[Interview] Talking Game Dev and Community with Tri-Heart Interactive

Written by Abram Buehner

Introducing: Tri-Heart Interactive Interview

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Kieran Rogers, the Managing Director of Tri-Heart Interactive. We chatted about his recently released game, The Otterman Empire, as well as game development and community-building on the whole! It was a very illuminating and engaging conversation, and you can enjoy the unabridged transcript of it right here.

First off, congratulations on releasing The Otterman Empire! As your first big project, it must feel fantastic to get this game to your audience. What does this launch mean to you and your studio?

Thank you so much! It feels so good to finally get The Otterman Empire into people’s hands, we can’t wait to hear what people have to say and for all the feedback we will get after launch. It is quite an important moment for Tri-heart as a studio as it’s our first launch, we are excited about what the team will experience over the coming months.

As I was researching your game, I came across your video, “Who knew making a game was hard? | The team behind The Otterman Empire.” I found it to be a really interesting and exciting video to watch. As a small team finding your footing, what kept you motivated through the challenges of development?

Indie game development is so interesting, all the ups and downs are exciting to be a part of and as a small team we get to wear so many different hats! I could be marketing one minute but creating UI another; it keeps us on our toes!

What drew you to game development in the first place? Did you always know this was the field you wanted to be in? As for The Otterman Empire itself, what was the inspiration for this game? Personally, I found it to be very evocative of sixth-gen PS2/GameCube games that I used to play a lot of as a kid. Was this a conscious inspiration?

Games have always been a huge part of our lives and personally I (Kieran) have always been drawn to them as a method of both storytelling and exploration. They are the only medium where I feel like I am truly connected to the experiences in front of me, and from a young age that [has been] such an exciting feeling!

How do you plan on applying the lessons you learned while creating The Otterman Empire to whatever you decide to take on next?

The Otterman Empire was born out of our love of the split-screen party games we grew up playing. Our fondest memories are those we share with the people we’ve beaten on Goldeneye or Mario Kart and often our most memorable gaming moments have been during the crazy party games we played through the PlayStation 2 era. Our goal was always to build a game that brought people together, sat them on a couch and allowed them get competitive with each other.

We are still learning now, and the next step for us is really the next step for The Otterman Empire! We have learned so much already that we can apply to The Otterman Empire post-launch, we just want to see how a game launch can impact a title moving forward! As for future products, we have learned a lot about building games from the ground up and this will have a huge impact on the core of our products moving forward.

On a parallel track, you also care a lot about community-building, and I’m fascinated by Gamers Unite. If only there was an event like this where I am! Could you briefly explain the event for those who aren’t familiar?

Thank you! Gamers Unite is so dear to us, it is the central hub for our community and it’s the place where we learn the most about our industry, our network, our community and especially about the games being made around us! Manchester Gamers Unite is an event that takes place throughout the year and is a late-night gaming event for gamers and developers. We wanted to create a space where developers and gamers could meet and enjoy games, even during early development.

How did that come to fruition, and what were the challenges associated with putting together an event on the scale?

Gamers Unite came to fruition as an answer to the consumer/developer split we have in our industry. There appeared to be only two types of events, those that were consumer focused and those that were developer focused. Gamers Unite wanted to bridge the gap between the two. It is less about selling games and it is more about playing them and meeting the developers behind them. We wanted to create a place where open conversation can be had to break down some of the barriers between gamers and developers. Our biggest challenge was getting people through the door who had never been to a gaming event. There was a misconception that a gaming event was for people who were hardcore gamers when actually, the term gamer is such a broad term now.

Between Gamers Unite, and the amount of fan-feedback you’ve taken for The Otterman Empire, community is clearly something you value. On a macro level, what does community mean to you?

Community means everything to us as a studio. We are so early in our life as a company that there’s always going to be things we don’t know, or perspectives we don’t have and we want people to be able to voice those! It will always help us create better games and it also helps us know when we are doing something right or wrong.

Finally, on the most macro of levels, what is Tri-Heart’s design philosophy?

Tri-Heart’s design philosophy is ever-changing but we always aim to create everything in an interactive way. Our community input starts every process and we continue to implement and test as we move along! We are hoping that this continues post -launch, allowing us to support the product for years to come!

Thank you so much for the detailed questions!

Thank you so much for your detailed answers, Kieran! The Otterman Empire is available now on Nintendo Switch, and you can check out our official Nintendad review right here.

Leave a Reply