Not long ago, Kickstarter released an update allowing Australian developers and inventors to finally share their concepts and products with the world. Since then, hundreds of budding Australian entrepreneurs have taken to the website, presenting ideas for board games, video games, phone accessories, and more.
Once such project is Huntsmen, a post-apocalyptic FPSRPG set in Sydney, Australia. Hermit Mode is the developer behind the project, and Nr6Pack has been able to sit down with Alex and Naz and discuss the title’s direction through and beyond a gruelling Kickstarter campaign.
Nr6Pack: Tell us a little bit about who Hermit Mode is.. What do you guys do, and how has it evolved into the production of Huntsmen?
Hermit Mode: Hermit Mode is a small company which is composed of two amatuer modellers. We both met and graduated with a BA in Design but always had interest in video games. We’ve chosen to focus on our talents as opposed to attempting to start from scratch with learning how to program – meaning we have been, for over 8 months, building/modelling and purchasing assets whilst working part time.
We chose to use our modelling and creative skills to make the concept proposal for the game, which is what you have seen so far. We both have a background in making/designing apps (as hobbies) and decided to combine our skills for one game, taking into account Kickstarter and its ability to allow people like us to propose ideas and hopefully get it funded.
Nr6Pack: How exactly did the proposal of Huntsmen come about?
Hermit Mode: It’s a game concept that Alex has been thinking of for a few years now, since sinking about 700 hours into modding Fallout 3 during unemployment. Games like STALKER also play a massive influence – not only because of their survival-based gameplay but also due to the wealth of mods made by the community. I [Alex] pretty much turned Fallout 3 into a random sandbox through mixing lots of mods, taking it far away from the original gameplay / design to a different, fun experience (not to imply vanilla Fallout 3 isn’t fun).
We didn’t want to make a copy of these games however, and saw a gap in the market for Australian-based games. Thats not to say that we want to transplant Fallout into Australia. Another ‘gap’ we noticed was dynamic gameplay – something that has been at the core of “Huntsmen”s design from the beginning. This dynamic gameplay includes features that are already proven to work in games, for years. We just seek to use them in different ways. We don’t really want to give out too much information seeing as we are very much at a conceptual phase, despite the progress of our assets. Seeing these gaps, we made the decision to utilise the crowdfunding medium to obtain funds so that we can hire programmers to develop the systems we intend to create.
Nr6Pack: You’ve mentioned dynamic systems as a core feature of Huntsmen.. Just how important do you envisage forming a relationship with Australian ecosystems will be?
Hermit Mode: It’s going to make up a large part of the game play because we have a large variety of animals and the system will allow you to manipulate the features over time. It’s not a purely aesthetic thing, however, since we don’t want to make a game that rewards you for going around killing wildlife. Players will be punished for indiscriminately killing animals but not through direct gameplay. It will be more subtle with the end result being less helpful information being shared to the player. This all means that basically we would like to have dreams and nightmares that come when the player eventually sleeps. These dreams/nightmares will either be helpful hints of memories, places to go, how to do things, whilst nightmares will basically make novel use of statistics that count how many of a particular animal has been killed by the player.
We’re also using the full suite of Australian fauna and mega fauna (as indicated through concept art). Animals that we have shown include thylacine, marsupial lion, a carnivorous branch of the kangaroo along with present day animals such as cassowary, great white shark and other docile animals.
Nr6Pack: What do you think makes the Australian setting so suitable for a post-apocalyptic game? How will you utilise the landscape to make the experience unique?
Hermit Mode: The Australian setting is suitable because it provides a large range of dangerous animals along with iconic landmarks that have been unused in the genre. There is a wealth of iconic structures, landmarks and culture that is well known around the world which is ripe for usage, especially considering the over saturation of American and ex-Soviet states as the backdrop of games in this genre.
We want to make use of the various landscapes of Australia such beaches, deserts and bush. There is also the iconic coastal city of Sydney. We plan to feature nature as a major aspect of the map due to the varied beauty available in australia. We want to condense major features of NSW into a map, allowing players to traverse a path from the coast of bondi to the three sisters, with scattered remains of suburban neighbourhoods, shopping centres, etc. The global memes associated with Australia such as, ‘Dangerous Australia, where everything can kill you,’ also lends itself well to the genre.
Nr6Pack: Your project page showcases some great shots of the Sydney Harbour being used as an environment in the game, and you’ve just mentioned using NSW’s signature environments as inspiration. Are there any plans to use other cities, too, or will I have to wait a few more years to see the beautiful city of Adelaide in a full-release game?
Hermit Mode: We would love to do expansions in the future, not as a separate game but as an update. We are currently focusing on NSW / Sydney however, as we want to be able to focus on making the game as fun as possible, and a gameworld with every city would push us back quite a bit. However, if we are able to surpass our funding goal to a point where it’s feasible, we would love to include other cities and landmarks. Modding could be a possible remedy for this – again if we are able to afford it.
Nr6Pack: Your project page showcases a lot of beautiful concept art. Is the style of the concept art a direction you realistically hope to take Huntsmen itself?
Hermit Mode: The concept art is somewhat stylised, with non realistic proportions. We are aiming for a more realistic approach, however the character designs and weapons in the concept art will influence some of the designs found in the game. We want a mix of practical and imaginative designs such as the concept art of Ned Kelly and the STALKER inspired woman. We want the fights between the animals to be as visceral as the concept art.
Nr6Pack: Sounds fierce. So what’s the ultimate dream when it comes to Huntsmen?
Hermit Mode: Originally we wanted this to be multiplayer (it would be cool to see the combined results of player interactions with animals in the form of the evolving models) but decided on scaling back the project to a more manageable task. If we are funded enough we want to be able to implement some level of multiplayer capability e.g. p2p but we’d really love to have a fully functional persistent multiplayer game world in the vein of Day Z. The reality of server and development costs makes this more likely to be a future prospect, however.
Nr6Pack: So a saddening and unfortunate prospective scenario with this project — as with any crowd-sourcing project — is that funding goals won’t be met, meaning you wouldn’t receive any funding. Does Hermit Mode have plans for this scenario? Are there backup plans to ensure Huntsmen can become a reality? I daresay Australia and its development industry NEEDS this project!
Hermit Mode: We are fully aware of the reality of not getting funded, and have in fact been prepared for it before launching as we are trying to keep our expectations realistic. We have spent thousands of our own dollars and many sleepless nights building this game concept up to what it is today. It makes no sense for us to quit just because we failed funding – we want to see this game made. We have received so much positive comments along with support from people all over the world that also want to see this happen, which only strengthens our resolve to continue this project. In the event of a campaign failure, we hope to turn it into a positive by utilising the exposure and community we are gaining from it. We will be setting up a forum in the near future that will be the source of WIP media and info, along as acting as a medium to foster the community.
Nr6Pack: Great to see such solid commitment! You’ve mentioned spending your own money and building your own assets specifically for this project – has your first foray into game-specific development been positive, and is ‘Full Time Game Developer’ a title we might attribute to Hermit Mode in a few years’ time?
Hermit Mode: Oh HELL YES. I [Alex] can’t imagine working outside of the gaming industry seeing as you’re getting paid to do what you love. We both grew up playing games and to be able to create a world the way we want it and to share it with others is an extremely appealing option.