A Valley Without Wind: Enemies, Windmills

It ain't no (Roadside) picnic
A fresh batch of footage from Arcen has turned up, and it shows magic, robots, structures, vehicles, and plenty of running about. Just in case you missed it, Arcen talked to us about this unusual survival-driven action adventure project here and then here.


  1. 7rigger says:

    Looks awesome :)

    I also recommend following their blog, as it has tons of information on how they’re doing and how they create.

  2. crainey92 says:

    This game looks kind of fun, I’m interested… please continue.

  3. Mattressi says:

    Wow, that looks really nice! I don’t know if they’ve changed something, whether the addition of buildings adds variety or whether I’ve simply grown used to the art direction, but this actually looks really great! At 720p it looks very nice and not at all cheap ‘cuts from magazines’ like it did last I saw it. Great work guys, keep it up :) I’m even more excited now (if that’s possible…)!

  4. Sunjumper says:

    The graphics are either getting better or I am getting used to the art style.
    I trust Arcen completely and I will pre-order the game anywa yet I am still worried that the art style is going to scare away potential new customers. I am certainly looking forward to the game though and if it is as good as the other games they made so far I will try to press all of my friends to give the game a fair chance.

  5. mlaskus says:

    I think it is worth mentioning that the game has been in development for only 3 weeks. So it is extremely early footage.

    Edit: Oh, and the music in the trailer is one of the first tracks composed by Pablo Vega for the game.

  6. Teddy Leach says:

    Windmills in a valley without wind? Heresy!

  7. Wilson says:

    Now this is a trailer. Looks intriguing.

    • oxymelum says:

      Now this is a trailer all about how, my life got flipped turned upside down.

  8. Squirrelfanatic says:

    So, is this a game about running left and right and shooting stuff? Maybe I didn’t get it right, but this looks somehow boring to me. Gotta check that blog…

    • prinzipi0 says:

      I see it quiet similiar the way u are!!!! maybe its just the opportunistic way of the readers to show how much they love rps….. dunno

    • dadioflex says:

      Huh? What are you two talking about. It’s clearly awesome. Best game ever. You get running AND shooting BTW. Awesome!

  9. goodgimp says:

    To all those asking, yes, the graphics have improved from the original batch of screenshots. Keep in mind, that as mlaskus says above, the game has only been in development a few weeks. What you saw originally was after a week or two of work. This is a week later. Most of the graphical problems people were discussing in the earlier post related to A) How early the development was and B) Trying to sort out some issues with the tools they were using (the white borders around everything).

    Anyway, gameplay > graphics any day. Cheers, Arcen!

    • Dinger says:

      The embedded youtube video is HD too. That’s the huge difference. Go to the YouTube page and put it in 360p, and you’ll see the old screenshot style.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I credit all that tall grass for hiding the base of the tree trunks. The trees didn’t look connected to the ground.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m confused by your statement that gameplay is better than graphics when the game looks so terrible. The lesson they should learn from this I suppose is don’t show off your game after a few weeks when it looks terrible.

      It even has that shitty system games used to have where you shoot in the direction you’re facing, ugh!

      I honestly really, really don’t understand why RPS is covering this game, or why anyone is interested in it. It could be fine for what it is, but surely not worthy of being covered here?

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      Because Arcen is a fantastic developer who have created what is seen by many as one of the best strategy games in the past decade – And have broken some kind of record in the continued updating and patching of said game. They have a very open philosophy for their development, hence the pre-alpha asset previews. That may seem daft to you, but it is a measure of their trust and respect to their audience.
      Here’s a novel idea – maybe if you don’t like the concept or art direction: you should just ignore the game completely.
      It baffles me that despite the fact you have already appeared to have written off the game, you have still taken the time to post these pointless angry comments.

  10. noodlecake says:

    I don’t get it… :/

    The art direction is terrible and it looks like you just wander around fireing fireballs at fugly skeletons that all die in one hit or if you’re stupid enough to let them get to you your fugly character dies in one hit. There are tons of games out there that are wonderfully executed conceptually, visually and mechanically that have never been reviewed on here. Hmm…

    I haven’t read the links yet though so they might throw me.

    • noodlecake says:

      Oh okay.

      That does sound quite cool. And the community content might save it from being so fugly too. :)

    • Wilson says:

      It is only three weeks in. The game is planning to be a bit more than fireballing skeletons. I agree that the combat will have to far more interesting than this, and I think the player could use a bit more view of where they’re going, but it’s only three weeks in, so I expect all this is to be changed/improved.
      Edit: Never mind, now you’ve read the info :)

  11. Reapy says:

    I wonder if there is a way they can add more variety to the sort of run around fireball things control scheme. I know that they are just getting the engine running and you probably should always start out just like they have, dumbfire straight ahead, basic collision/attack and damage etc just like in the video.

