The Younger Scrolls: Morblivion – Frontiers

By Nathan Grayson on May 18th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

I wanna go there and there and there and there and there and there and

I am constantly impressed by indie productions that honestly have no business being indie. You know, things of such scope and ambition that they make many triple-A behemoths look like whimpering, glitz-and-glamour-drowned mice. But they also worry me. I look at them and say, “Oh wow, that’s being built from the ground-up by a two-person team? Goodness. There is no way.” Often, the results end up being mixed bags of wonderful intentions and rocky realities. Cases in point: Miasmata, 3079, Anna, etc, etc, etc. It’s with a similar combo of stomach butterflies and stomach acid that I approach Frontiers. It looks like a more laid-back, exploration-and-survival-focused Morrowind, but can a small team really give something so massive the meticulous care it deserves? Fingers crossed. Trailer after the break.

Looks like quite the thing, huh? Here’s what AAD Productions is aiming to create, per Frontiers’ Facebook page:

“Frontiers blends the feel of first-person RPG classics like Daggerfall with the relaxing tempo and simplicity of a point-and-click adventure. Discover ancient mysteries, live off the land, and fight deadly creatures, all in a beautiful & massive open world.”

Last year’s initial announcement, meanwhile, carried grandiose plans for environmental destructibility and space travel. Also, death by dysentery.  Like I said earlier: ambitious. Possibly to a fault.

AAD seems to be kicking development into high gear now, though, and it’s set a release date of January 2014. Blog entries suggest that real life’s interfered with Frontier’s progress once or twice, but its creators seem confident nonetheless. Here’s hoping the project crosses the finish line – preferably as a good, fully realized experience. Then again, when your initial blueprint basically included everything, I think it’s OK to cut a corner here or there.

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58 Comments »

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  1. boundless08 says:

    Looks very pretty! The little glimpse of combat is worrying me at the moment, it looked like he was petting the wolf with his axe.

    • dE says:

      Bad combat would be in line with actual Elder Scrolls Games though. Where you toss dice at each other while barely flinching until the very last hit, where you suddenly gather the energy of a thousand angels farting into a trumpet, a melodic epic smash into the face that sends the other party flipping, tumbling and crashing through the dungeon.

      • boundless08 says:

        Tou ché! Once they leave out cliff racers I’m sure the combat won’t annoy me too much.

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        golem09 says:

        That was the reason I never got far in Morrorwind. It felt incredibly stupid aiming my bow for a perfect headshot, the arrows actually hitting the skull, and then seeing that no damage was made because of invisible dice.
        Would have played it, if it was either turn based or an action combat system, but this just felt really boring.
        Speaking of this game, I’m okay if the animations suck, als long as there is some variety to combat controls.

        • iridescence says:

          I think Morrowind was an interesting experiment in trying to model a dice-based system in a first person environment. The newer Elder Scrolls games have gone very much down the “action game with RPG elements” route but Morrowind was still trying to be a more traditional RPG.

          It certainly didn’t always work well. I would prefer turn-based or at least pausible combat in TES games myself but I know that’s never going to happen so am willing to accept them for what they are.

  2. RProxyOnly says:

    This looks pretty awesome, I’d never heard of it before.

    Thanks for the heads up, Nathan. I’ll be keeping an eye on this.

  3. Text_Fish says:

    It’s certainly got the pretties, but if anything I think most indies use art as a crutch just as much (if not more-so) as triple-a studios these days. It’s more understandable for indies of course — if you’ve got a couple of friends fresh out of their art degree who just want to make games they’re going to play to their strengths, whereas a full funded company can afford to employ enough game designers to give a pretty game some substance.

    • Somerled says:

      If only writing was considered a more glamorous career. If. Only.

    • botonjim says:

      Actually, one could argue that it’s the indies who can afford to inject some substance into their game instead of dumbing down and focus testing to death, so they can suit every audience and sell 4m copies just to get even. If only there could be a middle ground between this guys and Bethesda.

      • Lawful Evil says:

        If only…

      • thegooseking says:

        You’re right that people who make cheaper games can afford to take more risks than people who make more expensive games, but you’re forgetting that people who have no money can’t afford to take as many risks as people who have large profits from previous games salted away.

  4. Curundir says:

    From the ground-up? Two-person team? Seriously? I’m sorry but that’s just too hipster for me. I’m not that young anymore. Also: because. (huh?)

