Discontent Dismissed: Midwinter Remake Is Coming

By Adam Smith on January 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Now is the Midwinter of my content, though not until after an inglorious summer. In the very near future of ‘early 2014′, a Kickstarter campaign for a remake of Mike Singleton’s wonderful first-person open world RPG will begin, with an intended release date of ‘early 2015′ for the final product. Development duties will be handled by Chilli Hugger Software, the studio that created the Lords of Midnight remake. Mr Singleton was the creator of games so far ahead of their time that I predict the rest of us will catch up with his vision some time during the singularity.

Midwinter and its sequel shaped my ideas about what games could be and I’ve been excited and mildly disappointed ever since. Chilli Hugger will be joined by Midwinter’s programmer, Dave Gautrey, as “the technical lead on the game, using the original game code and design documents as a foundation”.

As well as securing the services of Mr Gautrey, Chill Hugger have recruited Dan Whitehead, who you may recognise from his many contributions to Eurogamer. He’ll be working in “the creative lead role, responsible for narrative design and gameplay”.

Chris Wild, founder of Chilli Hugger, had this to say:

Midwinter was a seminal game, and a huge influence on the open world sandbox genre, but Mike’s vision was held back by the technology of the time. Our aim is to bring Midwinter back into the modern gaming environment, combining the depth and variety of the original with today’s cutting edge visuals and processing power.

The technology of the time did a poor job of holding that vision back. I look forward to seeing more but for now here is a comparison shot.

I hope the final HUD is as colourful and lovely as the original version.

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37 Comments »

  1. Morcane says:

    I’m officially chilled.

    • vedder says:

      It’s cool to see this franchise return after such a long hibernation.

      • roryok says:

        I’ve been away awhile, I must say its good to see the pun threads haven’t been put on ice around here.

      • InnerPartisan says:

        I only hope that the general public isn’t left cold by the prospects of this Kickstarter.

        • Kreeth says:

          Well, yes, it would be disappointing to see this remake end up on the rocks.

    • mr.black says:

      The modern graphic is just icing on the cake.

  2. Harlander says:

    Midwinter and its sequel (and its spiritual threequel, Ashes of Empire) were games that I really wanted to play, but coming back to them in modern times I slammed into their interfaces (made for such high-tech interface paradigms as single-button joysticks) like a cartoon cat into a glass patio door, sliding pitifully down to the floor.

    So a remake would be pretty cash.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Midwinter used the mouse on ST and Amiga. It was still that weird time before mouselook became “obvious”, but at least driving the UI is straightforward, if you can remember which key gets you back to it. (I had a poke at the latter version within the last few months, because a friend has been setting up real hardware with a hard drive full of games. (I still can’t drive the snowcat without crashing everywhere.))

  3. roryok says:

    I never played this but I remember reading about it in CVG and wanting to sell my as-yet-undescended left nut for an Amiga.

    Wait… I have an Amiga! I found one in the dump! Gimme back me left nut!

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      I had this game on the Amiga. A friend was constantly asking to borrow it and when I finally acquiesced, the bastard wouldn’t give it back!

      • roryok says:

        Had the same issue with Combat on the Atari 2600. I loaned it to a guy at school and he wouldn’t give it back. I cycled 4 miles to his house one day just to get it only to have him tell me he didn’t have my stupid game and slam the door in my face.

        Memories.

  4. Jp1138 says:

    Stunt Island next, please :)

    • Scurra says:

      Oh yes please. I’ve still got the original discs for that one somewhere. I suspect that a new version would make my moderately decent hardware cry in a corner though because they’d get obsessed with the gfx engine and forget the fun bit (cf. any flight “simulator” program.)

      • Jp1138 says:

        I´ve still got the box, manual and discs too. When I think in a steam workshop integrated Stunt Island…

  5. roryok says:

    Are we entering a golden age of remakes?

  6. LionsPhil says:

    Interesting. It’s not the most promising comparison shot yet, but it’s also not a remake by an AAA publisher-studio that will make it a cinematic thrill-ride. One to watch, perhaps, because the original is still fairly impressive today in what it pulls off, and amazing when you consider it’s doing it on nearly 30-year-old hardware.

  7. Themadcow says:

    Anyone else prefer the original screenshot over the remake?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Easily, and from the last line it sounds like Adam does too.