    I guess I just wonder what is planned if anything to keep combat from being basically old school nes ‘commando’ style shots. I think no matter the abilities and shots/traps you have, if you have to do that sort of back and forth kiting dumbfire straight ahead for the whole game, I dunno, I think there needs to be some other sort of gameplay there.

    Anyway I say that not to knock this video but just sort of hoping there will be some unique flavor to how you combat enemies.

    Also to end on a positive note, the graphics are looking a lot better, and like I said I can’t place it, either they have grown on me, or now I’m making sure to put it in 720p and fullscreen it such that I can make out all the details on the textures. Eh either way, keep the media coming :)

  12. malkav11 says:

    The PC and NPCs both need some work in terms of sprite look and animations, but at least they have plenty of options when it comes to getting a haircut. ;)

    Seriously, though, improvements are already apparent.

  13. CMaster says:

    The game is indeed improving its looks. I’m still not a fan of the distorted photo look, and think the perspective is a horrible kludge that we should be glad has almost died out. Also, I think the autumnal trees still need some work – something about their pallet doesn’t quite mesh with the rest. There’s a bit of dissonance as well between the fact that most objects (plants, buildings) have some perspective too them, yet skeletons, the player and the jeeps are all completely flat. The jeeps especially need work.

    Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see if they manage to make compelling gameplay out of it – the skeleton bashing in the video didn’t look fun, but that’s just testing stuff. I suspect the over-game aspects (exploring, building up survivor groups) will probably be more fun that the actual moment to moment gameplay, but it would be nice if both were good.

    • Reapy says:

      I have to agree with you on the perspective. I am getting used to it the more I see it, but honestly just in general prefer a straight overhead view or isomeric rather than the straight shot, slightly tilted angle.

  14. Dominic White says:

    Like I said in the last thread about the game:

    Concept is fantastic, and I hope it works.

    Art is… well, I hope all of that is programmer-art placeholder material, because it just doesn’t look good. At all. Even with the improvements they made in recent days, the whole style rubs me up the wrong way.

    Hire a sprite artist who can do lower-resolution (but more charming looking) graphics in a fixed perspective. Then you can have the camera zooming in/out without looking distorted, as pixels retain charm where pseudo-photosourced material just blurs. Hell, kidnap Konjak if he’s not already neck-deep in yet another project that he’s going to abandon anyway. The amount of amazing animated sprite-art that man has thrown out is beyond belief.

  15. lurk says:

    If the game is only three weeks into deveopment, why are they even showing it to us now? It sounded really interesting when he was talking about it, but all the screenshots and footage just look hideous.

    If isn’t going to look like this when it comes out, there’s no point in showing us it now. If it is going to look like this, then it’s actually ugly enough to make me not want to play it at all.

    • lurk says:

      Also, one nitpicky thing about the way the screen scrolls. It only seems to start moving when you’ve aready gone a little in that direction while the screen was static, so the character is off-centre whie running and you see less of the direction you’re actually facing than any other. That’s just no good.

    • Dominic White says:

      Why are they showing us now? Simple, it’s called open development. They’re actually showing us the very earliest stages of development because they want to treat us like mature adults who will understand that games don’t just magically spring into existence.

      Of course, most people aren’t mature adults who understand things like that…

    • DrGonzo says:

      Wow, what a condescending comment. You disagree with me, therefore you are nothing but a child! I seem to remember a certain Kadayi being very unreasonably told off for that, but there you go.

      I only have a certain amount of time for games, showing it off this early has made me put it on my avoid list. That’s a big issue with showing stuff off this early. I don’t care what your game is supposed to be if all the screenshots and videos of it look shit.

      Wait until you have something worth while to show us other wise you are shooting yourself in the foot.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, I think that proves my point fairy well. Most gamers aren’t mature enough to handle seeing the very first steps of a games development.

    • Veracity says:

      “mature enough to handle”, really? lurk’s comment was negative, but it didn’t seem particularly rude and wasn’t a drive-by “looks like arse”. I think you could more reasonably say a trailer after development time comparable to, I dunno, a moderately complex filing system isn’t meaningful or relevant to most people. Why would it be? I certainly don’t know where Arcen’s getting the idea most people want this kind of early exposure (not that I know they’re wrong, either) – their own forums for AI War? But that’s a narrower, already invested community. Doing it there might make sense, but I’d need some convincing about throwing it at the internet in general.