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      Yes because working in a two person team on an indie RPG is what all the kids in tight red trousers and thick rimmed glasses are doing in Hoxton these days, seriously what the hell are you on about?

      • Curundir says:

        I’m on a quest against Nathan’s excessive use of hyphens. (Use-of-hyphens?) “From the ground-up” and “two-person team” are two examples of unnecessary and incorrect use of the hyphen in this article. I fail to see why he does that.

        I know that the whole Nathan act is the use of ever more commas, brackets, dashes and hyphens. And also long and complex sentences, followed by one or two words. Like, because. Ok, many people on the internet seem to use that style, thinking that it must be witty or funny. But does it really have to be to the extent where it becomes hard to read? And that’s why I mention that I’m not that young any more. I just don’t get why all of this is done. To me, it just seems obnoxious.

        • MadMatty says:

          You should join the Grammar Nazis on the web.
          Nathans writing seems pretty good to me, i have no problem understanding it. I do know literary majors, and yes, they do pick OCD´ishly at anything they disagree with.
          Its like crosswords for you people i guess :P

  5. LennyLeonardo says:

    MASSIVE REGIONS.

  6. WJonathan says:

    So…are they going to eat that deer, or was it a member of the party who happened to be resting between adventures?

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    AlwaysRight says:

    Looks right up my street. I’m currently playing a heavily modded hardcore/exploration/survivalist Skyrim that plays like a cross between stalker,unreal world and Dark Souls and its about a million times better than vanilla (for me personally).

    • AshEnke says:

      I’d very much like you to share a collection with your mods, I’m intrigued

    • Lawful Evil says:

      “its about a million times better than vanilla (for me personally).”

      Not something difficult to achieve, in my opinion. Still, terrible writing, shallow quests, and two-dimensional (often I wonder should I just call them retarded) characters are not fixable. *sigh*

      • cowardly says:

        You shouldn’t, as characters with mental disabilities would be far more interesting and engaging than Skyrim’s soulless puppets. Also, because using someone’s disability as a disparaging term is unkind.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Second.

        • Lawful Evil says:

          “characters with mental disabilities would be far more interesting and engaging than Skyrim’s soulless puppets.”

          I agree.

          • scatterlogical says:

            Geez, you guys are pretty harsh. I’d be feeling pretty flat and emotional-less too if my livelihood was stolen by an arrow to the knee.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      Yeah of course, the main ones I’m using are (all from Skyrim Nexus):
      T3ndos skyrim redone – Really good overhaul to skyrim, adds loads more skills including a “wayfarer” skill-tree that compliments Frostfall and makes Encounter Zones so that some areas are much higher level than you.
      Frostfall & Wet and Cold – Great survivalist mod that makes clothing, temperature and being wet a huge factor, even allows you to set up camp/chop wood etc. (Turn to hardcore)
      Climates of Tamriel & Cloaks of Skyrim &Winter is Coming – Adds to the immersion of Frostfall
      Duel Combat Realism & Location Damage – Makes combat a real back and forth, adds Dark Souls style stamina. Location Damage makes it so skill takes a much bigger role in combat. You can go into a much higher level encounter zone and still win if you’re skillful.
      Sky UI & Immersive HUD – Turn off the HUD and fast travel.
      Live Another Life – gives you a choice (or random) starting point a bit like the unreal world for added roleplaying immersion.

      Then of course a whole bunch of graphic enhancement/realism mods, and ancillary mods.

      ENJOY!

      • Bostec says:

        I also have to add to that lovely lot:

        Sounds of Skyrim – Adds a bunch of lovely animal sounds.
        Shrewsbury’s Skrim Cookbook – More animal parts and recipes to cook them.
        Disble fast travel – Always a must for the hardcore.
        Lighter tools – The weigh on the tools are ridiculous, this adjusts them.
        Camping – Roll mat, tent, that sort of thing
        Arrow crafting – He makes his own arrows, yes he does.
        A hunters life – I don’t know what this does but it sounds like the bomb.

      • benkc says:

        Thanks for the list. I was looking through Skyrim GEMS just yesterday trying to build a set of mods somewhat along those lines. Ended up with a mix that crashes to desktop as soon as it hits the title screen, figure I’ll give it another go tonight.

  8. thegooseking says:

    I don’t know why you would make this from the ground up. When you’re that ambitious, you can’t afford to reinvent the wheel. I guess maybe they decided that the licensing on existing technologies was unsuitable for them, but to be honest that seems a little far-fetched. I certainly don’t believe that the existing technology is too limited for them, because how are they going to improve on it with such a small team?

