We had a chance to talk to Travis Bulford, the managing director of Twilyt Productions, the South African game development studio that is currently working on Zulu War. Bulford explained some of the history behind the company and talked about how being based in South Africa affects the game development process. He also talked about what the studio does differently from other studios and shared some general plans for the future.
GameSpot: To begin with, when was Twilyt founded, and where did the founding members work before forming Twilyt?
Travis Bulford: Twilyt Productions was started in December 1999. The founding members were and still are part of Celestial Developments and have worked on Toxic Bunny and The Tainted.
GS: How did you decide on the name Twilyt?
TB: We do most of our work in the twilight hours. So the company name formed from that. We decided to shorten it and give it a personality--hence Twilyt, pronounced twilight.
GS: How many employees does the company have?
TB: Our team consists of 13 people. Almost all coffee addicts.
GS: What other games has Twilyt created?
TB: Twilyt Productions' first internal development project to be released will be Silver Rain, which is due in about two months. Silver Rain is a small development project we have done in conjunction with a magazine here in South Africa called New Age Gaming. We are trying to build the games development industry here, and Silver Rain has been a platform for that. The magazine has been running monthly articles on game development, in particular pertaining to Silver Rain. Some of the members of Twilyt have worked on Toxic Bunny and The Tainted (Celestial Developments). Our first major product release will be Zulu War.
GS: How does the studio decide what games to create? Where does the inspiration come from?
TB: We are all creative people so we have a many ideas for games. The ideas circulate amongst us and are reinvented over and over. Eventually one idea will stick and that idea is then looked at more seriously. We look at things like, "Will this be fun to play? Can we describe the game in a sentence? What kind of budget would we need to make this game?" After that we start with the design phase and graphics testing. If that all checks out, we begin the development.
GS: What does Twilyt do differently from other game developers?
TB: I think one of the big differences between Twilyt and other game development houses would be our location. As we live in South Africa, our influences and ideas come from a different cultural background. With this in mind, we bring a fresh creative spirit to the game development world. That and I think we drink more coffee then most other game houses.
GS: Beyond serving as the inspiration for historical war games such as Zulu War and the Anglo-Boer War, how does being in South Africa affect the development of your games?
TB: Being in South Africa is a blessing and a curse for a young development studio. Costs are low here so financing our developments is not as expensive. On the other hand, we are isolated from the heart of the industry and need to make quite a few trips each year overseas to keep the ball rolling with international contacts both in publication and in technology.
GS: What are Twilyt's plans for the future?
TB: We don't want to grow too much more from here--we're more interested in building a name for ourselves. We want to get to the point where we release two major titles each year. We believe that games have not come very far in the last 10 years. Outside of perhaps first-person shooters, nothing new has happened. If you look at real-time strategy games from five years ago versus real-time strategy games now, you will see that the technology has moved far, but the game idea has not evolved very far from its roots. We want to make a difference in this area.
GS: Thank you for your time, Travis.