Update #19

AS PROMISED : MORE ON THE GAME!

Preface

Windwalkers is an adaptation of the novel "La Horde du Contrevent" by Alain Damasio. For those of you who haven't read the book, here is a brief summary of the main elements in the book to give you a clearer picture of the context.

The planet where the story takes place could be the Earth except for the constantly blowing winds which destroy everything in their wake and which have transformed it through erosion.

These winds take different forms starting from minor breezes to much more violent variants that resemble tsunamis. The various human civilizations, fauna, and flora, have all adapted to this "hell" with the hope that one day the wind will stop. Every generation, in the city of Aberlaas, a group of young boys and girls are chosen for their potential and are trained to "counter" the wind. They become the HORDE. They leave the city as young adults and walk windward, facing the wind their entire lives, in the quest to find the origin of the winds in the Upper-Reaches, a place no one has ever seen.

Each member of the horde has ONE specialty (scout, combatant, wind sage, scribe, healer, herbalist, master of fire, dowser, diplomat, etc.), but they all have in common the ability to coordinate in order to oppose the wind and complete their quest.

The book tells the story of the 34th horde (all the preceding hordes have failed). During their quest (and asides from the wind, their natural enemy), they encounter pirates, beasts, and a group of warriors who appear to be hunting them down. They will have to also fight a more personal, interior enemy.

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Disclaimer

The images that you are going to see are taken from our pre-alpha prototype. Some are in a very early development phase, some are a bit more advanced. Given everything is still in an early stage of development, the design, graphics, and animations you are going to see here are all subject to change and in many cases graphics will be substantially improved.

We organized our development based on what needed more prototyping first so today the group mechanics are in a more advanced stage of development. The solo mechanics that are more similar to other action RPGs or third person action games are in an earlier stage of development.

Hope you like what you see below, sorry to have kept you waiting!!!

The Plan

The game is built around the following idea: Survive together, be alive, be in movement.

Those are the pillars of the book "La Horde du Contrevent".

1) The basics

YOUR GOAL: FIND THE UPPER REACHES

You have no idea where it is. Your quest is to find it and save the world from its disastrous climate. In Windwalkers you are a member of the Horde. You will be controlling a character in the horde and trying to go as far as you can in this world with the ultimate goal of finding the source of the winds and putting an end to them.

THE HORDE IS YOUR SHIP:

It will protect you against high winds, but you have to obey the captain (the Pathfinder) and react quickly to his orders. The horde is your ship, it will carry your food and weapons, it's like a mule. It is also like a tank specially designed to fight the wind. It will help you to survive when the winds are too strong to fight alone. When you are in the horde it is like you are on a boat during a tempest at sea. The captain sets the tempo and give you orders you have to follow (block, stop, go, hang on....). If you stay synchronized you will be able to survive any form of wind. The horde is composed of a mix of AI and Players (Co-op 4 players+).

YOU NEED TO FEED THE HORDE: find resources, plants, water, food...

YOU NEED TO CLEAR THE PATH:

The horde is not invincible; it is strong as a pack against the wind, but very vulnerable to the attacks from other enemies. You need to protect your horde. Along the road you will have to fight wild animals, pirates, and the horde's archenemy, the Chase who will try to stop your quest. Kill the enemies and unlock hidden passages and villages. Never forget your horde needs to keep advancing, or it will die. To survive the horde needs a path. As a player you will have to open the path for the horde, you do not control it directly but the pathfinder will use the path you clear for him.

YOU NEED TO COOPERATE to be stronger and unlock specific powers, you can play alone too, but it will be harder.

IT IS ALL MATTER OF BALANCE

As a player you have to judge and balance the times you stay in the horde (protected from the wind but making the horde itself weak to attack), and the times you are outside the horde where you are vulnerable to the wind. Taking the risk of going forward alone outside the horde to clear the path will help the horde, but you will put yourself at risk of getting caught in a windstorm, getting lost, or being caught by the chase.

2) More detail on phases:

The gameplay is not uniform and depending on where you are, your experience will involve different activities.

Adventure/exploration

When the wind is weaker, you can go out of the horde to explore the world to find secrets, gather resources to survive (Quick, food, water,...), or unlock a path for the horde. We call this the calm phase, "The calm before the storm".

The Counter

When the wind gets crazy, you return to the horde, the ship which allows you to weather the storm. While in the horde, gameplay is very rhythmic. The tempo is set by the pathfinder.

