Winter Voices

Winter Voices

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H. Johnson  [developer] Jun 1 @ 1:24pm
Newsletter - June 2017
Hello, Snow Wanderers!

While Winter Voices Season 2 is being developed (a Kickstarter is planned for March 2018, but the actual game is scheduled for 2020), we'd like to give you regular updates and tidbits of info and lore about the game.
This will mostly come in the form of newsletters, which should normally be done on a monthly basis. (Provided we're not late – and we always are.)


Building the Universe

So, what has been done until now? We mainly focused on building a solid background for the game, and creating additional content. We can now reveal that the novelization of the first season is complete! We aim at making it into a physical book.
Another book project is an anthology of short stories and lore; some of the stories are already written, but need some refinement. The lore will mostly consist in descriptions of the countries involved in the game's plot and side stories, their political system, geography, religions and so on.

We have four texts already written for the second book:
- Virve & Tuomi: the relationship between a volva and her childhood friend, in the suburbs of Sapphire Bay. (1816)
- The Silver Road: a middle-aged woman observing the construction of the railway line between Boreal and the Sapphire Bay. (1808)
- The Hemp & the Soja: the travels of a young queer herbalist through the rotten religious circles of Rosa Gallica. (1825)
- Holding Back the River: two young women falling in love in the very conservative arenite tribe of the Veiled Sun, and what comes after. (1807)

Both books (the Winter Voices novel & the lore collection) will be first available as Kickstarter rewards, and afterwards on the website, in digital or physical form. However, due to our budget constraints, we will have to make an important choice: we will only have enough money to translate one of the two from French to English.
For that reason, we want to ask those of you who don't understand French to tell us which they would like to have more: the novelization of Winter Voices Season One, or a collection of lore bits and short stories surrounding the games?

One important point is that, more often than not, the people depicted in the short stories will be present in the game. They could be regular citizens, important characters, or even companions of the heroine.


And while we're talking about companions... Who are they?


Season 2 Companions

Your old acquaintances are still here: you can once again take Ven the hunter and Chichi the fisherwoman with you. The Crow might still accompany you too, but we are still unsure whether it will be as a full companion or as something else.

Kukka, whom you've met in Season One, becomes a possible companion in the sequel. There's also three completely new allies : Virve, a volva from the Sapphire Bay; the Imaginary Friend, hard to unlock but very satisfying, especially if you're not afraid to freak out your other friends more than they already are. And lastly, a story-tied one, the Black Maid... But this one is a secret.

Romance? Not 100% sure, but yes, most likely: Ven and Virve should be romancable. Though we're talking about Winter Voices here: don't expect flowers, happy feelings and happy endings. You played Season 1, you know what this is all about. But since this is Winter Voices, especially because this is Winter Voices, we thought excluding romance would be a loss. Right?

It is hard to talk about Season 2 without spoiling anything, story-wise, so let's talk about something less heavy...


The Three Rivers Kingdom

As you may already know, the universe of Winter Voices has three main countries : the Res Publica of Rosa Gallica, an advanced civilization living in the vast plains; the Arenite Tribes, inhabitants of the desert south of Rosa Gallica for centuries, quite knowledgeable about how the world works; and finally the Three Rivers Kingdom, occupying all the land north of Rosa Gallica's northern chain of mountain.

Take a look at the port of the Sapphire Bay.[i1262.photobucket.com]

While the Arenite Tribes and Rosa Gallica are centuries-old states, the Three Rivers Kingdom is a baby-nation. Founded by Queen Marzanne in 1801, only 15 years prior to the beginning of Winter Voices, it has struggled to unify the north while keeping the Gallics at bay. The 1803 gallic invasion was easily repelled, but the 1812 coup attempt by the Warchief Gallo, followed by a second gallic invasion, left a bloody mark on the Sapphire Bay administration and nearly put an end to the Queen's reign. The death of Aster, number one of the Queen government, and the annexation by Rosa Gallica of every territory south of Port-Ellen, are wounds the Kingdom has yet to recover from.

A view of a mining site: an early sign of the industrial revolution.[i1262.photobucket.com]

Little is known about Queen Marzanne, but you might learn more about her while visiting the Sapphire Bay. The city has been your main character's goal since the very beginning, and you finally get to explore it in the sequel. Sapphire Bay was the biggest fishing harbor in the north. While Port-Ellen used to be the only “real city” for centuries – and the home for most of the northern civilization –, Sapphire Bay always had an important population. Following the development of the gallic sea trade in the 18th century, the pelt and hide trade exploded and the Sapphire Bay population began expanding increasingly fast. Year 1800, the city was by far the biggest of the north, with more than 60 000 citizen, but had yet to find a proper organization. In 1801, Queen Marzane took control.

Sapphire Bay as seen from afar.[i1262.photobucket.com]

In the span of only 15 years, Queen Marzanne transformed what was just a big disorganized fishing harbor into the capital city of a strong empire. The “City of Mists”, overlooked by the recently built Citadel, seems to be an inspiration for many poets – but most of all, it's the siege of a newly born empire.


