A video game about a little red fox on a grand adventure is already making waves after being released last week on XBox Game Pass, a video game service with millions of subscribers.
Tunic was designed by Andrew Shouldice of Halifax.
“I’ve always wanted to make a game about the mysteries of exploration, about the true discovery of things,” Shouldice said. “I really wanted to hide things and give people that real sense of exploration like they did when they were kids.”
Tunic wasn’t something that was pulled together on the fly. Shouldice said it was years in the making when he made it his debut from a concept he first scrawled on paper.
He worked with developers in other parts of the world who helped him with parts of the project, but Shouldice did most of the work from his tiny studio off Halifax Common.
“I worked on the game for seven years,” Shouldice said. “Hearing that people really liked it was really a profound moment for me.”
Video game development has grown rapidly in Nova Scotia over the past 10 years.
While there are many independent developers like Shouldice, there are more than 30 companies in the province that produce them.
“There are even some big studios outside of Canada that have invested heavily in the province,” said Marcelo Careaga, president of the Interactive Society of Nova Scotia and studio manager at Ubisoft Halifax. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of growth, especially among the younger generation.”
Nova Scotia Community College offers a two-year diploma game development program on its Truro campus.
To keep classes small, 25 students are accepted each year.
As there are hundreds of applications from young people interested in entering the growing industry, there is a waiting list for the program each year.
“We have a lot of great examples of people, some of them very young people, doing great things and making their own games,” Careaga said.
Shouldice is one of those people. He said the response to Tunic was “kind of overwhelming”. He said he plans to take a break from work for a while.
“But I don’t think I’m going to stop making video games. Maybe sometime in the future there will still be one in me.”