Iron Tides: Eat, Sleep, Raid, Repeat – An Interview with Developers Carina Kom and Sam Raski

Iron Tides

It’s no secret that the Vikings were one of history’s most fearsome societies. They have been described as ruthless, scary, violent … and smelly. When the Vikings arrived on foreign shores they were not signing peace treaties to say the least. Luckily in the upcoming game Iron Tides there is no need to fear the Vikings, or their odor. No, instead you get to play as the notorious Vikings.

The story of Iron tides puts players at the helm of their own vicious war band. With the responsibility of a Viking chieftain players must act wisely in the decisions they make in regards to their travel, raids, and recruitment tactics. Iron Tides is a Rougelite game so the choices players make will ultimately impact how the game evolves. You must be ruthless in your quest for gold and glory just try not to send to many Vikings to Valhalla.

This Viking themed, Rougelite game is being developed by the creative duo over at Crash Wave Games. Carina Kom and Sam Raski are each seasoned game developers who decided to craft their idea for Iron Tides into a reality. The team is based out of Vancouver Canada and is diligently working on their games development. Carina took the time to chat with me about some of the things players can look forward to about the finalized version of Iron Tides.

 

The demo presents the story of a Viking chieftain who’s ultimate goal it to kill his enemy Jahargal. Can you give us some insight into where the story is going to go after this battle?

So right now we are looking for a writer to help us build this narrative of the Viking chieftain. Players will have a base in Norhaven where they will be issued quests. From Norhaven you and your recruits will embark on a journey to become the greatest Vikings in the world. Then you will go on to defeat an end boss that we have yet to develop. So I can’t talk much about that, but there is going to be a narrative other than Jahargal.

 

Now you and Sam actually created Iron tides as paper-prototype first. I’m curious from the start did you always have the idea of eventually moving to the digital platform.

We always knew it was going to be a digital game. Sam and I are very lean team so it is just the two of us. We have been working as game developers in the game industry for about seven years each, fourteen years total.

But we know as a small team it is really difficult to plan, organize and structure a game on paper without actually having a demo. Doing the paper-prototype was something we knew we could do very quickly. Plus we had the resources it wasn’t very expensive to do.

So we just sat down one day and started building Iron Tides. Now I have to say Sam is a wiz at crafting and doing a bunch of things. So he came up with the concept of lets make this paper-prototype with dice and paper. Then from there we took it to board game stores to test our theories out and make sure we were on the right track.

You can never really tell what the right track is in game development. Which is part of the chaos. But I think we did it right this way because it has really helped us jump swiftly into the digital landscape and it has helped us make our game better and better.

 

Is this the first time you have developed a game from a paper version first to digital?

Well In my career, this is my second time developing from dice to demo. But I can’t speak for Sam because he is kind of like a mad scientist. In his spare time Sam likes to make a lot of paper prototypes and board games. We both like dice games, he’s more heavily invested so he’ll play D&D. I just like Arkham Horror or you know just small party games. Well they’re not really that small hahaha. We are both really just geeks and nerds at heart.

Iron Tides

 

Through the demo we have been able to see the exploration and plundering aspects of the game. I’m interested how is the recruitment of new heroes is going to take place?

Going back to the base in Norhaven you will be able to enter into a feasting hall. From this feasting hall you can recruit new allies to help you on your cause. The caveat being that as you explore Iron Tides you garner a currency resource called “Glory” and Glory will determine your path as a Viking chieftain. If you are a very glorious chieftain allies will flock to you and will want to join you brigade.

But there is also a chance that you might discover these characters organically as you are traveling. That will be another problem in itself because before you launch your mission onto the seas you will have already selected your crew from the Norhaven dock. The through your travels you might encounter a character that needs your help and wants to join your crew but you have no dock space left.

In this instance, if you are feeling very ruthless, you can always throw another Viking overboard and employ the use of the other one you came across.

 

I’m glad that you brought up the Glory points because as I was playing the demo I was confused on what they were suppose to be used for. Now I’m assuming you can loose Glory as well?

Absolutely. I want to clarify it because I think players are generally expecting to see words like action points, or experience and that is totally fair. But we wanted to give it just a small twist. So instead of gaining experience, which is known commonly, we changed it to glory.

 

Right now the demo only offers four Viking heroes to fight with. After you recruit more heroes will you still only be able to place four of them on the board at a time?

Oh we thought about this question quite a bit!

