INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Tom Szirtes (The Realm Kickstarter, Lantern Interactive)

By Marty Mulrooney


The Realm is a beautiful new point-and-click adventure game currently being developed by Atomhawk Design and Lantern Interactive. The combined teams hope to raise £195,000 via Kickstarter to fund the game by the 22nd May 2013. In The Realm, players take control of Sarina, ‘a headstrong young girl who leaves the safety of her village to embark on a desperate quest to discover a cure for her sick mother’, and Toru, ‘a legendary giant stone golem’. Together, the unlikely pair begin ‘a treacherous adventure set in a far distant future where the world has been reclaimed by nature.’ AMO is therefore proud to present an exclusive online interview with Lantern Interactive technical director Tom Szirtes!

Hi Tom, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!

Hi and thank you for having me!

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?

I’m a game developer. I’ve been programming games since the age of 10, worked at many great companies like Sega, Eidos and Orange and now I have my own development studio called Lantern.


Your first ‘proper’ job was at Sega working on Dreamcast – was this an exciting time?

Definitely. It was a fantastic time to be working in that industry, though I’ve seen my share of ups and downs. Dreamcast was a great console and I was lucky enough to be the first person in Europe to ever code on one – myself and another engineer were locked in a room, it was secret even for anyone else in the company!

You reconnected with Ron Ashtiani, an old colleague, at the Game Developers Conference last year. How did you previously know each other, and what was the end result of making contact again?

Yes I used to work with Ron at a company called Computer Artworks, we made a game called The Thing, a survival horror game. It became a number one selling title. Unfortunately the studio closed about a year later for other reasons but we kept in contact and were friends. We met up at GDC last year for a social and he showed me the graphics they had been doing, but they didn’t know what to do with it. So I suggested we make a game! That was over a year ago now – time flies and lots of hard work has been done on the project.


You recently announced ‘The Realm’ via Kickstarter – what’s the game all about?

Yes, you can see the game here ( It’s an evolution of the graphic adventure set in a far distant future when nature has reclaimed the earth and myth and magic are on the rise once more. It features Atomhawk’s amazing art and we’ve added some new twists to the genre!

The Realm follows the story of a young girl named Sarina, and Toru, a gentle but powerful creature. What can you tell us about these characters, and what is their relationship in the game?

Sarina is a headstrong young girl that is forced to go on this quest to save her sick mother. She believes there is a flower with magical healing properties and goes against the advice of the village elders to find it. On her way she meets a legendary stone golem called Toru. He has been lost alone in the forest for countless years and the game is about their relationship as they go on this journey to a lost city to find the flower. When they start the game Sarina is quite scared by him and he is confused by her, but as the story develops so does their relationship.


The Realm is a joint venture between Atomhawk Design and Lantern Interactive – what is the history of these companies, and how does this partnership work?

Atomhawk is a leading art design studio that has done art for games such as Mortal Combat, Pottermore, Enslaved and many many others. Lantern is a new indie studio start-up run by myself. Atomhawk will be producing the art and Lantern will be doing the coding and development.

The various members of the team have worked on some amazing action-type games over the years, including 007: Blood Stone and Driver: San Francisco, two games that AMO loved! Why the switch to a point-and-click adventure game now and what do you feel this project can contribute to the genre?

Indeed we have a great history and plenty of experience behind us, for instance Richard Jacques our composer who worked on those two titles is a legend in the games industry, and Andrew Curtis our lead designer has worked on titles like Killzone.


We were bored with working always on action games and so we wanted to do something a bit different. We felt we could bring something new to the point-and-click genre, something that could work well on touch screens as well as desktop. We also wanted to do a game ourselves and so we didn’t want to try to take on doing a massive FPS game – it didn’t make sense for the concept either so that’s why we picked the adventure genre.

The graphics look incredible – what is the technology behind the game?

Thanks. The game is using Unity which is a popular game development platform. Our secret is the way we combine Atomhawk’s beautiful hand-drawn artwork with 3D models and animation to give us this amazing look that is unique to The Realm.


What can you tell us about the gameplay?

It’s like a traditional adventure game in that you must complete a series of puzzles to progress through the different environments in the game. However you can control both characters – Sarina and Toru. Each character has their own unique abilities and you need to learn to use both of them in order to solve environmental based puzzles. Sarina can also teach Toru new tricks adding depth to our gameplay.

Will there be voice acting?

If we reach our stretch goals yes!


Who will be providing the game’s music?

Richard Jacques is providing the score – he’s a legend in the games industry.

What makes Kickstarter – and crowdfunding in general – the best way to secure funding for The Realm?

Kickstarter allows us to make the game that we want to make without going through the traditional publisher route. Publishers are great but we would have to change the game significantly in order to get it financed.

Kickstarter also enables us to connect to our audience and get them involved at an early stage in the development of the game.


What rewards can backers look forward to?

We have a raft of rewards ranging from a special edition of the game, beta access, documentaries, art books, posters, t-shirts, figurines, art master classes and your likeness in the game!

If the £195,000 goal isn’t reached, will the project still see completion at some point in the future?

We certainly hope so. We will cross that bridge if we get to it. In the meantime we are positive about reaching our target with your support!


Would you cite any other games, or perhaps films, as influences on The Realm?

We are influenced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli films – we like to call our game style ‘Eastern Heart, Western Art’.  Also games like Ico and Machinarium are big influences for us.

Thank you for your time Tom – The Realm looks fantastic and I wish both yourself and the rest of the team the best of luck with the final stretch of the Kickstarter campaign!

Thanks so much for having us!

The Realm Kickstarter

For more information – and to pledge your support – please visit:


1 Comment

Filed under Games

One response to “INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Tom Szirtes (The Realm Kickstarter, Lantern Interactive)

  1. Breathtakingly gorgeous looking title and interesting gameplay ideas, this game really deserves to be kickstarted ! Some great rewards too

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