A Valley With Multiplayer Co-Op Testing

By Jim Rossignol on December 8th, 2011 at 11:03 am.


Side-scrolling procedurally-generated post-apocalyptic magical adventure thing A Valley Without Wind has entered a multiplayer testing phase, which is available to pre-ordering types. Arcen say: “For those interested in opting into co-operative play in the same server/world with up to a few dozen other players (perhaps even more), head over to the AVWW multiplayer wiki and check out the FAQ section along with other related notes, specs, and such.” There’s a big old post from Chris Park (as is his style) explaining more over here.

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30 Comments »

  1. Tridae says:

    The more I see about this the more I wonder what people see in it. Please explain it to me?
    It looks absolutely horrific, reminds me of cheap online flash games.

    Surely I’m not the only one that finds the art style incredibly ugly. It feels like nothing fits together in that world.

    Minecraft is also “ugly” but in a charming congruent way. This just feels all wrong

    Its just my 2c – I may be wrong, this may be genius but honestly. . .eugh .to me its just horrible

    • Unaco says:

      Gameplay > Graphics.

    • Tridae says:

      Ah, I should have expected something like that. But I’ll argue that no matter how good the gameplay you do need a solid look at least. I’m not asking for DX11 effects but at least have a solid art style. What currently exists is not a “style” it’s a seemingly amateur photoshop collage. Terraria is closest to this and that has great gameplay AND a solid style.

    • Unaco says:

      I’ll argue you don’t need a solid look. Look beyond the superficial, the visual, the aesthetic. Don’t go judging a book by its cover. Graphics are an extra, and added bonus… they are not a requirement of a good game.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I know what you mean, Tridae. Didn’t the early posts about this say that the art was going to change, and everything was place holders? I’ve been waiting for this new look to turn up. Does anyone know if these are final graphics?

      I know pixels are expensive. That’s why Minecraft has so few of them.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Have you actually, you know, played it? It looks lovely in motion.

    • Toberoth says:

      I disagree with you unaco. The pinnacle of good game design is when graphics and gameplay are perfectly interwoven, with neither one superseding the other. Strong visual design can teach the player so much, both about how to play the game, and why they should be emotionally invested in the game world. If you want a good example of this, go watch Jonathan Blow’s playthrough of Braid and listen to him talking about how the graphics tie in with the gameplay. It’s far too easy to take the stance that an appreciation of good graphical design makes one shallow, when in fact the role of art in games is much more complex than simple window dressing.

    • Don Andy says:

      The actual game is lovely but I absolutely agree with you on the art style. It’s horrible. And I think it’s what will keep this game from ever becoming more than another niche indie game. I know “Gameplay > Graphics” but unless you’re catering solely to the small group with that opinion you’re ultimately missing out on the people who do want a little graphics consistency. Most people are never going to give this a go simply because the screenshots look shit and a lot of people just don’t go past that first impression.

      Even I initially thought “Ha ha, no fucking way” when I saw the first screenshots but knowing better actually read up a bit on the game and was immediately in love with the idea and gave it a go which I’m not regretting. But the most attention this is ever going to get this way is on Steam sales or sold dirt cheap in bundles.

      Long story short, you do not get much more than the first impression with most gamers and this game is failing horribly at that simply because all media looks like really bad concept art.

    • Wilson says:

      @Toberoth – You make some good points, but I don’t think all games need to have strong visual design, sometimes it is enough to just have good gameplay. Obviously I wouldn’t want all my games like that, but I certainly don’t have a problem with a few games choosing to put graphics in the back seat.

    • Suits says:

      Since there are so much products already on the market, players can’t go and check out every game. So there will be a huge amount that just shrugs at the sight of this and never even considers paying attention to it, as frankly Diablo looked better in it’s days.

    • NathanH says:

      It’s not just that this game looks bad, it is bad to the extent that it’s hard to focus on the right things on the screen, and when I am moving, trying to look at the right things gives me a headache.

      Also unless they’ve changed things a lot, playing the game is pretty tedious anyway. The large-scale stuff seemed quite interesting, but the running-around-fighting stuff was really boring.

    • Toberoth says:

      I don’t mind graphics (measured in terms of how much strain they put on your rig) taking a back seat. But that’s not the same thing as strong visual design, which is less about raw graphics power and more about consistency and legibility. If the visual design is weak enough it can actively sabotage gameplay. Eg. See a thing on screen, have no idea what it is, walk into it, die. Some games don’t give a shit about this (Dwarf Fortress for example), forcing you to adapt to their crap visuals, and it’s a testament to their strong core mechanics that gamers are willing to do that, even when the game is constantly fighting an uphill battle against poor graphics. Of course, there are other games that delight in confusing the player, (eg. LIMBO) but it’s important to note that in games like this the confusing visuals make sense in terms of the overall construction of the game (in Limbo you’re meant to die all the time from trial and error, so occasionally hiding something potentially dangerous from the player makes sense). Again, it’s all about having a visual style which compliments, or is at least consistent with the gameplay.

    • Toberoth says:

      Duplicate comment.

    • Toberoth says:

      Duplicate again.

    • Toberoth says:

      I was enjoying that conversation, and then the comments system decided to be completely and utterly shit, and delete my long response, so now I’m giving up. Is there a reason that RPS uses such a horrific system?

      Anyway, I think NathanH more or less summarises what I was going to say about poor visual design actively working against gameplay.

      edit: looks like my comments have shown up.

    • Nenad says:

      A great game has great gameplay (and story, but not all agree on that), but the game is even better if it has pleasing graphics. That’s my take on the aesthetics discussion.

      Other than that, I dunno guys, I like the games’ art style.

