were many bugfixes, more stats, customization of textures and sounds and even an OS X port. But Jasper and cfb are probably more qualified to talk about Cultris I. It’s been years since I last played Cultris I.

What is the status on Cultris 2? We saw an early version long ago which had some lag issues but otherwise looked great, is it still being developed?

Yes, we’re planning to release Cultris II in two weeks. We’ll beat Duke Nukem Forever to the market! That is, if our testers don’t uncover any glaring bugs. We started work on Cultris II in 2006 and released the earliest alpha in 2007, the first preview video in 2008, the first public alpha in 2009. The main reason for the slow pace was a lack of motivation. Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel we’re investing more time. I’d estimate that we never worked faster than during the last four months.

Cultris II, this new version, is a rewrite from the ground up and plays quite differently compared to Cultris I. We hope that the players like all the changes. The feedback from our testers has been very encouraging: Some say it’s very smooth. Or that the visuals are lovely and that our singleplayer stuff is awesome. All we know is that the lag’s completely gone.

(I attached some screenshots of the early prototypes from 2006-2009 that might be interesting)

Are there plans for a Linux server in the future? Is there a possibility that the Cultris project will ever become open source?

Multiplayer for Cultris II depends on our own server infrastructure so there’s no need for a linux server port. It’s currently not possible to set up your own Cultris II server. We’ll see how well this works. It’s certainly thinkable that a future version acts as a dedicated server for LAN parties or to reduce lag for Asian players (as our servers are located in Europe). Cultris I dedicated servers already run on Linux.

We’ll probably never open source Cultris. Mainly because we think that many open source projects aren’t as good as they could be because they lack focus. As a result open source projects tend to expose too many features which makes them unattractive for beginners and bad usability-wise. Our goal is to be beginners-friendly and we think it’d be hard to maintain that in an open source project.

Who do you consider to be the top 3 players on Cultris? What does a great Cultris player need in order to dominate?

Jtadore, R.Poopmore and especially RZ***Stephen, because he was the first “outside player” to create a lasting impression on us: By breaking Cultris (He was the first to consistently do >10-combos, sending way too many lines and forcing us to change a lot of things). I watched Jtadore train with Cultris II today and what I saw was awe-inspiring.

Of course there are countless other players that would easily beat me in a 1-on-1 game.

Do you play any other versions of Tetris?

I tried some other versions from time to time about half a year ago to get some inspiration. Most of them are targeted at hardcore Tetris players – and I as casual gamer don’t feel quite at home there. Others, like TetrisFriends just don’t feel right to me. The controls aren’t “direct enough”, if that makes any sense.

Despite being many years old, Cultris still has a loyal community of diehard fans. What do you think is the secret for a long lifespan that might help other coders?

Probably it’s because we put a picture of ourselves in the intro. To be honest: The success of Cultris I took us by surprise. Because there were already thousands of Tetris clones we weren’t expecting this. The continued availability of the game, web page and servers certainly helped.

I've noticed in the past and think it's great that Cultris developers support community tournaments. Is there a tournament coming anytime soon?
There’s a tournament whenever any of our loyal diehard fans is bored and decides to start one. We just help out by linking to the tournament pages and awarding medals to the winners. I heard that Cultris medals makes you look very attractive…

What can we expect from future versions of Cultris?

World peace of course. We’re working on (online) statistics, replays and many other improvements. There’s no shortage of ideas. More, bigger, better.

What is the goal of the Cultris project?

1. Build Tetris-Clone.

2. ?


Thanks for your time Simon! Looking forward to the new release and hope to see you around Hard Drop!

Thanks too. We’re always scanning the Hard Drop forums for community feedback.

The Cultris project can be found at

Discussion Thread:

Comment by cubixcreature on February 12, 2011, 11:21 pm
Well, I'm excited for Cultris II. I haven't gotten to into Cultris Previously, but am always up for a new Tetris Clone.

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