    Then again, maybe the reason to do it from the ground up is to prove that they can. Not a great commercial move (it costs more and doesn’t earn anything except kudos from a particular sector of the market), but a more-than-decent career move.

  9. Sc0r says:

    Nice, but I don’t like some interface choices.. like progress-bars and spinning objects like that letter, which also looked intentionally oversize to jump to the eye or something.. Kind of kills a lot of immersion imo.

  10. Dariune says:

    This has the potential to be exactly what I would like to play.

    I hope the mechanics are as well thought out as that video.

  11. Bhazor says:

    That campers gonna ruin his bacon if he’s not careful.

  12. misterT0AST says:

    Speaking of 3079, the sequel, 3089 is out. Some coverage would be nice.

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    strangeloup says:

    It looks less like Morrowind to me and more like a cross between Daggerfall (but with decent graphics) and Gothic 1/2. Which basically means that I want it really rather a lot.

    In the meantime I’ll probably just play Morrowind some more.

  14. Freud says:

    It’s looking impressive, both in scope and scale.

  15. TheBarringGaffner says:

    Hoping this turns out well, I haven’t really played a game with the same feel as Morrowind since, well, Morrowind.

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    Rikard Peterson says:

    AAD: Almost, but not quite AAA.

  17. scatterlogical says:

    I’ll apologize preemptively for what I’m about to say, because I love indie developers and I laud ambitious projects – but only when they’re ambitious within reason.
    There’s a reason it takes a AAA developer to create a game with the scope of The Elder Scrolls games, and it’s not so much about the quality of art, or the inspiration. It’s the sheer amount of content that’s required for the world to not feel barren and hollow. And going by that video, this game looks pretty barren. In fairness, I do realize this is an alpha, but it’s just not feasible to make a game like this work with a small team.
    Like I said, I laud ambition, but these guys are just way over-reaching – indie development is great for agile development, experimenting with new and novel ideas that AAA’s can’t afford to risk – but to do that, an indie dev has to keep a limited scope, otherwise the game will suffer in all areas. I don’t think I’ll be hedging any bets on this one, but I will be happy to be proven wrong.

    • MadMatty says:

      Wurm Online was made, just about by one guy, and a small company added graphic content… but ofcourse, thats an MMO and that relies on users making the story. For a single player game, i´d say youre about correct, but heres hoping (fingers crossed)

      • Tukuturi says:

        Wurm is pretty barren and empty, both in terms of content and in terms of mechanics.

  18. waltC says:

    Daggerfall? Daggerfall was horrid even when it was brand new. I’d forgotten how horrid it was until I downloaded the game free of charge direct from Bethesda the other day–then it all came back. I wouldn’t use the “daggerfall” title anywhere in my game advertising! Not even Bethesda does that…;)

  19. Railboy says:

    Wow! A friend just told me this had shown up on RPS. I don’t know how that happened but hey, awesome.

    I’m the guy making the game. I am indeed a one man team, and this is my first project, so everyone’s skepticism is justified. Statistically there’s a higher chance of this disappearing in six months than being released. We all know how it goes.

    That said, the project isn’t as ambitious as it looks. The focus of the game is exploration, so features that don’t contribute to that core are clipped. Human NPCs are immobile, for instance – they have a stationary idle animation, but that’s it. Combat is very simple. There are skills but no classes. Please don’t expect a full-featured RPG by any means, you’ll just be disappointed.

    Also, at the start I intended to build it ‘from the ground up,’ with a custom deformable terrain engine and all that jazz, but I came to my senses last year, ditched everything I’d made so far and started over with established technology. Best decision I’ve ever made because it put the focus on content where it belongs.

    Anyway I’m really glad people like what they’re seeing, it’s very encouraging after working on it in silence for so long.

  20. Vorrin says:

    Miasmata was pretty excellent, btw, never understood why it got quite so little love on rps, a game fully based on orienteering, not falling, and unraveling a nebulous story.

    Given, the critter looked awful and didn’t work fantastically well, but the game and the sense of place was really good.

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      jrodman says:

      Speaking only for myself it sounded like it had some kind of suspense vibe, which I always avoid.

  21. Lemming says:

    I don’t know why but ‘Massive Regions’ on the trailer made me chuckle.

  22. Mabswer says:

    One thing: Dice Roll combat