Co-Optimus - Interview - Indie-Ana Co-Op - Q and A with Arcen Games, Part 1

A Valley Without Wind 2

  • Online Co-Op: 8 Players
  • LAN Co-Op: 16 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign

Indie-Ana Co-Op - Q and A with Arcen Games, Part 1 - Page 3

AVWW2 was a more straightforward game than its predecessor, but still retained many elements that made AVWW unique

Co-Optimus: Did you ever debate simplifying A Valley Without Wind 2 as a whole? Maybe just making it a straightforward 16-bit action-platformer?

Chris: Actually, no -- building a “straightforward {X}” type of game just isn’t in our DNA as a company. There are plenty of other developers who heavily focus on one genre and try to perfect it, and they’re already doing an admirable job. I don’t really feel that Arcen has anything to offer in that sort of space. We’re built around making things that are more experimental and unusual. We’re set up much more like an R&D shop than most developers.

Co-Optimus: How do you feel after the release of this title as opposed to after A Valley Without Wind? Is there more of a feeling that you “got right?” Are there things you’re already looking over again to figure out how to improve or expand upon?

Chris: Valley 2 is a game I’m immensely proud of, and I play it most nights with my son, who is two and a half. “Daddy, do you have a game?” is pretty much what he asks every night before bed, hinting to play it. Playing through it in that context, not testing the game or having any sort of pressure, but just playing it ten or twenty minutes a night, is something I really enjoy. It’s a fun game, it’s well-balanced and interesting, and it has a great amount of content.

For any author of any creative work, there’s always stuff that you might want to change. Novelists read their works and notice slightly weak wording here, or a comma splice there, or something that wasn’t quite as clear as they wanted to make it. But by and large, past a certain point it’s time to just let the work stand on its own. You could fiddle with it endlessly, but past a certain point all that fiddling actually starts to tear at the fabric a bit.

The more distance I have from Valley 2, honestly the less I think it needs anything more, or even any expansions. It and Tidalis are probably Arcen’s two big “complete” works. There’s more that could be done in either space, naturally, if there is a big demand for additional content. But both games already have such a ridiculous amount of content for their respective genres that that’s a fairly niche audience who wants even more. Right now our focus is on new games, but we may return to Environ in the future. For now it’s just minor fixes and tweaks as they come up.

Co-Optimus: The last question I have about a Valley Without Wind 2 I have to fully credit to our senior editor, Andrew Gaskill, who apparently spends his free time trolling graduate student thesis presentations. The words "A Valley Without Wind” seem to imply a stagnant, silent world; a place where change, as in 'the winds of change" are not only absent, but are forever cut off from this "valley." What was the thought behind the game’s title? Are there any specific elements of the game that are reflections of this?

Chris: I’m as much into that sort of thing as he is! To me, I took a different interpretation of the word “wind,” however. Wind isn’t always a positive thing, and in fact in my personal life I’ve lived through multiple tornados, two major hurricanes, and a multitude of smaller hurricanes.

The destruction that these things can wreak is absolutely terrifying: I remember when I was around four years old, seeing a K-Mart in a shopping center near our house that was just flattened. There were some boards, and the concrete of the ground left, but everything else had been pushed down the hill. Or about a year and a half ago, a major tornado came through the area, but was a good five miles away from our house. Wreckage from that landed in our yard as well as 20 miles north of us. We had pieces of other people’s houses dropped on us from two towns over.

I love a good breeze as much of the next person, but when I think of wind I don’t think of it as a benevolent, positive thing. “A Valley Without Wind,” to me, refers more to finding shelter from the storm. I can remember huddling in various houses listening to the winds rage outside, with huge thumps on the outside wall as debris is flung at 80 miles per hour into the outside of your shelter. That sort of sense of an immensely scary and dangerous world, in which you’ve carved out a small bit of semi-safety and peace, is what that title represents to me.


Stay tuned to Co-Optimus for the second part of our interview with Chris where we discuss Shattered Haven and what's next for Arcen Games!