In the upcoming role-playing game Moon Hunters, by Kitfox Games, players must go on an adventure to discover why the moon has vanished while making decisions that determine their character’s reputation. These decisions impact the way other characters treat them and the ways in which the world evolves as they play.
Moon Hunters will be playable as both a single-player and a multiplayer game, giving parents the chance to work through these reputation-building scenarios with their kids and talk about the experience.
The game’s intriguing premise and gorgeous art was enough to send it catapulting past its Kickstarter goal of 45,000 CAD (about $40,000) a mere two days after it launched its month-long fundraising campaign. By the time the campaign was finished, Kitfox had raised nearly 180,000 CAD ($160,000).
I had the opportunity to chat with Tanya Short, Moon Hunter’s creative director, about some background details on this upcoming game.
CH: What inspired and influenced the creation of Moon Hunters?
TS: The original inspiration was actually our artist, Xin Ran Liu, and his work itself—we were looking through his portfolio and we saw an occult, weird-fantasy motif that the whole team really liked. I’ve always loved mythology and the ancient world as a setting, so Moon Hunters came naturally afterwards.
When we started really digging into the world and setting, we quickly decided on Bronze Age Mesopotamia, and specifically Assyria, as our primary influence in aesthetics and tone. It has such a rich history as a focal point of spiritual change and cultural melting pot, we couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
CH: How does the reputation-building aspect of Moon Hunters change a player’s experience of the game world?
TS: It depends on the reputation! It’s really about your personality, how you display it, and how that changes others’ perception of you. If you become known as Generous, you might gain respect from leadership for your virtue, but you might also get targeted for scams by less scrupulous folks. Or if you’re known to be a Trickster, trust is harder to come by, but children and mischief-makers find you easier to approach.
We’re planning to have over 30 different personality traits, and each are earned in different ways, through choices, behaviours, and dialogues. Some will only change how others speak to you, or act towards you, some unlock new village-building options, and some unlock entire new plot threads to be explored.
Your reputation is the also core of how you’re remembered—no matter whether you were known to be a Heart-breaker or a Genius or a Poet, your legend will be unique to the personality you showed during your journey.
CH: What aspects of reputation-building games might be specifically valuable for teenagers or other people going through personal transitions?
TS: I think having a safe space to explore different elements of your personality can be really important during periods when you’re questioning your own identity and place in the world at large. Acting out in a game as a Trickster or a thief, and literally roleplaying to see what happens, is a healthy way to try out different masks, especially when our own self-image feels more malleable. Moon Hunters is definitely a game where it’s safe to “see what happens” when you experiment with rebellion, or even genuine transgression against traditional values.
CH: Why did you decide to put so much emphasis on the multiplayer mode?
TS: It’s partly because as a game designer I’m fascinated with cooperation. There’s a lot of unexplored potential there to find new social interactions and interesting mechanics that are only possible between players. I gave a lecture in 2012 about co-op mechanics, their challenges and possible solutions, and two years later I don’t see that much in the design world has changed. So that’s both exciting and intimidating.
But the other part is simply that it’s my favorite kind of game to play. My favorite game memories are all from when I was playing with friends, siblings, or colleagues—there’s something so compelling about other players that sometimes we even turn single-player worlds multiplayer, making up our own rules of cooperation and competition.
CH: Have you ever been able to use a video game to work through issues in your real life?
TS: As a teen, I was actually very isolated, physically. I lived a 30-minute drive away from a very small town, out in the middle of the desert, two dirt roads removed from a long, straight highway. So I used online games to fill my social life—I explored friendships, romance, loyalties, betrayals… one, in particular, was a text-based MMO that I played for years. These games and their players were extremely important to me, even though I wouldn’t tell any of my classmates or family about them. I made dozens of different characters, trying out different personas, exploring what mattered to me.
CH: What is something that you hope players can take away from the experience of playing Moon Hunters?
TS: I hope that after playing Moon Hunters, players will be able to think about their concepts of virtue and morality, both for themselves and the people around them. There’s not a lot of heavy-handed judgment in the game, and it instead serves as a way to explore and experiment. I see it as almost an advanced personality test, but rather than getting a pithy quote and gif at the end, you really get a thorough plot arc. I want a player to be able to think, “Well, the game says I’m Curious, and that I’ll be remembered for my Deceitful nature… Is that really who I am? Is that who I want to be? Is that how I want everyone to see me?”
CH: Where can our readers find more information about Moon Hunters and Kitfox Games?
TS: Thanks for asking! That’s my favorite question! Please do visit MoonHuntersGame.com and KitfoxGames.com to read more about what we’re up to, and keep tabs on our development. We send regular newsletters and publicly post our Kickstarter backer updates, so you can also check those out anytime.