The Polish Studio Serving Up Nostalgia Gaming for Busy People
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no-image, The Polish Studio Serving Up Nostalgia Gaming for Busy People
The Warsaw-based Thing Trunk studio is creating video games that reimagine classic titles from the 1990s for contemporary tastes. Convinced that games have lost much of their old charm, the team want to bring it back, going against modern commercial trends but using the latest advancements. The first title in the series, Book of Demons, is already available online.
video game design
They don’t make ‘em like they used to
Remember the times when you used to play games like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, or the first instalment of Civilisation? More importantly, do you remember the thrill of those epic moments? Well, even if you don’t, the founders of the Polish indie studio Thing Trunk sure do, and they’re working to recreate that atmosphere.
Like many so-called millenials, the trio who started the video game outfit experienced a youthful fascination with 1990s classics. Maciej Biedrzycki, Konstanty Kalicki and Filip Starzyński came to like games so much that later, when they were already college buddies, they initiated the creation of Poland’s first academic game development class at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology.
After graduating and working at various studios, they came to an upsetting conclusion: they don’t make ‘em like they used to. The three believe that modern games simply lack much of the charm the titles of old had. They argue their belief isn’t caused by their coming of age, but by the development the video games industry underwent over the years. Seeking bigger profits, the highly commercialised developers of our times cater to specific groups rather than produce universal titles. Whereas it was the universality of the 1990s classics, created when the industry was maybe a little more spontaneous than today, that gave them much of their appeal. An appeal Think Trunk has set out to restore.
Setting your own gaming time
Regardless of whether Thing Trunk’s diagnosis is more than just a good-sounding story, it does show what they’re about: making games with an old-school vibe for broad audiences. In order to bring back the magic of the past they’ve embarked on a project called Return 2 Games, intended to be a series of seven reimagined 1990s favourites. These re-creations are all set in Paperverse, Think Trunk’s trademark papercraft universe, and use the latest gameplay mechanics and advancements so that contemporary players will find them accessible. Taking into account that not everybody can afford to spend hours playing their favourite game, the developers have devised a system called Flexiscope which allows you to set the duration of your gaming session. You can have a single in-game quest last as little as a couple of minutes. Not only does this create a challenging time-based angle, but the feature is ideal for gamers who worry about losing track of time in front of their screens.
Book of Demons
The first title in the series, Book of Demons, references the legendary 1996 game Diablo and is already available online for Windows. Diablo’s significance in the field of video games may be illustrated by the fact that a few months ago Rolling Stone featured an article about how the game ‘defined the hack-and-slash roleplaying game’ – very few titles can count on being remembered in such a context 20 years after their release. Whether that will be the case with Book of Daemons, only time will show. But ever since it appeared on Steam in July 2016, even the early access version has been receiving reviews predominantly tagged as ‘very positive’.
So what is it that players like so much about the Warsaw-based studio’s first production? Firstly, there’s plenty of folks who like to wander around virtual dungeons bashing monsters. And that’s precisely what their hack-and-slash adventure lets you do. Going ever deeper and nearer Hell itself, you encounter seventy kinds of opponents including goat men, skeletons and other such pleasant creatures, which you need to deal with by clicking on them until they perish. This form of combat is reportedly very relaxing for many players. Variety, however, is provided by a nifty system of skill cards that lets you diversify the qualities of your attacks. As you play, you collect and combine them to beef up your fighting abilities. If you’re valiant enough, you’ll defeat the final boss saving the world of Paperverse from disaster, an objective you can accomplish as one of three heroes: warrior, rogue or mage.
The game’s other strong points include the graphic design and state-of-the-art mechanics. The visual side references the aesthetic of pop-up books and papercraft giving the whole affair a symbolic character. This blends nicely with the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere created by things like confronting zombie kangaroos (contrary to the grim, dark Diablo, Book of Demons isn’t all that serious). It’s worth adding that its art design won an Indie Prize at the 2016 Indie Showcase in Tel Aviv.
On the other hand, the levels are randomly generated, so getting bored with running around the same old dungeon just won’t be an issue. Also, the aforementioned Flexiscope system lets you indicate how long you wish a particular game to take from start to completion. In order to provide a rewarding experience regardless of its length, the system learns the player’s gaming habits and adjusts accordingly. The time-setting is an especially nice touch for those with busy schedules.
At the moment, Book of Demons is almost complete with the absence of the rogue hero being the biggest gap waiting to be filled. However, Thing Trunk is constantly working on its game, providing lots of info about their efforts at thingtrunk.com. If all goes well the title should be ready in the upcoming months.
Author: Marek Kępa, Feb 2017