Stories from the Sea
“They had only the bones of the last crewmen to perish, which they smashed on the bottom of the boat so that they could eat the marrow.”
A few years ago, while on vacation, I picked up a book from the library at the lodge we were staying in. This book, “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick, tells the horrific tale of the Whaleship Essex and the events and extremes the crew went through in order to survive. The happenings of the Essex also inspired Melville’s Moby Dick.
A few months later, I was watching an American Experience on PBS about whaling. They mentioned the Essex, but more importantly, showed a reenactment of a lone boat in the middle of the violent sea. I instantly thought… SPACE.
The sea, a fairly solid allegory for space, and the confined quarters of a lifeboat equating to the limited area on a space vessel had my mind swimming with ideas. Essex in space could touch on something that we rarely hear about in sci-fi tales: cannibalism, and doing whatever it takes to survive
I was having a hard time shaking this idea from my mind. I had mentioned it to Zach Gage during E3 2010, knowing that this game would need some fairly heavy systems design and that Zach was very systemy. He thought it was a great idea, but we were both deep in development making cool games, so we put it on the back burner.
Needless to say, development of this game is now well underway. It's called Tharsis, and it's a turn-based, perma-death, realistic space strategy game. With dice. And cannibalism. The white whale (sans the metaphor) is an asteroid strike that disables the vessel. The crew is not just fighting to save their own lives, but to save the lives of everyone.
For more info on the Essex, here is an easy-to-digest article. And, of course, here's our Tharsis page. We intend to write more about our inspirations behind the game, as well as the team's shared love of space, so please keep checking back.