Norse Mythology, Shield Maidens, and How to Pronounce the Title
We’ve made games for years as a two person team based in London. Early on in our careers, we started with simple game making tutorials that would cover the basic game genres. SHUMPS, basic platformers, things like that. This is what really got us started. Whenever we wanted to get started making a full game, the tutorials across the interwebs always told us the same thing: “Start simple, go with something easy to make”, but our problem was that every time we started to make one of these games we didn’t really have the motivation to see the game to its completion.
Not too long ago we were developing a game called “Jump Bros”. It was an infinite runner type of game and you can probably imagine what the main character looked like. It was supposed to be a mobile game and try to catch some of the hype that was surrounding Flappy Bird at the time. We were sure that we would finish this one. However, it suffered from the same problem of not motivating us enough to finish it. The silver lining though was whilst we were developing Jump Bros we had an idea for another game, which would later become Eitr.
The idea for Eitr came while we were watching a TV show called “Vikings” on the History channel. Our game had no name at the time but the idea was to have a Sword and Shield based 2D combat system starring a Shield Maiden, because we loved the character “Lagertha” from the show.
In “Vikings”, Lagertha was the wife of the leading character. Unlike how most females are typically portrayed in media, Lagertha was unconventional. She had a strong background as a warrior, and as a Shield Maiden, she had exceptional combat expertise with a blunt, to the point personality.
We found this character very inspiring as we feel that females, especially in gaming, are too often portrayed as side-characters or damsels in distress, but in reality - this isn’t the case.
At this point we had an idea of what our lead character would be like and we knew we wanted to base it on a Viking theme. We did some research and we soon found out that there was a huge difference between Vikings and Norse Mythology.
Vikings are raiders, Norsemen are simply men from the north. Not all Norsemen were Vikings, but almost all Vikings and Norsemen believed in Norse myth. After conducting some more research, we decided to base the game on Norse Mythology rather than Vikings as there are so many stories and fantasy elements to Norse tales that we felt we could interpret in our own way.
During our research stage, we learned about ‘Eitr’, a poison from Norse Mythology. It’s not only a poison that corrupts and bestows evil into its host, but also the source of all life. Immediately we knew we wanted to base the story of the game around this substance. We weren’t even considering naming the game Eitr at the time because we felt that the word was difficult for people to pronounce and wouldn’t understand its meaning. Eventually we realized it was a perfect name because we wanted the game to feel like it had an element of mystery to it and we felt that having the title of the game itself be a mystery to most people would be a great start to achieving that.
For those wondering, the correct pronunciation for "Eitr" is "Ey-Tuh-r". 'Ey' like 'Hey' and the final 'r' is pronounced by rolling the tongue.
Our backgrounds as gamers include a lot of Adventure games and RPG’s, from Zelda, Dark Souls, to World of Warcraft and Diablo. They’re our favourite types of games, so we wanted to make a game for once that was in the same breadth of games that we play.
We didn’t set out to recreate the wheel, but instead simply modify it. So in the planning of Eitr, we used our favourite games as a source of not only inspiration, but research too. We wanted to take what we felt to be some of our most enjoyable aspects out of the games we loved and put them together alongside some of our own ideas to create something unique.
For the first time in a long time, we found ourselves developing a game that we not only wanted to make, but also wanted to play. Another aspect we did differently from our other projects (and I don’t really know why) was we decided to make the game completely incognito. We didn’t tell anyone. We were making the game for ourselves and only for ourselves. For the first time we really enjoyed playing the game that we were making.
After a couple of months of building the game in the darkness, we felt it was time to come out into the light, and we started to show the game to friends and family. Everyone thought it was pretty cool, but the game was still very much in a prototype state.
Around that time it was time to decide what kind of art style we were going to use for the game, we thought that pixel-art was the best bet since we’re only a team of two and only one of us would focus on the art. Interestingly enough, David Wright (the other half of Eneme Entertainment and artist) at that point had no experience in pixel-art. So he used ‘Swords and Sworcery’ as a reference point in the beginning as he liked their long limbs and simple style, and after a while of doing pixel-art, David’s experience in this art form got better and he was able to create the unique art style we have for Eitr today.
Once we started to nail down the game’s art style, we decided we wanted to show it on the TIGSource and Unity forums. The positive responses exceeded our expectations! I do want to emphasize though that the driving motivation for the development of this game wasn’t anything to do with other people’s opinions, it was solely the fact that we were making a game that we enjoyed playing.
After a couple more months of development we wanted to show the game in video form, so we recorded some simple prototype raw gameplay footage, it wasn’t a trailer or anything. But when we posted the video on the forums and YouTube, it received an inexplicable amount of attention.
Not only from people watching the video but we started seeing several write-ups from journalists, then emails from publishers started coming in. All of a sudden we found ourselves in a situation where we started to realize that this game is going to be something special. It even came to a point where a publisher we were talking to showed the game to a PlayStation rep and literally a day later we were at the SCEE headquarters demoing the game. It was overwhelming. At that time we felt a Kickstarter campaign was the way to go but before we knew it, one of our favorite publishers, Devolver Digital reached out to publish our game. It was a fantasy we didn’t think was possible. All in all it’s been an awesome journey so far!
We hope you enjoyed a brief inside look into our game. Eitr is still currently in development with a 2016 release on PC and PS4 (check us out on the madewith.unity.com games section and Steam!).