Of course you can leave the horde at any time and sometimes you will have too, but when the wind is stronger you are very vulnerable out of the pack.

Combat

Combat is important in Windwalkers but not the central part of the gameplay. The player will have to defend the horde from various enemies.

The wind,

Wild animals,

Chrones,

Pirates,

Pirates

Mysterious horde-killers called the Chasers.

Chasers

The pacing of the combat varies along the journey. You could run into a difficult zone like a pirate village where combat will be predominant, or enter a calmer zone where you don't encounter any enemies. By training your scouting skill, and helping the horde to find the correct path, you could also manage to avoid the most difficult zones if you want to.

Another important gameplay aspect is that when you play in co-op, one player could decide to specialize in resource gathering or support and help the horde without killing any enemies.

3) The Quick, source of everything = YOUR LIFE

In the universe of Windwalkers there is something called the "Quick". It is the source of all life. To survive, the horde needs the quick which is like a life bar and mana bar rolled into one.

QUICK

In the world of Windwalkers gathering the Quick and concentrating it in yourself gives you life and magical energy. As a living being you can gather and concentrate the Quick around you to strengthen yourself and to enable you to unlock new skills.

In Windwalkers, every interaction you have with the universe (killing something or someone, gathering resources, dying) is an interaction with the "Quick".

When you take damage or use magic, you don't directly use the Quick you gather to strengthen yourself, but your overall endurance and magical power that you can use will be proportional to the total amount of Quick you gather.

To summarize you will have an "active" quick and a "spiritual" quick (aka XP).

4) Character choices

For your horde to survive you will be doing several different activities: combat, scouting, hunting, healing, resource gathering. When you choose a specific class you will have skills you can improve in your tree related to one or more of those activities. You can choose to specialize in only one activity or have a more hybridized skill tree.

At the start you will get to choose between the Defender, Aeromaster, or Mender class. The three classes have the basic abilities needed to keep the horde alive, but combining them in a team will be a key to success. We would like to develop all the different classes that you can find in the book, but because of development constraints we decided to first focus on three classes with the hope of developing more in the future.

DEFENDER: weapon-master, (Erg Machaon in the book)

His specialties are in defense and attack. He can use all types of weapons, and you can use his delta wing to do short scouting flights or to fight from the air.

DEFENDER

AEROMASTER: (Oroshi Melicerte in the book)

She masters the magic of the wind, and you can play her as an attack mage. With her "Nephesh" ability, which is a power to use your "inner-wind", she is able to read and control the wind. If you choose, you can play her more like a scout as she can read the wind and is more able to survive alone in it, or you can play her as a support as she has some buffing abilities.

AEROMASTER

MENDER: (Alme Capys in the book)

The healer is of course a support role, but we also combine some gathering abilities so that you can play her as a combat healer, or specialize more in resource gathering. She also has the ability to detect important points of interest based on the geology of the area.

MENDER

The Quick that you gather will allow you to customize your character and adjust it to your way of playing.

Skill Tree

5) Survive together

We are developing our skill tree with the "Survive together" idea in mind. You live through the eyes of others and you feel alive because you are connected to the others. For us, the cooperation aspect of the game is very important in translating the concepts of the book. Of course you will be able to try the adventure alone, but we put a lot of effort in the cooperation aspect of the gameplay. We are designing each character's skills so that you can create interactions with your teammates.

For example, if one player is specialized in the use of weapons (Defender) and the other player specialized in Nephesh (Aeromaster), when they play together, they can combine their skills to generate powerful combos.

6) Progress in the world and the death penalty

In Windwalkers you start the adventure in the city where all windwalkers have been trained during their childhood: Aberlaas.

When you die in Windwalkers, as long as one of your friends is alive, he can share some of his "Spiritual" Quick to resurrect you. Sadly, if you are the last one alive and you die, your horde's current progress will end. Your "active" Quick will dissipate into the wind and find a place to rematerialize which can mean, that you start again from a random village in the Lower-Slopes.

When you die, you lose your equipment as well. You might be able to get back to where you died and recover it, but it won't be easy. We have also something that we call the Item box where you can retrieve your Items but that won't be easy to use either. But even though you can customize your character using items, your skills as player will always be more important than your items.

When you rematerialize, you keep the "spiritual" Quick you gathered previously, so every time you die you get a little stronger, helping you to get further in your Quest.

7) A world in perpetual movement.