    • Unaco says:

      @Toberoth

      I didn’t say that appreciation of graphics makes you shallow. I didn’t say that good graphics can’t be part of a good game. I just said they aren’t necessary.

      Yes, a game with great gameplay and perfect graphics, that come together seamlessly, might be the pinnacle of gaming, but should all games strive for that? Or should we dismiss all games that don’t meet that?

      For me, the graphics work… it’s like the old 16bit era, with a little more fidelity. In motion they are pretty good. It’s a taste thing I guess. To get back to the OP though… The OP asked what do people see in it, because it looks ‘absolutely horrific’. I was just saying you should look past the visuals, at the gameplay, which is great.

    • Toberoth says:

      “Yes, a game with great gameplay and perfect graphics, that come together seamlessly, might be the pinnacle of gaming, but should all games strive for that? Or should we dismiss all games that don’t meet that?”

      I think these are some very interesting questions. I certainly play games that don’t perfectly marry visuals with gameplay, and I still find a lot of enjoyment in them. But the gaming experiences that I always remember and recommend to others as examples of the emotional and intellectual impact that gaming is capable of DO intermingle strong core gameplay with appropriate visuals. I’ve already talked about Limbo and Braid, where I think the art is inseparable from the gameplay. Other examples might be Minecraft or Bastion. (Note the emphasis on indie games, where small teams are more capable of artistic consistency than design-by-committee blockbuster titles.)

      But that’s not to say that there’s no enjoyment to be had from less well-designed gaming experiences, nor should these be ignored. I’m not one of those wankers that will only play hip indie titles; I like junky, dumb games as well. But I would never use one of those games as an example of how great gaming can be, and the kind of emotional impact that a great game us capable of producing.

    • Dominic White says:

      The visuals in AVWW gave me motion sickness.

      I don’t get motion sickness from games, 3D or otherwise. This is a 2D side-scroller that somehow manages to make me feel actually nauseous, with a massive headache on top if I play for more than an hour or two.

      For the record, I love roguelikes – I’m perfectly happy to play a game with NO graphics. The aesthetics of AVWW are pretty much everything I’ve ever disliked in a 2D game all rolled into one place.

    • Mctittles says:

      I’ve read the articles on this game since it was isometric and think I have an idea of why it looks so terrible. When the game was originally isometric they said they had hired an artist who was a “3d designer” and said artist seemed adamant about the art he created. At the time it seemed he rendered some 3d objects from a perspective view and plopped them into an isometric world, causing a lot of people to have trouble wrapping their head around what they were seeing. Since then they moved to 2d but seem insistent on using the same perspective images. It gives the appearance of grabbing random clip art from the internet and pasting it in the game.
      All in all I view the graphics problem as an extension of the teams unwillingness to let go of something that should have been shot long ago. If this mentality spreads to other parts of the game I doubt it will be any good at all.

      Another note on the art in this. I think it is even more of an issue in a random generated world. If you have images that seem randomly thrown about because they don’t even fit the perspective of the screen it becomes even more noticeable when they ARE literally thrown about randomly. In the end it seems to make exploring pretty boring when one messy area is no different from the next messy area.

    • cafe says:

      What are you guys talking about? Bad graphics didn’t ruin this, changing the point of view from (almost) top down to sidescroller in the middle of development did!

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ Unaco: “Graphics are an extra, and added bonus… they are not a requirement of a good game.”

      It’s not that simple, especially for a game that’s being sold for money as opposed to a non-commercial project where I’d cut more slack for the art style. It’s not even about personal taste in graphics. This looks very obviously thrown together from random art assets, like they don’t care at all about the visual presentation.

      If the art is this sloppy, is the programming and overall concept equally sloppy? If they don’t care about the graphic style, do they care about anything else? I dunno… I’d have to buy the game or download a demo to find out. With a graphic style that looks this lazy and thrown-together, I’m not even motivated to download a demo. With so many great games out there on the market today, the choice of graphic presentation reflects on the overall product, like it or not.

    • TheGameSquid says:

      Do we really have to start this conversation over and over again each time AVWW is mentioned? Jesus….

    • Dizzard says:

      I’ll be honest I almost passed up on the game because the pictures I saw of the game didn’t really grab me.

      I tried the demo though and I’m glad I did because the game is fun and has lots of potential for growth.

      There’s a lot of brainstorming between the players and developers going on in the arcen forums right now and I believe the devs are very capable. (not just believe but I’ve seen it)

      AVWW is getting updates faster than I’ve seen a game get updates.

  2. Crimsoneer says:

    I’m absolutely loving the beta so far – it’s still seriously early days, but with features being added pretty much daily, it’s still a wonder watching this grow. They’re doing a great job documenting it on their blog as well.

    Haven’t tried multi yet though…lack of a central server putting me off. Direct connect fail.

  3. Toberoth says:

    Another duplicate comment. Jesus!

  4. EvilG says:

    Im with Tridae on this one, the art doesnt feel right at all, I liked the idea enough to give it a go though and Ive got to say I thought it was terrible, the graphics look even worse in motion and the gameplay is frankly rubbish, has anyone else tried playing it? am I missing something? is this a joke?

  5. CMaster says:

    Is the game improved much since the first beta release? Because as fascinating as all the grand concepts of the game sounds, I turned the game off in disappointment after 30 minutes of awkward jumping, bewildering and disconnected combat and exploring dozens of identical rooms. It’s not something I’d want to drag a friend into either unless it really is better.

    • malkav11 says:

      I won’t swear it will be a game for you in the long run, but yes, it has improved a great deal since the initial beta release.

    • mechabuddha says:

      I just tried again for the first time since that beta, and it’s quite different. Not really my thing, though.

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