In the latest in our series of developer interviews, we recently had the chance to talk to the independent developers behind upcoming RPG adventure The Way Of Wrath, Animmal Studios.
The Way Of Wrath is an exciting new, story-driven turn-based tactical RPG set in an ancient world governed by shamanistic laws. You explore the beautifully handcrafted landscape, rebuild defences of an old fort, take on quests and unite war-torn people against the imminent wrath of enemy forces. Whether you lead with an iron fist, diplomacy, or trickery is up to you, but with every choice you make, you must be prepared to face the consequences.
Animmal Studios Developer Interview
We’re really excited to see this game come to life and so were glad to catch up with its two developers and co-founders of Georgia-based Annimal Studios, Dato Kiknavelidze and Sandro Gakhokidze. Read on to learn more about their indie dev journey and what to expect from The Way Of Wrath when it launches.
For our readers who may be unfamiliar with Animmal Studios, tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got into making games.
Warm greeting from Georgia (The country not the state 😀 :D) to all your readers! We are a team of veteran game developers and award-winning animation creators who founded a fresh new studio Animmal to work on our dream projects.
We focus on story-rich games, with great player freedom and community-driven design. Our current project an open world, story-driven, tactical RPG The Way of Wrath. It’s set in a shamanistic word inspired by the ancient earth and inspired by such beloved classics as Gothic, Baldur’s Gate, and The Legend of Zelda.
The Way of Wrath is the largest and most ambitious project from our country and with this project, we hope to do our part in sparking a serious game development boom in our region.
We fell in love with gaming from a very early age. And our first contact with game development was through game modding tools of Morrowind and Warcraft 3. We’ve grown our modding hobby into professional game development and since then have been part of many large projects and indie games for over 15 years. Now we are very excited to work on our own independent project in our newfound studio.
The Way Of Wrath looks to be a really exciting new form of RPG, can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the concept?
During my first camping trip, I woke up in the middle of the night and I could not go back to sleep. I stayed a bit by the fire alone, and then I thought I’d get some water to boil the tea. Wandering off into the night, I planned to find a spring water spot I saw earlier in the day and I got lost.
After a few minutes, I stumbled onto an ancient ruined tower (There are a bunch of those in Georgia). It was just an hour or two left until dawn, and I decided to wait out there a bit and find my way back when the sun rose.
I lit a small fire with my pocket magnesium stick that friend had gifted me and huddled snuggly next to my tiny campfire. The night was pitch dark. Light from my tiny bonfire barely lit the edges of the ruined tower and the forest was alive with the sounds of the night. It did not take long for the magic of a place to take hold.
Here is where I truly began to wonder, for the first time, what it was like to live in ages past in a world unknown and full of secrets. Many tales and questions filled my imagination. Who built this place? Who used these trails? What it would be like to travel these roads as a merchant or a nomad. I fell in love with the idea of how strange and different the world must have seemed to ancient humans who knew almost nothing of it.
Modern humans are born with a very clear picture of the universe we live in. We know the shape of the planet earth, where different countries are, what are the cultures. We have at least some understanding of the most natural phenomena.
Even though I was alone in a dark forest in the middle of nowhere, I felt completely safe and grounded. And this would not have been the experience of people who came to the spot ages ago.
It struck me that I felt the same safety and “groundedness” in most fictional universes. All the detailed lore, neat explanations of every aspect of the setting, the detailed minimaps, and very structured gameplay. It made even the craziest and unpredictable settings feel safe and “pre-explored”.
This is how the idea for The Way of Wrath universe was born. We wanted to create a setting where players could experience the world as ancient humans did. Full of mystery and unknown. Where the lines between myth and reality are blurred.
Where are you currently at with the development of The Way Of Wrath? Will we see a release this year?
We’ve had a long journey! For three years we have worked on our game, and now most of the mechanics are already ready and we are very far ahead in the production of the assets and the story. We plan to release the game in February ~ March of 2022 and spend this year working with our community to polish the game and finish all the story content.
Dynamic storytelling and branching narrative seems to be a key component of The Way Of Wrath – was it important to you to incorporate this into the gameplay?
Very! What we love most is the feeling of freedom in games. Where we are able to use our imagination and become participants in the shaping of the story. And we love to have shared experiences with companions and other characters.
So, we combined these two ideas and made each NPC, friend or foe, a unique character with their own personal branching stories. With our day passage mechanic, each day the character stories will advance and they will react to player choices of the previous day.
The focus is on the character conflict-driven quests that let the player have more exciting shared experiences with the characters.
What excites you most about this game? What do you think makes it stand out from other RPG titles?
It is very exciting to see the soul of our favourite games come to life in our game and to see our new ideas work in tandem with some of the best designs of the classics.
I think players will find many new experiences in our game. It all starts with the setting, which sits in the exciting area between historical-fiction and fantasy. Where lines between myth and reality are blurred.
