Thea: The Awakening foi uma das maiores surpresas que tive quando entrei para a equipa do Rubber Chicken, não só era um excelente jogo em Early Access, como quando foi lançada a sua versão mais extensa (já que a de Early Access era bastante completa) se tornou ainda melhor, sem recorrerem a DLC pagos e outras coisas. Quando soube que estava prestes a ser lançada a sua sequela contactei Mila “Yuuki” Irek a guionista do jogo que teve a simpatia de nos ceder a entrevista que podem ler aqui:
Muha Games started in 2010, and Thea: The Awakening was your first big game. Was it a huge endeavour for a small studio? What were the main difficulties you encountered?
It was a huge project yes, but the way it happened was that is started mall and then as we learnt the capabilities of the team, it begun to grow organically, so in that sense it never felt overwhelming.
And yes, there were so many difficulties, challenges for a team of 4/5. Having one coder is consistently the main one, I mean he is superhuman in what he does, but we do wish we could clone him. Outsourcing on a non-existent budget was tough, so we had to rely a lot on folks that were starting out, like us. Prioritising was key really, so cutting features that we could not afford to make, re-using assets, focusing on areas that will improve existing design instead of going crazy with new ideas – this all sounds straight forward, but is actually really hard.
There are a lot of things I like about Thea, one being that you subverted the 4X model in a good way, not only by keeping it all based on a single village, but also by allowing the player to have several ways to resolve conflict, being it by combat, dialogue or others. Why did you decide to risk this and not go with the usual combat only formula?
Well, actually, the answer is money. Yes, not very romantic but there it is. We needed a combat system that was not 3D, because we didn’t have the resources to go that way. We brainstormed several ideas, and since Khash worked on making Gwent, he thought why not a card game? And then different types of conflict resolution seemed a natural next step, because the system could be adapted for it, and for me, as a rpg fan, it was really important to not have only combat.
Usually in 4X games you play with what I call “empty characters”, they are soldiers, farmersor other classes, in Thea, even when you expand your village considerably in numbers they each have a name, an identity, it’s not just a warrior, it’s Bogdan. It’s not just a witch, it’s Zoska. Some of them you’ve seen grow from a child into the adult they became. Was this decision to cause the players to have a more personal relationship with the villagers? Because it’s a lot harder to lose a character when you put a name to a face?
Yes, we wanted Thea to be more personal, because it is also a survival and rpg game, not strictly strategy. So having people you actually care about was key to achieve the balance between all those different genres.
Thea: the Awakening had very good reviews overtime, it has a 9/10 score average on Steam and 4.4/5 on Gog, more importantly I gave it my GOTY 2015 award after having spent many hours exploring those maps. I am sure you were hoping for a good reception, but did you expect it would be so well received?
No, we didn’t. I don’t think anyone ever does, do they? I mean you hope, and you dream, and you do your absolute best, but you just never know. Especially that Thea is an odd game, so it could have gone either way. But we’re so grateful to our fans, I still can’t believe it sometimes.
One of the things that you are constantly praised about is your care to listen to players. Above that you gave us the chance to add quests to the game, to make it more “our own” and share those quests with others. Why did you decide to give your players the “power” to add content to the game?
We’re all gamers ourselves, so I suppose we try to give what we’d like to have ourselves. And also, with such a small team, there are physical limits to what we can do, how much content we can give, so this was just a natural way to give our players the freedom to add more. And in Thea 2, this will be available from the start, and you will even be able to mess with my quests, so I think it will be a lot of fun.
Thea is heavily influenced in Slavic religion, and also myths and legends of central Europe, which is a welcome change to the norm in videogames. Why did you decide to go for a fantasy approach of the apocalypse instead of the usual zombie one?
Well, fantasy is my genre, so as the writer I had the influence here. I love fantasy and so it was natural for me to go that way and then the Slavic elements also seemed the right way to go considering our background.
You are working on the sequel now, Thea: The Shattering, what are we to expect different in this new game?
There are a lot of new features coming. So it will be a co-op game from the start, with up to 3 players (although the exact number remains to be confirmed, 3 is what we’re aiming for now). You will star with no village, but will be able to grow beyond one. There will be islands and so boats too. Crafting and research have been redesigned. The card game is also new – same concept, but new mechanics. The skills and attributes are streamlined and redesigned. There will be a mini-map. The world had also grown since the days of Darkness, so you have other factions that have their own settlements and you’ll be able to interacts with them.
These are just a few things, but our policy is to build on what we learnt, what we heard from our fans, and hopefully provide a familiar but new experience.
If all goes well, you’ll put the game on Early access until the end of 2018 when it is fully featured. One expects that after that there will be usual fixes, corrections and expansions as happened with The Awakening, but what is Muha Games to go from there? Are you planning anything that you can tell us?
We never make plans too far ahead. Thea 2 is our absolute focus for now. If the release goes well, we hope to do some dlc’s as well. And only then we will discuss any future projects. One thing is of course certain, we will make another game ;)
Thank you very much for this opportunity, keep up the great work, we are very interested in seeing what you will come out with.