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Interview with Nic Tringali, creator of Sun Dogs

By Hannah Flynn, November 11, 2015 · Failbetter Suggests

We recently suggested Sun Dogs as a game our players would appreciate. Here’s creator Nic Tringali on how the game came about.

How did you come to make Sun Dogs?

A while ago I was wanting to make a game set in the solar system, but had no real concept of what it would actually look or play like. I then stumbled upon a book called Schismatrix and a board game Tales of the Arabian Nights, which immediately gave me the tone and design I was looking for. Other works like Rendezvous with Rama and Roadside Picnic were influences as well, but from there it was pretty straightforward. I threw away all of the messy designs of planning orbits or managing fuel, and began writing the text and developing the worlds.

Tell us a little about your interest in interactive fiction, and your inspirations for Sun Dogs.

My interactive fiction experience is a bit sporadic, and I discovered the biggest influences like 80 Days and Sunless Sea after already starting the project. They’re both great games, and at the time served proof that my core concept would work for a videogame. Even starting out from Tales of the Arabian Nights, I ended up simplifying the design a lot, to cut down on the amount of work and writing required.

The minimalist design and music are really striking, how did they come about?

The minimalist design, while being very abstract for us, is actually an attempt at a literal depiction of a spacecraft display in the future. For a game, it’s just more interesting to look at, designed to focus on the text, and only provide other details as necessary. The music was created in a similar fashion, but with the intent to build atmosphere and give an abstract sense of the world around the player. From a practical level, the art was originally very simple so I could plan the game around circles and a plain background, with a thought in the back of my mind that I could always add more detail later. It kept getting refined to a point where it looked good, and served the fiction better than if it had more detail.

Follow Sun Dogs and Nic on twitter.

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