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Harvesting the World of Windforge
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This week I’m going to talk a little bit about mining in Windforge, show off some screen shots, and talk about some cool things that our mining feature will let us do.

One of our visual goals with Windforge is to make the game look as close to the concept art as we can. The major challenge with this, is that we also want to make the world entirely out of rectangular shaped blocks. The organic, irregular shapes of the environment and the rectangular shapes of the blocks are entirely at odds with each other.
We experimented with a few things and ended up coming up with a solution with really cool results in my opinion. Here are a few screenshots of it in action (With a mix of actual and placeholder art).

Mining in Windforge

Mining in Windforge 2

Mining in Windforge 3

This feature has some really cool benefits in my mind:

  • It lets us achieve the look and feel of the environment concepts we want while also making the entire world minable.
  • You don’t have to stare at blocks all the time.
  • We can make objects with arbitrary shapes minable.

This last point is one of the things I’m the most excited about, since the possibilities for it are huge. In fact, I was so excited about it that I ended up prototyping it on one of the creatures that will be in Windforge: the Skywhale.

Windforge's Sky Whale

The Skywhales in Windforge are going to be huge. They will be the size of large ships or small islands. They will also an important resource for the world’s people, and will be hunted and exploited for whale oil. (It’s a whale oil based economy.) This made them perfect candidates for me to try making them minable. Here are some screenshots of this in action. (Please note that the art is placeholder.)

Windforge's Sky Whale Mining 1

Windforge's Sky Whale Mining 2

Windforge's Sky Whale Mining 3

The results are gruesome in my opinion, but also have some cool possibilities. Now when Skywhales die, they won’t just disappear into a puff of smoke. Instead, their bodies will be integrated into the gameplay. So, if you want to harvest their blubber and meat, you’re going to have to work for it now. We may even put loot in their bellies that you will have to dig for. Finally, if you feel like it you could even dig out the corpses and build houses or other structures. (If you’re into that kind of thing.) Maybe over time, they could even rot, have plants grow from them, and eventually form into new islands.

The potential cool things that can stem from this has my mind racing. The only thing that is bothering me is that much of the gameplay in Windforge encourages harvesting and exploiting the world. This has gotten me thinking that the game may actually be a good candidate to explore and show the results of certain environmental issues. For instance, things like over logging, and strip-mining are basically inherent in the gameplay. Other issues like extinction would also be easy to add, especially with creatures like Skywhales. Aside from some potentially tricky gameplay balancing issues to consider, I think one of the challenges would be to give people reasons not to exploit the world. Much of the gameplay will push people to exploit the world, but perhaps if we can make people take pride and care about the world, maybe we can persuade them to do it in a responsible manner.

I’m not sure about how much of these environmental issues will make it into the game, but it’s definitely something that’s on my mind. At the very least, it will be possible to harvest almost every block in the game. In fact, with the right ship construction, you might even be able to do it without it getting too slow and tedious. Please be responsible. If you mine everything, there will be nothing left in the world but empty husks of islands.