      Although I suppose they’re already getting useful feedback of a sort. There’s no game to speak of demonstrated here, so what are people responding to if not just the visuals and audio? You said yourself you hoped this is all placeholder, but it’s apparently not, so “I won’t play something that looks like this” is potentially useful information, if not encouraging.

      As for what they’ve had to say about it in troublesome, slow old words, they’ve certainly some interesting thoughts and I’ll watch-list it on the strength of AI War even though I never like sandboxes (since I also dislike RTS). If there’s any issue with interviewing so early, I suppose it’s that they could molyneux themselves, but I doubt people are that unreasonable. Mostly.

  16. kulik says:

    What bugs me is the fact that the game window lets you see around 15 meters from your character. Those things like setting traps avoiding enemies sounds weird if you imagine your view on the word is this small window around you.

  17. Tei says:

    This is a framework of… something.

    Theres not game to comment here (yet).

    • mlaskus says:

      That’s true, knowing Arcen thought, it’s going to be quite quite playable a few weeks from now. Then it will see an explosion of content and a constant stream of improvements that will continue well after it’s release. Have you read the interviews? They have some incredibly fun ideas for it.

      Also, I demand that you comment more, you have been awfully quiet lately, thus the entertainment value of RPS comments dropped sharply. :(

  18. karry says:

    I think we can put a little trust in Arcen, and not speak about this game anymore until something substantial is presented.

    There are other games that need our attention, like the one humbly named “Space Pirates and Zombies”, that i believe wasnt mentioned ONCE on RPS, and its supposed to be close to release.

  19. Jolly Teaparty says:

    I don’t get it, why did everyone change their tune? It doesn’t really look any different. Am I going crazy?

    • nimnio says:

      I’m hoping people felt guilty for flying off the handle over pre-alpha footage, and now they’re viewing footage and reading articles looking for potential rather than immediately passing judgement.

    • DrGonzo says:

      So… We are expected to look at screenshots that they have posted for us, and a video. But not come to any kind of conclusion. Why the fuck did they show us the game then?

    • nimnio says:

      Conclusions? Really? It’s a pre-alpha video, pre-alpha screenshots, and interviews discussing pre-alpha plans. Personally, I’m interested in this content, and it sounds like a lot of other people are too. RPS is more than just press releases.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      “Why the [bleepity-bleep-bleep] did they show us the game then?”

      One big reason is that many gamers like to see the early stages of a game’s development. There are other reasons, but shouldn’t that one be sufficient?

      And it’s not that you shouldn’t make a judgment based on what you see, but that the finality of that judgment should be proportional to the finality of the game… which is to say, just getting started.

    • Nick says:

      You don’t owe people who talk like that an answer, but it is testament to your character that you give one graciously anyway.

    • karry says:

      “One big reason is that many gamers like to see the early stages of a game’s development.”

      Now, who told you a stupid thing like that ? Aspiring creators certainly would be grateful for a look under the hood. Gamers ? Many gamers ? No they dont.

    • JB says:

      “Now, who told you a stupid thing like that ? Aspiring creators certainly would be grateful for a look under the hood. Gamers ? Many gamers ? No they dont.”

      And you show as much evidence to back up that statement as keith did with his. Well done.

      As an aside, personally I’m enjoying seeing the game develop.

  20. Vitruality says:

    That looks like… well, three weeks’ work. When it gets to six months’ work let me know.

  21. Lambchops says:

    I’m one of those who actually rather liked the distinctive art direction from the start and I’m glad it’s looking a bit better executed. Looking forward to seeing where this is going, can’t tell much about the gameplay as yet.

  22. manveruppd says:

    Damn, looks like a van Gogh painting!

  23. stahlwerk says:

    If this wasn’t such a young project, I’d say that the way the camera follows the player instead of leading him worries me, since it could cause a lot of unwanted run-ins with enemies. But I’m sure that’s already somewhere on your Todo-List.

  24. DOLBYdigital says:

    I like the music and am all about open development. So its good to introduce the beginning of a game concept to everyone. However I agree that RPS should start showing other games that are further down the development path like the mentioned ‘Space Pirates and Zombies’. I know a good balance is hard and there are so many games out there so maybe create a post asking for other games that you guys should be posting about? (let your followers help guide you)

  25. Evilpigeon says:

    I wish they’d use a better camera angle…

  26. geldonyetich says:

    I have days in which I feel like I’ve been walking aimlessly around forested backdrops, inexplicably emitting fireballs to stave off hostile alien skeletons. I then need to have a lay down.

  27. ScubaMonster says:

    The foliage still looks a little too “busy” but it’s looking a lot better than before.

