Kitfox Games' Tanya Short Talks About Moon Hunters

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The indie community and Square Enix are impressed with Moon Hunters, the role-playing game where Earth's oldest satellite disappears.

Developed by Kitfox Games, a Montreal-based studio, players will navigate a fantasy world inspired by ancient mythologies.

Empty Lighthouse got a chance to speak with Tanya Short--one of the masterminds behind Moon Hunters. A lifelong gamer passionate about the medium, Short spoke about her inspiration and journey as an indie developer.

What made you want to pursue game development? And what titles inspired the creation of Moon Hunters?

Well, I've loved games since getting an NES for my 5th birthday. In college I studied English literature and once I heard writing skills could get my foot in the door for game design, it seemed like I just had to try.

So I did some production internships/contract work, went to graduate school for Level Design at the Guildhall at SMU (a great program), and got a job at Funcom, working as a designer on MMOs.

Five years later, it seemed time to go indie!

Moon Hunters has been a long time coming.

My partner Brent Ellison and I created Dungeons of Fayte for a competition in 2009, winning 2nd place (above Realm of the Mad God!), which was conceived of as a combination of Princess Maker 2 and Zelda: Four Swords. Being able to take the solid systems from that prototype and create a richer, occult fantasy world around it always seemed like a dream come true.

Since making Dungeons of Fayte, I've definitely been influenced by King of Dragon Pass and The Yawhg as well.

Moon Hunters is being promoted as a part of Square Enix's Collective, how did your company get involved with them?

We were a bit cheeky. We saw their announcement that they'd be launching the Square Enix Collective and contacted them out of the blue, asking for the details and if we could submit a pitch.

They said we could, so we did! They loved it, and the contract made it clear that each step of Collective processes would be optional, so we just took it one step at a time.

And it's worked out really well for us, so we're super-glad we jumped on the opportunity.

What other projects-- if any-- has Kitfox worked on in the past?

As a team, we've made a few game jam games (Sculptorgeist, a game about haunting little clay people, is my favorite), but our big project was Shattered Planet. Shattered Planet was developed in about a year and released on Steam last July.

Plus, individually, we've worked on The Secret World, Age of Conan, Afterland, Kaia's Quest, Mafia Wars... lots of stuff.

The Moon is a part of many mythologies; does the story of Moon Hunters draw from any specific culture?

The Moon Hunters setting (aesthetics, mood, tone) is largely based on ancient Mesopotamia and Persia, especially early Bronze Age Assyria. The story and primary mythology of the game is our own creation, but we're inspired by the complex and varied personas of Ishtar, also known as Astarte or Inanna, and to some degree as Venus, Juno, Isis, Sekhmet, etc. Similarly, our central Moon goddess means different things to different tribes and people.

The Sun cult that's starting is vehemently monotheistic and writing-oriented, which is similar to religious conflicts of the time in that region.

On the other hand, player myths will be drawn from everywhere -- Poetic Edda, Epic of Gilgamesh, Journey to the West... everywhere!

The amount of side-quests in RPGs vary from game to game, what sort of incentives are in the game for players who want to explore?

Well, before the Kickstarter, I would have said it was mostly an incentive to explore different parts of your own personality by finding new unique and possibly rare events and characters, hiding in towns and in the wilderness. We don't have "side-quests" so much as "optional interactions", found by exploring and experimenting.

These culminate in your myth, remembered as part of your constellation after your play-through.

Now that the Kickstarter has gone so well, I can also say that a cooking system will be a fun way to experiment with discovered ingredients, and finding different familiars will also have an effect on your strategy and myth.

Some familiars take some work to find, but each offers a different benefit, and some are the keys to finding other characters and events and myth-bits.

How long can players expect the story mode to be?

Each play-through is between one and three hours, with the world re-shuffling/randomising every time. To really get the full understanding of the whole story and unlock everything, you'll need to play 8-10 times... not even counting finding every constellation...

Do you have anything notable to add about the game?

We're really hoping to hit the $170k mark because according to our calculations, we'll then be able to create a sixth character class, who might be my favorite yet.

He's a worshipper of the (widely believed to be evil) Sun, and as a self-proclaimed Purifier, his search for the missing Moon will definitely be quite different from the other classes.

We're obviously already thrilled with the response to the game so far, but if we could just reach a little more...

the game will be even better! It's so exciting! Thank you so much to everyone who's supported us! We'll be sure to spend every cent wisely!