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Zoria: Age of Shattering Interview

by Couchpotato, 2022-09-25

Welcome back it's time for another interview. This time with Tiny Trinket Games about their just launched Kickstarter game Zoria: Age of Shattering. So without any further delay here we go.

-> Kickstarter

RPGWatch: Welcome to RPGWatch and agreeing to the interview. An update mentioned Tiny Trinket Games was started by three passionate devs. How did all three of you meet and decide to make your own game Zoria: Age of Shattering?

Tiny Trinket Games: It's a bit of a long story. Stefan Nicolescu has been working in game development since...forever, covering multiple roles throughout the years. Me, Stefan Nitescu, I had a more diverse professional experience, having studied architecture, but somehow always returned to gaming, at least as a hobby. 

At some point, Stefan Nicolescu started working on some small projects on his own, and after a couple of projects wanted to do something bigger, we had a very good chat on this, and we've been working on games ever since. 
The problem is the two of us are not programmers, not at the level necessary for anything more than post "hello world!" on the screen. Fortunately, we met Gabi at a conference (about video games) and realized he's of a similar mindset, wanting to create something of his own. We pitched him the project we were working on, and from there on, we started working together.

The project we pitched to him back then was a Mobile base management game, which was the maximum of what we hoped our team could handle. 

But with his participation and realizing what we could create together, we changed the project moving towards PC and then towards a lot more than a simple management game - to an RPG, the kind of game we have always wanted to make.

RPGWatch: What are some of your team's favorite RPGs, and did any of them influence the development of Zoria: Age of Shattering?

Tiny Trinket Games: We've been playing games for so long that it's tough to tell which ones have more influence. From classics like Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout, and Wasteland to MMO RPGs like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, and many others. 

We've played them all, and each has a special place because of something - either a character, the story, the world design, or a particular quest. We are each a sum of our experiences, and I'm sure players will discover influences we are unaware of or games we have played so long ago we have forgotten about.
One particular influence not necessarily of the classic RPGs is the XCOM series, of which I've been a fan since playing the first two games back in the early 90s (back when it started as UFO).

You can see that in combat a bit, but more you can see that in how we handle the player's base and team - not with a fixed set of 3-4 characters but with a roster of many characters, more than 20 for sure in the final game. 


RPGWatch: Steam mentions the game will have outposts and followers. That seems very ambitious. Can you share some details on these areas of the game?

Tiny Trinket Games: Yes, this is that special influence I was talking about previously. The player will have many characters at his disposal to choose from when exploring the world or its dungeons. You can select or change your party any time you're in the Outpost, depending on the area you want to explore or the kind of gameplay you prefer. Each class has a skill tree, so you can have two characters of the same class with different builds and use them depending on the area.
The problem with this approach is that there's always a favorite team, and characters are under-leveled or under-geared. To compensate for this, we have the Missions system, where you can send some of the characters that are not in your party on missions. Depending on mission difficulty and team setup, you can return with items, recipes, and, most importantly, experience. This way all the team members will be of comparable level.
Apart from everything related to the followers and missions, the Outpost has crafting and alchemy, as well as building upgrades that will add different perks to the game.

RPGWatch: The prologue demo has been available on Steam and now GOG. Has the feedback from players been positive or negative? 

Tiny Trinket Games: So far, the feedback has been positive for this demo, but it's still early, and we're always comparing it with previous public appearances. 
The very first public appearance of Zoria: Age of Shattering was the Prologue back in 2020, and it's now sitting at 84% positive on Steam, and that's our best way to evaluate the game's reception. 

Sure, that Prologue is old now and doesn't represent what the game is today, but it helped us get here with all the reviews and feedback we received. A lot of the feedback we received on that Prologue made the game is what it is today, so having this campaign with the new demo will undoubtedly help the development going forward.


RPGWatch: Another update mentioned the game was being published by Anshar Publishing. How did that happen, and why the decision to use crowdfunding?

