A few weeks ago, TYLER has been released by Illusionetwork to PC via STEAM. It caught our attention for its great looks and fun, family-friendly gameplay, so we asked Fabrizio Terranova, head of the studio, to give us an interview and talk about his latest creation.
Hello Fabrizio, congratulations on the Steam release of your new game TYLER! It looks gorgeous and features fresh and innovative gameplay. We hope it gets all the attention on STEAM it deserves. But for all our readers who do not know what we are talking about, could you please introduce us to TYLER and sum up the core mechanics of the game?
TYLER is a puzzle/arcade game in which you have to help the young boy Tyler find and rescue his cute puppy Clarence. To do that, you have to solve more than 80 colourful puzzles by correctly connecting colour nodes with non-intersecting paths on a grid. Your task is to find the exact combination in order to reach a key that will bring you to the next level. While you play, some obstacles will appear such as rocks, fire, vortices and ice blocks. For each of these obstacles, you will have to use the right weapon to destroy them. Furthermore, bombs will be periodically dropped onto the grid, which can reset your progress, so you must make sure to destroy them as quickly as possible. Many other things will happen while playing TYLER, but I do not want to spoil the surprise.
TYLER features very high quality artwork in a rather distinctive style. Who are the designers behind the graphics and where did they get their inspiration from?
We wanted TYLER to look as good as possible, so we dedicated a lot of effort to the graphics. The game has detailed models and high resolution textures, which we worked very hard on. We use a lot of normal and specular mapping as well as Fresnel effects for the materials. Furthermore, we baked the ambient occlusion inside our DCC tools and used it in the second texture channel in order to give more depth and definition to our graphics.
The main design was done by me (Fabrizio) with the support of my friend and co-founder Gabriele Leonardi as well as Giordano Muraglia who helped us on the gameplay calibration, dynamics and optimization. We are very proud of the final result.
We also have a few tips for our fellow ShiVa developers. According to our experience, we would suggest making texture atlases in order to reduce the draw calls. Post processing effects such as SSAO, Bloom and 3D LUT can make scene deeper and more colourful. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for ShiVaTech’s help – the engine developers know best how to push the engine to the limits!
Many ShiVa developers self-publish their games through the mobile app stores. You on the other hand went for STEAM. What were your reasons for competing in the PC market rather than mobiles, and how has your experience with the Valve service been so far?
We decided to go with Steam because we had the opportunity to do so through our publisher Indiegala, who are a Steam official publisher/developer. Besides, Illusionetwork is a Co-Founder of Indiegala… so do the maths!
Our experience with Steam is absolutely positive, they have a great platform. At first, we felt a little lost on the developer page, but after a couple of hours, we got a first repository up and running. We did not bother with Greenlight and went straight to publishing thanks to Indiegala, who helped us with obtaining the Game ID, so it was easy.
Sales could be better though. We will have to push the game onto some additional channels in order to increase visibility. But in the end, it is quite difficult to raise awareness for a smaller indie game if you don’t have millions to spend on advertising. Regardless, we will absolutely use Steam again for our next game.
We know you are also working on an XBox One port of your game. Without violating any NDA, how is the development experience on the Microsoft Console? Is it something you would recommend to your fellow ShiVa developers?
Porting is not that difficult. We used the ShiVa engine for a very long time, we know it very well, so why choose another engine for the console port? In most regards, it is as easy as using any other ShiVa target – unfortunately though, the current ShiVa XB1 engine is not 100% completed yet and still in beta. But we are getting direct support from ShiVa’s Nicolas Peri for the engine. Now we have to include the XBLIVE integration and the Save Data.
We got access to our 2 XB1 dev kits through the ID@XBOX portal. As soon as they accepted our title, we signed a Title License Agreement, so we will be able to publish the game directly on XBLIVE. I would suggest everyone to look into XB1 as soon as the engine port reaches a stable release.
Thank you for your time, and good luck with the sales of TYLER! Please, remind us where we can get it and how much it costs!
TYLER is currently available for 4.99 on STEAM, with a XBLIVE port coming soon:
Illusionetwork is an Italian indie video game and VR/AR application development company located in Rome. It was founded in 2005. Today, more than 10 people work and collaborate with us on a wide range of projects. Over the last years, the team worked mainly on client projects like real time 3D interactive applications and software, such as branded games and permanent installations in several museums. Illusionetwork also developed a few mobile games and applications, like the award winning Voyager Realtime 3D Immersive Walkthrough of the Forum Romanum near the Colosseum. This app has been launched on 2009 and it was one of the world’s first real time 3D virtual walkthroughs of the ancient world.
The Illusionetwork team currently consists of Fabrizio Terranova, Gabriele Leonardi, Giordano Muraglia, Luca Bassanini, Alessandro Capriolo, Valerio Carbone, Francesco Della Ragione and Giulia Armone, as well as several external consultants and developers.