Fugl: 3 minutes of being a swoopy bird!

Fugl

I’ve been entranced by Fugl [official site] every time I’ve seen the flying exploration game pop into my inbox or my timeline. Hopefully I’ll get some time with it soon as it’s coming into early access on 14 September, then I can report back on whether it plays as well as it videos! In the meantime there is a three-minute video showing a slice of gameplay as well as just showing off the aesthetic – a beautiful cubescape with really nice lighting and colour palettes.

I do like the lighting in the caves!

“Our game, the meditative bird experience Fugl, aims to do exactly that: it lets players freely explore a vast beautiful world on their own terms. No set goals, rings to collect or enemies to defeat. Just discover the rich wildlife, meet animal friends and most importantly have fun; whenever you need a little time off from the stress of daily life.”

Looking through the dev team list, aside from Johan Gjestland, I see a few familiar names I didn’t know were associated with the project too – there’s sound designer Martin Kvale who I met at GDC because of his work on Hidden Folks and Keyboard Sports (you may know him via Krillbite’s games like Among The Sleep or from GoNNER) and Gorm Lai, a founder of Global Game Jam who also worked on the OSX version of Limbo. The artist is Marco Peschiera so if you like the look of the game go over to his Cartrdge page for little gifs of lots of charming animals!

LOOK AT THIS HERMIT CRAB!

AND THIS DUCK!

So yes. 14 September for early access over on Steam, all the usual early access caveats apply. The “about” section also has some detail about what’s in the alpha version and the bits and pieces the team want to add as progress continues.

40 Comments

  1. Merry says:

    I agree that the images are very clever, but I detest pixellated (voxellated?) images so much. Very rarely there’s a work that I might like to hang on my wall, but I just cannot appreciate pixel art in-game graphics at all.

    I assume the recent proliferation of games like this is a result of the upsurge in indie developers, for whom pixel graphics is a little easier to produce, but I didn’t spend £500 on a graphics card so that I can watch 300×400 graphics. It’s a major reason why Minecraft and I don’t get on too well.

    • Caiman says:

      That’s truly fascinating, thank you for sharing that with us, particularly in the comment section for a game where the appeal is the pixelly graphics. It really makes me appreciate the fact that the game isn’t for you, which makes me wonder why you even clicked on the story, unless it was for the very important matter of letting us know your aesthetic preferences.

      • Merry says:

        That’s very peevish of you, and it makes me wonder what universal appeal you think your own comment has? I thought the comment section was all about describing one’s opinions and preferences.

        “in the comment section for a game where the appeal is the pixelly graphics”

        I don’t think so. The developers themselves say it is a “meditative bird experience [which] lets players freely explore a vast beautiful world on their own terms” and “have fun; whenever you need a little time off from the stress of daily life”. Those sound delightful to me.

        It is 3 minutes of being a swoopy bird! that first drew me in, and nowhere does it even mention pixel graphics, let alone say that the pixellation is the main appeal of the game.

        I hope the rest of your day is a little better for you.

        • Daymare says:

          Wanted to write a similar response to this snarky comment, but probably not as concise.

          Thanks for sparing me the time.

          Edit: I have a problem with the Minecraft style of games. If I see it, I pretty much lose interest.

        • Daymare says:

          “I didn’t spend £500 on a graphics card so that I can watch 300×400 graphics”

          Highly disagree with that, though. Highend graphics are great to have for games like Dishonored 2, Prey, Witcher 3 etc., but certainly no reason dismiss everything that doesn’t make your GTX 1080 blaze. Like, I don’t know, Undertale, Rain World or the recent Songbringer.

          • April March says:

            As soon as I got this PC I sent my girlfriend a message saying “Finally I can play real games on a beefy PC!” and a screenshot of Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup.

        • Johan Gjestland says:

          I’m sorry the voxel look throws you off, but I assure it’s not the point of the game. Point of the game is the flying. The voxel works however to enhance the feeling of flight, as you need a good sense of scale to get a good sense of speed, and voxels are a very good scale since they’re all uniform blocks. So as soon as you establish the scale of a voxel, its easy to infer the scale of anything and that works really well for the mind to give you a great sensation of moving through space.

    • anon459 says:

      I have to admit I generally don’t get along with voxels either, even though I love high quality pixel art. This game, though, is one of a small number that I find quite beautiful despite them.

      I also enjoy the clever use of such limited assets on display in those duck and hermit crab gifs. I think I enjoy them in the same way that I enjoy chiptune music. The limitations imposed by the medium force the author to think and create outside of the box, opening new avenues for art which would be impossible without such limitations. So perhaps the voxels are indeed the very thing that make this game so beautiful to me; I can’t really say.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I think those two gifs show off the best and worst of pixel (voxel) graphics.
        The crab looks like some brown cubes and some purple cubes mashed together, but the duck manages to look very duck like, despite the limited resolution.
        That’s my take on pix/voxel graphics, when they work well they do a good job of utilising their limitations, when they go wrong it’s just a tiny pixelated mess.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      “I didn’t spend £500 on a graphics card so that I can watch 300×400 graphics.”

      I think that says a lot about how seriously your opinion should be taken.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I don’t think your dislike of this is due to a dislike of what you are actually seeing, but more of a mental hangup. You mention “300×400 graphics” but this voxel stuff is actually proper 3D, and can run at whatever res your graphics hardware can put out, features realtime lighting, water reflections, ambient occlusion, anti-aliasing etc. etc.

      Technically it’s as modern as it gets, with its only sin being that things are made of blocks.

      Here, look at this stuff by Sir Carma link to behance.net – if you can’t see the beauty in this, then ehhh, I dunno. Different tastes, I guess.

