Review Fix Exclusive: Michael Austin Talks ‘Windborne’
Review Fix chats with Michael Austin, Chief Technical Officer at Hidden Path Entertainment, discusses “Windborne,” a society-creating sandbox title set for release in the first half of 2014. Featuring beautiful terrain and a fun story, the game will have a build at the upcoming Penny Arcade Expo.
Review Fix: What has the development process like?
Michael Austin: We have a really small team where everyone is wearing multiple hats, so we’ve kept it very iterative. Every week we look at the build and ask ourselves “What is the best thing we could add today?” We do have long range plans, but they end up changing as we move forward. It can be a challenge to narrow in on a vision an environment like this, but we have very ship-conscious people and that helps (as do milestones like getting a build for PAX).
Review Fix: What’s your favorite part of the game?
Austin: My favorite part is the exciting, adventury feel of the game. We are trying to build a world where you can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner- danger brings delay or inconvenience, not death, so you are rewarded for taking chances or doing risky things.
Review Fix: How do you believe this game will separate itself from other games on Steam and in the genre?
Austin: Four main ways- Jin, dragons, visuals and social connectivity. The Jin help the world feel alive and appreciate what you do. The dragons provide a lot of fun gameplay elements (dragon breeding) and help define a lot of the history of the world. Our engine lets us provide a unique way of adding more detail to a voxel world (smooth terrain, grass, great lighting), and our online model will give you flexibility on whether you are playing by yourself or with friends, but also allow you to stay constantly connected to a larger world even if you are playing single player. You will be master of your own islands, but will still be in a world shared with everyone else.
Review Fix: How do you want people to be effected by the game?
Austin: I want them to be excited to play- to feel that there are always more things they want to do than they have time to do them, so they can switch focus every hour or minute to follow what grabs their attention. I want to have them care for the creatures they’ve fostered, and always be looking for ways to improve the game world around them/
Review Fix: Where does the game get its inspiration?
Austin: We have many inspirations; Animal Crossing, Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress, and the early Zelda games were all big inspirations.
Review Fix: How do you want the game to be remembered?
Austin: One of the best parts of developing games is when someone comes up to you and tells you an awesome story about how they pulled off a perfect plan in the face of poor odds, or discovered something amazing when they were having a bad day, or bonded with their kids by finding a common pastime. If I can help create stories like that, I’ll consider it to be a complete success.