Ty the Tasmanian Tiger: Night of the Quinkan Designer Diary #1
Krome CEO Robert Walsh talks about the process of creating the third installment in the lovable platformer series
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The Ty the Tasmanian Tiger franchise is one of those rare gaming properties that appeal squarely to a kids' audience, yet provides imminently playable gameplay that makes it fun for adults, too. The third installment in the Ty series is barrelling toward us, and here to discuss its inception is the CEO of developer Krome Studios, Robert Walsh.
Ty One OnBy Robert Walsh, CEO, Krome Studios
It's been a fantastic year so far at Krome, especially with the next installment of the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger series, Night of the Quinkan, almost wrapped up. We're pretty pleased with how things have gone so far. Throughout the process, we've made a conscious effort to keep things exciting and dynamic so that the end product lives up to expectations--our own internal expectations, and those of our fans. There's no denying it's a hard process and goal to live up to, especially considering that we've lived and breathed the series constantly for the past five years. However, I'm proud of how we've managed things.
This is especially true for this year's game since the industry buzz seems to be about the next-gen hardware and games. But there's no denying that there is a huge install base and a huge opportunity to continue to create great games for the current generation systems...and I think we've done it. We've made sure to keep each installment dynamic and full of bigger and better features, and the third Ty game is no exception. Stay tuned for a sneak-preview breakdown of what you can expect in Ty: Night of the Quinkan, and for a little Ty history followed by my thoughts on current gen vs. next gen.
Now for a brief rundown of the series for the uninitiated: In the first game, you are concerned with rescuing Ty's long-lost family from their entrapment in another world, known as The Dreamtime. Ty has much to do and a huge area to explore, from underwater coral reef missions or escaping from giant beetles in the rainforest to helping koalas on snow slopes or riding a giant boar in the desert; and it's impossible not to be in awe of the amazing Australian landscapes the guys did such a good job of re-creating. I think it presents young and old gamers alike with a refreshing break from more fabricated scenery (which, of course, can also be fun to explore). Ty 1 was a fairly linear platformer, but it had such a unique spin, compared to the plaformers it was competing with, that it really stood out and spawned a huge fan base that has stuck with us since those early days.
All Ty games feature all of the characters from Ty 1, who are joined by new friends and enemies with each episode; this expands the world of Ty and friends and takes the series from an insular idea to a virtual universe of recognizable characters and creatures. In Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue, Ty's archnemesis from the first game, Boss Cass the cassowary, escapes from prison, and Ty has to thwart Cass' evil plan to take over the world with his henchmen creations, the Uber Frills! We thought we'd made a huge game of Ty 1, but Ty 2 was infinitely larger in all respects--it was nonlinear, so players could do the missions at their own pace, exploring our seamless world as they went through the game (so much hard work went into getting the seamless-world thing to work, but it was definitely worth it). There were mech battles and things exploding all over the place. The game had basically grown up a little, to accommodate for the kids who had played the first game; but the controls and concepts were still the same, to cater to a new batch of kids who had never played Ty 1.
In Ty the Tasmanian Tiger: Night of the Quinkan, there's an even bigger evil plaguing Earth: the Quinkan--a mythological species based on ancient aboriginal cave paintings--and unless Ty and his mates stop them, the Quinking, the force's evil leader, will arise and unleash his almost unstoppable powers on the world for good! Again, the game has grown up a little, with a slight shift to the "dark side" in concept--but not enough to alienate the youngest players. The essence of the original game can certainly be felt throughout the series; we've maintained a consistency of atmosphere and appeal that embodies Ty and the world he inhabits. It's really nice to be able to play each game and feel like you're in the same world.
Fans of the first two Ty games will be in for a few surprises in Night of the Quinkan! There were a lot of ideas that we didn't have the time and space to put into Ty 2: Bush Rescue but have been saving up excitedly and have expanded upon for the third in the series. We've introduced a series of new enemies, including the main baddie, the Quinkan--we've taken great liberty to create them into an enemy that is cool, challenging, and mysterious. However, I'd say that the two most exciting new features we've added are: (1) close-range combat and (2) a fully customizable boomerang system that lets you customize each of your rangs by fitting an empty rang with special stones that contain elemental powers such as lightning and fire. This feature gives players literally thousands of potential rang combinations to build and play with.
Additional new features include a new vehicle class known as Gunyips, which players use to engage the enemy, or other players in multiplayer option, from the skies in a new series of air combat missions, as well as a cool new land vehicle called the Crabmersible, which replaces the Fourbie and is based on the Robocrabs from Ty 2 that the Frills would drive--they're incredibly fun to drive! And, of course, we've included a range of new Bunyip mechs and other weaponry. You won't be bored, I promise.
Also, this year we've changed publishing partners. A great partnership with EA helped launch the series, but the folks at Activision were really excited to add Ty to their portfolio, so it seemed to be a good fit for us. We wanted to find a publisher that's as dedicated and excited about the family/kids' genre as we are, and Activision has shifted part of its focus in the last few years to become a very family-friendly organization. It's as simple as that, and we're all happy with the decision. As for choosing to copublish again, well, Ty, being our own IP that we've nurtured throughout the years, is like our own kid; we want to have as much impact on the overall process as we can.
One of the things I'd like to bring up is the decision to make the third Ty game for current-gen consoles, as opposed to the mouth-watering prospect of delivering the latest title on next-gen hardware. We are, of course, sinking our teeth into next-gen development at the moment, but we also have our market and fan base to consider. We all learned a lot from the last console transition about delivering for the huge current-gen install base that exists. Ty is such a perfect fit for the current-generation console. Current-gen delivery also means that we can continue to service the console market, who can look forward to an anticipated drop in the price of current-gen consoles and games--we'll be there to provide them with new titles for their systems.
We want to continue to cater to our existing audience, who is looking for affordable quality games, but who may be overlooked in the coming era of next-gen. But don't panic; Ty's adventures on next-gen are already planned and on the way. The original Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was released in late 2002, and the series has since gone on to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide. We were all confident that Ty would do well, but we're still riding the high of how phenomenally successful the series has been--and we've really enjoyed the journey from being the underdogs to seeing our own projects being embraced all over the world. It's been a great ride, but it doesn't end here--we're already looking into the next Ty game; and we can't wait to see what the fan base thinks of Ty: Night of the Quinkan when it's released later in the year!