The hordies walk across the world their whole lives starting at the Lower-Slopes and heading towards the Upper-Reaches. They cannot use any vehicle to complete their quest.

Freon Ship

To succeed, the horde need to find the 9th form of the wind.

  1. Zefirin : a mild wind, the calm after a storm
  2. Slamino : a stronger breeze arriving in rhythmic salvoes (the horde's preferred form)
  3. Stesch : a dry desert wind with annoying irregular gusts
  4. Choon : a heavy, rain-laden wind (a sort of monsoon) which can cause you to slip and slide
  5. Harrowgale : a wave of strong winds coming in twos or threes.
  6. Crivetz : a blizzard with snow and hail (a type of Antarctic wind)
  7. SPOILER
  8. SPOILER
  9. SPOILER

That is something that you cannot achieve by shortcutting through the world on a wind-ship. That is one of the reasons we decided to make the player restart each reincarnation from somewhere in the Lower-Slopes, and to succeed the player will have to find his way to the Upper-Reaches without dying. Now that sounds a bit harsh, but the universe of Windwalkers is in permanent movement, constantly being restructured by the wind. So every time you reincarnate, the world around will be different. Of course the vegetation will be distinguishable in each region, but the overall structure of the world will be different.

In addition to that, we have something called PPIs (Principal points of interest). Very important and mysterious places in the universe that will always be there and you will have to find. You can go until the end without finding them. But exploration will be rewarded.

Area Concept Art Area Concept Art Area Concept Art

This is a small spoiler too, but the player will also be able to make use of Chrones to benefit from the magic of the wind.

For many they are simply a legend; the Chrones are mysterious creatures of multiple aspects and manifestations. Most often they take an ovoid form marked with a glyph. They appear in the wake of high winds. Certain civilizations believe them to be a form of wind. A compact form charged with energy and whose powers are variable: Kingdom Converter (for example animal to plant), Time, light or Sound Trapper.

8) Basically what will I be able to do as a player?

It depends your specialization. Here is an example:

The warrior-protector (Erg Machaon): Master of weapons, the main purpose of this character is to defend the horde. You will have an attack and dodge mechanic that you could find in a Warrior class in many action RPGs with some special dodge mechanics to survive in the wind.

You also have a special ability linked to your delta-wing allowing you to fly for a short period of time.

Using the delta-will allow you, for example, to go out and scout to clear the way.

Or fly over the horde to protect it from above.

9) Walkthrough

Let's say you are playing in co-op mode with three friends (for a player that plays alone we are currently debating on strong AI characters to help you). Let's skip all the menu screens and initial settings...At the start, each of you can decide on one of the three different classes (Defender, Aeromaster, or Mender). You pick Defender, another friend picks Aeromaster, and another picks the Mender.

The first thing you see is the horde (with your characters in it) leaving Aberlaas and heading into the wilds. While in the horde each of you have different positions within it, but basic gameplay is similar. You will need to follow along with the horde's movements keeping in synch with them by using WASD (or any keys you choose to bind). This can be relatively easy to do in low wind conditions, or very difficult as the wind changes. The Mender will be able to use basic healing skills as members get injured (by flying debris for example), the Defender will be able to do basic attacks from within the horde, and the Aeromaster can help to shield the horde.

At any time you can choose to leave the horde at the press of the button to complete the basic mission of your class. You will most probably do this in low-wind conditions but you may not always have the choice. As the Defender you break off from the group and scout ahead, laying markers indicating to the horde which direction you think it should follow.

As you are doing this, you see a wild animal that might be cooked for food and you attack it using a crossbow. The animal turns out to be more then you bargained for and charges you. You are injured and call out for help. Your teammates show up and one heals you while you and the Aeromaster fight the beast.

Just then the wind starts to pick up and you have to decide whether you stay out of the horde to continue the fight or head back to safety. You decide to fight on and you kill the creature but on the way back to the horde the healer gets struck by a flying rock and dies from her wounds. You and the aeromaster just manage to make it back with your lives (you had to leave the wild animal behind though).

Back in the horde you deal with the wind storm by staying in synch with each other, but the rhythm is more difficult because of the missing team member which puts the whole team slightly off balance. Once the storm has passed you are able to rez your team-mate by sharing some of your Quick,(rez/sacrifice system) who gets to keep their equipment (which is only lost if your whole team dies) but with the loss of some Quick. The adventure continues...

10) More on development

11) I hope that gives you a better sense of what the gameplay is like. If you have more questions please don't hesitate to ask.

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