Tiny Trinket Games: The collaboration with Anshar came at the right time, allowing us to focus on the game's development, and we're very glad to have done this. They have previously launched Gamedec and worked on several important titles in the RPG genre. They contacted us as part of their development into publishing since they want to publish RPGs first and foremost - so expect more exciting titles from them. 

It took very little time to get from the initial conversation to realizing we wanted to do this partnership, and in a matter of a few months, we were working together on Zoria. 
The decision to use crowdfunding is not in any way related to whether the game will be completed. That is a certainty. This decision is more related to what the game will be. We want to do many things with the game, both in terms of content and systems, but at some point, you have to draw the line and say, "this will not be in the game." This campaign should show us how the reception for the game would be and how much of what we want to do with it actually makes sense. 


RPGWatch: Talking about crowdfunding what's your opinion on it, and do you still think it has a place in future game development?

Tiny Trinket Games: I think it's one of the most important things that happened to game development in the last decade. Crowdfunding has influenced the prospect for smaller developers in many ways, from showing that there is a public (or not) for a game to provide means to develop the game. Sure, video games are expensive to make, very much so, and a crowdfunding campaign doesn't always show the actual cost. Still, a successful campaign can give a developer confidence, which is very important since many small games are self-funded, from day jobs and the developers' savings.


RPGWatch: How has the experience been with Kickstarter? Also I read today the early bird special has sold out. Will another option be offered?

Tiny Trinket Games: So far, the campaign is going great. The reception is better than we could have hoped for. Another option for the early bird ... I don't know. It's not something we have discussed. I'm not sure it would be fair to those that missed it and decided to support us anyway. It's always unpleasant to buy something only to see it discounted the next day. We believe transparency and honesty are the essential assets you, as a developer, has in communicating with your players.


RPGWatch: Can you share a sneak peek at stretch goals, and what's your opinion on them? As some games focus too much on then, and it slows development.

Tiny Trinket Games: Our Stretch Goals, if we reach them, will not slow the development. According to the calendar, we will release an Early Access in the first quarter of 2023. And we will try to have at least part of them ready. From then, we have another six months to get feedback, polish, and add new content. As we mentioned, the game is 80% complete, and we are confident in our timeline. 

And what can you expect in stretch goals? Perhaps there will be new character customization options. Perhaps there will be new character classes. Perhaps there will be small, fluffy companions. Who knows? 


RPGWatch: So far funding has been at a steady pace, but just in-case funding fails is there a backup plan in place?

Tiny Trinket Games: There's no need for a backup plan. We will surely be disappointed, but the game is being released no matter what, as we have said on the Kickstarter page. The release is not in any danger, but a failed campaign will mean there's not as much publicity for it as we anticipated and we'll have to stick to the initial design. And there's a lot more we would love to bring to the game if there's a public for it.


RPGWatch: Do you have any advice for gamers who want to develop their own game, and if so can you share some insight about game development?

Tiny Trinket Games: Since we're here, there's a bit of survivor bias in our advice. Doing this and having a great partnership with Anshar makes me wary of giving advice. We did stick to our vision, as inappropriately big as it looked for a small team. We worked on it every day, even if it's 30 minutes, do what's necessary to keep life going in terms of day jobs and moderate your expectations, especially about when something is going to be ready. Keeping the team together is the most important, especially since we worked on this in our free time for a long time while supporting ourselves through some other means.


RPGWatch: Well that's a wrap once again thank you for your time. Do you have anything you want to say before the interview is concluded?

Tiny Trinket Games: Thank you all for being a part of this, whether by backing us or following the game. A special thank you to our Discord community, who's been with us since the first demo and are there daily reminding us for whom we are making the game.

-> Zoria: Age of Shattering on Steam

-> Zoria: Age of Shattering on GOG

Box Art

Information about

Zoria: Age of Shattering

Developer: Tiny Trinket Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released: 2024-03-07
· Publisher: Anshar Studios

More information