  28. Mr_Hands says:

    Adding structures appears to have iterated on the foliage really nicely.

    The run animations are still extremely janky looking, but it’s early. I’d be surprised if they’re not cleaned up by primetime.

    In other news, I spent most of last night having some quality time with the new AI War expansion (Light of the Spire.)

    That story-based Fallen Spire mode is stupendously fun. For some reason it made me feel a little more comfortable with everything else in that game.

    Anyways, Arcen is tops. I have utmost faith in AVWW being excellent. Will be keeping a close eye out for that alpha build in March.

  29. BurningPet says:

    The art hasent changed much from last time they showed it, and by checking their site, it looks like they are extremely happy with it and thats pretty much how it will look in the end.

    i fear that there will be alot of lost sales because of the graphics, as in, lost sales from people who generaly can easily buy low quality graphics games.

  30. Torgen says:

    This has taught me that, should I ever actually get to work on my game idea, to never post early screenshots with placeholders, much less any video. :)

  31. kristian says:

    There’s awfully alot of wind in the valley without wind.

    • Torgen says:

      I think the idea is to *find* a valley without wind, to keep from being scooped up and swept to their doom. A meteorological Cibola, if you will.

  32. DXN says:

    I love the philosophy behind this game. I’d quite happily buy it with these graphics, if even half the stuff they’ve described works properly – and since it’s already looking much better than it was, I’m sure the finished product will be plenty pretty.

  33. thecrius says:

    Okay, i’ll admit my ignorance… but… seriously… what’s this shit?
    I’m not a “zomg i want photorealistic graphic” guy but… really what’s the point in this “game”?

    edit: oki, forgot about the pre-alpha footage. Anyway, next time can we view some pre-pre-pre-alpha footage?
    Something likea white screen with

    void main() {}

    this will be exciting!! thanks.


    • Tetragrammaton says:

      +1 to you for not staying ignorant and actually bothering to read the aricles which discuss in depth what the point of this game is before posting negative comments.
      Oh wait….

    • DrGonzo says:

      Since when were games judged on ideas that may or may not come to fruition? They posted a video… It looks shit..

      If they didn’t want this kind of reaction then they should have waited until they had something worthwhile to post.

      It’s like me saying I am going to create an amazing work of art, describing a fantastic sounding idea. Then I show you a work in progress, which is just a picture of my rectum, then being really offended when you tell me it looks like arse.

    • Vinraith says:


      The difference, of course, is that Arcen has already created an amazing, ambitious game that lived up to its unorthodox design goals. This is a fantastic idea being handled by a group of people with a history of bringing fantastic ideas to fruition, not just some random game idea from some random development house.

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      “It’s like me saying I am going to create an amazing work of art, describing a fantastic sounding idea. Then I show you a work in progress, which is just a picture of my rectum, then being really offended when you tell me it looks like arse.”

      No it’s like you saying you are going to create an an amazing work of art, describing a fantastic sounding idea. Then you show me a work in progress, which consists of sketches, comp studies and written notes. To the general public, this looks like a collection of scrawlings. To someone actually knowledgeable or interested in art it looks like what it is – the artist’s development of the final piece.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      To clarify, we weren’t really all that offended. A bit surprised, a bit exhausted, etc. But if someone really wants to call our work dirty names, that’s not something we’re going to spend a lot of mental cycles on either way.

      My surprise was largely based on my previous experience that many gamers want insight into the game development process and don’t like not getting details (or a chance to give feedback) until everything’s ready to go. So, one goal behind this early revelation is to make that kind of gamer happy. But the truth is that a lot of gamers responded in a way that only solidifies and confirms the industry standard behavior of not letting people see anything until its polished.

      We’re going to keep it up because we think it’s a good thing overall, but we really do see why other developers view it as so much of a trade-off. If gamers want developers to be more open, they should look to their own conduct.

      Criticism is fine, and we really need informed criticism to be able to improve, it’s more a matter of how much crap do we want to take ;)

      But after some initial rockiness things seem to have calmed down to a pretty constructive environment, which is encouraging.

    • mda says:


      The difference is, your buttcrack is a valley with wind.


    • Mattressi says:

      Keith, I know what your saying, but the problem is that you’re grouping all gamers together. Many people have come on and said ‘this looks great’ or ‘I think this should be different’, but there will always be some wankers who come on calling it all sorts of names. I’d bet that the former are the people who plead for more open development, while the latter never asked for it in the first place. They likely just want to have a nice ‘news’ site which will feed them ads for all of the near-completion AAA titles. Just ignore them; I really can’t imagine that someone would refuse to buy a game because it once didn’t look as good as it did at release (as if they think games just come into existence and don’t start off as rough drafts).

