A Halifax-developed video game about a red fox is getting rave reviews

A video game about a small red fox on a big adventure is already making a big splash after it was released last week on XBox Game Pass, a video game service that boasts millions of subscribers.

Tunic was developed by Andrew Shouldice of Halifax.

“I had always wanted to make a game about the secrets of exploring, about truly discovering things,” said Shouldice. “I wanted to really hide things and give people the real sensation of exploring, like when they were a kid.”

Tunic wasn’t something that was pulled together in quick fashion. Shouldice said it was years in the making as he turned it from a concept he first scribbled on paper to its debut.

He worked with developers in other parts of the world who helped him with parts of the project, but the bulk of the work was done by Shouldice in his tiny studio located near the Halifax Common.

“I’ve worked on the game for seven years,” said Shouldice. “So when I heard that people really liked it, it was really a profound moment for me.”

Andrew Shouldice is shown in his studio in Halifax where he did most of the work for his new video game, Tunic. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The development of video games has grown rapidly in Nova Scotia over the last 10 years.

While there are many independent developers like Shouldice, there are more than 30 companies in the province producing them.

“There’s even some big studios outside of Canada that have invested heavily in the province,” said Marcelo Careaga, the president of the Interactive Society of Nova Scotia and the studio manager at Ubisoft Halifax. “We are definitely seeing a lot of growth, especially in the younger generation.”

A member of the Ubisoft Halifax design team works on a video game project in the company studio in downtown Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotia Community College offers a two-year game development program diploma at its Truro campus.

To keep classes small, there is an intake of 25 students each year.

Because there are hundreds of applications from young people interested in entering the growing industry, there is a wait-list for the program every year.

“We have many great examples of people, some of them very young people, excelling and creating their own games,” said Careaga.

Shouldice is one of those people. He said the reaction to Tunic “has kind of been staggering.” He said he plans to take a break from his work for a while.

“But I don’t think I’m going to stop making video games. Maybe there’s another one in me some time in the future.”

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