In our game, the players follow the journey of one tribe through the history of the fictional alternative earth. They’ll play influential figures in the history of the tribe, and see it grow into a powerful nation and transform with the passing of the ages. Each game will focus on one important event in the tribe’s history and players will take on roles of explores, warchiefs, inventors, rulers, or simple people who influenced history by being at the right time in the right place.
And the choices of one game will define the lore and details of the next ones. Your character in our first game might grow into a mythical figure of the next ones. A terrible god if you were cruel, a valiant protector if you put your people’s safety first, a master trickster if you relied on your wits and surprised your enemies with clever tricks.
It’s a way for us to look at the history of humanity and perhaps understand more about the world, by building a fictional world and following its journey through the ages. Seeing how different technologies and cultural clashes could transform it.
We seek to bring together the fun and freedom of a very interactive open-world of Gothic and Zelda, with the “full story RPG experience” of games like Baldur’s Gate 2. And if we can reach the stretch goals more involved and in-depth, open-ended mission design of Thief or Deus Ex.
To make these concepts come together we choose a more open-ended story that can support the player freedom and choice-driven design. With our new take on the choice-driven story, each character, friend or foe, will have their own personal branching storylines.
With our day passage system, each day will be like a story chapter that will advance the character stories forward based on previous day events. It will feel more like playing and influencing the story, than just following it. We have a great role-play depth and focus on immersion. Different origins will change the playing experience.
For example as a Shaman Yarbogha, the people will be so terrified of your curses they won’t attack your character in battle until you harm them first. Fearing the curse it would inflict upon their soul. So you can use your rituals to terrify enemies and bolster your allies, before diving into a physical confrontation in the opportune moment.
The detailed hunting, fishing, & exploration mechanics will let you get fully immersed into a dangerous world and experience a universe without the comforts of civilization. Where everything you need you must find and craft yourself.
Has it been important to you to remain independent when developing such a large-scale project? If so, why?
Yes, very. Our favourite games are the ones where you can feel the author has spent a lot of time on one each detail and that it is a labour of love. It’s also crucial for us to develop our game with the community and to be able to directly speak with our players without any restrictions. Staying independent is our best opportunity to make the kind of game we and our players will love, and to build our company on the values we believe in.
It’s taken you a long time to get to this point – what would your advice be to aspiring developers and designers who want to make their own games?
Start small, but make sure you keep a very clear goal of where you want to get to. A big reason we are able to make such a large game with a small team is that we spent years specifically choosing jobs and seeking out experiences that would prepare us to make our dream projects.
Split your dream project into parts. On one small game learn how to write narrative stories and dialogue, on the next to learn how to craft simple combat, in the third try character progression, and so on.
And if you have a chance to work with people more experienced than you make sure to take it. You will learn so much from them even in a short amount of time. In a few years, you’ll have the experience and good technical base to tackle your dream projects.
Have you managed to build a strong community around The Way Of Wrath? It feels like it could be a very community-driven game.
It’s amazing to see the community come together and grow around our game. From day one we wanted The Way of Wrath to be a community-driven game.
Releasing our steam page early was one of the smartest decisions we’ve made. And now with Kickstarter even more amazing people joined our discord and it has become the best part of the morning to go through all the comments, good wishes, and feedback on the game.
The development has been so much easier because we didn’t have to be locked in isolation, unable to get any input on our project.
Tell us a bit about your Kickstarter campaign and what your aims are for it.
We are live! We have a page full of beautiful art, gifs, and many details about the game. We post regular updates where we go in-depth about individual mechanics and lore.
You can get the game at a discounted price with many exclusive digital rewards. A physical collectors edition. You can have your real-life pet become your in-game pet companion, design a weapon, quests, or lend your face to one of the characters.
You can join our community, take part in contests and get exclusive beta access and help us shape our game with your feedback and ideas. With our Mythic reward you can become a recurring mythical character and appear in all the games, comics, or other media we’ll release in this universe.
The funding we receive will fully go into developing a bigger and better game for everyone. Some of our exciting stretch goals are Real-Time with Pause Combat, we know many players love it and we want to give choice to the player to play Turn-based or RTwP combat. The translations so everyone can play in their preferred language and the console releases of the game. Starting with the Switch as our second stretch goal.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about The Way Of Wrath and why you’d like the gaming community to get behind the project?
We are very excited about our project and very passionate about our work. It’s a labour of love and we hope you’ll consider supporting us on Kickstarter and join us on our journey to create a remarkable new community-driven RPG.
The Way Of Wrath – Gameplay And Further Information
We love the look and concept behind this game, and would like to thank Dato and Sandro for chatting with us about The Way Of Wrath. It’s clearly a project they’re both very passionate about, and we’re looking forward to immersing ourselves into all things shamanistic!