Gaze Into A Valley Without Wind

By Jim Rossignol on March 29th, 2011 at 7:50 am.

Can you spot the tiny dude?
Arcen have revealed a bit more about their procedurally-generated survive ‘em up, A Valley Without Wind. There’a video of the lighting process below, and that also includes indoor environments, lava, and deserts, as well as just showing you a bit more of the character navigating about in the world. All this stuff gets explained in more detail by Chris Park over here.

Getting serious 16-bit era chills off this one.

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52 Comments »

  1. Valvarexart says:

    I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time….First-day buy for me :)

  2. notjasonlee says:

    i really can’t get on board with this art style. i am a fan of unique games — especially retro games — but this is just incredibly ugly.

    • Longrat says:

      Agreed. This game is remarkably ugly, it stands right in the middle of the “graphical simplicity spectrum”, where on the far left you have text based and ascii graphics games, which are well suited for their tasks, and on the far right you have the crysis likes. Both sides are good, but the further you get to the middle, the less tolerable the graphics become. 90′s 3d graphics stand in the middle of the spectrum, and so do the graphics for this game. They’re simple, but not simple enough.

    • P7uen says:

      I must also agree. Shame to put down original stylez but yes.

      Although I can’t see the video, this screenshot made me puke 1/3 less volume than the last RPS post about it, so you never know.

    • thecrius says:

      Completely agreed.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I’m afraid I have to say I feel the same way. It has that copy-paste look which can work in some styles (notably more draw-based styles) but which doesn’t really appeal to me if a near-realistic style is attempted.

    • colinmarc says:

      try looking at some full screen shots – I think the game looks bad scaled down, maybe.

  3. Thants says:

    I hate to knock an indie game with an original art style, but… there’s something really off-putting about this game’s graphics. Something about the mixture of perspectives. It’s like the ground is almost looking straight down but the player character is a flat side view and sort of sliding around. I wish they’ed make this top-down or isometric or something.

    Edit: Not to be all negative though. I love Arcen and the concept for this game sounds really fun.

    • Lost Trousers says:

      This, plus the giant luminescent eggs the character seems to be plonking down @ 0:26

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      8-way movement… but no 8 way sprite. It’s an unsettling effect.

  4. Rich says:

    Blegh

  5. JuJuCam says:

    Reminds me most of Dink Smallwood.

    • Sivart13 says:

      Absolutely. I guess it’s hard to go with “3d rendered sprite” these days and not end up evoking that feeling.

    • DestinedCruz says:

      If I get to punch the heads off ducks I’m in.

  6. It's not me it's you says:

    I really want to be looking forward to this game, and in a sense I am (Arcen have a bit of credit with me) but damn those graphics are off-putting. I read all the furore about them here in the previous previews and I understand where they are coming from but it looks like the Deviantart profile of someone who just discovered filters in photoshop.

    I really wish they’d move to something more like SNES era sprites or well.. anything. I’ll probably end up playing this but it’ll be despite the look, not because of it. I hope it’ll do well depite that though.

  7. Hoaxfish says:

    As pre-alpha, are we even sure this is the final graphical style?

    I quite like it, in a weird way.

    • CMaster says:

      @Hoaxfish
      Yes, it is confirmed as the final style. There are improvements being made technically all the while – the shadows are newish, while the blending between objects has come on a lot. But what you are seeing is confirmed to be pretty much what the final game will look like.

      I actually think that it’s OK now, after all the refinements they’ve made. BUt it is fascinating that they justify their approach with reference to a bunch of SNES games which they have failed to capture the spirit or style, or even camera angle of.

  8. Warth0g says:

    It has at least improved a bit since the earlier RPS footage. Not enough for me to seriously consider buying it though. The backgrounds are kind of interesting, but the way that the characters glide along with those dreadful animations jar with them badly. I’m afraid that they’re in dire need of some quality art direction to make this come together. This is what a game would look like if I made one – and that’s not a good thing…

  9. kulik says:

    I would be more happy with topdown view. Plus you see like 10 meters around you and this game should focuss on avoiding enemies so it seam weird. And i like survival aspect and sci fi but the combination of magic is kind of meh.

    • Wulf says:

      Funnily enough, that’s the only part of it that interested me.

