When celebrated Welsh poet RS Thomas published his last collection of poems entitled “No Truce with the Furies” and when he penned “Reflections” containing the line from which the title of the collection was taken, it’s doubtful that he was expecting a 13 strong team of game developers – based in Estonia – to produce a game of the same name some 20 years later. And yet just over 3 weeks ago a 13 strong team of game developers – based in Estonia – announced they were making an isometric, story-driven role playing game entitled “No truce with the Furies.” They are Fortress Occident and they are not Welsh poets.
When the team put out their press release on June 9th I have to admit I thought “oh another (albeit very pretty) isometric rpg.” But on reading a bit further – and digging about their devblog – I realised I had been far too dismissive. F.O. describe “No Truce” as “a game about being a total failure. An almost irreversible, unmitigated failure. Both as a human being and an officer of the law.” It’s certainly an interesting elevator, one-liner pitch. Games are all about winning. Usually. So we know we have something different here.
To get down to the nuts and bolts of the game, what we have is a very attractive, isometric rpg in a unique setting that the team describe as “fantastic realism.” It has a realistic skill system that lets you develop original ideas using “Conceptual Thinking,” a feature called the “Thought Cabinet” (an inventory for thoughts, where you process the ideas you’ve stumbled on. Ideas become fixtures, permanent beliefs you can’t get rid of, even if you want to,) one hundred and twenty eight times more choice and consequence than previously thought possible in a role playing video game (wow…How’d they work that out?) writing by Sci fi author Robert Kurvitz and music by Mercury prize winning band British Sea Power.
Aside from the avoidance of the typical rpg settings of fantasy or “punk” (I mean given the sheer variety of punk genres and sub genres, to avoid any of those tropes is an achievement in itself!) perhaps the most fascinating and promising feature of the game is that it claims to eschew any traditional ideas of combat – usually seen as so central to the role playing game – to focus more on event modelling and narrative decision making. How that will play out remains to be seen. I, for one, think it sounds like a fantastic subversion of what we all might be expecting from this game.
In any case, it’s quite an eclectic, fascinating, potentially game changing and lofty set of features and ideas. We thought it best to sit down with non-other than lead developer, writer and aforementioned author Robert to try and learn a bit more about what the team are up to.
Robert thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us! Firstly, the name; as far as I’m aware “No Truce with the Furies” is from a poem (and the title of a collection) by RS Thomas, you’ve said it’s a working title but is there any significance to it?
Indeed. And it’s not only the working title; it’s the launch title too. I remember when Chris Avellone was working on DLC for “Fallout: New Vegas”. He said somewhere that he enjoys giving them titles like “Old World Blues” and “Lonesome Road” – something you could never do with a major AAA title. Those all have to be called “Frontpoint”, apparently.
Well, “No Truce With The Furies” is not a huge AAA game so we have the same opportunity. We get to be authorial. The title makes sense for the story. You wake up as this psychologically embattled person, at the end of a long war against yourself and the world. While tortured, I like how “No Truce With The Furies” also implies a certain fighting spirit. If the battle is ceaseless, it’s not yet lost.
You’ve described the game as “neither fantasy or any kind of punk” i.e. not any recognisable genre and instead have called it “fantastic realism,” could you elaborate on that? Why avoid those genres?
The worldbuilding we’ve done is, honestly, beyond sane. We’ve been working on it since… 2001? When we were 15. First we started out with something I would maybe call bronze punk. Bronze age punk? Early history meets high fantasy stuff. Then, year after year, we started adding: classic era, renaissance era, industrial era elements. But we kept all the previous versions too, those became previous historical eras in the history of this world.
The last thing we put in was postmodernism. So now we have a history of ideas and technology spanning 6000 years of civilization. This means we’re not static. Not a comment on a specific era of human development, like for example high fantasy is for middle ages, but for… well, all of it.
I don’t much like to blabber on about it in interviews. The game is the best way to experience this world. So I’ll stop now. All I wanted to say is – I stand by our promise that the setting is something entirely new.
I love the sound of that! Ok you’ve cited Planescape: Torment, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Kentucky Route Zero influences; the Planescape inspiration is obvious but how did the others inform how the game was made?
The writers all have “Planescape: Torment” as a point of reference for how video games could (maybe) salvage what’s left of literature in our time. The game that first showed it’s possible.
For our artists, “Kentucky Route Zero” is a reference point for how far you can get from being a “regular game” with ambitious art. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was a stupid joke. I don’t know who put it in there. (I lie. I did. I put it in there.)
Ha ha! Well you got me! So you have referred to No truce as a “first bite” with a full form rpg coming at some point; would that mean a brand new IP or am expansion on the existing world/idea?
I think “IP” is a word normal people, who liked a band when they were teenagers and are in posession of a soul, aren’t super excited to hear any more. It definitely doesn’t sound like something I would want to sacrifice ten years of my life on. But yes, we have plans for a… let’s call it a large scale system.
And it definitely involves this setting.
I found a reference to “node cthulu” on your devblog can we expect any Lovecraftian horror in the game or was that just a little in-joke?
They probably meant node-based programming for the dialogues – with all the endless variations and different outcomes – feels like cosmic horror for the mind. There are no Lovecraftian horror elements in the game, but there are certainly plenty in the development process.
Finally; how is the game making industry in Estonia? Are there many developers/support from government/funding that kind of thing?
There is nothing. No funding, no government support, no industry to speak of. No life in the void, only death. The game is financed using vacuum energy.
Or wait… Skyroads! Apparently we made Skyroads, a racing game in the 90s. Skyroads is cool. We have Skyroads.
The game is slated for release on PC late 2016. It would be impossible to encapsulate the ambition and scope of “No Truce” in this short article. If you want more information, fantastic concept art and in depth development articles, I’d strongly encourage you to visit the team’s development blog. Otherwise keep checking with us for more updates and an eventual review (which I’m calling now other writers!) on the awesome looking “No Truce with the Furies.”