NOTE: This post was adapted from the previous website for the purposes of archiving.
Hello everyone, Kevin here, artist and game designer on Starfallen!
It’s been a while since we’ve been doing one of these_! As I write this, Gamescom 2015closed its doors for the year about a week ago. Even with a few days of rest since then (and a birthday and sickness intermission, in my case), it’s still quite an experience to process. Nils and I have never met so many developers, nor press and game industry related people in such a short amount of time.
Nevertheless, it was a daunting task, but a rewarding one. We came out of it with a tremendous buzz, and a lot of motivation to push forward. Our heads were full of ideas and new concepts. I would personally like to thank everyone who stopped at our small booth, either for a chit-chat or to simply play our game, as well as the people who helped us set up there. For something of this magnitude, it was a smooth ride for the whole week!
With that said, I would now like to expose a bit of what has been happening with the game, our team, and what we have planned for the future.
THE STORY SO FAR
I think it would be nice to actually do a little recap of how exactly Starfallen (previously known as Otherworld–that name still lingers on our official channels sometimes :p) came to be; at least, from my own perspective.
The original concept for the game back then, emerged around the beginning of fall in2013. At the time, I just came out of the Swiss military (flunked out, rather, to my shame), and graduated from my game art school in Valais prior. A friend of mine, Jason S., was talking about an artist from Florida he met called Sean Cruz who had this great vision about a big adventure game set on an alien planet. He showed me sketches and mock ups and a random selection of his work that I found pretty spectacular (they still serve as a reference point for us to this very day). In October of 2013, I jumped on a plane to Austin,Texas, where Jason was working at the time, and joined on some preliminary sketches and meetings online with the other team members. At the time, I only had a vague acquaintance with German programmer Nils and artist Sean, mostly through webcam and audio meetings while the harsh Texas heat was slowly draining me.
Fast forward a few months later: Jason invites Nils, Sean and I to California during March. Our first official meeting, and what many of us would consider the actual official start of development for Starfallen, began. After a two-week jam between us, filled with delicious (and affordable, in my case, compared to Switzerland) food and Mario Kart games, Starfallen had a shape, basic controls, and its first case of random generation with a character running through it and poking cute little blue owl-like creatures with a stick.
Like previously mentioned, it was called Otherworld, and it was quite the curious beast. We had no idea at the time how daunting the task of taming it would be. Indies are often advised to not start on a project that is too big for their experience. In this case, I could say we were taking a big risk (without knowing it at the time, partly due to naïveté but also a willingness to prove ourselves respectively). Although the road ahead is still perilous, I think we managed to get past the trial gates many indies struggle with. To this day, I still keep each build from our different time periods so I can keep watch of the progress. It’s like seeing the building steps of a curious Lego castle whose overall final shape is still a bit hard to distinguish. However it evolved into quite the charming video game, and a lot of players felt the same way at Gamescom 2015. Developing and designing something so unique and bizarre is a thrilling, if not slightly intimidating experience, especially since I come from a country that barely had any presence in the video game industry, until recently.
Today, Starfallen is finally ready to make a name for itself. While the team itself had a few changes, (Jason left the team back in April/May of last year) and we each face our own challenges in our respective corners of the earth, the game trucks on and manages to grab more and more attention. And we are now ready to start a new phase and continue to work harder on Starfallen.
WHAT’S BEING DONE
Gamescom, while being a very positive experience for us, taught us quite a few things. Thanks to the interactions we had with our fellow developers around the Indie Arena, we got a clearer direction concerning our development efforts.
What we can say though is that the game right now has all of its foundations, and we are quite satisfied with them. The artstyle and ambiance grabbed the attention of many, the stability and performance is satisfying, and we can basically expand on our content without delay thanks to our own tools.
However, what we want is not only something pretty for the players to explore but something interesting as well; a game that not only offers pretty vistas, but meaningful ones, coupled with satisfying gameplay. This is why we will be focusing our efforts on polishing and improving the open-world aspect of our game, as well as some of the player interactions with the environment, such as combat and npc dialogue. But let me get over these in more detail!