      Survival game? Meh.
      Probably zombies? Meh.
      Proliferation of shotguns? Meh.
      Endless running from faceless hordes? Meh.
      Random use of magic? Ooh. Oh, huh, that’s new.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, kulik, the magic seemed a bit weird to me at first, but now I think it’s quite interesting. Since I found out about Project Zomboid, my ‘slightly-more-realistic’ survival game desire has been met, so I can’t complain about magic being included in AVWW anymore :D

    • kulik says:

      Well maybe its the combination of magic and robots and the casual look of the character and his surroundings that seems weird to me. Im not putting the game down for it thoug,

  10. Wilson says:

    It continues to look interesting. I’m curious as to what they’re going to do about combat. I’m assuming it isn’t going to be anything like how they have it now with Benny Hill chases and monsters you can only see when they’re right next to you.
    I’m not convinced by the art style, but if the gameplay is good it won’t matter.

  11. misterk says:

    I’m just not that bothered by the art style. Its a tiny bit ugly, but to be honest if the gameplays good I doubt I’d notice.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, I’m in the same boat: the game sounds great and interesting to me and the art style, while a bit…odd, won’t stop me from buying the game if it’s as good as it sounds.

  12. gwathdring says:

    In some of the scenes I get put off by it, but for the most part I really like the style.

  13. thebigJ_A says:

    I think it looks awesome. I really like the art style. It’s like playing in a popup book or something.

    I do agree that it needs more than two frames of animation for all the sprites, though.

  14. Dominic White says:

    It’s sad that the developers have decided that there is absolutely NO way they’re changing from this art style, as it really does look horrible. Awkward Poser-esque CGI, borked run cycles, weird-looking trees and worse. Just hire Konjak or someone to do some proper 16-bit spritework that you can zoom in/out of cleanly. I’m fairly sure there are a LOT of talented sprite-artists out there looking for paid work.

    Everything about the game sounds interesting, it just looks shockingly ugly, and the devs reaction of ‘Well, that’s just your opinion’ to the waves of people immediately saying that the graphics are a massive turn-off is worrying.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I have honestly given up all hope that Arcen will get what’s wrong with the graphics. Some people just aren’t wired that way. AI War is still inconsistent as hell, even after all the improvements.

      It doesn’t really matter to me personally as long as they make a good game, whatever kind of game it will actually end up being. However, marketing it will be really tough.

    • Dominic White says:

      Whoever is in charge of art direction at Arcen is in a serious state of denial, and I’m wondering how we can snap them out of it long enough for them to just hand it off to someone with a clue. AI War may have had weak graphics, but you could get away with that became it was viewed mostly from a super-zoomed-out view. Tidalis had fairly bad graphics, but it could get away with it because it was a simple block-puzzle game, and the awkward CG backgrounds were easily ignored. This is an up-close game where you’re focusing on the graphics all the time, and the quick-and-dirty CG approach is hugely damaging here.

    • Mattressi says:

      I have to admit, I’d prefer a nice pixel art game too. The graphics don’t deter me, but they would if the rest of the game wasn’t so appealing to me. That’s the main problem; I’ve seen that most people seem to either not mind the graphics (or, at least they can look past them) or they hate them. Only a few people seem to really love them. I wonder how many of those people that really love the graphics will buy the game when they normally wouldn’t have, simply for the graphics; and compare that to how many people who would normally buy the game simply won’t because of the graphics. I’d be willing to bet the art style is losing them more customers than it gains. Then again, maybe a straight pixel art game wouldn’t have received so much attention? I don’t really know what their plan is, but I hope it works out for them.

  15. unimural says:

    The perspectives-r-us is a bit wierd. My brain can’t entirely decide whether the whole world is one giant slope or whether (as it is) the ground is viewed top-down and all the object are viewed from the side/at an angle.

    Still, couldn’t care less. The graphics seem perfectly functional, very clear. I’m still quite at a loss regarding the actual gameplay beyond the monsterbash. But it sounds very interesting. Classic open world exploration and what they call world-progression! I’ve dreamed of this stuff. I’ve pretty much decided to buy it, even if just to see how they failed.

  16. BurningPet says:

    The outdoors graphics has been vastly improved, mainly thanks to the shadow (and to think that after people suggested it arcen declined, good thing they were humble enough to realise they dont know nothing about graphics.)

    That goes to the regular and desert locations. the lava is just horrible. not bad, not low budget ok i can live with it, horrible. same goes for the indoors. i actually thought there was a problem with the player or something.

    But if i were to judge by the outdoors progress, i have high hopes for the rest.

  17. Navagon says:

    It’s still pretty hard to reconcile the videos with the commentary seeing as the videos make it look like a very slow, unfocussed top down SHUMP. But it is still looking a lot better than the previous videos, I have to say that about it.

    The red squarey stuff was… interestingly trippy. The indoor stuff looked like the kind of stuff they don’t want to be showing in videos just yet. I hope they don’t need us to point out what’s going wrong there.

