Would you be able to let us know more about your upcoming game?
One of the graduates from my screen class, a friend who studied at the ANU and I started our own independent game studio called Whale Hammer Games. We’re currently working on our first game called Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire.
The elevator pitch would be – It’s a turn-based tactics game for the PC, in which you play as Princess Tahira leading her people across a dying planet.
As you traverse the world, you’re being chased by the enemy who destroyed your kingdom and who seem hell bent on reclaiming the lost technologies of the past.
The world you’re travelling across is set after the fall of an advanced human civilization, so your technology at the time of playing is more in line with medieval weaponry. As you play you’ll find relics of the advanced civilisation all over the place, crashed battleships in the sand, abandoned cities and other things, I want to keep under wraps for now. It’s been a really interesting challenge to bring that world to life in the art and the writing.
The game draws a lot of gameplay inspiration from games like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, X-COM and other turn-based tactics games we played when we were kids. One of the things I always thought could be improved was the story and setting. We want people to be emotionally invested in the characters in Tahira and that will hopefully mean they care even more about winning the battles.
When will people be able to get their hands on Tahira?
Internally we’re playtesting at the moment. We are aiming to have the first playable demo available late this year or early 2015.
We have a very big story that draws a lot of inspiration from movies like Nausica of The Valley of the Wind and a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels I read when I was younger. To do justice to the world and the characters we decided to split the game into smaller parts. We’re hesitant to call it episodic at this point because until all the parts are in and fleshed out we’re not sure how long each game will be. At this stage we’re thinking around 10 hours for each game, with the emphasis being placed on the combat, setting and characters.
It’s been really great to scope the game into these smaller pieces. For example, I’m the one writing the game and it has allowed me to write a very distinct character arc for Tahira (our main character) for part one. When you finish part one you won’t have resolved the whole plot, but you will have experienced a complete narrative arc for Tahira and that’s really exciting to me. It would be much more challenging to have written the game that way if it was just me trying to write this epic 30 hour RPG.