EGX 2016: How Windlands' developers listen to the community

EGX 2016: How Windlands' developers listen to the community

Jumping into Windlands for the first time and you’d be excused for thinking this is a relaxation simulator. In fact, this was even more true of the upcoming PS VR version that I was able to jump into as a part of this year’s EGX show in Birmingham.

Evoking the spirit of modern classics such as Journey and Shadow of the Colossus, Windlands doesn’t throw enemy upon enemy at you, but rather tasks the player with traversing a long forgotten kingdom using two grappling hooks and a gravity defying jump.

This long forgotten land is absolutely beautiful to look at, and definitely evokes the spirit of "excellence through simplicity". The colours jump off the screen, shadows amplify every corner and edge. Most importantly though, it runs flawlessly and was a joy for the senses.

This is certainly one of the game’s greatest strengths. It uses height and depth to encourage the player to stop and stare in awe and the world they now find themselves in. It's an environment covered in stone structures, green overgrowth... oh and the odd giant or two.

Another of Windlands’ greatest strengths is that on top of this laid-back gameplay experience, there’s also a healthy amount of content on offer too.

Following our PS VR hands on, Studio Head Jon Hibbins told us that aside from the campaign, Windlands also offers players multiple different challenges to complete as well as a wealth of collectibles to find. So Windlands offers a meaty amount of content even in comparison to some of the triple-A experiences coming to PS VR.

Psytec Games have taken advantage not just of the Playstation’s VR launch, but of every other major VR headset’s launches too. As such, this has given them the opportunity to become synonymous with VR for gamers right off the bat, whilst also providing Windlands with an extremely high level of visibility in this new market.

They've spent a considerable amount of time on Steam’s Early Access, something Jon Hibbins considers key. Early Access offered Psytec the opportunity to connect directly with the gamers, growing and improving the game based on what they were able to learn from those already experiencing it.

One of the ways this was done was by utlising a feedback option in the game, enabling people to send glitch reports and even general opinions to the development team. Not only did this allow the team to improve the game through live feedback, but it also helped those early adopters feel part of the development experience. Go back to the original build of Windlands and compare it the PS VR build we recently sat down with, and it’s apparent just how far the game has progressed.

Ultimately, what Psytec Games are showing through Windlands is that you can’t exist in a bubble. Clever development, listening to your fans, and taking advantage of all platform opportunities could be the key to success for smaller companies taking on major outfits like Capcom and Sony.

PlayStation VR launches in the UK on 13th October 2016. Windlands is available now on Steam

Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.