Tala is an autumnal point and click adventure game for Windows, Mac, & Linux(Steam & Itch (DRM-Free)) that combines nature photography and traditional animation techniques to create a tiny world ripe for exploration
You play as the eponymous Tala, a forest spirit who hasn't quite found her place in the little woodland town she calls home. You have been helping the Town Guardian prepare for their journey into the daunting Deep Woods so that they can try secure food for the upcoming winter. In their absence you're tasked with making sure that the townsfolk don't get up to too much mischief, at least until the Town Guardian gets back. But the Baker is going to want fruit for her pies, the Sproutlings are full of energy, they're bound to get into trouble (they always do!), and who knows what the Inventor is up to...
When the Town Guardian's companion comes flying back into town early, you know that something has gone wrong. The Town Guardian is stranded in the Deep Woods. The Inventor's dingy old plane is in disrepair, but with the help of the townsfolk you should be able to fix up the plane so you can quickly fly out and help the Town Guardian get back home before the winter hits.
Thought Bubble Based Dialog SystemTala is a wordless experience, but it still has a fully featured dialog system. But instead of words it uses thought bubbles and animations! Chatting to the townsfolk bring up dialogue trees and little dialogue puzzles that you're used to from point and click adventure games. This means that people can enjoy the world of Tala without having to be fluent in English.
The thought bubble dialog system in action.
Of course, this means that there's a wide cast of characters to interact with. From the friendly townsfolk like the Baker & the Gardener, to those who live on the outskirts of town like the Inventor, or even some of the folk who live in the wilds of the Deep Woods, and beyond.
The world of Tala is full of play. To help keep the world feel lively a lot of the background elements are intractable. Signs will blow in the wind, chimneys will bellow out smoke, windows will open and close. Some of these elements will be part of puzzles, so make sure that you play around with the environments! To help facilitate that, Tala uses a contextually aware cursor so you know what to expect when interacting with things
Speaking of puzzles, to go with the environmental puzzles there'll also be traditional point and click style puzzles where you're collecting items and using them on other things, and distinct puzzle screens filled with puzzles for you to solve. You'll be doing things like figuring out a way to get a lit match through a gushing waterfall, distracting a bird so you can make your way past it, create a path of stepping stones across a river so you can pass it, and much more.
About that art.
All of the photography for Tala has been taken with my phone & an old point and click digital camera. From national parks across the state like Wilson's Prom, The Dandenong Range & the Grampians, to small parks in Melbourne's suburbs. There's potential for game locations anywhere.
The animation is done digitally, but still uses traditional animation techniques. First I'll do a rough version with a pencil brush and then I'll go over it with a custom brush that I use for all of Tala's linework and colour it in. A simple animation can take hours, but the end result is always worth it.
I've always envisioned the music for Tala to be low key fingerstyle guitar, and I was humbled that the wonderful Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Cody Rueger let me use some of his existing tracks in the game. Getting funding means that I'll be able to commission original music for the game in the same style.
If you enjoy these tracks, check out the rest of his music on his Bandcamp page.
So, who are you?
I'm Matthew Petrak, I'm an artist & animator based in Melbourne, Australia. I've done work on games like Mallow Drops, Future Proof, and Beard. Branding work for Queerly Represent Me, and I've also released a couple of tiny little interactive game art tests on my itch.io page.
Why Kickstarter?I founded The Garden Well in late 2017 as a commitment to making Tala a reality. It has existed in a prototype stage since 2015, but work on it promptly stopped mid-2016 for personal reasons. But building the world of Tala never left me, so I've spent the last few months finishing up the teaser game & putting together this Kickstarter with the hope to let you folks explore this tiny world of mine. This Kickstarter succeeding will allow me to put in focused time into making Tala rather than slowly hacking at it whenever I have the spare time.
So, this is a relaunch?
Yep. The first campaign ended up being $5000 under the funding goal. I've spent the last few weeks thinking about what to do differently and this campaign is the result!
What has changed?
The overall goal is a bit lower - So if the campaign is barely successful then I'll still get to work on Tala on a part-time basis: 2-4 days a week.
I know that folks are eager to get to play the game sooner rather than later, so the current plan is to release Tala in 3 chapters, each one a couple of hours long with a total playtime of 5-6 hours.
Reward Structure - The reward tiers of the previous campaign were a bit of a mess. This time I've really focused down and made the physical rewards a lot cheaper so that they're far more accessible. Instead of hacking in an add-on system (which would have been a logistical pain to deal with), I've condensed it all down into a cumulative set of tiers that's a lot easier to parse.
If the world of Tala is somewhere that you want to explore, consider pledging and/or telling a friend about the game! It's thanks to all of you that this game can succeed. <3
Risks and challenges
Tala is my first actual game project, so there's a whole lot of unknown things that could go wrong in development. It's game development, it's what happens. Thankfully, I have a fantastic support network of peers who have worked on a multitude of games, and if I'm ever stuck on something I can call upon that network for help.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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