(Interview) New Reality Games’ Data Hacker: Reboot Is Keeping It Old School

Ross Tunney of New Reality Games talks about the studio's upcoming game, Data Hacker: Reboot

Ross Tunney of New Reality Games talks about the studio's upcoming game, Data Hacker: Reboot
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Many gamers hold old-school RPGs close to their hearts. Many of us have fond memories of great RPGs, like Final Fantasy, from our younger days. Now we can continue to enjoy that type of game with New Reality Games’ upcoming project, Data Hacker: Reboot.

Reboot is the third entry in the Data Hacker series, and will help satisfy that itch for classic RPG gameplay. I had the opportunity to reach out to Ross Tunney, creative director of the series, and learn a little bit more about Reboot.

GameSkinny:  First Things first: How did New Reality Games come about?

Ross Tunney: I first began making hobby RPGs, until Kickstarter launched over here in the UK. Then I lost my job, and thus thought about making my hobby into a career – I launched a Kickstarter asking for the £300 needed to fund the soundtrack composition, and we smashed that goal! Back then the company was ‘Gamers Immersive’ but I’ve since adopted ‘New Reality Games’ for a more professional weight.


GS: Where did the idea for the Data Hacker series come from?

Tunney: I, like many others, had an idea for a game that I wanted to play that had never been made. The basic premise is that there are virtual worlds hidden away from view; something akin to the concept of the Digimon franchise. I also loved the idea of an RPG that utilises many different kinds of areas and even genres, so I created a simulated online game with lots of dungeons, each with their own goal and settinngs. These ranged from high fantasy to sci-fi, horror and even surreal.
Every time I write out a new aspect of the story, I get ideas for where else to take it. And so, the Data Hacker series continues, so long as the ideas continue to spawn.

GS: Data Hacker: Reboot seems to borrow elements of classic RPGs. Are there any games in particular that served as inspiration for the game?

Tunney: I’m a massive retro Final Fantasy fan. Once upon a time, I might have called myself a fanboy, even. But I’m so picky with games that I constantly see flaws in the design and storytelling. I try to avoid things that I personally hate in games. Compulsory scenes that take away from the action and lend nothing to the plot, for example. A scene where Haseo takes over the market stall for what feels like three hours in .hack G.U. springs to mind. *facepalm* – seriously? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

GS: What has been the most difficult aspect of getting Reboot done?

Tunney: Probably the whole time-management aspect. Now that I have a couple of previous releases that need managing (Initiation got onto Steam recently, for example) and having to be flexible around my family (working from home with children, gah!), is really a challenge. Plus, with this being a very niche market, sometimes it’s difficult to secure the funding needed; the first Reboot Kickstarter fell short a measly few hundred. We’re doing well this time around though!


GS: I see that there is much anticipation for Reboot. What sort encouragement, and pressure, does that bring?

Tunney: So much pressure! I know that everyone interprets and experiences the game in a different way, so it’s near impossible to ensure that EVERYBODY has the desired experience with the game. That being said, the community, particularly on Kickstarter, is a die-hard group of cheerleaders that stay loyal to the brand. That brings with it a real sense of camaraderie that I don’t think you get with the really popular games. Indie forever! (Just saying).

GS: What can you tell us about the plot of Reboot?

Tunney: While it is the third in the series, it follows a new cast of characters, new locales and completely new plot to the previous titles. All realities that we know, and many we don’t, collapsed into a paradoxial vortex of power, but then something happened which caused the vortex to spew out seemingly random fragments of the worlds it had devoured. We call these World Fractures.
On a more personal level, we play as Thanier; a mercenary (a common line of work in the circumstances). He and his sister ‘dropped in’ together (something previous unheard of), and they share an unbreakable bond that only twins can. However, shortly after the beginning of the game, Thanier’s sister Anyia disappears, apparently of her own volition. We are tasked with picking up the breadcrumb trail to find out what she’s up to. Along the way, we’ll also delve into the secrets of World-Eaters; monsters who consume World Fragments, the problem of sterility among drop-ins, the acts of ‘dropping in’ themselves, plus the detailed backstories of each of the main character we pick up along the way.

GS: Reboot seems to have a varied cast. Where did the inspiration for some of the characters come from?

Tunney: I’d like to say that I made them all up from scratch, but I’m not immune to pop culture, so I probably took some design cues from various sources. For this project, I designed worlds, then characters to fit them. I wrote synopses of each of them, and handed over to my character artist who came up with the aesthetic designs for each of them. By combining each of our talents, we’ve come up with a proper ‘ragtag’ group of mismatched characters that really gel together.


GS: I see that Reboot will have an in-game trading card game called Trioarch. What can you tell us about it?

Tunney: It’s basically a game with collectible cards that you pit together in ‘battle’. Each player takes turns placing their cards, which each have directions of attack, attack and defence stats, and the winner is the player with the most ‘owned’ cards at the end of the match. It’s basically a game of probability with a strategic twist.

GS: Reboot is coming to PC. Can we expect the game to reach out to any other platforms?

Tunney: I know the game runs smoothly on Linux when run through Wine, but aside from that, we’re not intending for Reboot to move to other platforms just yet. Perhaps sometime in the future.

GS: Now that the project has been funded, what is the next step?

Tunney: We’re working on some stretch goals such as figurine 3d-printing for exclusive rewards, as well as extending some of the games content (which requires more financial outlay).

GS: When can we expect Data Hacker: Reboot to release?

Tunney: I’m hoping to have everything ready for release around January/February next year. However, the final retail release depends largely on the testing phase; how many people come forward to test and how much time they are each willing to dedicate to bug-hunting. Developers make poor testers, since we automatically gravitate to the ‘correct’ method of playing the game!


GS: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Tunney: Just a massive thank you to those who see fit to fund these development campaigns. Without those funds, without people like that, the indie games industry wouldn’t thrive as it does now; we wouldn’t see the diversity in the market that we do today. I’d still be working in a warehouse – creativity housed in a giant metal box. I’m glad people that that would be a waste.

I want to thank Ross Tunney for taking the time to answer my questions. You can check out Data Hacker: Reboot’s Kickstarter page and support the game here.

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Avid gamer and all around geek for over 20 years