Tidal Tribe is a new God simulation game from the one-man development team at PowPit. The game is putting a unique spin on the genre by having the player manipulate water in various ways to change the world and how the NPCs interact with it. Indie Ranger had the opportunity to interview the Luxembourg based developer, Pit Gennari.
Gennari shared a bit about his background in gaming and what led him to want to become a developer himself.
“I started playing video games in the mid-90s when I got my first Game Boy and ever since then, becoming a game developer had been my dream. I actually still remember how in primary school we were asked what we would like to become and I said ‘someone who makes video games,'” he said. “Many years later, from 2010 to 2013, I studied computer science and then shortly afterward, I decided to try my luck as an indie developer.”
He then went on to talk about some of his favorite games he grew up playing.
“Deus Ex, killer7 and Breath of the Wild. These three excel in three different areas that I love the most about games. For Deus Ex it’s the whole “choice and consequences” thing, for killer7 the ‘style and story’ and finally for Breath of the Wild the ‘freedom and exploration,’” he said.
It is no surprise that many these game mechanics have found their way into Tidal Tribe itself.
After this brief introduction, Gennari talked about his inspirations and how they affected how he went about development. When asked about his choice to make a god sim, he said that has had a love for the genre for some time.
“I’ve always kind of liked god games but it wasn’t until From Dust that I decided to actually make one. I really enjoyed that game and how you could shape the environment, but I was kind of disappointed in its NPCs,” he said.
He went on to describe how he wanted to create NPCs that reacted more fluidly with the environment. This, however, turned out to be more of an undertaking than he initially thought.
“Although I may have ultimately spent a bit too much time on all kinds of little details that you hardly even realize when playing,” he admitted. “Like, there [are] half a dozen different animations for an NPC slipping on a banana peel, even though in an average playthrough you probably only ever see that happen once.”
Creating a Custom Engine and Development
Gennari went on to describe why he decided to create his own custom engine instead of a pre-made one.
“I just feel more comfortable using my own framework where I have full control,” he said.
This decision proves right as he said that he never really had too many complications with development. He was able to admit that the project did have some inevitable annoyances.
“Sometimes it can be quite annoying if you spend a couple hours fixing some stupid little bugs in your rendering code, GUI framework, collision detection and all that basic stuff.”
The engine did not prove to be too difficult for him to work with. However, he was able to share what his most frustrating problem was the tweaking.
“There was quite a lot of tweaking involved in getting the fluid simulation right. And then the vegetation with all its different plants. And then finally the NPC AI which took a ton of work to get right.”
Every fix also added more work to his plate. While working through these he would often find inspiration to add even more to an already sprawling game.
“I can’t even remember how many times I told myself ‘this is it now, this part is done’ just to get one more idea two days later during lunch and spontaneously add that one too.”
Being a sole developer seems like a daunting task, however, Gennari finds it to be more beneficial than harmful.
“As someone who’s a bit of a control freak I actually really enjoy working alone,” he happily expressed. “One huge advantage is that you never have to coordinate changes with someone else.”
He never claimed to be expert and all form and development and did admit that some things could have gone smoother if he had some others helping him out. “I probably gotta admit that having a decent 3D modeler would have improved the graphics quite a bit.”
Water is Everything
Tidal Tribe is a game that puts tremendous focus on water. From irrigation to terraforming, water plays an integral role in creation and helping the game world thrive. Gennari commented on why he decided on such a unique premise.
“Water is something that I always found fascinating. As a kid, I spent a lot of time trying to build little dams in streams and watch how the water would still find its way… So those experiences made me want to make a game about water. And then when From Dust came out in 2011, I realized: hey, this is technically actually possible.”
This focus on water is not the only feature that Tidal Tribe boasts. In fact, this seems to just be the catalyst that helps the game world expand.
“The second most important component is the vegetation. The plants in Tidal Tribe all have different growing conditions … The game is also quite story focused for a god game… Storywise there’s also some political content”
Much like the vegetation in the game the story grows out from the world that the player produces.
Now and Beyond
Gennari also expressed great interest when asked if he would be able to continually update the game.
“I would love too! But as with the platforms: I gotta see how successful the game is and if I’ll financially be able to continue development.”
With such a talented and detail orientated developer behind it, Tidal Tribe looks to be one of the sleeper hits of 2019. For those who have found the idea of this water god game interesting, the wait is almost over. The game is slated for release on PC July 18. Be sure to keep an eye out for this and anything coming from Gennari in the future!