boy playing a game on the computer

Qalupalik Update 2016

October 11, 2016

20 Minutes


About the author

Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people.

About three years ago, we began crafting an idea for a game. It was centred around the idea of the Qalupalik myth. As arctic ice breaks up around May and June of every year, it becomes as tempting as it is dangerous to head out on the plates of ice and make your way over open water. It’s fun, the danger is a part of that fun. But mythology sprung around it to protect those who may not recognize the risks. The Qalupalik are sea creatures that exist under the sea ice, waiting for young people to come a little too close to the open sea ice, where they are kidnapped. The Qalupalik story has existed in Inuit myth for eternity and over the last three years we have worked to bring it to life.

People standing on ice

We’ve hit as many roadblocks as we have successes with this project. At one point we cancelled the game, then just as quickly cancelled it. We’ve produced a ton of demos around the concepts, developed the characters and the work Jonathan Wright has done around the qalupalik themselves have been universally well received.

The universal truths of being a small indie studio are hitting us hard.

1. Don’t take on projects bigger than your britches.
2. You’ve still got to pay the bills, month by month.

The project is huge – much bigger than our team can handle at this moment. We are growing, and on the verge of hiring an additional six people, which will likely help. But the second point keeps biting us in the butt. As our team grows, so do our bills. We have a bunch of projects on the go, many which we will unveil over the next few weeks because these projects pay the bills. Right now, Qalupalik does not.

Qalupalik is not dead – far from it. But we are forced to reexamine it. We are very excited about the world this project exists in. We are very excited about the mythology and the Inuit partnerships we have developed to ensure an accurate and authentic vision of this world. But we need to now focus it on achievable goals for both our team size and our time availability.

Here is what we do know.

  • The release date of 2016 that is posted on some websites will be move to undefined.
  • The continued work on this project has and will continue, including recent work by our recent hire, Brandon Bunnie, to bring more and more of the characters to life as 3D models.
  • The world that it exists in will be the target of many smaller projects that we hope will lead to continued support and funding for the main project.  We have been fortune to be a part of the release of Beneath Floes, and a film project called Qalupalik was just awarded the Pitch This winner at the Toronto International Film Festival with both our own Nyla Innuksuk and our friend, Sean Wainsteim beginning work in that direction.
  • Qalupalik will feature 18 Quintillion procedurally generated ice floes, and will take five billion years to fully explore. You will be able to see each other through a unique multiplayer mode, but let’s be honest, you’ll never find each other so don’t bother
Walrus qalupalik drawing vs 3D model

Work completed just this past week to begin to bring the “Walrus Qalupalik” to life as a model.

Qalupalik moves forward and we will continue to share our successes and failures with you as we progress. At the end of the day, like any other company we have to pay the bills. We will continue to do that so that one day we can fully realize this vision and release the project to you, the unwashed.

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