      But the remake screenshot is clearly very unfinished since it doesn’t have any of the information of the original. I’m not thrilled by the green placeholder screens, but then the devs might fall out of love with them too once they start prototyping.

      Snow scene’s nice, though. It probably does need just a little bit of real wintery bleakness, rather than the 16-colour vibrance of the original. (Just a bit. Not AAA amounts of it.)

      (All that said, I’m not sure if holding on to the ski mask is right or not. For the original, I suspect that was a largely technical decision to constrain the rendering area. It would be interesting to see how it affected the game’s feel if you were less claustrophobic, and more exposed, with a more minimal, floating Half-Life-1-y HUD. Or even something crazy like a Trespasser actual watch on your wrist.)

    • Shadrach says:

      I have a few problems with the screenshot but it’s only alpha I guess so things could change.
      - The peak in the background is too “pointy” and looks like a typical exaggerated terrain-gen mountain. In the original I always imagined a vast open landscape of smaller hills and valleys, not massive peaks, and it added to the feeling of openness.
      - Looks like there’s only a thin layer of snow on the ground, as you can see the rocks. In Midwinter it always felt like the world was covered in several meters of deep snow everywhere. Of course it was to do with the techincal limitation as well I guess.

      Still super-excited about the prospect of a remake though, if done right this could be big, I have many fond memories of playing Midwinter a lot.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Hell no. What is that on the left? A sun flash? An explosion? A sprite glitch? WHAT THE HELL IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE?

  8. AngoraFish says:

    Midwinter was an incredible gem for the time, on par with genre defining classics like Elite, Civilization and Dune 2. It was so far ahead of its time, in fact, that the technology just wasn’t quite up to it. The game will therefore inevitably be less fondly remembered than many other ground-breakers.

    As ground-breaking as Midwinter was, I’m unclear what a modern-day remake of a FPS/RPG hybrid could possibly offer that isn’t already extremely well covered nowadays by the likes of Farcry and the Fallout franchise.

    The various isometric text-based RPG reboots plug a niche that had been left vacant for a decade, which is the opposite of the current situation for FPS/RPG hybrids.

    Although I was a fan of the original, and have Kickstarted around 70 games in the last two years, I’ll be surprised if I end up throwing money at this one.

  9. Anti-Skub says:

    Midwinter was truely awesome in it’s day and I mean awesome. Like mind blowing that it was even possible with the technology at the time, it was open world procedurally generated FPS/RPG/Simulator with a variety of vehicles before most of those things were even things. It was Farcry 15 years before Farcry.

  10. Richie Shoemaker says:

    That Chilli Hugger fellow did an excellent job on the Lords of Midnight remake, striking the perfect balance between reverence and accessibility (even more so than XCOM in some respects). I’m glad he’s having a stab at Midwinter.

    I wonder if he’ll use that Midwinter tech for Eye of the Moon…

  11. LionsPhil says:

    Oh god, what have they done to Stark? He looks like he just wandered off the set of Limbo of the Lost. Compare that pathetic facial hair to the rugged individual in the Amiga screenshot.

    • Smion says:

      Ick! Also, what’s up with all that ugly military camo stuff? I thought the good dudes were supposed to be policepersons and other regular people.

      That said: I’m still pretty excited since I’m super stoked about open world in a snowy environment for whatever reason.

  12. Mud says:

    Hope it turns out better than Carrier Command remake, Midwinter was the first game I could think about that deserves a remake,

  13. Stardreamer says:

    Very interested to see how this one turns out. Also very interested to see if they’ll do Flames of Freedom next, the game that stole my heart for a good many years. The first game was good, and all the other praise heaped upon it above, but the second was an utter masterpiece.

  14. strangeloup says:

    I always wanted to play this, but iirc I only ever played a demo (or possibly borrowed a mate’s copy, I forget). Quite pleased that they’re going for shinier graphics on this; having never played the original Lords of Midnight, when I went to correct this with the remake, I was a little disappointed that it was more or less like a high-def version of the Speccy one.

  15. kwyjibo says:

    If they put zombies in it, and some sort of survival crafting mode, it’ll generate 3x the funding on Kickstarter.

  16. PostieDoc says:

    All Amiga games should be remade for modern PCs!
    That was such a great time for gaming and a lot of them still play well today.

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  20. shimeril says:

    Still have my original Amiga disks and manuals for Midwinter. There was such a grand scale to this, but like someone else mentioned i just found it hard to control. One to keep an eye on I reckon.