    All in all I’ve got no more of an idea of what to make of this as it could still fall miles short of its promises.

  18. mcwill says:

    I’m sorry, I’m clearly missing something. Was that supposed to be remotely impressive in some way? I’ve seen vastly superior things done in Game Maker! I can’t see anything good about it – there’s no sign of anything resembling worthwhile gameplay and the visuals are vomit-inducing.

    • Wilson says:

      It hasn’t been in development for very long, so there isn’t much to look at yet. It’s just an interesting insight into the development of the game. This stuff will be fun to contrast with however the final product turns out.

      The videos are probably more interesting if you know about the game and what they’re trying to do. If you didn’t know anything about the game I can see how they’d be pretty dull.

    • mcwill says:

      10 weeks apparently. Back when I still worked for someone, if I produced something that looked like that for public consumption after 10 weeks I’d have been fired so fast I’d not even be able to collect my favourite mug.

      Seriously, is there something else to this? RPS don’t usually showcase (what appears to be) complete crap.

  19. 7rigger says:

    Well, I’m still looking forward to the release, and I quite like the art style. Reminds me of Feud from the old Atari XE/XL.

  20. Nezuji says:

    The “vibe” I’m getting from this trailer is kind of “A Hill Without Sound” meets “A Legend With Zelda”.

  21. Warth0g says:

    According to his blog it’s only been in development for 10 weeks (actually, not sure how recently that was posted so it could have been longer I guess). That means they haven’t invested that much in it and COULD react to the feedback they’re getting here if they wanted to. To summarise the comments they’ve been getting on RPS, the game concepts look interesting but the graphics are hideous.

    I really hope that they’re sensible enough to change their direction otherwise they’re heading for commercial suicide. If you can’t sell a niche game like this to the majority of people on a site like RPS, they’ve got no chance of marketing it more broadly in its current state.

  22. Buttless Boy says:

    I’m usually the first to claim that visuals don’t matter in a game (I love cactus’s work), but this is so ugly that I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to play it. It’s a shame, it sounds like it’d be interesting if I could look at it without my eyes having little mini-seizures.

    • bowl of snakes says:

      Same boat here, I can totally deal with overly simple graphics but don’t think there is any way I could endure this sort of thing to get to the gameplay. Still rooting for the devs though, AI war was an awesome concept.

  23. WJonathan says:

    That first pic makes me want to break out my model trains.

  24. Mr_Hands says:

    Movement animations still need a bunch of fine-tuning, I’d say. Still, I really appreciate this insight into Arcen’s process. Obviously, I’m interested to see how NPCs will be implemented, since they seem to be a significant design consideration. I’m still not head-over-heels for the graphical style, but it’s far from a dealbreaker for me.

  25. Daniel Klein says:

    Why are we excited about this? Is it just the graphics or is there more to it? Graphics aren’t really doing it for me.

  26. squareking says:

    Oy, looks like a budget PSX game. I wouldn’t care so much if the gameplay looked interesting, but I’m not getting much info from the video in that department, either.

  27. Urthman says:

    I agree with everyone who says the graphics look really bad. It strikes me that the sprites are just too big compared with the amount of animation and the way they move. I wonder if the game wouldn’t look a whole lot better if they just pulled the camera out so everything was about half the size it is now and you were looking at 4x the screen area that you are now.

  28. Archonsod says:

    Graphics look fine to me. Although it’s starting to look a bit Hall of the Things.

  29. Professor Paul1290 says:

    Jim, not everyone has been paying attention to this game and this video does little to actually explain much to anyone who has not already been following the game closely.

    This doesn’t mention anything about the scope of the game, the way player characters work and how death is handled, how the procedurally generated world and “chunk scripts” will work, how NPCs will work, and so on and so forth. This video doesn’t really say much about what makes the game interesting and cannot stand by itself to show off the game.

    I’d hate for Arcen or for that matter other game developers to be discouraged from posting stuff like this out in the open.

  30. Sleepymatt says:

    Presumably that’s why he included the links to AVWW and Arcen’s homepage….
    *reply fail* obviously this is in response to the Professor above!

  31. mcwill says:

    Right, having been and had a read. It all sounds a lot like The Unreal World, a roguelike written by Sami Marinnen many years ago. Which was arguably prettier… and certainly had gameplay more worth bothering with. None of this strikes me as worth spending any serious amount of time looking at, yet.

    I can’t help but feel RPS are giving Arcen a lot of credit based on AI War that won’t necessarily pan out. As someone said above, this whole thing seems to be turning a lot of people off it.