Tarsier Studios opens up about Hunger

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Hunger is the latest project from Tarsier Studios. Its reveal trailer generated a significant amount of buzz for the Malmö based studio and highlighted a radical tonal shift for the studio. I reached out to the games creative director – Oscar Wemmert to unearth all things Hunger.

Hunger is a grand departure, thematically from your earlier titles. Was it always the intention to develop something that was much darker tonally?
That’s been the intention since the very beginning, and for sure many of us here do find the grimier side of life a more interesting thing to explore. I do think, though, that our interests have a tendency to float to the surface in anything we work on! Right now it feels like we’re in a position to do that with our own original title, in a way that feels both interesting and engaging.

What key features did you hope to convey in the trailer and why?
Well, we had 90 seconds to get into people’s heads and leave them with something other than a headache. With everyone clamouring to be noticed, it’s too easy to panic and give everything away immediately. We went the other way and focused on one thing – the creepiness. One of the great things about having a kid as our main character is that we get the charm for free. Just by placing this small quiet soul in a world like The Maw, it transcends horror and catches that feeling of suspenseful adventure that we’re looking for.

What titles inspired its moody visuals?
That comes straight from the minds of our Art department! It’s like with all kinds of ideas and inspiration, one thing goes in and something altogether different comes out. Of course, everyone has preferences and work that speaks to them, but we’re very lucky to have people here that want to express themselves, and not others.

After considerable success working with other IP, could you briefly outline the process of conceptualizing your first IP (After Fists of Plastic and The City of Metronome)?
We’ve created a prototype that proves suspense-adventure is an idea that works and feels right. That, for us, is very important. As far as the development of the concept goes, I’d say it’s been a process of evolution over the last few years. For a while, it felt as though every discussion we had about an original game was avoiding the shadow of Metronome – despite the fact that it’s a concept that people still get excited about to this day. Perhaps for those that were there in the beginning, it was just too painful to go through all that again, but with persistence, the idea of doing a ‘spiritual successor’ started to gain ground.

How important is it to convey Tarsier’s sense of self visually, technically and thematically?
I’m not sure Tarsier has a sense of self in the same way that each Tarsier game has one of its own. If you try to impress some sort of company style on each game you do, it can start to feel like a novelty or a default that you slip into, regardless of whether it best serves the game you’re working on. What we always try to do at the beginning is find the core of the thing. What is it that interests us about it? It could be the fear of the unknown, the thrill of the unknown, or the loneliness of the creative process, but once we find that thing, that’s when we start looking at how we can do it justice.

The game was partly financed by the EU creative grants. How crucial has this been in aiding the games development?
The funding from Nordic Game and Creative Europe has been instrumental in getting to where we are today. Getting any original idea off the ground is tough, and this one was in a new genre, starring a young kid, who didn’t come with a special gun or a magical power. Our belief in the concept was very strong, but our hopes of it gaining traction were pretty low! Getting such a show of support from the people at Nordic Game and Creative Europe gave us a huge confidence boost, and really energised the team to show that their support was well placed.

What platforms do you plan on releasing this on?
Right now the platform is unconfirmed, but the most crucial thing for us is that Hunger finds the home that suits it best.

When do you hope to release the game?
Well, after all the excitement that came from the release of the teaser, we want to release it tomorrow, but in reality there are no plans with regards to a release date at this point.

For more on the studio, visit Tarsier Studios.
Tarsier Studios on Twitter.
Oscar is on Twitter.

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