Conclusion

And with that comes the end of this month's newsletter. Don't forget to tell us what book you would like to see translated! You may also vote on whether or not the Crow should come back as a full-time companion.

We might talk about Rosa Gallica next time, or maybe the Arenite Tribes... Which one would you prefer?

Don't hesitate to ask us questions; we might not answer all of them, but they will be taken into consideration to decide on the themes of the next newsletters!

We also want to thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for all the support you've been giving us for years now. We know that you've been very patient in waiting for the Season Two of Winter Voices, and we can assure you that in return, we will work hard to give you the best possible sequel.

See you in a month, Snow Wanderers!
Last edited by H. Johnson; Jun 1 @ 1:24pm
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Showing 1-11 of 11 comments
Will season 2 have identical gameplay mechanics or will you improve upon them ?

Aside from glitches I thought that there are a lot of problems with the game that could have been solved easily .

For example having the run or double click teleport would Half the length of the game. I don't think crawling around the village when solving a puzzle adds anything interesting to the game . Too much backtracking if you do not know the solution .

Even if you play for about 20 hours the mechanics of the game are still very confusing . I cannot keep track of which spells can effect specific enemy . Perhaps there should be some clear color coding . Like if I can push one enemy but not another I am not really sure what dictates that, they all look like some blobs to me . I think game would benefit if you made mechanics more consistent .

Many spells descriminate on how they work and I don't think you did a god job explaining it to the player .

I also think there should be a way to reset skills . I run myself into unbetable situation on the last ship mission . It cannot be beaten with the skills that I have choosen . ( had to cheat through it ) As much as I like fixed character builds in this game it is too hard to just start over. It is a beginer trap that puts you in unwinable situation so you cannot go back to level up or beat the game .

Obviously the game has interesting story but I think you need to find a better balance between gameplay and story . I am enjoying the story so far but I think it could be more focused . When the game feels like 80% reading and 20% playing it thraws people off .

Also I think it would be kind of cool if you had different clothes that added stats . Not like sword or anyhtings . Just maybe a gift from a friend thats buffs some of your emotions . Even like a neckless with an animal that buffs imaginary friend skill . Perhaps a charm system .

If you could incorporate items that person feels attachment to and they buff certain skills it would fit the theme of the game and expand on gameplay .
Last edited by Sorokonojka; Jun 1 @ 2:12pm
Sea Author  [developer] Jun 1 @ 3:23pm 
I agree with you on mostly everything. Specifically :

Originally posted by Soro:
Will season 2 have identical gameplay mechanics or will you improve upon them ?

The gameplay will be very different. To be honnest, I don't think it has much in common with winter voices combat system anymore. It's a whole new gameplay. No grid, no turns (or well, there will be turns, but they won't really be turns... ), and only a few key abilities, that you can upgrade and turn into something fun.

We'll talk more about the new system on a future newsletter.

For example having the run or double click teleport would Half the length of the game. I don't think crawling around the village when solving a puzzle adds anything interesting to the game . Too much backtracking if you do not know the solution .

This is something we plan to solve, yes.

Even if you play for about 20 hours the mechanics of the game are still very confusing . I cannot keep track of which spells can effect specific enemy . Perhaps there should be some clear color coding . Like if I can push one enemy but not another I am not really sure what dictates that, they all look like some blobs to me . I think game would benefit if you made mechanics more consistent .

The new system will be a lot more intuitive and friendly. That's one of our main goals. No more number crunching everywhere, and stat optimization all over the place.

We want the game to be played and enjoyed by very casual players, while still being interesting for experienced players.


I also think there should be a way to reset skills . I run myself into unbetable situation on the last ship mission . It cannot be beaten with the skills that I have choosen . ( had to cheat through it ) As much as I like fixed character builds in this game it is too hard to just start over. It is a beginer trap that puts you in unwinable situation so you cannot go back to level up or beat the game .

Your build will be a lot easier to change. I won't say "at any time", because the details are not set in stone yet, but that's pretty much the idea behind the new system.


Obviously the game has interesting story but I think you need to find a better balance between gameplay and story . I am enjoying the story so far but I think it could be more focused . When the game feels like 80% reading and 20% playing it thraws people off .

We'd like to increase by a LOT the amount of voice acting we put in the game, as it helps immersion, it helps storytelling, and it makes reading less painful. But as you probably know, this costs a tremendous amount of money. I'm not sure whether or not we will be able to do it. I doubt we'll be able to do it in both French and English. We will most likely have to chose a language. I'm conflicted on this. I'd chose french because I think it's a beautiful langage (and it would be a lot cheaper here in france), but I know english-speaking players are not used to play games and watch series voiced by different langages.

As for the balance between reading and playing, it's the first time someone points it out, so I'm not sure what to think about it. Usually people just skip dialogs that bore them.

