PAX AUS INDIE SHOWCASE 2023 – Primordials: Hollow Hero
The PAX AUS Indie Showcase is a chance to see some of the best new and upcoming titles from the ANZ digital and tabletop development scene, with past winners including such celebrated games as Unpacking, Hollow Knight, Yum Cha and many more. The 2023 Indie Showcase is shaping up to be another highlight of the event and Player2 encourages visitors to PAX AUS to make their way to the PAX Rising area and check out the following title, as well as the many other excellent indies on display.
Primordials: Fireborn first flew onto the Player2 radar at PAX Aus 2018. In the five years since, Aussie developers Toybox Game Studios have made a lot of big decisions about the future of the company and the Primordials series, putting Fireborn aside to focus on Primordials Legends: Hollow Hero, winner of a spot in the PAX Aus 2023 Indie Showcase. We spoke to Yasin from Toybox to find out more on the development of the game and the challenges they’ve faced as an independent studio.
Player2: What was the team’s reaction to winning a spot in the 2023 Indie Showcase?
Yasin: Receiving the news about being accepted into the Indie Showcase at this Year’s Pax was a big shock to all of us, we really didn’t expect to be selected. We felt it was a nice little win for the team, it was cool to see some recognition of the hard work we have been putting into Hollow Hero. It’s a huge honour, and to be accompanied by some great games this year we are super excited!
P2: We first encountered ToyBox at PAX AUS 2018 when Primordials: Fireborn was on the show floor. What has been the journey over this time period to arrive at Primordials Legends: Hollow Hero?
Yasin: Toybox as a studio has been attending Pax events for several years now, and we absolutely love it. Primordials itself, as a game has certainly evolved over the years. As a young team, we were and are learning as we go, and that means that we have had to evolve and change based on new information we get.
Fireborn was an ambitious project, and back in 2018, we had been working on that game for several years with the limited resources we had. We ultimately decided to shift our focus to something with a smaller scope. It was a tough decision to make at the time but through some team reflection and input from industry peers, we decided to set Fireborn aside, as our vision for that project was a bit beyond our reach at that point in time.
It seemed like the safest way for us to take what we had learned and apply those lessons to a game we knew we could complete while also retaining the majority of the hard work we had put in up to that point. Fireborn as a concept still very much exists; Hollow Hero is acting like the stepping stone we need to continue toward it. However, it is very much its own labour of love as well!
These updates have not deterred us from creating something within this universe, and we have many stories to tell in the future, with Hollow Hero being the first in an ever-growing and expanding universe.
P2: What have been some of the team’s biggest inspirations when developing Hollow Hero?
Yasin: The team at Toybox loves big action/adventure narrative blockbusters. What got us into making games were some of the greats like Halo, Legend of Zelda, and God of War. Captivating story-driven games with a sense of adventure and being a badass! When developing Hollow Hero, we took great inspiration from Santa Monica Studio’s God of War (2018) and God of War: Ragnarok. You can see that in how we’ve placed our over-the-shoulder camera and combat. There is a reason people at PAX last year were jokingly calling our game God of Wombat!
P2: The third-person action-adventure genre is a very competitive space; what would you say are Hollow Hero’s greatest strengths that help it stand apart?
Yasin: Making games is hard work, and making something that stands out is even more difficult. The way we want to make games is to elevate every aspect of a game to the highest level it can be. So, anyone who plays our game will see the details we have put into our world: our characters, gameplay, storytelling, and music. Each of these areas helps define our game. And what other game do you know where someone can play as a combat wombat?
P2: How important do you think government funding and shows like PAX AUS are to helping Australian indie studios continue to output world class products? What further developments would you like to see in this area?
Yasin: We don’t think anyone can argue against the importance of things like government funding and events like PAX AUS in assisting Aussie studios in creating incredible games. Many games owe their existence to the funding they’ve received. However, at some level, we believe it’s important to recognise that anyone can create a great game if they have the desire and are willing to give their best effort.
For example, despite our best efforts for Hollow Hero, we haven’t received any funding for this game. Yet, we persist in moving forward to create a game we can be proud of, and hopefully, players will enjoy.
Events like PAX provide us with access to those very players. So, not only are we expanding our audience, but we also have the opportunity to playtest the game with a diverse range of people to make improvements. For instance, our demo for PAX AUS 23 has undergone significant updates thanks to the feedback we received during PAX AUS 22.
Regarding the developments we’d like to see, we always welcome the possibility of more significant events taking place in Australia or opportunities to participate in global events, particularly when supported by funding. We believe that increased funding opportunities, in general, would be highly beneficial. While Australia offers some fantastic funding opportunities, their accessibility can still be limited depending on the composition of the team and the nature of the game itself.
P2: Hollow Hero went through a KickStarter campaign that sadly didn’t fund – how did this affect the team and what do you think were some of the key issues that prevented reaching the funding goal?
Yasin: This was a big disappointment for us. It did feel like we were putting all our eggs in one basket. Creating a Kickstarter campaign is a lot of work and requires extensive preparation. Ultimately, we feel that few people really knew who we were and what we were trying to create. Not having an audience prior to starting the Kickstarter campaign always meant that it was going to be an uphill battle. At this point in time, we are unsure if it’s something we might consider revisiting in the future.
P2: What can PAX AUS 2023 attendees look forward to at the Primordials Legends booth?
Yasin: Us, obviously… Jokes aside, we have taken on a lot of feedback received from Pax last year. Brunt’s combat has been reworked! There is now a lot of impact and weight behind her attacks, and the team is super happy about how that has changed over the past 12 months. In addition to Brunt’s combat rework, this will be the first time showcasing Brunt’s ‘Ruberiote Rage.’ We think players are really going to enjoy that one!
P2: Is there a rough release window for Hollow Hero just yet?
Yasin: We wish we could give a definite answer; however, at this point in time, we don’t know what that date is. Nevertheless, we are getting closer to announcing when that might be in the new year… maybe…
PAX AUS Attendees can find the Hollow Hero booth in the PAX AUS Indie Pavilion section of PAX AUS from October 6-8. Hollow Hero can be Wishlisted on Steam right now!