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It’s difficult to understand the appeal of setting up a factory if you’ve never fallen down that particular genre hole before. But few things in gaming are as satisfying as connecting together several interdependent machines into a massive supersystem. Developer Fire Hose Games knows the joys of that, which is why the studio is making the new first-person factory builder, Techtonica.
Early in the pandemic, Fire Hose president Eitan Glinert and his team played a lot of these kinds of games. Factorio and Satisfactory were especially influential to what would eventually become Techtonica. So expect to spend a lot of time gathering resources and then piecing together conveyor belts and pneumatic tubes. But with its game, Fire Hose saw an opportunity to fill in a gap left behind by other major entries in the genre.
“We wanted to see if we could marry that super compelling factory-automation gameplay with an exciting story and setting,” Glinert told GamesBeat. “Hades was an inspiration for us — if Supergiant could tell a world-class story and marry it seamlessly with roguelike dungeon crawling, could we do the same with the factory building genre? That was the initial thinking that led to Techtonica.”
That also led to one of the scariest possible settings imaginable for the game. In Techtonica, players find themselves on a rogue planet. That is to say that the world does not orbit a star and exists in perpetual darkness. Or, at least, that is the case on the surface. Underground, players will find bioluminescent flora and fauna that makes life possible. That life probably just has a serious vitamin-D deficiency.
“Of course, once we started building the game, it naturally led to other innovations,” Glinert said. “What if we added voxel digging so the player could deform terrain? We set it in an alien world bursting with strange life, so what if growing plants was part of the automation process? The more we went down this path, the more we found fun, dynamic, complementary gameplay mechanics.”
Techtonica will serve a hungry audience
Glinert believes that fans have an unsatiated thirst for different takes on factory builders. So the studio expects that to help Techtonica stand out along with its striking visuals.
“I’m of the opinion that the next thing you need to do to stand out is [to make a pretty game] and, ideally, have some sort of noteworthy visual aesthetic,” said Glitnert. “Being visually appealing is so critical; people will buy a bad game that looks good but will rarely buy a good game that looks bad.”
He said that it helps that the team is going in a direction that leans away from oversaturated styles like the zombie apocalypse.
“For Techtonica, we spent a ton of time figuring out the aesthetic, and things only clicked when we were looking at the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico,” said Glinert. “We had discussions like, ‘what if all life in our world glowed like plankton in those bays?’ That is what led to our art style.”
With the mechanics and look lodged into place, Fire Hose is now in a position where it needs to figure out how to launch its game. The company hasn’t announced whether it is going with an early access model or not, but it is considering its options. Additionally, the studio already knows it wants to support the game and build on input from its audience.
“As it stands now, we have a backlog of features and systems that we want to add in that is a mile long, and it’s super hard to force ourselves to focus and work on only the most critical features,” said Glinert. “Once the game is out and doing well, we intend to continuously add stuff in to keep people playing the game.”
Techtonica doesn’t have a release date yet, but Fire Hose has opened it up for wishlisting on Steam.
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