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Winter's Wake, A First Person/Text Adventure Hybrid

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Fast Answered Questions:
  • What is this game? A fantasy text adventure thing with mouselook controls.
  • What is it called? For now, it's called Winter's Wake (which refers to spring).
  • When will it be released? Maybe in 2015.
  • What platforms will it be on? Linux, Mac and Windows.
  • Where can I find out more? You can visit winterswake.com
  • Is there something I can play now? You can download an early demo here.


When my family got its first computer in the late 80s, my parents decided that the amount of time we could spend playing games would be dictated by the amount of time we spent doing "educational" activities which involved mathematics, typing and reading. My 7 year old self cleverly negotiated text adventures like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy or Planetfall and even more graphically oriented adventure games like The Pawn or Quest For Glory 1 into the "educational" basket, giving me effectively unlimited access to these types of games.

Twenty three years later, I still find myself enamoured with these kinds of imagination oriented experiences I like to think that players and readers connect differently with books and text adventures compared to more visual mediums where often less is left up to the viewer's mind to create.

Last week, I released an early demo of a game that tries to capture some of the things that makes those called Winter's Wake. It feels cliche to suggest that I'm reinventing text adventures (not to mention dismissive of the active and vibrant communities out there making more traditional text adventures, hypertext adventures, and other text oriented experiences), but I am creating something that is definitely distinct from them.

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In Winter's Wake, players use first person style mouselook controls to "explore" scenes from a stationary viewpoint and solve single click adventure style puzzles. Instead of using a text parser, I'm opting for a single verb type interface that keeps things simple and HMD friendly (note: the current demo does not have HMD support, but early prototyping has been really positive!).

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Players take on the role of a fantasy adventurer who becomes trapped in a snowy mountain pass. At the beginning of the demo, the player awakens at the bottom of an avalanche. Injured and lost, the player must make her or his way to a small village and find help.

The game provides a compass and vertical orientation indicator as well as positional audio to help players keep track of where they're "looking". In addition, the background is tinted based on the colour of what's in the player's "field of view", so a forest scene may be predominantly green, whilst a farmland scene with wheat ready for harvesting might be a mostly pale yellow. When looking up at the sky, the background is generally tinted lighter, and when looking at the ground, the tint will usually be darker.

Further orientation cues are provided by a simple positional audio system, which also helps convey transitions between scenes, as distant sounds become louder and nearby sounds becoming quiet background noise when moving away from their sources.

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For this game, I've been working on my own engine, written (on Linux!) in C++ using SDL2 and OpenGL that I'm calling Icicle. I'm hoping to release the engine under a permissive licence for others to use to make similar (or different!) games. Alongside development, I'm also releasing some resources in the form of code examples and dev streams.

I haven't selected a date yet, but later this month, I'm aiming to do a dev stream that focuses on the design and early implementation of Icicle's state manager, which keeps track of puzzles and user actions as players progress through the game.

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Winter's Wake has been a great project to work on so far, and I am super glad to be at a point where I can share something playable with anybody who might be interested. If you play the demo, I'd love to get a copy of the game's action log (check readme.txt for details on where to find it), which contains details on what players look at/interact with and the time they spend in each scene.

Thanks for reading!

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Tags: Adventure, Demo
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About the author -
author picture
Game developer, Linux helper person, and independent writer/interviewer.

Currently working on Winter's Wake, a first person text adventure thing and its engine Icicle. Also making a little bee themed base builder called Hive Time :)

I do more stuff than could ever fit into a bio.
See more from me
The comments on this article are closed.
9 comments

Ignis 10 Aug, 2015
Where am I supposed to send the logs again? (o.o) Well, anyway: http://pastebin.com/HH0q6nCH

// The game is 64-bit only at the moment.

A bit disorienting at first %) Overall, I'm not sure, somewhat interested, though. Kind of interesting idea. Although I miss backgrounds (at least in key places), but "no graphics" (other than item icons) was the point, I suppose.

EDIT: funny logs in console output ☺


Last edited by Ignis on 10 August 2015 at 7:17 pm UTC
stan 11 Aug, 2015
  • Supporter
What does HMD mean?
Speedster 11 Aug, 2015
Quoting: stanWhat does HMD mean?
HMD = Head Mounted Display. I recall Cheeseness doing a nice article on Oculus, before they went to the dark side.
Cheeseness 11 Aug, 2015
Quoting: IgnisWhere am I supposed to send the logs again? (o.o) Well, anyway: http://pastebin.com/HH0q6nCH
Thanks for that! My email address is in the readme.txt that accompanies the game, but pastebin is fine too :)

Quoting: Ignis// The game is 64-bit only at the moment.
This is mentioned as a "known issue" in readme.txt

Quoting: IgnisA bit disorienting at first %) Overall, I'm not sure, somewhat interested, though. Kind of interesting idea. Although I miss backgrounds (at least in key places), but "no graphics" (other than item icons) was the point, I suppose.
Yeah, it's all about having something that exists in the player's mind rather than on the screen. This demo is pretty early, and there are more things I'll be doing to try to help reduce disorientation as development continues.

Part of the reason I've pushed out this demo so early in development is so that I can start to gauge how people outside of the development team are coping with a "new" way of interacting with a game, and that will give me extra insight when making decisions on how to improve the experience. "Somewhat interested" sounds like a win from here :)

Quoting: IgnisEDIT: funny logs in console output ☺
:D

Quoting: Speedster
Quoting: stanWhat does HMD mean?
HMD = Head Mounted Display. I recall Cheeseness doing a nice article on Oculus, before they went to the dark side.
With my initial prototypes, I've been targeting OpenHMD in the hopes of having something that's device agnostic. SteamVR is also on my radar :)
Ignis 11 Aug, 2015
Quoting: Cheeseness
Quoting: Ignis// The game is 64-bit only at the moment.
This is mentioned as a "known issue" in readme.txt

Yeah, I've mentioned it for other readers.

Good luck :)
Cheeseness 11 Aug, 2015
Quoting: Ignis
Quoting: Cheeseness
Quoting: Ignis// The game is 64-bit only at the moment.
This is mentioned as a "known issue" in readme.txt

Yeah, I've mentioned it for other readers.

Good luck :)

Ah, OK. Cheers, and thank you! :)
TheMagazine 11 Aug, 2015
I've never played anything quite like this before but I like the look and feel of the game- or the demo at least. Be sure to post an update when you finish it Cheeseness!
Cheeseness 12 Aug, 2015
Quoting: TheMagazineI've never played anything quite like this before but I like the look and feel of the game- or the demo at least. Be sure to post an update when you finish it Cheeseness!

Thanks! I'll be sure to keep people updated :)
Cheeseness 24 Aug, 2015
For anybody who's interested, I did a dev stream yesterday looking at the demo and how the game handles puzzle logic. An archive can be found here :)
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