      • Merry says:

        “Here, look at this stuff by Sir Carma”

        I think they’re lovely. But I don’t see anything that couldn’t be improved by removing the artificial limitation of working in pixels.

        • AutisticDragon says:

          I’m sorry but I actually had to respond to this as it confuses me. Do you not at all appreciate the utilisation of symbolism, abstraction, and limitation for the purposes of art? Do you therefore believe that all art as you perceive it only therefore exists in hedonistic excess?

          I just had to ask that question. I think I understand that this is a way someone can look at things, but it’s unusual to me.

          Well, this is the first comment that actually got me to comment so I suppose there is that. Those questions were burning in my mind and I couldn’t ignore them.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        o_o
        Man…

        Those are some phenomenal works. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Time4Pizza says:

    Not sure I can get behind an exploration game with such pixelated graphics. I mean its one thing to have 80s pixel art in an RPG or a game with actual, um, gameplay. Its another to have pixel art when the entire point of the game is looking at things. So basically this game is like Minecraft, except you can’t build anything?

    • Johan Gjestland says:

      You can actually build biomes, but more top down than minecraft. No placement of individual blocks, have a look at an fairly recent version: link to youtube.com

      • Daymare says:

        Oh hi, you’re the dev! This terrain generation program is pretty neat-o.

        I wrote above that I’m not into Minecraft-y graphics … but that bird’s-eye view makes blocky visuals much more palatable–i.e. the blocks smaller.

        • Johan Gjestland says:

          Also Minecraft has really ugly textures that doesnt really blend well together at a distance. I dont think it was the looks that made it popular in the first place either. I try a diffrent approach with single coloured voxels that blend together to create texture. The longer the draw distance, the smaller the voxels look.

          • Daymare says:

            Certainly not the looks. It was the sandbox with tons and tons of options. Looks were just a byproduct of the small team, the simplicity of adding content and such things, I suppose.

            Fugl looks much prettier, anyhow.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Ooooo, cool, I had no idea an editor was coming, too. I love playing with procedural textures in Blender (not that I’m any good at it), and this already looks like it’ll scratch a similar itch – with more readily enjoyable results.

        Edit: While I’m thinking of Blendery things, thanks also for at least aiming for Linux support!

  3. Spacewalk says:

    I wonder if it uses Voxlap for its engine.

    • Johan Gjestland says:

      It’s a custom multi-platform engine, it’s rendering most of the voxels as triangles and some as distance fields.

  4. Merry says:

    Why has that bird got large ears? Is it actually a bat? Or perhaps they’re its feet, as they seem to disappear when it extends its legs to land. I think we should be told.

    • Elthain says:

      Its a Horn owl

      • Elthain says:

        It also seems like the race of bird changes multiple times during the flight, from crow/raven at the start to horn owl and then on to eagle and parrot later. I wonder if thats just going to be something that happens during flight or if its an actual game mechanic.

        • Johan Gjestland says:

          It’s an actual mechanic, but not finished yet. Basic idea is to use the morphing to customize your flight experience (and looks) without having to tweek a lot of parameters (which you also can do in the Bird editor).

      • Merry says:

        “Its a Horn owl” Ah. Well spotted.

        “It also seems like the race of bird changes multiple times during the flight” I also see a flying penguin at the end!

  5. poliovaccine says:

    YES YES YES

    This is a dream game of mine. Personally, I have no problem with pixelated graphics, even kinda like em sometimes. So I’m glad that wont be sullying my awesome swoopy bird experience..!

    Like holy nuts, this is the game I have always wanted. So simple, but every time I’ve seen what I think looks like *it* at first, it turns out to have *some* stupid thing to it that just ruins the whole deal, like it’s got hideous music or it’s only available in VR or it’s an unoptimized Unity effort by an indie and thus it can’t run on my machine even though it probably should, or etc etc etc.

    But from what I see here, so far so good..! Man oh man, definitely have to try this…

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Seconded! With the addition of the overt gamificiation they say they’ll be resisting in the blurb above.

      Thanks for the focus and best wishes to Johan and crew, and thanks Pip for keeping us informed.

      • Johan Gjestland says:

        Thanks for your kind words, yeah the focus is really simple: Create the best flying experience in the most interesting environments. I cannot say that we have achieved that yet and we’re missing a lot of features and polish, but the base is there and hopefully it will be interesting enough for enough people so that we can relalize the vision fully in the near future.

  6. blind_boy_grunt says:

    Can’t wait for the ps4 trailer of this.

  7. Johan Gjestland says:

    I promise, we have a strict “no stupid thing” policy!

    • Orageon says:

      So far this looks gorgeous, original, and well made. kudos and best wishes for the early access phase.

      I personally really enjoy the videos and the overall aesthetic and flow that drives the whole movement and changes in both the world and the bird.

      Can’t wait to try that… and also to see how the music helps in the experience.

      • Johan Gjestland says:

        Thanks, we’re still experimenting with the music, but I think we’re getting there. Ofc you will be able to play your own music too, some people will always prefer that. I’ve had a lot of music suggestions over the years hehe.

  8. TheAngriestHobo says:

    You’ve gotta be real confident in your art style to choose a title one letter away from the word “fugly”.

    • Johan Gjestland says:

      Hehe, you have a good point! It was originally just a placeholder name and I got really nervous when I first found out about fugly, but now I’m very happy and confident in the name. :)

      • Valdi1212 says:

        What was the reason you decided on Fugl as the name? I ask because in my language, icelandic, it literally just means bird. At first I thought this might be from an icelandic studio, but none of your names are icelandic?

  9. Seyda Neen says:

    You can play as a flying penguin? Sold.

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