A Chat Over the Pond
I’ve always enjoyed talking with indie developers about their upcoming projects. There are very few people out there that show such passion for their projects as those who create their own video games. Whether it is the level designers or the core programmers, each individual who is building an independent title shows their passion through their work. Those who write the game content are no exception. In fact, they are often the ones who drive the focus of the game forward to what it can be.
I had the privilege to speak with just such a writer. Her name is Mila “Yuuki” Irek, and she is the Writer and Quest Designer at MuHa Games. Currently, she and her co-workers are at the tail end of developing their newest grand adventure title called Thea 2: The Shattering. Mila took some time to speak with me through Discord from the British Isles, and gave me some insight into what it takes to write and edit content for video games.
From the Tabletop
Every writer that I have ever talked to has a story of how they discovered their love for adventure. Mila’s story is one that many adventuring gamers can probably relate to, because her story began at the table. This young writer was not always interested in video games. Mila is a Polish native who moved to England when she was just a little girl. At a young age she was introduced to tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. Through playing these games and developing her story telling skills, she came to find that she loved fantasy. For her, however, life would not allow her to simply sit back and write full-time. She would eventually enter into the work force and work on her writing part-time; biding her time until a better opportunity arose.
A better opportunity did arrive, but it came in a rather unique package. MuHa games was a fledgling Polish indie development company that started in 2010. Early on, the company made simple Flash games for web browsers. Actually, that was where MuHa got there name. “Muha” is a variation of the Polish word that means “fly,” as in the nasty little insect. Their earliest game was an untitled Flash project where the goal was to swat at flies that were hovering over a pile of dung. Thus MuHa Games was born.
The Beginning of Something Great
MuHa brought Mila on board in 2013 to develop a fantasy game. The five person development company was not only small, but they were working on a limited budget. Mila brought her passion for tabletop fantasy games into the company and that translated over to the creation of the first Thea title. The game became a hybrid of 4X game play (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate), RPG, and card games. It was unlike anything else on the market, and she, as well as everyone in the company, created it with minimal resources. In fact, the group was able to go into full-time development of game only after leaving their other jobs and using their saving to supplement their income. The game was received very well.
With the success of Thea: The Awakening, MuHa looked forward to the future. A sequel had to happen, and it was up to Mila to write the contextual structure of the game. With the studio up and running, she was given more resources to work with. The story of the original could be expanded upon, as well as the amount of content, narration, and quests. With a larger budget came new possibilities for this writer to showcase her love for all things fantasy, and so she did.
Inside the World of Thea 2: The Shattering
Thea 2, much like its predecessor, is a high fantasy 4X hybrid that takes the best parts of tabletop gaming and puts them behind a screen. The game takes place in the world of Thea, a land of high fantasy where danger and treasures are around every turn. The Cosmic Tree, which gave Thea life and prosperity, has been shattered and its remains have been cast all over the land. As one of the gods of Thea, you must guide your people to find the seeds and return Thea to its former glory.
Of course, this world is never the same twice. That’s right, the maps are completely procedurally generated, as well as the starting content. At the beginning of each game you get to choose from a list of randomly selected deities to control. Each god is able to bless his or her people in certain ways to help them survive the difficulties of Thea. This game has a complex crafting and equipment system which allows for you to customize your party to take on the wilds of the world. When your party does die, and they will, you start a new game with added points that you accumulated in the previous games, thus giving you a better chance of survival in the future.
(I will reveal more of the game’s content in my official review of Thea 2: The Shattering coming soon!)
A Labor of Love
As complex as Thea 2: The Shattering is, Mila enjoyed creating every part of the story. From the various descriptions to the dialogue, she reached back into the recesses of her role-playing past to bring forth a truly spellbinding gaming experience. She said that her greatest challenge in creating the story of Thea 2 was living up to the expectations of the fans. The first game had a very devoted fan base, and they placed huge expectations on the MuHa team to deliver a better game the second time around. Many say that the team succeeded with this, and that shows with the amount of support that the team has garnered in creating this game.
It is this support, Mila says, that has helped Thea 2 to become the polished title that it is. The community has been instrumental in giving feed back to the developers through Discord and online forums. In a way, Thea 2 is not just being created by the developers, it is also being made by the fans as well. As this game moves out of early access this year, it is apparent that it has been a labor of love by everyone involved, developers and players alike.
What’s Next For Mila and Thea 2?
When asked what her future plans are with MuHa, Mila simple says, “This is it.” The company is not planning on anything after Thea 2 at this time. They want to make sure that the game remains functional even after it is released. For the foreseeable future, Thea 2 is going to be MuHa’s baby, and they will nurture it and groom it into the powerhouse title that they know it can be.
The company has also experienced some exciting turn of events lately. Tabletop game developer Triglav Studios has recently begun to adapt the first Thea title into a tabletop version. Players will now be able to enjoy Thea on the very gaming medium that inspired its creation.
As an indie, the company will continue to move forward and develop engaging content for all gamers, though they are not sure what that will be at this point. For Mila, the greatest joy that she receives from writing game content is seeing players enjoy it themselves. It is all she has ever wanted as a writer. She will continue to deliver the best stories and quests as long as the fans continue to show up. Judging by the popularity of this game, that should be for quite some time.