We have always envisioned Starfallen as a weird, weird place with a lot to learn, and a lot to experience. If you have played our Gamescom build, you will have noticed that while you can chase around various critters and gather a few materials, the extent of your interactions and discoveries were pretty limited.
A few of the things we have planned for the Starfallen world (name TBD), apart from the obvious, like more monster types and gatherables, will be Lore Collectables, Random Caves and Challenging Encounters.
Lore Collectables will be spread across the world in various points of interest (you will notice them quite quickly as they will have unique architecture or environment layouts). They are part of our last missing feature called the Index. Basically you can collect objects or scan things for data entries that contain lore, like jiggies in Banjo-Kazooie, all around the world. Each piece will come complete your biodex, giving you vital information about the world of Starfallen, the culture of it’s inhabitants or the backstory of the various oddities happening around you. Completing some of the entries will not only reward you with story bits , but potential rewards, such as rare recipes or items that will allow you to customize your character further.
Random Caves are…well, the name is pretty indicative. Basically, alongside the big story-centric dungeons we have in the game, we want players to also encounter smaller random caverns and hidey holes which can hold a number of treasures, small creatures or even things that are a little more..dangerous. Speaking of which…
Challenging Encounters, or mini bosses if you want a simpler term, will be a new type of monster which will play a more crucial role with our current crafting system, as well as providing a more interesting challenge for the player. While fighting off the small monsters in the wild might be an easy task, taking on these big guys might need a bit more caution and preparation. They will reward you with special materials, some of which might even be necessary to enhance your equipment. In any case, they should provide some fun fighting opportunities!
Combat is one of the core elements of our game. You will spend a lot of time fighting off a bunch of bizarre alien life forms that wish to poke a lot of holes in your suit. That is why we are constantly trying to improve combat based on the feedback we get at each convention, and Gamescom was no exception. As I’m writing this, we already brought a few changes to our combat mechanics which improved the flow tenfold, but there is still a lot to do in terms of feedback, balance and animation. Nevertheless, with every iteration, we are getting closer to a system that we enjoy, and that other people will enjoy as well!
IMPROVING THE STORY
Gamescom peeps didn’t really manage to get a glimpse of the overall narrative of the game. And what little there is was put in pretty hastily, if I am to be honest. With that said, we are aware of our weakness in this field, and are working to improving the presentation, pacing and writing of our story, both in the cinematics and the lore. This might not seem like much but it will prove to be quite the challenge for us. We are eager to tackle it so people can finally experience what the hell is going on!
These three elements constitute our big chunk of work at the moment. But do not think these are the only things planned for us in the coming months.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
We have been working on Starfallen for a year and a half. Most of the time at our respective pace, each of us being from different countries with different jobs and priorities in our lives. What we want now is for the name Wayfire Games to be more than a group of people under a name, but an actual company, with an actual game that will be coming to your respective screens soon enough!
We will be doing marketing more heavily now in the coming months, hopefully doing other blog posts, teasing new mechanics and features for the coming year. You can also expect a new trailer pretty soon, with the help of our fantastic composer Jonas, that will hopefully outshine our old trailer from last year!
More importantly, we are looking at opportunities to make LODS OF MONEH!
On a more serious tone, we are indeed looking at the opportunities that crowdfunding brings, and we have decided that this is the way we will have to go so we can succesfully push the development of Starfallen further with a more stable support from us for our fans. However, the preparations for this will take a bit of time. There are still a lot of things to evaluate and we want to be sure it will hit the mark when it comes.
All in all, these are very exciting times for us. Scary too, but the good kind of scary. Like when you’re about to go down a rollercoaster scary! We hope to bring a lot of new things to all those who follow us, who believed in us so far and will continue to do so (hopefully!). After all, the adventures of Starfallen are just beginning. We now have several months before our next public appearance (*hint hint: Orlandoix), and we’re gonna put it into improving our game even more. And of course, we stay at your disposition on our Starfallen Facebook page or our Twitter (@playstarfallen) if you guys want to interact with our meaty vessels!
With all my thanks for your support, let’s make a great game!
Artist and Game Designer