Andrew Shouldice built a real-world version of the manual and then proceeded to destroy it.
Andrew Shouldice, the primary developer on Tunic – an isometric action adventure about a tiny fox in a big world – shared how the in-game manual filled with mysteries and unrecognizable symbols was created.
Andrew wanted to make a game that "captured the feeling of the vast unknown" full of secrets.
"One of the ways I wanted to help players feel like they were in a world that wasn’t meant for them was to fill the game with a strange, unreadable language. Instead of a signpost telling you what’s around the next corner, it would show you some baffling symbols. Instead of the inventory screen labeling things sensibly, it would use the same unknowable runes."
This game design means to evoke the feeling of childlike wonder and the feeling of transgression.
Shouldice realized that this mystery came from the manuals the games were packaged with. They made him think of "grand adventures, incredible treasures, and terrible creatures – all untempered by the realities of the cartridges the actual games had to fit on."
So Tunic got its own manual with illustrations, tips, maps, and secrets that you gradually collect in the game. The developers tried to capture the variety of illustrations old manuals provided for the 8-bit games of the time.
To make it more authentic, they tried to recreate the feeling of leafing through an old-school manual by reproducing the artifacts of old print processes. Shouldice even built a real-world version of the manual and then proceeded to destroy it: folded it, ripped it, taped it, and stained it. Each page was then scanned to be used in the game.
The creator thinks that while it might be risky to make a game that keeps everything secret, the feeling of discovery is what makes Tunic great. "It’s true that the job of a game is to communicate its mechanics and systems, but if you frame that communication as a mystery to be solved, then the revelation is all the sweeter."
Tunic is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on September 27.
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