Interview With Tyler Hunter – Creator of ‘Rack N Ruin’ and Former Blizzard Artist

Analog Addiction recently got to try out the early Alpha build for Lifespark Entertainment’s new title, Rack N Ruin. We instantly saw the potential this new indie game has, and we were given a chance to interview the creator himself, Tyler Hunter, about his new project. You can check out our Alpha impressions for Rack N Ruin here.

AA – It isn’t often you get to be the bad guy, what made you choose to be a lord of evil?

Tyler – I feel that the story of the hero is so trodden that it’s no longer fertile ground.  Though Rack is not a lord of evil, he’s more a being of chaos and destruction.  A central theme of the game is that Rack’s perspective on reality/morality varies from the typical human perspective because he is a demon and therefore doesn’t view existence in the same light.  Once you start viewing the world through the eyes of an antagonistic character you can start delving into areas of moral ambiguity which can lead to very interesting and absurd situations.  So telling the story of a demon lord allows me to explore the world from which that character hails, therefore presenting much more opportunity of originality and creativity.

AA – What kind of story are we expecting to see develop?

Tyler – The majority of the game’s story is Rack’s interaction with beings of the world he is invading and their response to his presence.  Some will attempt to thwart him, others aid him, and others will run in fear.  The game will feature a cast of characters who will each have their own arch that plays out over the course of the game.  This way the players will get to see the effect a world’s Armageddon on the lives each unique character.   It certainly won’t be a typical story, but that is the one of the advantages of being an independent developer, we can tell stories that aren’t “safe”.

AA – Obviously corrupting a world won’t be an easy task, will we hear much of the people Rack is trying to enslave?

Tyler – Certainly, though I don’t think Rack plans to enslave anyone.  That would require management on his part and that is not something he particularly cares for.  Rack has been sent to the small world for failing to enslave planets.   So the characters of the world are free to react to Rack’s invasion at their own whim.    All of them will talk to Rack and have conversations with him, there won’t be any meaningless characters, each one has their own arch.

AA – The artwork design is very unique and a visual treat, where did the inspiration come for the artwork in Rack N Ruin

Tyler – The art is certainly the most time-consuming aspect of Rack N Ruins creation, especially since I’ve put such a huge level of monster variety in the game. Since the game is entirely hand painted, I put a good bit of time into making sure each environment kit is constructed in a way that I can make the environments large without looking tiled, and still retain a high level of fidelity across them. The idea behind the art is essentially to create an HD modern 16bit game, so it’s not a pixel art game with a low resolution, but retains the rich colours and stylization of that era.

AA – From the looks of it, problem solving will be a big part of Rack N Ruin. Are you aiming to provide a mix of both fun combat as well as problem solving challenges?

Tyler – That is the goal.    We are trying to build a nice blend of story telling, exploration, combat, and puzzle solving.  All of those elements are key in the making of enjoyable action adventure experience.

AA – In the early Alpha build we got to play, there are controls for both keyboard and gamepad. Do you hope to bring Rack N Ruin to consoles at some stage?

Tyler – We are currently in the process of working out the details of this very thing.

AA – Are there any plans for co-op?

Tyler – For the initial release, there will be no multiplayer.  However we may have plans for something post release, but nothing is set in stone at the moment.

AA – How long will it take to complete Rack N Ruin?

Tyler – It’s very hard to say but if I had to guess from the rate in which people have test playing our very small builds I would say it will take about 10-15 hours to finish the final game.   Rack in ruin will be pretty loaded with optional puzzles, branching paths, rush modes, and extras  so the amount of time the game takes to finish will vary.

AA – Are the any plans to put Rack N Ruin onto Steam Greenlight?

Tyler – We are currently exploring our distribution options.  And since having a Greenlight page can hinder such options we will be withholding that campaign until we have finalized our agreements.

AA – What constituted your switch from a developer like Blizzard to a lesser known developer in LifeSpark Entertainment?

Tyler – I think there is a drive in all creative professionals to strike and make something that is wholly their own.   I worked in the game industry for a decade and felt like it was time to make something without the bounds of a large studio.  So I struck out and started Lifespark Entertainment.

AA – What is your view on next-gen consoles allowing more freedom for indie developers to share their games?

Tyler – I think its fantastic.  I had stated in prior interviews that I really hoped Microsoft would open the self publishing gates for Xbox One and seems like they have which is great news for everyone.  The idea of distribution platforms creating artificial barriers to force developers to pay tons of money or engage in publishing contracts needs to end.   The all digital media age leaves little reason for the need of a middle man.