      Anyway, I really appreciate the constant updates; it’s great to see new features as they’re added or to see how feedback has changed a few things subtly. It’s a really fun way to get involved and to see the thought process behind things. I’m hoping you guys will offer a closed alpha/beta for people who’ve pre-ordered; it’d be great to reward customer loyalty (and keep some of the whiners who don’t understand the development process from bringing you down). I’d be willing to pay a little more than full price if it meant I could check out some of the builds along the way. Wolfire Games (Overgrowth) are good like this and it’s a really great experience. Of course, if the negative comments have turned you off this, I’ll understand – I’m not about to refuse to buy your game if it’s not developed openly; it’s just a nice bonus to be able to see the game as it’s created.

  34. thebigJ_A says:

    People who were saying this game is ugly are crazy. I think it looks awesome.

  35. bill says:

    Hey Arcen – two tips:
    Make sure you show all the pics/vids in high resolution as it looks a lot better.

    Try the old 2D(ish) GTA style of camera where it zooms out the faster you go so you can see further ahead of you.

  36. keith.lamothe says:

    We appreciate y’all continuing to follow the development, and we hope you enjoy hearing about (and seeing, despite the pain this has caused some of you) things as we go along :)

    Also, your feedback is valuable to us. Well, except when the feedback is solely composed of an insult, but that’s pretty rare. We look forward to seeing you among the players/testers when we’re in alpha (whether you’re on the trial version or full version). That will also let you get a better feel for the game itself, obviously.

    Anyway, onward :)

    • Dominic White says:

      I think you’ll find that the majority opinion so far is that the concepts sound fantastic, but the art-style/graphics just don’t work. I honestly thought it was all placeholder, programmer-art style stuff, but if that’s seriously the style that you’re shooting for in the final version, then I worry. A lot.

      Getting a half-decent sprite artist can’t be that expensive, can it? Like I mentioned, Konjak throws out half a games worth of professional-grade animated spritework with every new project he starts and abandons. Even something super-minimalist, ala Dwarf Fortress’ Stonesense, or even the hyper-simple style of Realm Of The Mad God (Oryx’s sprites, I believe) would carry a lot more charm and style than the awkward mix of pre-rendered and photosourced material we’re seeing here.

    • psyk says:

      Maybe they want the game to be in a style they choose not the style you or others may want.

    • Starky says:

      They may indeed, but their chosen style is clearly going to be polarizing, and with a game that is clearly leaning so heavily on art, if a fairly sizeable number of people are put off/dislike it then clearly it will effect their sales.
      And going by all the threads I’ve seen on it, a sizeable number of people are of the opinion that the graphical style is off putting.

      It’s up to them how they want their game to appear, but I’m leaning towards the side that just finds it ugly.

    • jaheira says:

      @ Starky “a sizeable number of people” = self-selected sample, of no statistical worth. Personally, I think it’s interesting to see something so wildly different.

    • noom says:

      @psyk & Jahiera

      Well, going by the comments thus far, Dominic isn’t alone in thinking the graphical direction is lacking. And what he’s offering isn’t mindless insult, it’s constructive criticism. I’d imagine that’s precisely the kind of thing the developers are going to appreciate.

      Voicing a disparate opinion doesn’t make you a “hater”, to use the current parlance of the proletariat. It’s an essential function of honest discourse, which is how we make shit good.

    • CMaster says:

      The first article with screenshots on here, almost all the initial posts were a reaction to how weak the graphics were. It’s a real issue, especially as several of those people (myself for example) regularly play low-fidelity games. So it isn’t a “graphics > gameplay” issue, but a “those graphics detract from my gaming experience” issue. And that’s a problem. AI war doesn’t look very good. It even fails functionally a little – I can never tell what kind of guardpost I am looking at by its appearance as they are all strange combos of spirals ad sphere. But it really doesn’t effect my enjoyment of the game, which basically comes down to getting my little symbols to fight the right kid of enemy symbols. But when people look at the game ad say “I wouldn’t want to look at that for too long”. When a lot of the game is meant to be exploration driven, when we are told about the desire to emulate old SNES games, yet there is a complete failure to capture the charm, while at the same time being told this is very time consuming to create. Then perhaps there is a problem?

      Now of course, Arcen can create whatever game they like. A lot of people, however think that Arcen have some great, complex ideas here and that AI War and Tidalis show that in contrast to many devs they can pull it off, so it is worth watching. It would be a shame if something like very unusual art choice put them off what is clearly going to be a mechanics led game.

