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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeMost wantedGorilla Softworks' debut game The Ancients aims for prehistoric realism

Gorilla Softworks’ debut game The Ancients aims for prehistoric realism

The Ancients is a turn-based survival strategy game where players lead a prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribe through the last ice age. They have to survive the elements, hunt fierce animals, migrate to new continents, advance the technology, make social and political tribe decisions, and evolve their civilization. It’s the debut game of Turkish studio Gorilla Softworks. “We are building a historically accurate survival strategy game”

Gorilla Softworks co-founder Deniz Şakar explains how the team has tried to accurately portray the challenges early humans faced while they looked for ways to survive and thrive. “We consulted two anthropologists while building our technology and culture trees to reflect the prehistoric cultural and technological progress of the human race”, he says. “But also other numerous close relatives of the homo sapiens, such as Neanderthals and Homo Naledi which will be all present in our game.”

While the gameplay mechanics reflect the search for historical accuracy, the team of Gorilla Softworks didn’t try to go for realism in the visual presentation. Instead they settled for stylized graphics. “We are a team of 5 developers”, says Şakar. “We as a team learned from The Ancients to pace our enthusiasm and scale the game to the size of the studio. There are plenty of indie developers that say this and it’s possibly the most crucial part of game design and development. Trying to develop an indie game on the scale of a AAA title is the reason why a lot of indie studios fail.”

Tribe of Designers

Şakar continues: “The visual style of The Ancients has changed several times during the 3 year development of the game. The models are heavily influenced by illustrations by the great Mike Mignola. For the UI, we are based in a building with several other gaming companies around us, and because of that we were able to get a lot of feedback and ideas from other developers for our UI designs. We can say it was a joint operation of a tribe of designers.”

Gorilla Softworks was founded in 2019 in Izmir, Turkey by two high school friends. Both are big fans of the strategy genre and in particular the Populous games. “We tried to design a game with a similar primitive setting of Populous games, but focusing on the technology and culture building aspect of grand strategy games instead of base building. In our team everyone has different roles in coding, design and testing, but at the end of the day we comment on each other’s work in playtests.”

A big obstacle to overcome

The Ancients has been in development for 3 years now and will release in Steam Early Access in November this year with publisher Camlann Games. What has been the toughest part of the journey so far? Şakar: “The hardest part of designing a strategy game with extensive technology and culture trees is making the game fun and giving the feeling of success and accomplishment to the players. This was a big obstacle to overcome which we solved by organizing bug nights and getting as many people to play our early demos and get as much feedback as possible.”

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Editor-in-Chief of PreMortem.Games. Veteran game journalist for over 20 years. Started out in 1999 for game magazines (yes the ones made of paper) such as PC Zone Benelux, PlayNation and GameQuest, before co-founding Dutch industry paper Control Magazine.
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