Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
I recently had the chance to sit back down to another Sunday Bites edition with Gataela, a Victorian Steampunk RPG. For those that haven’t been following our coverage, Gataela, a Victorian Steampunk RPG is an Indie RPG being developed out of Canada’s National Capital Ottawa.
Want to know more about it? So did I and what better way to find out more about it than from the source? I couldn’t think of one so here’s what the lead developer of Atemly Games, Paige Marincak, had to say about their title!
Hi Paige, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Getting the ball rolling, want to tell us a bit about your current project?
Gataela is a Victorian Steampunk RPG where saving the Kingdom requires more than just brains and brawn: you also need to talk to people! It features a debate battle system, where you talk, debate, convince and negotiate with NPCs in order to save the country.
So what got you into video game development and onto the path to creating Gataela?
Ever since I was old enough to pick up a controller I’ve always wanted to create games. I bounced around a lot about “what I wanted to do when I grew up” and I always somehow came back to it. While I was in university taking Com Sci, I was working on a Pokemon fan game. (It was very early days, I only had character movement!) My father suggested that maybe I make my own game instead, and – since tablets were popular/emerging at the time – to put it on the Playbook.
You’ve been working on Gataela for years now, was it always going to be a Victorian Steampunked inspired RPG? Or was there another direction that you originally thought of?
Oddly enough Gataela is still largely the same as when I first envisioned it almost 8 years ago now. It was always going to be Victorian Steampunk, and always going to have the debate battle system in it. I think the biggest changes have been narrative-based and general “feel” of the game, if that makes any sense. I was originally going to have a separate protagonist that was more like a joke character who becomes a protagonist by chance. Like a secret one. But tossed that out pretty early on. Another thing I changed was making the game feel much more “at your own pace” than any sense of immediate forbidding doom.
If I remember correctly from a post on Twitter from a few years back, Gataela is being developed through custom source code? Is there a reason you wanted to go in this direction instead of having part of the load in either a Game or RPG Maker? For the record, it looks great.
Thanks ☺ It’s quite often I hear that Gataela is using a custom engine of sorts. It’s probably because I was originally coding it in C++. I am currently using GameMaker Studio 2 for the engine. In the past – the time period you’re probably referencing – I was using Cocos2dx. It is quite common though to take an engine and build a layer on top for your own purposes and systems. So even with GameMaker I have that going on.
One of the things that I’ve probably enjoyed the most is that the dialog has feeling with words being visually exagerated on screen in almost an anime like fashion. Other that it obviously looking great, how did you get to that point instead of just the standard flow of words on a screen that most people will default to.
Gataela is a very text heavy game, and I don’t have the luxury of having voice actors, so there becomes the question of how do you express tone through dialogue and other verbal clues. You can put actions like sighing into asterisks (ex. *sigh*) but it just feels… very THERE. You don’t really feel like the character is sighing. I can tell you a character talks really fast, but you can also just see them doing that too. Likewise for talking slow. It’s a blessing of the medium that I have the ability to do that, unlike for printed media. As for the effects themselves, I took a lot of inspiration from Paper Mario TTYD.
Is there anything you’ve learnt over time that you wish you had known when you started?
Probably the importance of developer workflow & timing yourself. It’s something that I learn more and more about every day that your workflow as a creator is one of the most important things to being productive.
For example, very early on in Gataela I was working on the maps: I would design the maps in Photoshop, then cut them up and remake them in Tiled, which would be imported into the game. I would then have to manually add the objects in code. This whole process took about 8 hours, which doesn’t sound TOO bad when your maps are as large as mine. But then I multiplied that time by the number of large maps in the game: 960 hours. Not including time to rework maps, or more detailed ones or add NPCs and events. It wasn’t scalable. I was only able to figure this out by timing myself. Once I figured this out, I made a few simple changes and then it was taking 2 hours to add a map.
So learning how long it takes you to do something, figuring out if you can remove the tedious bits, and making it so you get faster to gameplay design and content adding than coming up with basic building blocks is very important! I’m glad it’s something I figured out earlier on in development.
Because working all day can get really long, what have you been doing on your downtime to relax?
Well, given I have a day job and come home to work on Gataela each night… working on Gataela is really what I do. But I also have a variety of projects – lots of game prototypes I work on for fun, a novel I’m writing, I play FF14 with my friends when I can, and in the summer I garden. Sometimes I read books, or manga, or watch anime but game development is my hobby right now.
Before getting to our last question, I’ve got to ask if only because now adays, about half the team is Canadian and live in or around Ottawa. How do you love the Bermuda Triangle of weather that can bring us from -40 Celcius to +2 within days before dumping 15-20cm of snow on our heads!
Any chance of this crazyness making its way into Gataela?
Haha it is quite an experience. I’ve lived in Ottawa for almost all my life and it’s really just something I’m used to now. Although, it would be nice if that fight or flight response while sliding on snow while driving didn’t occur as often as it does. I don’t think any of it will be making its way into Gataela, but who knows 😉
Finally, is there anything else you would want to share with us before we say goodbye? Like… maybe a possible release date? *smily face*
Maybe sometime in the near future! In the meantime, Gataela is available for wishlist on Steam, and we have a 3-5 hour demo available on Steam, Itch.io and Gamejolt!
We want to give a big thank you to Paige for taking the time to chat with us and we’ll be back down the road with another look at Atemly Game’s Victorian Steampunk RPG Gataela.
Have a great weekend everyone!