  37. Starky says:

    Individual aspects of the art in this footage (in HD, in SD it always looks awful) it looks quite good – but the rest of the time it is just off putting. That perspective is just, wrong… perhaps it can be fixed with some kind of dynamic resize scale programming so that objects at the top of the screen look smaller than those at the front as the camera angle would suggest they should.
    Still I think it is a style that just clashes with itself – individual sprites/assets look okay, but the combination is just too busy, too garish.

    I think the largest issue with it though is the lack of shadows – that is what makes it look so flat and copy/pasted.
    Nothing meshes at all without shadows, it just looks like magazine cut-outs all piled on top of each other – in HD in a still image that can look decent, but in motion, animated it just looks bad in my (and many peoples seemingly) opinion.

    It’s alpha footage sure, and maybe in time the Devs can get this unusual (currently ugly) art style to work – I hope so, because even if the gameplay was great, I don’t think I could bring myself to buy a game that literally pains me to look at.

    This isn’t really a matter of “graphics” in the traditional video game sense the “graphics” are not bad – but the choice and implementation of graphical style is.
    As it stands this game would need to have the best gameplay in the world to overcome that art choice.

    I honestly think this game would look so much better with shadows, and a muted colour palette (to make it appear more like a water colour).

    • Starky says:

      Actually the more I look at it the more I’m convinced the issue isn’t the style itself but the lighting/shadows.

      Buildings have shadows in one direction, and one next to it the opposite. The small building with the red and white barbers pole on it casts shadow to the right (lit on the left), while the windmill clearly casts to the left (lit on the right). this it what makes it look so unsettling to see, why everything seems to clash and look wrong.

      Tree’s cast no shadows, and the direction of the light as shown by the shading on the trunks varies from tree to tree, see link to arcengames.com
      Look at the shading on the tree trunks, the dark side alternates clearly from mirrored images.

      The light direction on other assets is just as random. And many things have no shading at all (like the main character).

      I seriously think this art style COULD work if the Devs get a handle on that, set a specific light direction and use it uniformly, a set position for the sun to be (front and to the right, going by that windmill – as in casting shadow to the left), and then use that uniformly across all their asset production.

      It’s that jarring light and shadow mismatching that is making it just seem so fake and wrong – like a bad collage of art rather than a moving painting.

      I mean the windmill itself looks fantastic, and so could the rest I think if it was just made consistent.

    • edit says:

      Consistent lighting and shadows will definitely help, but even with that fixed I think the perspective would still turn me off the game. The ‘art style’ has that “I’m not an artist so I grabbed some photographic elements” quality that I’ve seen more than a few times in prototypes and unfinished amateur games. This game has a decent conceptual foundation but really needs the vision of an artist to make it immersive and atmospheric. I’m not a stickler for realism and enjoy a lot of stylized and minimal art-direction, but when there is no sensitivity to perspective it just feels like amateurville to me.

      It’ll be interesting to see how the game evolves.

    • mlaskus says:

      Good points Starky. I haven’t noticed the shadows are wrong at all before.

  38. Starky says:

    Edit: Fail Reply

  39. godkingemperor says:

    looks like it was made in rpgmaker

  40. Jackablade says:

    It’s an interesting direction to go, this showing people the entire development cycle. In some ways it’s admirable. I mean as a game developer I’m painfully aware that the vast majority people have no idea what goes into taking a game from concept to finished, boxed game on the shelf, but from a marketing point of view this is kind of problematic.

    If you’re trying to sell a concept to someone, particularly on the internet they need to be compelled to stick around and pay attention very quickly. You might have 10 seconds before the average punter closes the browser, leaving a snarky comment on their way out. Maybe 20 seconds on RPS given the audience. This is obviously going to cause all sorts of issues if they’re going to be posting videos right from the very beginning of development while the game still looks like a particularly mediocre side-scrolling shooter. And it wouldn’t be such an issue on their blog where it was surrounded by other development discussion and people had to seek it out, but just a lone video on a gaming blog? I’m inclined to think that’s just going to cost them more potential players than it’s going to attract.

    Perhaps they’d be better off confining their media to their own website and simply notifying the blogs that there’s been an update for those who’re interested in the progress, at least until it starts to coalesce into something closer to what they’re attempting to achieve.

    • mlaskus says:

      The first batch of footage was shown on RPS with the interviews, and it was a mixture of new and already obsolete stuff. I think it was simply Phil Cameron who looked at their devblog and put the images and video in the post.

      The reaction was generally very negative, and I think the Hivemind has posted this newer video to make up for what happened the last time, as it looks a lot better already.
      At least, that’s the reason I posted it on the forum before.

