D. Braben: Hello. I’m David Braben, Chairman of Frontier, and Exceutive Producer on LostWinds.
10do: You’re currently developing Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias for WiiWare. What is the game about and what are the differences to the first one?
D. Braben: Actually, its now finished & available on WiiWare
The games are set in the magical land of Mistralis, a world created by Elemental Spirits. One Spirit, Balasar, sought to rule Mistralis for himself. The other spirits fought him and created a Spirit Stone in which to trap him. After a furious fight, in which the other Spirits were defeated and scattered into hiding, Enril the Wind Spirit ultimately managed to force Balasar in to the prison, only to be dragged in with him.
Trapped together for centuries, Balasar eventually broke the stone and escaped into Mistralis. Enril remained trapped in the shards of broken stone.
The first LostWinds game tells how by chance a young boy named Toku found a shard of the Spirit Stone containing part of Enril and learned from her the peril awaiting Mistralis. Agreeing to help each other, Toku and Enril set out together on a great journey to awaken Enril's sibling Spirits, restore her full powers, and so ultimately to return the LostWinds to Mistralis.
With Enril's power and guidance at his side, and the help of the ‘explorer extraordinaire’ Notéa who is versed in the lore and language of the Ancients, Toku was able to find more shards of the Spirit Stone, although Glorbs, Balasar’s minions, lurked at every turn. Enril grew in power with each new shard as she was increasingly pieced back together.
But an even greater danger threatened Toku’s birthplace, Homeset Village. The mind of Magmok, a creature of rock and one of the Ancient Guardians of Mistralis, had been corrupted by Balasar and he was intent on destroying the Village.
Deo, a kindly but strangely absent-minded old Homeset Villager, was charged with taking care of Toku whilst his mother was off exploring the Chilling Peaks. After Toku and Enril eventually help to return his memories to him, Deo was revealed to be one of the ancient Spirits of Mistralis.He helped Toku and Enril in their encounter with Magmok as they freed the Guardian from Balasar’s corruption.
In the second game, Winter of the Melodias, little time has passed since the events which unfolded between Toku, Enril, Deo and Magmok in “LostWinds”.
Notéa's sudden return from an expedition brings with it saddening news. Whilst searching for the ruins of the Melodia City Toku's mother, Magdi, has mysteriously disappeared. The only clues to her whereabouts lie within the tattered remains of her treasured journal. As repayment for saving his life, the ancient Guardian Magmok pledges his assistance to Toku and Enril as they head up into the mountains in search of Magdi.
Toku and Enril arrive at Summerfalls Village, a picturesque location that has been beset by an eternal winter. Even more worryingly, its people now live in fear of ferocious monsters that hide in the snow. Fearing the worst, and with the chilling cold taking its toll, Toku and Enril seek the help of Sonté the Spirit of Seasons. Sonté's season changing powers will provide the key to unravelling the plight of Summerfalls, and unearth an ancient curse that haunts the Melodia City.
As events continue to take unexpected turns Toku and Enril venture onward. wielding their new powers with care and in the face of potentially fatal dilemmas, Toku and Enril are plunged into a race against time to save not only the life of Toku's mother but also the future of Mistralis...
With the second game we have tried to keep up the level of gamplay innovation – so for example you can switch seasons between summer and winter and have many new powers including ‘cyclone’, which can be used to using it to transport Toku, create clouds from water, smash powerful enemies and even drill through the rock around you. These new abilities all work in combination with the powers from the first game.
As well as this, we’ve also increased the size of the locations, and made them even more visually varied, plus the story is richer for those that want it, and you interact with NPCs more.
10do: As the name already indicates, “winter” is playing an important role. The hero Toku is able to change the seasons from summer to winter and vice versa. Please tell us more about it.
D. Braben: Sonté, the spirit of the seasons grants Toku a powerful gift during the game, which lets you instantly transform Mistralis at will between summer and winter as often as you like – you can then harness the brilliance of nature as you venture across frozen Winter ponds and waterfalls that become deep, teeming summer pools and chambers in which to dive and unlock secrets, whilst freezing or dousing enemies and using the very air itself to form snowballs and moisture-laden clouds.
Powers work in different ways in the different seasons in a very natural way – for example drawing a ‘vortex’ in the air when its snowing creates a snowball that you can throw at enemies or use in other ways. Switching seasons is something players will have to use as part of their ‘armoury’ when solving the games puzzles; it is very much part of gameplay.
10do: The game looks very beautiful with a lot of different textures etc. This time it seems that it also has more content to offer and even more variaty of locations. Isn’t it hard to squeeze everything into the 40MB storage limit for WiiWare games?
D. Braben: Thank you, we have indeed put a lot of effort into matching the gameplay with beautiful artwork! There is definitely greater visual variety of locations, and each location is itself much larger than before. We have also employed more graphical effects, such as refractive ice, underwater effects, depth of field and so on.
There are always limits in games development no matter what system you are working on. In many ways we’ve found the WiiWare size limit to be a force for creativity, as it really makes one very carefully weight up the benefit of every feature and aspect of the game. As a result, the game is a very pure, distilled, high-quality experience using our very best ideas and work.
10do: Now, that it’s possible to boot games directly from SD cards, do you think that Nintendo will increase the limit sometime in the near future and would you like it?
D. Braben: Genuinely I don’t know, but of course we would definitely be able to take advantage of any increase that happened.
10do: The first Lost Winds was a launch title of the WiiWare service and very successful. What are you’re expectations for Winter of the Melodies? Do you fear that the success of the first game could be related to being a launch title or do you think that Lost Winds is strong enough to stand out against all the competition?
D. Braben: It’s a good question, and only time will tell. We have many more ideas for the games going forward and have a great enthusiasm for and great faith in the whole LostWinds world, and we certainly hope there is still an audience for LostWinds as we don’t want to stop telling the story! We believe LostWinds and Winter of the Melodias stand up very well to anything on Wii, both retail disc or WiiWare. We get a lot of feedback from fans and there seems to be a genuine affection for the game from a great many people. We learned a lot from doing the first game and I think in Winter of the Melodias we have used that knowledge to improve the experience in just about every respect. So we are hopeful.
10do: Apart from Lost Winds can we expect any other games from Frontier for Nintendo’s download services WiiWare and DSiWare or maybe even retail games in the future?
D. Braben: We have already done one Wii retail game: Thrillville: Off the Rails. We have no current plans but we have found creating games for WiiWare to be a very positive experience and would have no hesitiation in making other of our many game ideas for the service. The key for us is to make a game that’s appropriate for the system it’s to be released on and its audience.
10do: When will Lost Winds Winter of the Melodias launch in Europe and at what price? This is also you’re chance to tell our readers once more why they should be excited about it.
D. Braben: First of all thank you for taking the time to read this. Very many people worldwide have already downloaded and enjoyed the first LostWinds game, which is still available on WiiWare. Winter of the Melodias takes the whole experience up a notch in just about every way, and we think it stands comparison with the very best Wii games, download or disc. It launched on 9th October 2009 in Europe for 1000 Wii Points, and we hope you have fun!
10do: Thank you very much for the interview!
D. Braben: A pleasure, and thank you for the opportunity to ‘speak to’ your readers.
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