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Winterfall is a sandbox RPG influenced, gameplay-wise, by experiences as diverse as Mount and Blade, Mass Effect, DayZ, The Sims, the Elder Scrolls games and, of course, the latter Ultima games (7, 8 and Online), set in a fictional late antiquity/early dark ages setting. Contrary to most RPGs where the player is in control of a single hero character from beginning to end, the focus of Winterfall is on a House, or Household, which is grown and developed through deeds performed by the player's successive characters.

Every character the player creates will ultimately die, within terms decided by the player: will the character fall in battle or adventure? Will he/she be retired to age and fall away? Will he/she be given up as a war asset in one of the conflicts of the age? Will he/she simply grow weary of the world and run out of drive? In every case, anything that has been unlocked or obtained with the character will remain available as part of the House or Household's legacy.

The kind of life the character had prior to his/her end will impact how much of his/her legacy is conserved: did he/she marry and have children? Did he/she live a life of violence and barbarity? Did he/she leave behind a strong mark on the world or people? Or did he/she attain a high level of personal development? Such things will contribute to a kind of rating that will determine how much of the character's achievements and acquisitions becomes legacy, and so will the way the character's days are chosen to end.

If a character survives his/her journey within its chosen vocation, it may embark on another one in another vocation or in the same, or be retired or seek to attain a "memorable ending", attempting to maximize his legacy through a gameplay ordeal.

The game is predominantly a single-player experience but is meant to allow for various degrees of multiplayer play.

Most of what the player will do in Winterfall involves things such as:

  • exploring deep wilderness, discovering the profound character of each region;
  • interacting with people and animals endowed with unique personalities;
  • bonding with them in more or less dramatic and memorable gameplay moments;
  • making both love or war in deep, consequential and lasting relationships;
  • travelling across a rich, changing and moody landscape;
  • looking for fragments of lost lore to piece together, trade or decypher;
  • recovering precious resources from dark and removed depths and strongholds;
  • making objects for use or trade;
  • building structures, lasting or temporary;
  • openly or covertly fighting predators, marauders and warbands with knife, sword, axe, spear, mace, bow, on foot or horseback;
  • stocking up resources and prestige;
  • managing group and communities, sedentarily united or temporarily brought together;
  • finding a soulmate or companion to ensure the survival of a House or Household;
  • and finally, simply living in a day to day basis.

At singular thresholds of global player achievement, the game will receive updates to bring closer the Winterfall itself. As time goes on and the Winterfall approaches, the game will get harder, the world more desperate, conflicts more numerous and strident.

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Hello folks and thank you for tuning in to this update, the first in a long time, after some crazy busy months this first part of the year.

As ever, accommodating the development needs of a game like Winterfall when you've got all the obligations and responsibilities of regular life, tends to be a challenge. Thus time flies and we work a lot more than we do update, and maintain a slow, careful pace as we implement things that haven't really done before.

It's a funny thing because if you want to implement a level-based system or a gear-based system, you've got plenty of reference of it being done right (and wrong) in all kinds of games. In Winterfall, as we're going for broad simulation and entirely new types of mechanics, we have to travel through the jungles of discovery and it takes a while, as well as meshing with other systems and mechanics for things to show if they work.

ScreenshotSaturday29 1

Recap

In the previous blog update many months ago, we talked about Emotions, Homecoming and Camping. To briefly recap:

- Emotions are felt by your character in response to any event (including feelings like hunger, thirst, or alleviating said hunger or thirst or others). What emotions are felt in response to what stimuli depends on your character's personality (which you determine initially and expand further along your adventures). Emotions are also the game's main currency as many things you do can be imbued with Emotion, and the way to interact with others meaningfully is through a transfer of Emotions. Emotions also build up to help develop your character's Traits, and they may also inspire the character to vent through certain Outlets, or indulge in other ways, depending on whether they're positive or negative.

- Homecoming is about how the character must "deliver" knowledge to a destination. As things happen along the way, such as adventures, misadventures or emotional highs and lows, the character may get forgetful due to intense immersion in his/her circumstances. It's therefore up to you to balance your character's emotional fulfillment and adventure-seeking, while preserving the knowledge he/she carries. That knowledge, as a resource, will appear again in the Remembrance system, which we will describe later on. To sum it up very quickly however, Remembrance is the means through which you will help repopulate the world, by bringing back things that once were. Remembrance is the score you will seek to build and keep high; whether you end up spending it to bring things back, or want to hoard it and bring home as much of it as you can, is entirely a matter of playstyle... and should have interesting consequences.

studying

Those systems were a very important thing to implement as they lay the groundwork for further Wilderness gameplay developments. Everything stems from there, as additional systems are based on them.

