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Interviews

Wii Software: LostWinds

Interview: Elite creator David Braben talks new Wii Software game

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In the past we've used this to gather ideas for specific pitches we've done, and flesh out the details of several of the titles we've worked on (like The Outsider for example) and many ideas have found their way into other games.

But LostWinds is the first one that we've taken 'fully formed' and produced a specific game based on an idea from the forum by ourselves, mainly down to the opportunity of being a WiiWare launch title being presented to us by Nintendo - we already had a detailed design for LostWinds for some considerable time.

You've stated that LostWinds a 'third-way' of doing controls on the Wii? How does Enril the Wind Spirit (controlled by the Wii Remote) differ to the pointer in Mario Galaxy or the brush in Okami?

Braben: Enril is an in-game character and is the player's main way to interact with the world and is central to the control mechanism of Toku, so it's a very different feel from what are essentially abstracted UI elements in Mario Galaxy and Okami; it's entirely bound up in the player's core experience of moving their character through the world.

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Equally, having the two characters cooperating under the control of one player is very different from the straight forward "let's use Nunchuk and Wii Remote to get the button count up like we would have done on an old-style console controller", hence
the 'third way' comment.

Sound is a key feature in the game. Do you feel that sound is a generally overlooked in videogame development?

Braben: I always fall back on the hoary old example that if you watch a movie or TV program with the sound turned off you struggle to understand it, but if you listen to the sounds only, no visuals, more often than not you will get the message.

So audio design is a powerful weapon in our armoury, it can be used to communicate a huge amount to the player about environment and mood in a subtle way.

LostWinds is heavily stylised, as opposed to graphically advanced. Was this a conscious decision or a limitation by the Wii and download sizes of Wii Software?

Braben: The style is a creative artistic choice, download sizes aren't a factor. It depends on what you mean by graphically advanced - we'd argue that its one of the best looking Wii games we've seen.

Quite often, people take a realistic style to be graphically advanced; we can and have done realistic games (like The Outsider, for example), but here we have made an artistic decision to go for this look.

Narrative doesn't seem to be a key focus for LostWinds. How integral to the game is the storyline and do you feel stories in games are as developed as they should be?

Braben: At Frontier, we believe passionately in gaming as an entertainment / art form, yet we recognise there should also be diversity, not uniformity.

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We believe narrative is a key step that the games industry has yet to take, and are working hard in some of our other projects to push that particular dimension, but the focus of LostWinds is in delivering a fresh, innovative, high quality gameplay experience designed specifically for the Wii - a novel, charming fun entertainment experience.

That's not to say that story doesn't play its part in LostWinds, there is a very detailed back story, which is testament to the enthusiasm of the team making the game and has really helped to inform decisions that make the world of Mistralis into a very cohesive, absorbing place to play in.

LostWinds looks like it has enough scope to be disc-based game. Do you see Wii Software as a test bed for possible franchises that could be released on a traditional format in the future?

Braben: Yes, we believe that the content of LostWinds rivals many disc based games, and we have much more of the story yet to tell, but being honest we've never viewed Wii Software as a test bed.

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