Thomas Lynskey is a ‘relatively new’ face in the world of media, although he has been involved in it most of his life. His breakthrough project is the upcoming ‘Titanic: Honor and Glory’, a historically accurate gaming rendition of the events surrounding the Titanic’s sinking, and the people it beholds.
Hey, Thomas. It’s awesome to be able to interview you on such short notice!
Hello Ben, thanks for the interview. I’m honored that you’ve reached out to us about the project and want us to talk more about it. I was also flattered when you described your interviews as being conducted with people who are inspirations, so that made my day when you approached me.
So tell me a bit about the project ‘Titanic: Honor and Glory’.
“Titanic: Honor and Glory” is a video game we are creating about the story of the RMS Titanic. We are building the entire ship, inside and out, with as much authenticity as humanly possible. For the first time in history since the ship itself, people will be able to walk around the ship at their own leisure and explore it freely. We have a fictional storyline highlighting the tale of the lead character, but this is used only as a plot device to force the player to explore the ship and talk to various different people. With the exception of the lead character, all other people in the game will be real life based. The player will be able to talk to them, learn about their stories, and see how they acted during the disaster. The player will also be able to experience the voyage and the sinking, witnessing the heroism and gaining a broader depth of understanding regarding what happened on that fateful night.
What inspired you to create this game?
Our entire core team- myself (Tom Lynskey), my business partner and the interior modeler (Matt DeWinkeleer), our exterior modeler (Kyle Hudak), and our many consultants all grew up passionate about the Titanic and history in general, and this project actually began as an attempt to see what the interiors of the ship looked like. Matt began modeling the rooms to simulate for himself the ability to walk around and explore. The idea evolved and eventually the parts were put together to create all of the work into a video game, and ultimate the concept of creating a fully developed product people can commercially acquire.
How historically accurate are you aiming to make this game?
We are looking to make this completely historically accurate. I can’t emphasize that enough. The models of the ship and the interiors are completely accurate (as best as existing resources allow). Even the piping and electrical wiring is accurate. We’ve made discoveries of our own about the layout of the ship that have never been known before, and we are modeling the entire thing in a level of detail never seen before. We are working with the top historians on the subject and consult with them daily on even the most minute details. However, it doesn’t stop there. Beyond the ship, our characters must be accurate looking to their real-life counterparts, they must act and talk like their counterparts, and even the props of environments off the ship are correct. We are recreating the City of Southampton, the city Titanic departed from, as it appeared in 1912 and have even deciphered the layout and structure of the town further than anyone before us. In the events of the game, events during the voyage and the protocol the crew follows are meticulously researched, and the sinking is being calculated and evaluated in greater depth than ever before.
I must note that while our team is extremely talented with research and deciphering information, we are very lucky to live in an era where so much information is being uncovered and becoming easier to find.
What stage are you at in your game, in terms of production?
We are still on the funding stage right now. Things are progressing well thanks to the money raised during our IndieGoGo campaign in the beginning of the year, but our priority right now is securing the funds to complete the project. We are still very early and don’t have gameplay finished yet, but we have a significant part of the ship either finished or in the final stages. However, completion of the game is still well off, and I cannot accurately predict a release date until we know when the funds will be completed.
You’ve set a ‘maximum ideal’ financial target of $2 million. This seems a daunting figure to many, will this pay for a large, full and detailed game?
$2,000,000 was the amount that we thought would be the absolute ideal amount to raise during the campaign. We didn’t expect it, and of course, we didn’t achieve it. This is alright. However, even with $2 million, we would have had to make the game on a shoe-string budget. Many games are in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, and we would have had to still find volunteers to work or pay amateurs on a low-budget scale. As we have now stepped away from crowd-funding and are now searching for a more formal source of capital, we have to reassess our budget and it has been raised a bit to accommodate unavoidable costs and pay more reasonable amounts for professional crew. I cannot go into specifics on the new budget.
What is your target audience with this game?
Our target audience is anyone. I know it’s vague, but it truly does come down to anyone. Titanic is something beloved by all, so we expect the project to carry across many boundaries. Naturally, this will have a stronger appeal to younger generations- those who are used to gaming and know what they’re getting into, but we have also had a dozen or so people who are older folks telling us that they’ve never played a video game in their life, but they are looking forward to starting with ours.
