These past months we have received some bits and pieces on Renowned Explorers, hinting us to the adventure theme and revealing some strategies. We were wondering how the development is going and what vision Abbey Games has with Renowned Explorers: International Society.

Early this week, we managed to talk to one of the founders of Abbey Games; Maarten Wiedenhof.

Maarten Wiedenhof

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My game development adventure started with Game Maker, which is a fun tool for learning and creating 2D games. I always recommend aspiring game designers to use it. I have a passion for playing games, Super Mario 64, Portal 2, Roller Coaster Tycoon and Team Fortress 2 are some of my favourites.

How did you roll into developing a game and what’s your role in Abbey Games?
I’m a ‘university dropout’ since I started Abbey Games with 3 fellow students. Together with Adriaan, I’m the ‘product owner’ for Renowned Explorers, which mean I develop the direction where Renowned Explorers is going.

What does that mean on a daily basis? Could you describe an average week?
I’ll be talking with my colleagues a lot: we’re with 15 people now. On the production side of things, my expertise is in visual stuff, but I’m more of a programmer than an artist. So I write procedural visual systems, interfaces for artists, effects, shaders and graphics and I love to polish things.

What triggered you to work on the Renowned Explorers concept? What makes it special?
Our games change a lot during development, so when we thought of this idea we already knew that the final project would be a lot different. We’re always improving, sometimes overhauling large parts of the game. But the core has always been the same: a game where you recruit a crew and travel to exotic places to find treasures.

What do you think about the theme of Renowned Explorers and are you an adventurous treasure hunter?
Aha, I always enjoyed creating treasure hunts for others, and that’s why I became a game developer. I have a thing for pirates so I love the exploration theme. One reason for choosing this idea was because it resonated so well with the whole team at Abbey.

Renowned Explorers is influenced by ‘Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, and Fire Emblem’. How do these inspirations reflect back in your work?
The Indiana Jones movies and Jules Verne books are mainly thematically inspiring. Both works feature adventurous explorers and interesting places. Also, their stories are set in a realistic historical setting, while also leaving room for fantasy. Renowned Explorers does just that.
X-COM and Fire Emblem are relevant because Renowned Explorers has a tactical layer where you move your units over the terrain to solve hostile situations. There is also a more strategic layer where you plan your expeditions and manage your crew.

Caribbean Jungle

What do you hope to see back in the community of Renowned Explorers?
We hope that everyone enjoys the game, and we’d like to hear your feedback. Also, we’re making it possible for modders to create their own experiences in the world of Renowned Explorers!

Could you give us a sneak peak on what you are working on currently for Renowned Explorers and tell us more about it?
I’m now polishing the Caribbean, which is an early game destination for your expeditions. There’ll be jungles and volcanos and pirate smugglers. We’re also finishing up some of the ‘leader’ characters, and we’ll announce the first one very soon!