After a decade working on the Assassin’s Creed games, Nick Guérin joined Thunder Lotus Games as the Creative Director on Spiritfarer, a farming and management sim about death, kindness, labor, wants, needs, and all manner of other things that Assassin’s Creed (venerable though it is) rarely finds the space to explore. (What a moment it is, going indie).
Here we talk about the thrills and pitfalls of inventing an afterlife—or a liminal space between life and death, as in Necrobarista—the importance of getting little human details right, and the enormous difference between a game that merely contains death and one that’s thoughtful about the process of dying. And yes, we do also talk about the whole Gustav thing.
A content warning is in order for a (largely death-positive) conversation about death and dying. And a TRIGGER WARNING for a discussion of sexual assault from to 00:44:24 to 00:46:50.
You can get Spiritfarer on Steam, GOG, Epic, Itch, Switch, PS4, and Xbox (with also includes PC access via the Microsoft Store, and GamePass, and all that).
You can hear the Spiritfarer OST on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple, Deezer, and YouTube.
And you can get the Spiritfarer Digital Artbook on Itch.
You can also follow Thunder Lotus on Twitter.
• Here once again is that Yoko Taro “Philosophies of Violence” video.
• For more on fostering a sense of closeness and community in games, check out our talk with Nils Deneken, and for more on death positivity (in and out of games), check out our talk with Gabby DaRienzo.
• Here’s Gustave Doré’s etching of Charon from his illustrations of The Divine Comedy. This is the image that Nick mentions as one of the three main original points of inspiration for Spiritfarer, the other two being Studio Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro, and farm sims like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley.
• Here I thought I’d found an honest-to-God example of a pataphor in the wild, but that remains a tricky thing to do definitively.
“All The People Say (Season 3)” by Holly Hyperion.
“Dust Bunnies” and “Oxbury” from the Spiritfarer Original Soundtrack by Max LL.
Logo by Aaron Perry-Zucker, using Icons by by Llisole, Dávid Gladiš, Atif Arshad, Daniel Nochta, Mike Rowe, Jakub Čaja, Raji Purcell and IconsGhost from the Noun Project.