In the middle of March, indie studio Fire Hose Games revealed their latest project: Techtonica. The first-person factory builder puts players in subterranean caverns on a mysterious alien planet called Calyx, and it’s up to you to find out the story that lies beneath the surface.
To dig into the game a little more, we spoke with Fire Hose President and Founder Eitan Glinert to learn more about Techtonica and how it might stand up to its competition.
How Techtonica Came to Life
Fire Hose Games has been around for 14 years. Though its roots are in Boston, the studio now works remotely from across the world. You might be familiar with its previous work, like first-person destructive cat simulator Catlateral Damage or the Mega Man X homage, 20XX.
The studio commits to crafting "innovative, original titles" in genres they love, and before focusing on Techtonica, the team had three big ideas from all over the place.
"The first was a 2D side-view game where you mined asteroids and set up a factory across an asteroid field, using gravity to slingshot items around," Glinert said. "The second was a paleontology game where you dug up dinosaur bones with exciting tools. The third was a game that looked similar to Techtonica and tasked you with exploring a cave network with bioluminescent life, but it was third-person and an action RPG."
The current project combines the aesthetic of the third idea along with mechanics from the first two, creating a prototype that Glinert described as "compelling from an early stage." There’s no shortage of interesting ideas at Fire Hose, though.
"We had a wild game where you were a muppet abomination, running around, tearing the limbs off other muppets and sticking them to yourself," Glinert said. "We also had a Star Trek simulator-like game (inspired by Project Highrise, another hidden indie gem that folks should play) where you manage a spaceship on an intergalactic mission."
Maybe one day we’ll see that muppet abomination hit storefronts everywhere, but for now, players can look forward to boldly going where no one has gone before: Calyx, the world of Techtonica.
Digging Into Techtonica's Calyx
Players familiar with the factory-building sim genre might compare Techtonica to titles like Subnautica, Astroneer, Deep Rock Galactic, and Satisfactory. After all, YouTube commenters on the announcement trailer point to those games, among others. Glinert and the rest of the Fire Hose team are fans of those aforementioned games, and he recommends everyone to check them out. However, there are some key ways that Techtonica will set itself apart from its competition.
"The narrative we're telling and the world you're exploring are definitely different, and we have several unannounced mechanics that are new to the genre which we'll be revealing in the coming months," Glinert said.
One of those mechanics is digging and terrain manipulation. Though players will start with a familiar pickaxe, eventually you’ll be able to upgrade to the M.O.L.E., a gun that fires a mini black hole. That’s only the beginning, as Glinert claimed "there will be other ways to dig that are even more effective, too!"
The deep caves on Calyx are mostly hand crafted by the team at Fire Hose. After all, if they’re trying to tell a story, being able to control the environment and setting goes a long way. However, some parts of the game will feature "procedural elements," with hopes that they will increase replayability.
Above all though, the name of the game is to find resources that can be put toward the main attraction: factory building. You'll get into the groove of exploring, building machines, and creating "sprawling, efficient factories," per the game’s Steam page. And all of this action will be complemented by an original soundtrack composed by Cityfires.
"We want to highlight the factory building and exploration experiences, and we want to tell an exciting story in the process," Glinert said. "There will be non-combat challenges to overcome in the local environment, though. Players will have to solve, mitigate, and, eventually, exploit these challenges as they build their factories."
That "exciting story" is a mystery that Fire Hose is holding close to its chest for now. If you watch the announcement trailer, you’ll notice a cheeky floating cube that fills a companion-like role for the player character. That won’t be the only talking cube players will find, though.
"That cube is the dead astronaut holding it. Or, maybe it just thinks it is? You'll have to play the game to find out," Glinert said. "The talking cubes are the characters in the game that will help you uncover the story."
What’s Next for Techtonica?
Since Fire Hose’s initial announcement, Techtonica has been gaining followers on Steam, the only confirmed release platform at the time of writing. Interested fans can wishlist the game on Steam or join Techtonica’s Discord channel. If anything, Glinert teased that doing so could get you access to some secret pre-alpha content.