This month, Flintlock Studios has unleashed their newest creation – Lithic – upon Kickstarter. In this RTS/RPG/god-game hybrid, players take on the role of a powerful creator spirit who must guide one of four tribes of stone-age humanoids to develop their civilization and conquer the world! To learn a bit more about Lithic, we sat down with Tom and John from Flintlock Studios for an exclusive interview about their latest project.
APGNation First, could you tell us a bit about your company, development team, and how you came up with the idea for Lithic?
Tom: We started Flintlock in September 2013 though for just short of a year we were brainstorming and prototyping ideas. We moved over to work at Flintlock Studios full time last year. The team is small – but very focused – and this is mainly because we decided early on that we would rather provide jobs than use freelancers. This isn’t much to do with Lithic but it’s how we feel we should behave as a responsible studio.
Jon: Lithic began with the question, “what happens in a world before high fantasy?” That lead to a brainstorming session – “How did civilization start in a magical world?” We came up with the game design after we had the setting and story, so all the game mechanics have been built to facilitate the world and not the other way around.
APGN: In Lithic, players take on the role of a creator spirit who must guide a stone age people to prosperity. Were you inspired at all by older “god games” such as Black and White or Populous when developing the Lithic?
Tom: Yes, Populous and Black and White were definitely inspirations. But there are elements of other genres as well: party-based RPG style exploration similar to Baldur’s Gate or Dragon Age, and Sim-like character control and AI. If we had to sum it up in a nutshell, Lithic is a god-game with some elements and mechanics more familiar with RPGs.
APGN: Could you tell us a bit more about Lithic’s story and the type of lore players will encounter in-game?
Jon: We’re going to early access with the “skirmish mode” available. In this mode, the narrative is player-driven – the stories flow from their actions and tales are spun around their tribe members’ encounters with the environment. The campaign mode is still in the writing process, but the narrative will follow a player’s attempts to get home to the ethereal plane and avert a major crisis centered around what’s happening with magic in the universe. I don’t really want to spoil things for players, so I’ll just say that things get a bit topsy-turvy towards the end and some pretty large moral decisions will have to be made on their part. Throughout the campaign the players will find relics of the past which give insight into the current happenings and explain a bit more about the world, along with zones containing lore character’s which advance the story. The game is about a journey and we want player’s to remember it for a long time after they’re finished with it.
APGN: What would you say is the most fun and/or interesting part of Lithic’s combination of Real-Time Strategy and resource management?
Tom: For me, it will be interaction between members of the tribe because it’s beyond my control – all I’ll be able to do is balance the risk and rewards of various actions.
APGN: There are four playable races in Lithic, could you give us an overview of each race and how they differ from one another from a gameplay standpoint?
Jon: The four races are all designed to play very differently from each other:
The Hu-Aan are most similar to humans – they work as teams and share information fairly well. Each family group has their own dwelling, and they pass information on to each other in the evening around a fire or in teacher-student sessions.
The Ur-Aan form very tight-knit family groups. They tend to be individuals, but each individual works for the good of the tribe. Ur-Aan prefer to live in caves. They don’t pass information as well as the Hu-Aan – rather than everyone gathering together, they take part in one-on-one grooming sessions where the information is passed.
The Hob-Aan are very communal and don’t act as individuals much. Rather than each having their own home, a Hob-Aan tribe only has one dwelling called a ‘Murmur.’ At night they all sleep here and talk in their sleep, passing information on as they do so.
Lit-Aan are extreme individuals. The Lit-Aan leader is always female, and the only females in the tribe are her and her daughter. They don’t teach each other. Males only really pass information to the leader, who may or may not pass it on to anyone else. To counter this, they live a very long time.
APGN: What sort of games does everyone on the Lithic team enjoy playing in their free time?
Tom: Benn and Ryan aren’t here in the office currently so we’ll just have to answer for the team members who are! I like RTS games or RPGs, pretty much any of them.
Jon: I’ve recently gotten into playing small ‘5 minute’ play sessions Indie Games. Fits in well with not having masses of time to play. Longer sessions have been filled with RPGs and team-based shooters.
Beki: I’ve been playing the various games I picked up in the Steam Summer Sale. Mainly Portal and You Must Build a Boat. I also booted up Theme Hospital again the other day so I’m enjoying reliving some childhood memories through that one.
Mitch: Counterstrike pretty much!
APG: As an indie game developer, what sort of challenges have you had to face while developing Lithic?
Tom: The biggest challenge was working in a beta version of the game engine. Unity is fantastic at providing APIs and information, but this is only put together for a release build. So in the beta pretty much every bug we found we had to figure out without documentation and often a new version would fix one bug but break something else. This is all settled now Unity 5 is released though.
APGN: Do you have any advice for our readers who are trying to become game developers themselves?
Jon: I’d say find your concept, build around it, and think critically about the components – don’t find yourself adding in things you don’t need! As for things to get started with, Unity and Unreal have free versions and YouTube is full of tutorials. You can teach yourself pretty much anything with the power of Google!
APGN: You have a Kickstarter campaign for Lithic – how did you decide to turn to crowdfunding to support the development of the game?
Tom: We’re so close to being able to go to Early Access and we just need a touch more funding to climb that last hurdle. The great thing about Kickstarter is that it lets us get in with the community and get feedback from potential players as well as source funds. Basically, it lets us give something back to those who have been with us from the early days.
APGN: Thank you again for taking time to sit down for the interview, we really appreciate it! Before we go, do you have any parting words for our readers at home about Lithic?
Jon: If what we’ve said in this interview has piqued your interest, please check out our Kickstarter. There’s more information on that page – in detail – about Lithic and we hope that we can get your support to help us get Lithic made!