Our next goals for August & September are implementing a few more systems and mechanics:

Drives

The Drives system, which allows characters/entities to react to their emotional state or environment by wanting to do certain things to either alleviate what disquiets them or to bask in what positive feelings inhabit them at the time. A common example would be to have a hungry character actually want to eat... but will they want a picnic or will they want to feast on a catch of fresh fish or feast on wild game?

Drives are based on all kinds of character states and ultimately on environmental factors as well. Maybe seeing those alluring ruins in the distance will summon the drive to go explore them. Maybe the character will wake up in the morning with the drive to go fight someone. It'll be up to you to seek to fulfill or frustrate those Drives, for emotional gratification or character discipline.

Personality Traits

The core Trait system should follow suit, enabling you to build your character's personality by "purchasing" behavior and reaction modifiers from a choices tree, spending Emotion for it. The idea here is not just to build stats and bonuses, but also fine tune who your character actually is and what your character can do when dealing with both Emotions and people. The idea is to attain a high degree of reactivity and customization, and give the characters powers of personality that they can use to impact situations: if you could appease or terrify that aggressor, be it wild beast or person, that could spare you from the risk of a messy fight. Those Traits will come as story nuggets, so you'll also be able to write your character's story that way, by acquiring Traits.

Character Controller Improvements

Also on the table for this month, further improvements to the character controller. As Winterfall does involve a ton of jogging and walking around, the character should really be interesting and comfortable to pilot. Dealing with obstacles and landscape features in a more streamlined way is a target, enabling the character to jump or vault over things and so on. It's not supposed to be Mirror's Edge or Assassin's Creed but it should be satisfying nonetheless so hopefully we don't run into trouble putting that together.

climb2

Interaction Developments

Winterfall is meant to be a highly interactive game, where all sorts of things are available to be interacted with, bearing some kind of effect immediate or delayed, visible or invisible. From spear-fishing to camp-building, drinking from a spring or carving arrowheads, taking a swim in the pond or napping in the shade, there are so many things you're supposed to be able to have your character do (especially when your character insists that you let them do them!). Also, as Winterfall maintains a high focus on nice and immersive visuals, the idea is to make those things happen, animated, on-screen, as opposed to simply making them text-based. We've put together the basic framework that allows us to add animated interactions, so the next goal will be to add effect parameters (for example effects to character stats) and expand the list of animations available to the player.

Morphs & Emoti Expression & Customization

An important aspect of any RPG for me, something that Winterfall has to have to a high degree, is expressive characters that can be customized in detail. While the basic function and mechanics have been engaged, there's still a long way to go to properly implement that into the game, and that's more of a long term goal. But it's good to know that it's already here to be experimented with as opposed to being completely hypothetical. It's all about design challenges and priorities, so it'll all be about time and money. But we can do it and we will do it.

snarky

Weather Manager

So we have great-looking clouds, rain, storms and so on, now it's going to be about integrating them through a manager that follows the interactive logic in Winterfall, where it's the things that you do that impact the environment around you which, as a fully-fledged entity, reacts in the ways it knows to. So expect storm, mist, thunder, lightning, rain, snow and so on to not just be random events but part of the broader game between you and the world. As time goes by, you will know the disposition of certain regions and how you should navigate and engage them for certain types of environmental settings. Maybe that particular area tends to be foggy after noon... but also, maybe it doesn't like you lighting fires out in the open, or maybe it doesn't like you killing its wildlife... or maybe it just doesn't want you there. With the Personality/Outlets mechanics already functional, plugging the Weather Manager to it all won't be major work, but it'll be work nonetheless. It should however be really exciting to experience once it's in!

snowstorm

Core Experience

We will also be starting to solidify the overall thing into a more playable structure. At the moment, Winterfall is a whole bunch of systems and mechanics that all exist in the same space but aren't really structured into an actual experience. So we'll look into that, even if that involves using some menus as placeholders and so on.

We are also building video material to presents aspects of the game or aspects of the world and will begin releasing that when we've got a nice little pile ready.

There is a lot more in the works, including some wildly ambitious (and actually quite down to earth and effective design-wise) things involving AI and settlement/development but those would deserve an article of their own complete with plenty of nice pictures and so on. That sounds like a good topic for the next devblog!

Stay tuned, and as ever, thank you for following Winterfall!

Winterfall News

Winterfall News

News 2 comments

In this post we talk a bit about the currently in-dev mechanics such as Camping, Interactions and the overall design logic behind them. We also show some...

Dev Summary September-October

Dev Summary September-October

News 3 comments

Summary of the dev work done over September and October as well on musings pertaining to design goals and design philosophy. A lot was done over that...

