Winterfall is a sandbox RPG influenced, gameplay-wise, by experiences as diverse as Mount and Blade, Mass Effect, DayZ, The Sims, the Elder Scrolls games and, of course, the latter Ultima games (7, 8 and Online), set in a fictional late antiquity/early dark ages setting. Contrary to most RPGs where the player is in control of a single hero character from beginning to end, the focus of Winterfall is on a House, or Household, which is grown and developed through deeds performed by the player's successive characters.
Every character the player creates will ultimately die, within terms decided by the player: will the character fall in battle or adventure? Will he/she be retired to age and fall away? Will he/she be given up as a war asset in one of the conflicts of the age? Will he/she simply grow weary of the world and run out of drive? In every case, anything that has been unlocked or obtained with the character will remain available as part of the House or Household's legacy.
The kind of life the character had prior to his/her end will impact how much of his/her legacy is conserved: did he/she marry and have children? Did he/she live a life of violence and barbarity? Did he/she leave behind a strong mark on the world or people? Or did he/she attain a high level of personal development? Such things will contribute to a kind of rating that will determine how much of the character's achievements and acquisitions becomes legacy, and so will the way the character's days are chosen to end.
If a character survives his/her journey within its chosen vocation, it may embark on another one in another vocation or in the same, or be retired or seek to attain a "memorable ending", attempting to maximize his legacy through a gameplay ordeal.
The game is predominantly a single-player experience but is meant to allow for various degrees of multiplayer play.
Most of what the player will do in Winterfall involves things such as:
At singular thresholds of global player achievement, the game will receive updates to bring closer the Winterfall itself. As time goes on and the Winterfall approaches, the game will get harder, the world more desperate, conflicts more numerous and strident.
Things have taken a rather funny shape over 2018-2019 and it's time to get a bit into it to clarify what's been going on with the game since. If you're only here for the video, scroll down a bit, it's near the bottom of this post. If all you want to know is if Winterfall is still going on and still coming out, YES, it definitely is. When? That's a good question. So now, let's get on with a bit of story.
I am Fab, the creator and lead and for those of you who don't know or don't know me, basically this is my 8th year since starting on this project. I began to put everything in motion on December 15th 2012 and have never stopped since. Now the funny thing is, unlike other indie projects, this one was not launched and run by someone with a°) actual dev skills b°) an ability to self-fund c°) slaves. In other words, when I started I was just a regular guy exactly like you, with a dream and a passion, and the only difference between you and me at that point was that I just decided to go for it no matter the cost or consequences. And for the following 6 years I would do whatever it took to keep the project alive, no matter how crazy or ambitious or complex or personally costly it would turn out to be.
In 2018, after all the enthusiasm and feedback and professional interest by some big industry names & brands, I realized it was time to do things a bit differently. I was exhausted on every level. Physically, morally, emotionally. I knew it would soon be too late if I didn't start professionalizing the development process, that is securing the funding and partnerships this project required due to its size and development level. So I began to focus on that. Development still went on, thanks to a small team of faithful and dedicated freelancers who've really been treasures to this whole thing.
Throughout the development of Winterfall, I (and they also) have experienced all kinds of hard turns. I went through family chaos, isolation and loneliness, I went through social disintegration, I went through hardcore poverty (a few times), I went through deep romantic heartbreak (twice), I went through hardcore anguish and existential crises and you name it. It's basically been hell, the only red thread was the fact of knowing I was doing the right thing, fulfilling my potential, preparing something great for dedicated RPG players to enjoy and, also, aiming at a financially viable situation. Those things were never into question, no matter of shitty and hardcore my circumstances would turn out to become.
So it was really important to start doing things differently. I soon stopped questioning my ability to deliver or to endure, so at least that became a non-issue. But when I'd look back and count how many years I had dedicated solely to this project, in circumstances most people didn't suspect as they thought it was a regular gamedev environment and that everything was hunky dory, and it was dizzying and kinda depressing. Imagine putting your whole life on hold for 6 to 7 years to focus on only one thing, your passion project, and going through hell silently. And then time flies. Sure, you realize how meaningful and growth-inducing those years were, but how also how thoroughly hardcore and mean and mostly unfun outside of the good aspects of the game work itself (because game dev is also a lot of unfun thankless work).
As we started signing deals and the like in 2018-2019, I started being less communicative on Winterfall social media because the whole thing had gotten too much for me to manage and my team-building skills hadn't grown a lot in the interim of such a harrowing effort. I had to be selective of how to spend my energy as I was so taxed from those years. Development went on and we implemented a lot of new features or enriched the core ones, even, a few months ago, breaking the old inscrutable goal of implementing deep visual character customization mechanics (and that's just the beginning). ALPHA FOOTAGE, VISUALS NOT FINAL!
Long story short, we are late as hell, but to be quite honest with you at this point as we wait for the business developments to get wrapped up and for Winterfall to come out secured and professionalized in its development, I'm mostly grateful that I'm still alive. Oh yeah. Personally, as I wait for the good news, I'm still contending with basic creature comfort level lacks and issues that most people have no notion of in a developed western nation. So while on some level I'm gutted that we still haven't sent out baby Winterfall into the world, I know exactly why and I hope you'll accept and understand that this is all for the best as, basically, without me there is no Winterfall and, the way things were, Winterfall was threatening to gobble me up alive. You want to feed your own child, but you don't want to be your own child's feed, which is what I was starting to look like!
So we're soldiering on, working on various things while we wait for the letter of good news to finally drop, telling us that we're funded and good to go. Surprisingly, it was kind of morally easier to be broke, heartbroken and in survival mode and work on this on my relative own than to wait for the fate of this huge part of my life to be settled by the decisions of others in business meetings. But sometimes you have to accept to let go a little. Or a lot. Which is what I'm doing.
Looking forward for things to unlock and to be able to share more of our work with you guys. Who would have thought the journey would be such madness? Thanks for sticking with us, those of you who do, and welcome to those who never heard of us before today.
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