Ten Questions With… Marco Mantoan (Picaresque Studio)
We were very impressed by the gameplay trailer that Picaresque Studio unveiled for their upcoming title, Nantucket, and clearly we were not the only ones. The game managed to get Greenlit in record time, which means the Steam community is just as eager to get their hands on this Herman Melville influenced title. To find out more about the game we got in touch with Marco Mantoan.
Can you give our readers a quick introduction of yourself and the studio?
Ahoy there! My name is Marco Mantoan and I’m the game designer behind Nantucket. Together with Daniele Monaco (programmer) and Michele Bedendo (artist) I’ve founded Picaresque Studio, an indie studio based in Italy, also working remotely across Europe.
We met during a past working experience (and we have also lived together for a while), we became friends and finally we decided to start this new adventure.
How did the idea for Nantucket come about?
During the first weeks of life of our studio, we discussed different ideas and possible projects. Since it’s our first project, we wanted to do something with a Picaresque element in it and Nantucket was an idea everybody got really excited about.
We love strategy games and good literature, and having the chance to work on a true masterpiece of American literature, such as Moby Dick, was just a perfect way to present who we are and what we want to do.
What is the inspiration behind the unique visual style of the game?
Our goal from the beginning was to be faithful about the times we were speaking about, so I would say the first inspirations behind our art style are prints and nautical maps of the XIX century.
On the other hand, when we started dealing with illustrations for the game, we decided to distance ourselves a bit. We wanted something more powerful and emotional, something similar to the works of one of the greatest Italian illustrators: Sergio Toppi. I think Giorgio Palombi, our illustrator, really did an amazing work, nailing the spirit we wanted for our game.
What has been the biggest challenge so far creating Nantucket?
I think the biggest challenge has been dealing with the main story line. We are all avid strategy game players, so we were pretty confident about how we wanted to shape the game mechanics.
The story line instead was much more difficult, because we were dealing with a masterpiece like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and we did want to achieve two goals: create a compelling story and make it plausible for Moby Dick’s fans.
We read the book again and again, and I think (and hope) the final result will satisfy both Moby Dick fans and strategy game fans.
Can you tell us more about the combat elements of the game?
The combat system is a key feature we reworked different times in the past months. We wanted to create something easy and quick to play on one side, and deeply affected by players’ planning on the other one.
The final result is a board game like combat, turn based and build around a simple mechanic related to evolving dices. In its core mechanic, it’s not different from Risk, but we added multiple layers of complexity to fulfill our initial goal. So, there are special sides and skills affecting the dices’ results and different commands to use to successfully hunt a whale or repel pirates boarding.
It is fast, deadly and challenging.
How much freedom and choices will players have in this game?
The players will have absolute freedom to set sail around the world, discovering new whaling areas or completing quests (related to the main story line or just to gain money or prestige). The only limit we set is time based and it’s represented by the lifespan of Ishmael. The players will have to hunt and kill Moby Dick within fifty years in order to free Ishmael from his “curse”.
What is your favorite feature in the game?
If I have to pick one it is probably the events system. We have created an event tool reading all the gameplay data, so we are able to push events tailored around how the players are acting during the game.
There are more than one thousand unique events forcing the player to take really tough choices that will dramatically affect their game and immerse them in XIX century life at sea. It was a tough and unforgiving world.
What are the future plans for Picaresque Studio/Nantucket?
We’ve just been Greenlit on Steam, so now we will focus on completing Nantucket in the best way we can, to meet the expectations of all the people supported us during these weeks.
After the game’s release (in Q4 2015), we will evaluate our next steps. For sure we will spend some time expanding Nantucket and trying to satisfy as many people as possible, with additional languages and new features.
Quoting Herman Melville: “I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
What is the most unusual thing on your desk right now?
Although not currently on our desks, I have to say Mr. Dildo. We bought it as an April Fool joke for our former boss seven years ago and it’s been around us (I’ve said around, not inside!) since that day. It is currently on a holiday in Portugal (as you can see from the picture), but we hope it will be back soon.
Anything else you would like to add?
We would like to thank you and everybody who supported us. The great feedback we received during these weeks have been really appreciated and a huge confidence boost.
Keep following our devblog on our website www.picaresquestudio.com since “more is coming”.
A big thanks to Marco for answering our questions and best of luck to him and the team. We look forward to checking out the game when it is released.