Worldbuilding & design musings

Worldbuilding & design musings

News 5 comments

In this screenshot-heavy post, we discuss in some further detail the design philosophy between the worldbuilding in Winterfall and how it interacts with...

August Dev Blog

August Dev Blog

News 6 comments

August dev blog, featuring Combat, Housing, Horsing and Musings!

Comments  (0 - 10 of 80)
eddiebl4ck
eddiebl4ck

Hello there!! I created an account to show my appreciation for what you're doing. It's really great! The look, the concept, the era and world look great in my opinion.
This is really a game that I didn't know I wanted until now!
I'm an IT major and do some game programming with my friend for fun, I know how hard all of this is, so good luck with the development. And never stop believing in what you do, I'm not the only one, I'm sure that is dying to play this gem.

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FabMariani Creator
FabMariani

Hey there, thanks a lot for the warm reception. As I've said everywhere else, I'm working really hard to bring this to fruition and will never relent until it's out there and fun, which fortunately is in fact getting closer and closer. So stay tuned, thanks again and take care!

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mikelon12
mikelon12

hi, i just want to tell you that those images look freaking great! i have a question, is the game going for a fantasy setting with monster and mythical creatures or a realistic setting? and what about the wildlife what animals can we expect to hunt or even raise and breed? im asking because i think small animals like frogs and even insects creates a fully alive forest and other biomes

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FabMariani Creator
FabMariani

Apologies for the delay in responding, been very busy!

The game is going somewhere between realistic and fantasy. No magic and monsters, but you'll still get some fantasy creatures and beings now and then, as well as some fantasy-ish situations. It's somewhere beneath the low fantasy threshold but over the realism threshold.

When it comes to animal encounters, you'll get reptiles, mammals, birds and fish to catch, as well as insects (including some large ones); hopefully aquatic fauna as well. The thing is to not make it banal to "fight stuff", so let's say when you encounter a bear or get a pack of wolves chasing you, you'll most of the time look for other ways to make it than to just fight them.

Critters making the land more alive are also in perspective but not yet on the table as we are solving some hardcore challenges at the moment.

As for animal husbandry, we're not there yet although it's a possibility. There's a lot that's to be done about the development element in the game (there's that part about rebuilding the world after all) so we have to figure out our exact boundaries when it comes to how far things can go.

That being said, thank you for the interest!

Reply Good karma+1 vote
GeneralAugustus
GeneralAugustus

Hey there! First off, you're making the game of my dreams!
Secondly, for those of us who like a more realistic feel in games (such as myself) will there be an option to switch off the flashy hit animations in combat?

Thanks!

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FabMariani Creator
FabMariani

Hello, and thank you!
For us, that shouldn't amount to more than adding a few lines of code and an ui box to tick on or off, so I'd say sure.

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212th_Sergeant_Ben
212th_Sergeant_Ben

Glad to hear that too!
Less HUD= more Immersion. And from the looks of this, Immersion will be a great part of the game

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212th_Sergeant_Ben
212th_Sergeant_Ben

This project is exciting me pretty much!
What are your plans for publishing? Are you planning to make it early access to fund the further development? Or do you prefer developing it until it's finished and polished and THEN publish the release?

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FabMariani Creator
FabMariani

Hey there, and thank you, glad this is getting you excited!

It's going to be something hybrid. On the one hand, I don't want to put half a game out there and depend 100% on early access for further development because once it's out there, a lot of the dev time has to be focused on accommodating player experiences and fixing player problems. So I'd much rather make sure the core is done to satisfaction before anything gets into the hands of the wider public. In those terms, it'd be more like releasing a beta that is bound to grow over time rather than "hey, this is our unfinished piece of work, please help us finish it!".

There are interesting options ahead regarding publishing/funding support. I'm a little too focused on actual development (and personal life) to yet embrace any of those options fully yet. You could say that I'm kind of still pushing forward to see how far a tiny outfit working on a huge game can go.

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212th_Sergeant_Ben
212th_Sergeant_Ben

I see. Well as much as I want to get my hands on this game I'm pretty glad you see it that way. There are plenty of games where early access failed.
I only know a few ones where it actually seems to work thanks to dedicated developers (my favourite being Empyrion - Galactic Survival).

I'd say I'll just try to be patient :D

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FabMariani Creator
FabMariani

Oh yeah, patience is chief among virtues! Even for me, who's leading this, Winterfall being basically the only game I want to play now... having to wait as it gradually takes shape through its successive incarnations is sometimes fairly excruciating!

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212th_Sergeant_Ben
212th_Sergeant_Ben

Well if you could use some help, you may ask me. I haven't learn any programming,yet or so on, but if you plan to have a German translation for the game I might just be your man^^

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Building weather managers in #winterfallgame lately with clouds, particles and sounds. Here's a big storm -… T.co

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