the falconer came to PS5 and PS4 on August 5, 2021 after being released along with the Xbox Series X/S last year. Now, almost a year after its release, The Falconeer has found a community of players who enjoy it immensely Tomas Salas work, and we had the chance to talk to the creator himself about The Falconner, the development, his career, working with the PS5 and his process, how he works.
Interview with Tomas Sala, creator of The Falconeer
The Falconeer as a game has come a long way since its inception as just an idea in Sala’s mind. Since its launch alone, it has been nominated for a BAFTA, an incredible achievement for any game or developer, let alone one man and a passion for his job.
“I’ve been in the games industry since 2001, I started a studio with three other guys who came straight out of art academy, and I wanted to make games in the Netherlands,” Sala says as he begins to tell his career.
“We ended up doing a lot of work for rent, but around 2013 I started experimenting with doing things myself, making some mods for Skyrim.”
Believe it or not, Sala’s mods in Skyrim are the stuff of legends, and a big part of what helped him build his name and reputation. It was in this moment that he realized that people really enjoy his work, that he thought maybe he should keep going.
But Sala didn’t go straight to The Falconeer. His first indie game was basically a mess and after that Sala was burned out by the experience. It wasn’t up to a PSVR title, TrackLab, where he and his studio found some success again. “It was a beast to make,” said Sala, although more important than game sales was the experience Sala got out of it.
“It came out and brought with it some sort of experience in talking to console parties, and just for a game to be born – not just through the development aspects, but getting it to market, financing and I used that for The Falconeer.”
Sala quit the studio he co-founded to work on The Falconeer on his own, a decision he obviously doesn’t regret, especially as he is aware that he works best alone, and using his own method. “I always liked working alone, also in a team. I’m not a great team player… I’ve always liked working with people, but I’m not very good at it.”
He also notes that being able to work on the project alone allowed him to be home when he and his wife had their first child. “Those are moments when you realize ‘how do I want to raise my child?’ and I really wanted to be there, I didn’t want to be in the office from eight to eight, you know?”
It all came together almost by accident, because working on The Falconeer alone was the road we had to take, and it certainly paid off. “I jumped in, and here we are.”
As much as Sala has developed the game on his own, he is quick to say that there are things he just couldn’t have done without the help of others, people like Benedict Nichols who compiled the game’s score, all the support staff of Wired Productions to help with things like QA testing, marketing, porting the game to other platforms, such as PS5 and PS4.
“I don’t have a musical bone in my body,” Sala admits, although he knows what he likes and what sounds good to him. The Falconeer’s sound is arguably one of the best elements of the game, as it adds beautifully to what I think is a good pace to the gameplay.
“The beats are very hypnotic in an almost meditative way. You start flying around and it becomes kind of… trance-y. Sometimes you just get sucked into it and that’s a discovery he made. So we would just find these things and get on with it. So there are those bits where you kind of fly around and everything goes smoothly, the night comes, and it’s kind of meant to be meditative, and then the fight is just there to tear you away emotionally… I guess that’s very interesting. ”
In my review, I talked about the ebb and flow of the gameplay and highlighted it as one of the game’s greatest strengths. Sala is right in the sense that as a player it is very interesting to have the experience that you always have to be sharp, yet are forced enough by the world to lose yourself in it.
What really grabbed me about The Falconeer was the story and the different characters you encountered along the way as you learned more about the lore and history of the game. So it was pretty shocking to hear that this was Sala’s first time writing a story like this, with dialogue and all.
“What I’m doing is a bit strange because I’m not a writer,” he said. “When I started doing The Falconeer, I knew I’m not experienced enough to do a close-up story about a person. So a personal story or a hero story or whatever that a classic game would have. That requires a level of writing that I didn’t consider myself proficient in, maybe I’ll give it a try after that. Who knows?”
Sala’s own reflection and perception of himself and his talents paid off well, as the game’s story benefits from a strong focus on the themes and meaning more than on an individual. “I wanted to take something that was about politics, about conflict and landscape. I especially like landscapes.”
If you’ve yet to play The Falconeer, I won’t spoil much for you, just to say that the main theme is the idea of wanting to escape, but being limited either by history, your society, or yourself. Sala lets his intentions and meanings be his point of departure and just lets his ideas come through unfiltered and unjudged. “Something weird will come out.”
It’s an artistic and creative zone that Sala can be during these states, and it’s where his themes will also leak out even without intending to, such as a mission where you destroy the pirates’ home by killing the turtle. liberate who carries their base against his will on his back. It’s only after that that Sala sometimes sees it, but it’s still there.
The story process doesn’t just start and stop with the plot, of course, but continues in every aspect of the world, details Sala likes to get lost in, and as with everything else, he doesn’t feel right. “Before The Maw, there was a need for something in the world to break the water, otherwise it’s just really boring when it’s a flat ocean, and you can get your bearings that way too.”
“Then I have to think, how does that work? I had the most fun figuring that out – I made it, how does it fit together? And from that the tradition just flows. So basically I just let go of a lot of stuff and then I have really long sessions where I just sit and think, you know, what does it mean? And what about?”
As Sala tells me his process, it all makes perfect sense, although it may seem inefficient to some. Sala is an artist in every sense of the word, with his own process and his own way of doing things, which is why solo development works so well for him.
In addition to praise from fans who played the game, The Falconeer has been recognized as one of the best indie games released in the past year, even going so far as to be nominated for a BAFTA.
“I did not expect it. Three or four months after the launch there were many ups and downs and the nomination came at the right time. It was very uplifting and a huge confirmation.”
It’s not always easy to know how people really feel about something you’ve created, which is why the nomination meant so much to Sala. People really like the game he made and would love to see more of it. As for a sequel, Sala isn’t quite ready to reveal everything, though he does have some ideas about where he might go with a sequel, and what he would do with it.
Suffice it to say that if Sala did a sequel, it would be bigger and more epic. Hopefully he will get the chance to do that because after playing The Falconeer twice in the past year and having the chance to talk to Sala I can’t wait to see where he goes.
The Falconeer is currently available on PS5 and PS4, and you can check out our review here.