This applies to the setting: “Warframe” is a unique take on the sci-fi genre powered by a carnal robot; “Soulframe” will be a pretty weird take on fantasy. This will also apply to gameplay.
“Where ‘Warframe’ is shooting focused, this one is melee focused,” Sinclair said. “Where ‘Warframe’ is super fast and crazy at high speeds, this one is going to be a lot slower and cumbersome. But it still has a lot of similarities to the genre we have experience in.
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Even in the age of constantly updated live service games, “Warframe” is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Launched in 2013 to little fanfare and lackluster critical reception, the game nonetheless found an audience after Digital Extremes added numerous ambitious updates to it, creating Frankenstein’s monster of the online gaming world. Slowly but surely a humble cooperative shooter acquired an emotional storyline, intricate character progression systems, first-person murder mysteries, huge spaceships you can pilot with friends, catchy musical numbers on the labor rights, open world planets, hoverboard (with cheats), pets and fishing.
Fans have been able to witness and help shape the creation of many of these systems via dev streams on Twitch which have also been running since 2013. The result is a live service game driven by the whims of developers and players, with the question, “What’s the coolest thing we can do here?” at the heart of countless decisions.
But no game is unlimited. Finally, developers need a blank page. For Sinclair and company, “Soulframe” represents an opportunity to step out on a familiar but fresh limb and see where it takes them.
The world of “Soulframe”, as it is offered, might be its most interesting character. The game will focus on themes of nature, restoration and adventure inspired by works such as “Princess Mononoke” and “The NeverEnding Story” – in particular, the collision between industry and nature. In service of this, the world will show its displeasure with the players occupying it.
” The vanity [in ‘Soulframe’] is that the world itself is a bit angry at what has been done to it, and the underlying motives tend to change throughout the day,” said creative director Geoff Crookes. “So there’s going to be proceduralism in the cave systems and the crevices and so on under the world.”
The core world, meanwhile, will be open, closer to the open world planets recently added to “Warframe” than to its early foundations of corridors and space stations. Crookes wants ‘Soulframe’ to focus on exploration that ‘Warframe’ never had – to feel more alive for players in every moment.
“I’m chasing this ‘short session but high immersion’ thing where you log in and you get out of your yurt and you’re where you last logged out,” he said, “but the world feels like it’s happening without you.”
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While the combat will be slow paced and melee focused – and the game is literally called “Soulframe” – Sinclair and Crookes emphasized that they weren’t trying to make a game in the vein of From Software’s genre-pioneering Souls series, which includes 2022’s megahit “Elden Ring”. Or rather, they didn’t go into the project with that in mind.
“I think it’s definitely not inspirational for the initial ideas or what we wanted to do,” Sinclair said. “Ironically, other titles that perhaps borrowed from ‘Warframe’ might have had some kind of reverse influence. But ‘Elden Ring’ absolutely got some conversation – maybe because of the camera, maybe because of the excellence of their combat pace. And you know, fuck these guys, ’cause damn, [‘Elden Ring’] was absolutely fantastic.
Sinclair and Crookes weren’t ready to discuss the exact details that set “Soulframe”‘s melee combat apart from Souls games, and there’s a good reason for that: “Soulframe” is still very early in development. The game’s basic concepts started floating around at Digital Extremes in 2019, but only a very small team – largely artists – had dedicated themselves to working on it until February.
So why announce it now, when there’s almost nothing of the game to show? Sinclair acknowledged that it’s become a “meme” when companies reveal games with vague CG trailers and few concrete details, but above all else he wants to be upfront with gamers.
“Our work has been extremely community-driven,” Sinclair said. “It’s dishonest not to say [players] on the changes and who runs ‘Warframe.’ It’s way too early to announce ‘Soulframe’, actually! But in terms of being transparent and making sure they understand our way of thinking, we tend to be a lot more open…than most studios.
But Sinclair and Crookes have no intention of announcing “Soulframe” and then retreating to a quiet development lab of metal bars and tinted glass. After finding success with regular behind-the-scenes “Warframe” Twitch streams, they plan to give fans a behind-the-curtain look at “Soulframe” sooner rather than later. Ideally, this process will begin as soon as possible, and die-hard Digital Extremes fans will be able to play a version of “Soulframe” within a year.
“What we want to try is to do the same thing as ‘Warframe’, which is ‘Hey, watch us make the game and get your hands on the big chunks and tell us what you feel,'” Sinclair said.
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This strategy may seem inadvisable at such an early stage, but Sinclair thinks it’s not that far off from what Digital Extremes did with “Warframe,” a game that’s now completely unrecognizable from its launch edition.
“Doing it is sort of finding out at the same time,” Sinclair said. “In my mind it’s like it doesn’t work, you keep going until you’re dead or it works. There’s a lot of things in ‘Warframe’ that were just abject failures from the perspective of view of the design. And we were just like, ‘OK, well, we’re not going to do that anymore. Just fix it and do it again.’
“It’s exhausting and difficult. You get the thing where someone made a spreadsheet of the promises you broke. But I think with ‘Warframe’ we were able to turn some people into champions [of the game] talking to them in a less careful, less polite way.
Sinclair also chose this moment to announce “Soulframe” because “Warframe” is about to receive a new open world expansion, “The Duviri Paradox”, and he wants to demonstrate that the game is left in good hands.
“A decade on ‘Warframe,’ with everyone in leadership positions having been there for 10 years, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for other people to take on leadership roles,” he said. he declares. “I wanted to get out of the way a bit and have some new ideas – to have a chance for the next generation of our great team to adapt.”
That said, after so many years on the project, it wasn’t easy for Sinclair and Crookes to let go.
“It’s like when you leave the house for the first time. It’s exciting, but it’s also a bit bittersweet,” Crookes said. Warframe”. ”
“We’ve had our hands slapped a few times before,” Sinclair said with a laugh. “I couldn’t help but intervene, and it created a conflict.”
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