Hyderabad-based BlueGiant Interactive’s latest title is a sci-fi RTS
The planet Ishtonia IV, inhabited by humans and a sentient mechanical race known as the ‘Zali’, is in peril. A war has broken out between the former allies, who had previously worked together in mining a rare mineral called ‘Lohum’. But things have changed, and each of them would be a lot happier wiping the other off the face of the planet. There’s a lot of back story here, and BlueGiant Interactive seems to have put in a fair bit of effort into the lore. “I wouldn't peg the story as the brainchild of one single person. We've all had a hand in it in some way,” says Vinnie Reddy, CEO of BlueGiant. He also adds that the lore evolved substantially during development, taking cues from artists and designers.
BlueGiant’s previous effort was APOX, again a real-time strategy title with a strong focus on unit micro-management. APOX had a tonne of features — for instance, units could crouch, go prone, switch primary weapons and throw grenades, as well as loot corpses. But Reddy notes that “the problem APOX players faced was that it was difficult to find those features or even know that they existed,” adding that APOX, in fact, sported more features than Tryst does currently. As a result, the team’s core focus this time around was on UI and accessibility — to an extent where features were cut based on how easy they were to pick up and understand by players. What we’ve got in the end is a user-friendly RTS experience that adheres to traditional conventions, resulting in a low learning curve. However, difficulty spikes are present relatively early in the campaign, and when I asked Reddy about the AI’s apparent knowledge of my every move, he said his team believed the AI was “too easy” and given time, could be improved. Thanks for not bruising my ego entirely, Vinnie.
“We’ve got developers from all over the country with varied backgrounds. Most of us have found our way here through unconventional means,” says Vinnie about the team that worked on Tryst. Their “unconventional” path to video game development basically means that they’re just not IT guys who used to occasionally play Counter-Strike in their previous jobs. When taking time off from work (or just generally goofing off, presumably), BlueGiant’s team sinks hours into games like League of Legends, Borderlands and Left 4 Dead 2 apart from playing their own creations — and that’s just at work. Also part of the team is Daniel Sadowski, a Washington-based music composer who has created music for companies like DreamWorks, THQ, Atari and 2K. The Tryst score is a mix of mechanical and edgy sounds as well as string and brass sections. The background music is very ambient and atmospheric, adding to the richness of the Tryst’s science fiction setting.
Tryst features a campaign mode that places an emphasis on player choice, while forcing players to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Once they’re done with the campaign, they can move on to the skirmish mode and finally the multiplayer (which the folks at BlueGiant reckon is the best part about Tryst). Reddy is particularly proud of the fact that the team got their design philosophy right — in adding choice to more than just one facet of the game.
Was there something that was on the drawing board but didn’t make the final cut? Well, the developers realised that the game engine supported a toon-shader but that meant re-doing a lot of the art. There were a bunch of “wild” environmental effects that didn’t quite make it to the game because of time constraints as well. Despite these “cuts”, Tryst remains an accessible indie science fiction RTS that you should experience for yourself before you make up your mind about it. The game is currently available for PC on Steam.