Windscape developer Dennis Witte talks to us about his upcoming action adventure title.
Inspired by old school titles like The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana and their open-ended fantasy settings, developer Dennis Witte set out to create his own take on the style, and his creation, Windscape, has looked extremely intriguing based on all that we have seen of it so far. With its vibrant colour palette, its emphasis on dungeons, and options for explorations, it certainly looks like a throwback to classic Zelda titles. Recently, we sent across a few of our questions about Windscape to Witte, inquiring about everything from the game’s inspirations to how players can expect it to be structured. Read on our interview below.
"I remember, Secret of Mana especially did the job for back on the SNES. I spent hours just walking around in the colourful areas even when I had already done everything there was to do. When the first Zelda for N64 was released I was completely blown away by the level immersion a 3D environment could provide you with."
You’ve been vocal about how much games such as The Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana, and Golden Axe Warrior have inspired you during the development of Windscape. What was it about those games in particular that spoke to you as a developer?
They featured games in which you could lose yourself. I remember, Secret of Mana especially did the job for back on the SNES. I spent hours just walking around in the colourful areas even when I had already done everything there was to do. When the first Zelda for N64 was released I was completely blown away by the level immersion a 3D environment could provide you with. Back then, I wasn’t yet able to appreciate the extent to which they went. It was simply the carefully crafted world that sucked me right in.
You have been adamant that you do not want Windscape to be a stats-driven RPG or a terraforming sandbox title- can you elaborate on what you mean when you say that, and why that was such an important goal during development?
Even though I fully appreciate titles who follow along that path, my vision was to create something with which you could forget about everyday life. That’s why I tried to keep the part of stats as minimal as possible. There are values for equipment, but you don’t have to scrutinise it to get the maximum efficiency out of it.
How did you weight the advantages of a handcrafted world as opposed to a procedurally generated one?
I think both have their respective advantages. In general, it is easier to let players have special experiences in a hand-crafted world. As a developer you can place and upgrade progress, puzzles and little secrets all the way from the beginning to the end without having to rely on an element of randomness.
Can you speak to us about how dungeons are structured and how they function in Windscape?
Dungeons are the challenges in Windscape. On the Overworld, players are relatively safe and can prepare for upcoming dangers. The moment they enter a dungeon, fights can no longer be avoided, and they have to solve puzzles in order to advance. A dungeon combines combat, dexterity and puzzles while the Overworld invites you to explore and collect resources. Later on, both these elements will gradually merge together to show the player that the world as a whole is becoming more dangerous.
"I first saw the style from an artist, after which I had a go at it too. Since I had to create most objects myself, I looked for a style that would match and which was realisable for me. After a bit of fiddling around, it quickly turned out that it was possible to realise my vision with it."
How extensive are the crafting mechanics in Windscape?
The crafting component is rather used to serve the adventure than being a core part of the gameplay, as it can be in other games. Players quickly learn to craft diverse items and epuipment to better defend themselves in the world. It is up to them to decide whether they prefer to fight from range or in close combat. The crafting is meant to pull players into the world instead of offering tens of thousands of objects they could craft but, in the end, will never use.
How much of a focus is Windscape going to place on exploration? How large can we expect its maps to be?
Exploration is optional. Besides the main quest, there are many little side quests giving players the opportunity to receive better equipment or tell them funny stories.
Windscape sports a very striking visual aesthetic, that actually seems very reminiscent of something like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Given your love for the series, was that a conscious decision?
To be honest, I first saw the style from an artist, after which I had a go at it too. Since I had to create most objects myself, I looked for a style that would match and which was realisable for me. After a bit of fiddling around, it quickly turned out that it was possible to realise my vision with it. The connection to Wind Waker is more by chance, even though I did sometimes look in that direction during development.
How helpful has it been to release the game in Early Access initially? Has there been any particular area that you have been able to improve upon significantly due to the feedback you have received?
Early Access has been extremely helpful. Especially, the function to submit feedback with a screenshot helped me out greatly. I don’t think that there is a particular area that has profited the most. The feedback was mostly small suggestions which tended to keep coming in and improved the game in my opinion.
As an indie developer, what is your take on the Nintendo Switch, which seems to have become a haven for ambitious indie titles?
I love the Switch and can understand why other developers would think so too.
"We’re currently looking into possibilities to bring the game to PS4 as well but can’t say anything concrete at the moment."
Do you have any plans to launch on PS4?
We’re currently looking into possibilities to bring the game to PS4 as well but can’t say anything concrete at the moment.
Will the game will feature Xbox One X specific enhancements. What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
The game does not support 4K, but runs more smoothly on Xbox One X.
How is the game running on the original Xbox One, frame rate and resolution wise?
It’s 1080p and 30fps locked.
And the frame rate and resolution on Switch?
720p, 30fps locked when undocked.
Next gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?
As long as great games can be released on these platforms and if it’s possible even for small developers to make an entry, I am completely happy with anything the future holds for us.
"As long as great games can be released on these platforms and if it’s possible even for small developers to make an entry, I am completely happy with anything the future holds for us."
Do you think cross platform will be one of the defining features of next-gen consoles?
Thank goodness this has not been relevant to me so far. However, as a developer I would look forward to having as many options available as possible.
What is your take on the ongoing drama of loot boxes and microtransactions?
I think regulations will come whether we like them or not. Until then, everyone has to decide for him/herself whether they want participate or not. But rest assured, Windscape won’t have any of that kind of stuff.