The first thing people see when they play a game is the characters, the map. But good games go beyond that initial impression.
At TideTurn we didn’t just want to create cool defenders — we wanted to bring them to life with vibrant, extensive backstories that fill players with curiosity and make it even harder to pick their favorite defender. Dive into the story behind TideTurn with Stanion Studio’s Game Writer, Matthew Miller.
What was your inspiration for the story behind TideTurn?
The basic framework already existed when I came onto the project. My inspiration has come in pieces after that point. There are three pillars to the story we are trying to tell. One of them is the origin of the Atlantians — to this point, there’s not a lot of information out there. This is part of the mystery in the single-player content.
There’s also D.R.I., whose origins lie in humanity’s past. People will enjoy piecing together those details from the dialogue and content we create going forward.
The third pillar, of course, is ocean conservation and our relationship with the nature around us. TideTurn is all about interacting with the environment directly around you. The cities and our oceans are battlefields. The way you interact with them should be core to our story as well.
What is the importance of having extensive lore in a game?
TideTurn is launching with multiplayer modes, but we are adding in a narrative campaign mode. But even in the context of multiplayer, I think that it’s important that players feel they are part of a world when they step into that game. They need to recognize the characters when they speak, and feel connected to the characters’ personal struggles. It can tune players into the gameplay a little bit more.
Being able to recognize defenders or know who you like or don’t like, that matters a lot. I know for a fact I’ve picked up characters I wouldn’t normally touch because their background sounded interesting or because of the way they looked or spoke.
How did you come up with the cast of defenders in TideTurn?
Most all of them existed in part before I joined. All of them had abilities before I even laid my hands on the narrative design for the characters. That’s presented unique challenges to work through. We already knew, for instance, that Manatsu would have a mech. We knew what she’d be capable of doing with it. For me, it’s a matter of filling in why does this character do what they do and how are they involved with other defenders.
That’s where D.R.I. comes in. Each defender is connected to D.R.I. or the Abyssian Court. Even though these organizations bring them together to battle, the defenders have their own motives and questions about these elite groups. I would advise players to keep an eye on how those two organizations evolve and the role they play within the story.
What was your favorite defender to work on?
So far, it has definitely been Crato. We had certain ideas about what the character was and what he did. In my opinion, it didn’t gel with his abilities right away. What he does in combat is summon sea monsters. Figuring out how that ability is related to Atlantians and their attempts to create artificial life has been a really interesting process.
Crato is a good example of a character who has dialogue that really shows his personality. His multiplayer dialogue is stern and hard-headed. But he is also coming to terms with his past — he has a past failing he’s trying to overcome and that affects how he talks to the other Atlantians. And when he’s speaking to his summoned sea monster Eppy, he has a bit of a softer side as well. I think part of what made Crato my favorite was getting to hear the voice actors speaking the lines. I’m really happy with the work we got done for him.
It’s interesting how everything seems to come back to the Abyssian Court and D.R.I. What can you tell us about them?
The Abyssian Court is a unifying organization for Atlantians, but there are fractured subgroups. One interesting thing about writing Atlantian characters is finding where to fit in elements of cultures and languages relating to the places they come from. Crato is a straightforward example. He’s from the Mediterranean Sea, so he’s influenced by Greek culture.
Human organizations are much more modern. They speak languages associated with their cultures a bit more actively. D.R.I. has ties to other unknown secret organizations. Its ultimate purpose is not even known to its agents, but the agents see themselves as defenders of humanity against the Atlantians attacking their cities.
What is the most exciting part about players learning more about the defenders?
For me, it’s interesting how different characters interact with each other. You get an idea of how they are related to each other and how they view each other. Their relationships come through very clearly in the dialogue. There are definite moments they will express direct interest or respect for each other’s actions. I hope the players enjoy that kind of back and forth interaction and find it interesting and worth exploring as we release more narrative content.
What are you most excited about when it comes to Story Mode?
As a player progresses through the single-player campaign, they will become more aware of the scale of the issues they are facing. With that, there will be more drama, more tension… We have a handful of big reveals coming down the line. We have tiered mysteries that allow the story to keep growing. As we continue to expand outwards, players will learn about defenders’ personal narratives, their connections. They will learn the purpose of the Atlantians.
Do you get writer’s block a lot?
For this project, no, not that much! It’s something that any writer encounters at any point. But I think the variety of defenders we are working on so far makes them stand out as their own unique project. So I haven’t gotten that feeling yet.
Working on a team environment helps a lot with that. Some advice for writers looking to work for game development: It helps to talk to design or marketing about what you are working on. They will often have ideas about what’s possible, feasible, or what would just be really cool to do.
Olivia “y05h1eggz” Richman //
Stanion Studios Marketing Copyeditor