Do you have a passion project that you’re working on outside of your regular job? While scrolling through our Instagram feed one bored, global pandemic-laden evening, we came across some intriguing behind-the-scenes clips of the developing video game Evard the Hermit: Through Fears. Creator Roman Gritsuk is a self-taught artist and coder who’s passionate about visual arts and animation. In his day job, Roman makes videos and banner ads for an Estonian financial company, but in his free time, he’s working to bring Evard the Hermit to life.
The game is set in a fictional world based on medieval eastern Europe and opens when the main character, Evard, escapes from the dungeon, where he has been held for many years. Evard has the innate ability to absorb fears and phobias from others, and is hunted down by powerful kings and leaders. A person only needs to touch Evard while focusing on their fears in order for them to be absorbed by him. This is why kings want Evard for themselves: he can make the soldiers in their army fearless and unafraid. But for Evard, this is a heavy burden. All the fears that he absorbs fill his mind with memories. He no longer remembers his past and cannot even sleep in peace. Evard needs to get rid of these fears by facing them directly.
The player is invited to explore Evard’s world in search of sources of fear and battle against any they come across. For example, one of the fears the player has to overcome is arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. The player needs to find a tarantula nest and defeat the spiders inside Evard’s mind. Metaphorically this symbolizes everyone can overcome their fears by facing them directly. When the spiders are defeated, Edvard regains some of his memories and the storyline progresses. At the end of the game, the player will know who Evard is, where he comes from and what his own main fear is.
What platform is the game being designed for?
Consoles and PC
What has been challenging about designing the game for you? It looks like you are not only coding the game, but doing the art? Are you currently doing all the art (characters, objects, environments, UX)?
That’s right. I draw all environment objects, model characters and make the animations. I’m coding in Unity with C#. My main challenge is time management.
How does the Wacom Cintiq 16 help you to make the type of art you create? What features are helpful to you?
I started game development with my old Wacom Bamboo tablet, but I needed more space for freehand drawing. With a Wacom Cintiq 16 it is easier to draw on the required level. The pressure-sensitivity and pen angle are just like a real brush. And of course, after drawing on the screen there is no turning back. I use my Cintiq for drawing and 3d modeling. When I do any coding, I just use it as my second monitor.
It sounds like this game is one you are making for your personal project? Do you have an art or computer science background or degree? Do you have another job?
I’m a designer at a financial company in Estonia, making video and banner ads. I don’t have any special education in art or game design. I’ve learned how to do it primarily from manuals or lessons on the Internet. Visual art and animation are my passion. I’m working on the game in my free time. In the future I’m planning a Kickstarter campaign so I can hire a team and devote all my time to the game.
Have you had to change any of your workflow because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Or were you working from home on the game already?
I work from home. Now it’s important for society that everyone stays home.
Do you have any advice for indie game developers?
Find the balance of quality and time spent. Remember the Pareto principle ( 80/20 ).
You are posting some process content on Instagram? Does that help you to get feedback on your game?
Yes, I am very grateful to my followers. They support me and provide useful feedback. Instagram stories are a good way to get a reaction before a post.
When do you expect your game will be finished? Do you plan to self-publish it?
I think that the conclusion can be made after the reaction to the demo video and the result on Kickstarter. I am open to all suggestions. I estimate that it will take about 3 years working on it full time with a team.
Tell me about your life in Estonia. Are there many game designers from your country?
Estonia is a small
but very comfortable country for living. Everything can be done via the Internet, we even vote in parliamentary elections from home. We had GameDev Days two years ago and this was a popular event.
About Roman Gritsuk
Roman Gritsuk is married with one daughter and lives in Estonia. He like rock music and claims to be an introvert like many other developers.