It really is going to depend on the battlefield. Some of the battles have up to six spaces some only have three spaces. So you can choose to attack with as many Vikings as you have on your boat, and as many as the battlefield will allow for.

This is where you are going to have to think very critically and analyze the situation before you attack. It is always going to be slightly different. Also you will have the capability of filling your ship with whichever type of Viking fighter you like.

For example you could bring say five range characters into your crew if you want. And if the space allows for it you can try a battle will five hunters and see how that goes for you.

The whole intent of your crew allows for a lot of variability. I love narratives but personally I love narratives that come from within. Kind of that D&D influence where the DM gives you a choice which specific characters you would like to take on some crazy quest or raid.

So in my mind I am already building a narrative. I’m already building a story behind my crew of five hunters and how awesome that is going to be. But when I get to battle it might not be that great (laughing) of course that’s for me to discover as a player.

Iron Tides

 

It looks like you and Sam got to promote Iron Tides at some indie gaming expos and you also have the demo out; so what kind of feedback you have been getting from player so far?

Most of it has been very very positive so we are pleasantly surprised to hear that. Most players compare it to FTL, Final Fantasy, or Xcom. What I have noticed is confusion with the action and movement phase, and players don’t say this out loud very much because it is just me observing them.

So in a typical board game you have your action phase and your movement phase. And generally players who are familiar with this style of play they will be unaccustomed to blending those movement and action phases in one turn. What I have noticed is players will try to move then attack and that’s really standard.

What they don’t really understand now is that you can attack then move, and chose different characters. It is all very organic, almost like a fast moving chess in that you can attack move, move attack do all sorts of crazy things you need to do to get the battle going. And a lot of players have confusion on that.

I think it might have to do with how we freely give action points, which we call Fury. We give you fury points for you to do whatever you want with. But a lot of players aren’t taking that initiative or not understanding that initiative.

I think we have some very unique features here that players are really going to enjoy but they don’t know about it yet. Other than that the feedback has been pretty great. Most of the feedback we have been getting is on art style as well.

Some players like the cartoonesque look and some say that it looks kind of primitive and outdated. Which hurts, but that is something we would like to work on, because it is very valid. If a player feels that way about the game, as developers we have an obligation to listen and accept what they are saying.

 

On your website it says that you and Sam are an unlikely pair why do you say that?

I think you would have to meet us in person (laughing).

But Sam is from Finland and he is a very quiet calm man. I on the other hand am from South Africa and I am Asian so just together that paring is unusual. I don’t have the accent so I think many people just suspect that I am a Canadian Asian Chick and that Sam is this quiet somber Finish guy.

We work really well together which is nice. I think we really compliment each other in that he is quiet and reserved and I am more energetic and out going. When we go to events he is the one who will walk players through the game and listen to feedback. He is very patient in that way.

Although, sometimes he’s not don’t tell him that.

I’m more like “hey how’s it going? Do you like Vikings? Lets talk about it. What are your thoughts on chess? What are your thoughts on FTL? I inform the players with all the information, interact and get really excited. It is interesting, its part of our roles and that’s what we found works.

 

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to be aware of that they may not find on your kickerstarter or social media pages?

Oh yeah absolutely!

I mentioned that we have gone to shows and we do a lot of community building here in Vancouver. We are right now participating in a series of raids. We go to special Vancouver venues like Vancouver film school, and several different studios. Then we set up the demo and invite people to come play our game.

Just in this month alone we’ve had about 300 hours of just play testing. That equates to about 12.5 days. Half of our campaign has been player testing so we have really been able to smooth out all of those earlier problems.

We’ve actually visited so many places that I’ve started our little Raiding blog. In case anyone had an interest in what we have been doing and what feedback we are learning they can check that out on our site. Besides that the Iron Tides Kickstarter and our website are the best two places to find more resources on the game.

 

For the love of Odin! If you have always had an undying wish of pillaging your enemies as a Viking be sure to check out the early access build of Iron Tides on steam. The Kickstarter has now ended but it is never too late to support. If Iron Tides is the sort of game you want to see developed then you can support here. Happy Pillaging!   

According to my license I’m an adult… I think that means I can perform a citizen’s arrest now. When I’m not protecting civilians I enjoy indulging in sci-fi or martial art movies. I play videogames when I can’t fall asleep, and if that doesn't work I fistfight the ghosts in my basement. Nice to meet you.

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