    • Lambchops says:

      “Perhaps they’d be better off confining their media to their own website and simply notifying the blogs that there’s been an update for those who’re interested in the progress, at least until it starts to coalesce into something closer to what they’re attempting to achieve.”

      I think this is a superb point. I like the idea of open development and getting an insight into the creative process (on a personal level I skim past the more technical bits, as that’s not an area of interest for me). I thought this would be the same for most people but judging by the responses so far it seems that a significant portion of people just watch the footage, aren’t particularly interested in reading the thought processes behind it and make a snap judgement based on what they see. Which is their choice I suppose, much in the same way as I choose to gloss over the technical aspects.

      Still it does suggest that perhaps is would be best to point out that the development is open so that those interested can observe it, then stay reasonably quiet in terms of press interaction until the game is a lot nearer completion.

      Though I guess this wouldn’t stop sites like RPS posting it, because the RPS guys are generally quite interested in this sort of thing. But there’s probably much to be said for not having pre alpha footage splashed over certain other gaming blogs . . .

    • edit says:

      I don’t believe open development really could cause harm, and is more likely to drum up interest.. Assuming the sites which post about the game now do so again at least once as the game gets closer to being complete, people will have a chance to see it in a more complete form, and I really don’t think people who don’t like the current visuals would create some kind of block in their mind to prevent them from considering newer screens or videos on their own merit. Even those who ‘put the game on their avoid list’ would change their tune if future media appeals to their tastes. If it never does, they probably would never have liked the game regardless of when they found out about it. I personally don’t like how the game looks now, but I know about it, and I’ll be interested to see how it changes over time, potentially turning me into a customer somewhere down the line.

      Also, as some responses here seem to indicate, showing something dodgy and then showing something improved can create positive responses. Of course, those who like what they see are likely to follow the game’s own site\blog and potentially get more people interested through word of mouth. Community feedback is also incredibly valuable to any developer.

      I’ve been following Wolfire and Minecraft and it seems to me that open development is one of the best things an independent developer can do to engage with the community.

  41. Pamplemousse says:

    They should really stop showing footage of this.

    I’m sure it will be interesting when it finally gets finished, but these shots look distinctly unimpressive. At the current stage of development, it looks like a flash game, not even a very good one at that.

    Give it a few months before releasing any video content. I’d much rather have one or two videos of the finished game than reels of video content of its pre-alpha stage.

  42. CMaster says:

    @All the people who say they shouldn’t be showing this – well that’s open development, showing the process as it goes along, with all the ups and downs, including the missteps along the way. One of the big advantages of such a style is the constant feedback, after you tune out the people talking about things that they simply haven’t got around to yet.

    One thing about that is, I went over to post some of my thoughts on the Arcen forums, being quite interested in the game and already having got an account for AI war issues (that the Arcen guys fixed very quickly – props to them there). And then I read the threads and saw the attitude Chris Park was taking. And then found some mud-slinging at RPS by other forum members. And decided no, I’d better not.

    • keith.lamothe says:


      If you believe that Chris or I have wronged someone in something we said, please do tell us so. Or even if it was one of our community members if you think the offense was grievous (beyond the usual ubiquitous ribbing). My gmail account has the same username I use here, feel free to reach me there. We’re rather far away from perfect, but we do try to be reasonable.

    • CMaster says:

      No, I don’t believe anybody said anything that crossed any kind of line.
      I annoyingly can’t find the post now, but Chris basically shut down a thread somewhere saying that the art design wasn’t up for discussion, while the content of the “Interview on RPS” thread made me think that I’d take a lot of stick for being a looks-obsessed air head. It wasn’t that I thought that the Arcen forums were a poisonous environment or anything – simply that I thought critcism would be shrugged off or ridiculed. A second look through while writing this post suggests it perhaps wasn’t as bad as I though. Maybe I’ll drop by some time. I would say to be cautious about the fact that the critical tone has died down a bit – that’s simple because people have already had their first reactions. Wait until you guys are happier with the art, then dump some screenshots on a different community and measure their first impressions to see how it is going.

      Oh, and in case this wasn’t clear and people think I’ve got something against Arcen – I think AI War is a very good game with frankly unbelievable support. I didn’t really rate Tidalis at all from the demo, but I’m not a huge one for those kinds of puzzle these days. I’ve been excited about Alden Ridge since announcement and AVWW since the project combination.

    • keith.lamothe says:

      I can understand the concern about not wanting to pipe up with suggestions of a kind found in a recently-locked thread, etc.