There's a lot of dialogs in Winter Voices whose sole purpose is for players who want to know more about the universe. I'm fine with it.

Can you go into more details about what you think should be improved ?
Regarding story

Winter Voices has an overload of information so it is hard for me to know which characters I have to pay attention to .I don't want to read all of it but I also do not want to miss anything important. One thing you can do is to have a colored story marker that would identify important dialogues and points of interest. Also, each important characters should have a visual distinction. On that note maybe you can consider having quest marks to show people where to go ( game is a little obscure when in comes to that )

This is mostly a narrative experience so people should not be confused on the next objective if they play for the story . You could even have a panel that lists the main goals of the episode (that always show current objectives when you click on them) with images and when player completes them the images go from grey to colored . Just something to let player know where he is .

The other thing is the weight of the choices. Almost all choices (not counting party friends) give a fixed amount of experience. If season 2 has stats maybe you could have dialogue choices that would increase stats like humor or perception depending on which things character said. That way reading text will be more interactive as you can build a character based on what you said.

Like In Season One humor had some impact on dialogue. The interaction between stats and dialogue is something that you should expand upon. If you ever played Fallout3 certain dialogue options require specific attribute. Like you could have : To say something funny you need 40 humor and if you do that you get experience reward and unique dialogue option . To help this character find a missing item you need 60 perception etc


What I meant by 80% Text vs 20% gameplay is just the fact that I read a lot more than I interact with the game. If you can make Dialogue a bigger part of the game that would help. Maybe just do not have huge parts of the game without gameplay because sometimes it just feels like power point.

On gameplay

If you have a spell I think it should interact with any enemy to at least some degree. Like you have Debuffs in Winter Voices that will only work on certain types of enemies but it is not clear why. The push should always be able to push because 1 hour into the game player are wondering why their spells do not work on half of the enemies.

Also, I had a lot of problems using my own clones. They block the way and never go away so perhaps any effect like that should have an expiration .

Another thing you can do with Characters is to have few unique active skills that are specific to those characters. Just so there is an actual replay value instead of just compensating stats later.

One of the issues I noticed in reviews is that many people buy this game thinking that it is RPG with combat . Perhaps you could have 2character with no combat ability and one that has some spells that can attack . Just to have that option for those that do not undestand the format of not attacking back .

One character that can progress the game by tanking ( has more defensive abilities)
One character that can progress by running away ( faster than other 2)
One character that can fight back with unique ability to that character .


That is all I can think of at a moment.


Last edited by Sorokonojka; Jun 1 @ 5:50pm
Originally posted by H. Johnson:
whether or not the Crow should come back as a full-time companion.
Whatever you do, Crow should be special, I think.


Originally posted by Sea Author:
but I know english-speaking players are not used to play games and watch series voiced by different langages.
Well, a lot of people, including me, watch anime with original sound and subtitles. I played Valkyria Chronicles same way.
Personally, I would have zero problems with French voices if properly subbed.

Originally posted by Soro:
One thing you can do is to have a colored story marker that would identify important dialogues and points of interest.
For the love of whatever, if you do it, please make it and other additional hints optional.
august Jun 14 @ 11:09pm 
Don't forget to tell us what book you would like to see translated!

For sure, second book. Really want a physical copy.

You may also vote on whether or not the Crow should come back as a full-time companion.

In my story Crow - is the only companion, so yes, i give my vote for full-time.

Appreciate your idea of monthly updates, thank you.
Last edited by august; Jun 14 @ 11:11pm
Klingon Jun 16 @ 4:58pm 
This is a really tough choice. I'm going to say I want to see the lore bits in English, since I already know the plot of WV season one. I hope I can read them all eventually though.

Thank you so much for making this game, and for being so committed to its continuation.
Daybreak Jun 24 @ 6:41am 
Sounds promising about the game , the new companions seem interesting, hope the companions are a bit more fleshed out than in the first game. Also I'd love to see romance in the game.
Daybreak Jul 9 @ 11:03pm 
"Newsletter [...] monthly basis. (Provided we're not late – and we always are.)"


august Aug 1 @ 9:45am 
Two months...
Axariel Aug 10 @ 4:11pm 
I don't want to be a naysayer, but please do not listen to Soro and make the sequel a generic RPG. The game stands out because it rewards you for all of the progress you make, but it does so in a way that does not force the player into micromanaging their progress. "Combat" in this game is also something that makes it special and unique, and allowing you to fight in the traditional sense does not really fit the theme, but i suppose it might in the sequel, which is fine. I also enjoy the writing of the game, and feel like plenty of triple A titles make you read some absolute drivel whereas the writing in your game is quite enjoyable.

One thing that I would like to see is the same depth of character customization. I also think that the flow of combat in 'Transistor' would work really well here. Keep up the good work.
Gaia Rai Aug 28 @ 6:36pm 
This is information that has made me a very happy man. Congratulations are in ordar as that is no easy feat. I look forward to future updates.
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