Some people may deem this game, amongst movies and other depictions, as insensitive. What would you say to such critics?
People often call our project tasteless, offensive, etc. We face this a lot actually. However, we quickly realize that none of these people have taken the time to learn about our project. They over look the fact that we are creating a tool meant for education. One of our top priorities is respect. This isn’t some cheap attempt to make something exciting and profitable. Certainly, we are looking to make this project appealing and successful, but this is a subject that our entire team takes personally. We know the human toll the disaster had, and we see this project as our way of making a mark and paying tribute to the tragedy. We have discussed with the relatives of at least a dozen Titanic survivors and victims, and once they find out about the goals of the project and the effort we are putting into doing this right, we have been met with unanimous approval and support.
For a 23 year old, this is a rather ambitious project. Why take on such a seemingly mountainous challenge?
I know what you mean though. It is highly ambitious, but I feel that I and the rest of the team have a good handle on this. My whole life, I’ve been doing crazy big things. I’ve learned the ins and outs of leading projects and making huge tasks happen. We have a team of highly talented people who are experts at what they do, and I feel that their work speaks for itself. My business partner has a business and accounting degree with experience in business law, and between his expertise and my direction, combined with the raw talents of the artists, researchers, and programmers, this project has been becoming easier and easier for us to accomplish.
What’s next for Thomas Lynskey?
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I do actually know what I want to be doing down the road, but I’m not 100% certain on which path yet. Depending on the outcome of this project, I may stick with development like this. I’ve also been directing films my whole life and I’d like to get back into that as well. As long as I’m telling compelling stories to audiences, I’m happy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’d love to own a studio of some sort producing games and films. Again, though, this has a similar answer to the above. It all depends on the course of events over the next year or two. I have answers, but it’s far to complicated, and in some cases personal, to put down into writing at the moment.
What did you strive to be when you were younger, and does it vastly differ from what you’re doing now?
When I was younger, as in perhaps 8 or 9 years old, I thought I’d be a teacher. By the time I reached 10, I realized I wanted to be a film maker. In middle school, I wanted to be an archaeologist, and then in high school it went back to film making. While I do archaeology as a side hobby, I realized that film making and teaching have simply been combined for me. My films are almost exclusively about history, and game development now has become an extension of that. This Titanic game will play as an interactive film with a compelling story line and immersive emotions.
As a huge ‘fan’, per se, of the Titanic and it’s many mysterious tales, will I be able to learn about the ‘smaller’ individuals of the Titanic?
You certainly will be able to meet many of the lesser known characters of the Titanic. Unfortunately, we can’t have everybody- video games simply can’t handle it. However, we’ve picked out a list of around 200 or so real-life people who you can meet and observe ranging from the officers, the famous First Class, all the way down to the deck hands, engineers, and Second and Third Class- some of whom no one has ever heard of. We’ve dug up some unknown figures and shed light on them, uncovered diverse perspectives, and are working to allow the player to learn as much as possible about these people. We are even digging up some new information ourselves about these people- some of which has never been known in the past outside the closest family members.
But it doesn’t stop at people. You’ll be able to explore even the lesser known areas of the ship- the store rooms, the distribution panel cabinets, the linen closets. Everything is being meticulously recreated and crafted with a high level of realism. You’ll also be able to witness the lesser known events during the departure, voyage, sinking, and rescue that most people never realized happened.
What depth of research have you done about both the events of the sinking of Titanic, and the people within it?
I cannot go too far into how much research we have done regarding the sinking for two reasons. For one, it’s confidential and being saved for the final release of the game. The other reason is that we haven’t yet secured our full budget, so we cannot yet afford to conduct a lot of the data collection that we plan to. However, I can assure that what we come out with, with the help of the top historians on the sinking, the architecture, and the engineering of the disaster, what we come out with will be some of the most advanced data on any disaster subject. This isn’t a ‘toot our own horn’ kind of thing, but it must be this detailed, if we are going to show such detail and in real time.
I’m keen to see how this goes, and I’m sure you” inspire a whole new generation into the wonder and awe that the Titanic brings. Good luck with it!
Thanks very much for the well wishes. Things are looking promising right now, our confidence is high in our own abilities and in the future of the project, and we are just as excited as everyone else is to see this moving forward. Thank you for the interview, and feel free to do a follow up in the future as the project develops.
You can see Lynskeys’ project via his website HERE.