      Chris tries very hard to listen objectively to constructive feedback, and we do appreciate folks giving such on the art. But there’s basically a saturation point where the arguments being advanced do not differ from the arguments that have already been made (and we’ve found not sufficient to change our minds), and we have to make a call to just move on so as to use our time efficiently. This generally doesn’t lead to a locked thread but sometimes there are compounding factors that make that the cleanest approach.

      Anyway, with very rare exception, if you express a reasonable bit of feedback on the Arcen forums, you will not be met with genuine ridicule (a little joking around, maybe, particularly if it’s a horse that’s been beaten to death 1000 times). If you do encounter that, tell me, and I’ll straighten it out.

      The art discussion reminds me of a number of debates about various aspects of AI War (control nodes vs UI elements, ship-type-specific-bonuses vs more general bonuses, etc) where we just had to say “ok, ok, ok, we’re still arguing about this around and around but we’re not getting anywhere, we just need to move on”. In some cases we did eventually come around to the other position (generally because some other important factors changed, reopening the issue) and over a year after the debates it gets changed ;) One important factor that could change in this case is if AVWW makes a lot of money during preorders and we can afford to bring Phil (who did a lot of AI War art and all the Tidalis art) into the project. But even then, the sheer amount of time to do all this stuff in pixel-art vs 3d-rendered-sprites would probably make what (I think) you’re asking for not feasible. And then there’s the matter that we actually like the art style, and aren’t convinced it’s as bad as all that ;)

      But I am convinced that fruitful discussion can and will be had on other aspects of the project :)

  43. undead dolphin hacker says:

    The buildings help immensely in making the game not look like crap, so props to that. The monster you’ve got so far looks neat too, whatever it is (looks like a mutant bipedal mantis to me for some reason). And the tree-shaking looks good. The spell effect, while nothing special, is still solid.

    I still think you really need to zoom the “camera” out, though. And the one car is still hilariously bad. Could you draw new ones and maybe make that one an easter egg somewhere?

  44. Eclipse says:

    the idea is kind of neat, the execution… OH GOD MY EYEEEES

    • Eclipse says:

      and now that I watched the video with my speakers turned on: OH GOD MY EARS…
      This game sound interesting but technically is… very weird, to be gentle

  45. stahlwerk says:

    Since we will be seeing a lot more of this game in the future, let’s get the wind puns out of the way before our enthusiasm blows over, shall we?

  46. Lazaruso says:

    That was a low blow and unworthy of a gentleman, sir.

  47. cstabb says:

    I’m a huge fan of Arcen Games and I trust them to make a game worth playing. But Chris Park’s latest blog post (link to christophermpark.blogspot.com) seems to indicate that he is sacrificing modular, procedurally generated design for the sake of maintaining the visual style. The two notions seem contradictory: a completely procedurally generated world that lives and grows over timer, and static building graphics that defy variations, artist intervention notwithstanding.

    I am all for a unique look, and I have no doubt that this will be an amazing game, but I do hope the final product aligns with the vision they’ve laid out. Keep up the great work, Arcen!

  48. maddog79 says:

    I must also disclose that I am a big fan of Arcen and indie game developers. I cheerfully bought Aiwar and only just discovered Tidalis and will soon buy it with a grin on my face. Having said that, the trailer above was not overly pretty, and again I understand it is very early days yet and I do dig the bits of Van Gogh-ishness in the style and artistic stylization certainly worked nicely for games like Borderlands. My concern is that the top down concept may not work for the genre of game that AVWW seems to be aspiring to. Aiwar and Tidalis look pretty sweet within the RTS and Puzzle genre but there are many many gamers who are graphics queens and they will be turned off by trailers like this. I totally admire the artistic integrity to want to make the sort of game one wants to make but I just don’t see the camera angle working terribly well in an action adventure style game focused on exploration in 2011.3rd person is fine (worked awesome in Assassin’s creed and Mass Effect, etc) but camera control and perspective in this sort of game is very important in making a player want to explore this world. The base concept and post apocalyptic vibe are awesome and I think the Van Gogh/monet-ish art could be really really nice but hopefully something can be done about the camera angle and perspective. As stated it is very early days yet in development and I may end up buying it to help keep Arcen viable and indie anyways.

  49. bwion says:

    Based on the initial descriptions, I’m really looking forward to this game. (I actually really dig the art style, though I do still find something off-putting about the perspective and such.)

    But I think I’m going to skim any future stories about it until much, much closer to its release, just to avoid oversaturating myself with information. (This is not me saying that the info shouldn’t be out there, because clearly some people are interested in it. This is me saying that I am occasionally capable of showing self-restraint for my own good.)