The Midwinter Report

Earlier this year I started exploring the concept of bringing about a remake of Midwinter. Now Midwinter was not my game. I played it very little. In fact I played Ashes of Empire more. But, Midwinter was another classic Mike Singleton game and many of the concepts that started in The Lords of Midnight can be found in Midwinter. And indeed, if you follow the progression through Midwinter 1 & 2, Ashes of Empire, ( which I tend to call Midwinter 3 ), and then Lords of Midnight:The Citadel. You can see how Mike was evolving those ideas.

Midwinter was a seminal industry game. Many of today’s block buster games can trace their routes right back to Midwinter. I knew that Mike had been planning on revisiting Midwinter and so It seemed to me that it was now time for Midwinter to be reborn. I needed to find a way to make that happen.

Over the summer I met with a few people. Firstly, I spoke with Mike’s sons. Talked to them about what I wanted to try and achieve and received their blessing on the project.  Then, I met with some of the original team that worked with Mike. Dave Gautrey was one of the original programmers on Midwinter and worked with Mike throughout the Maelstrom years and a little beyond. Dave was up for the project. I met with another programmer who had a fondness for the game and I knew would be a perfect fresh member, Iain Key. I also met with a writer/designer who would head the team. Dan Whitehead is a person with a passion for Midwinter, who I thought would be the perfect person to step into Mike’s shoes. He has previously written about his love of the game in his Eurogamer Retrospective. I needed someone who respected the original, understood the impact that it had had on gaming and the influence it holds over modern games, but would also be subjective enough to make the changes that would be required to make the game more  friendly to the modern player. I also met with a friendly publisher that could help guide and support the team as we tried to find our way.

The first problem was really: What did we want to do with the game? Creating a team of developers is one thing, the real problem is not having any cash. If I had the money I could just put the team together and we could all work on it full time. But there are even issues there. How much money? How big a team? These are questions that can’t be answered unless you really know what you are trying to develop. And it’s always a mistake when you are burning through a tight budget, as you work out how to spend that budget.

We’ve discussed Kickstarter or Gambitious, but you can’t just decide to try and raise money unless you actually know what you want to do. It’s very easy to just say, let’s remake Midwinter. But what does that actually mean?

Over the following months, thanks to the generosity of Mastertronic supporting the effort, Dave has been fully funded, dilligently working on bringing the original landscape for the Isle of Midwinter into Unity. Refining tools required to allows us to explore the landscape and get a feel for moving around a modern Midwinter environment. This in turn has allowed the rest of the team to think about what Midwinter was, is, and should be. The artists have put together little bits of concept imagery that allows us to visualise that concept. The rest of the team are all part time unfunded members of the project, so we grab whatever time we can to give to Midwinter.

Slowly we have built a picture of how we wish to bring Midwinter back, and we are getting ready to start the process.

In the New Year we will begin the process of creating our Kickstarter Campaign, watch this space for more detail. In the mean time we need to continue assemble the team that will help us to realise the goal. Initially, those team members will be like us, putting whatever spare time they can to the project, so that we can really show off what we want to achieve. In time, and with a successful campaign, they will hopefully join a fully funded new indie development studio, in its quest to bring one of the most famous and influential games, back to the modern gaming world.

Work in progress concept art work.

We are looking for all types of new members to join the FVPF. It would definitely help if you have a fondness for the original game, but it is not a requirement. If you would like to get involved, then please fill in the contact form below. Right now, we are particularly looking for a hardcore technically-minded 3D modeller and a focused texture artist – ie someone who won’t mind obsessing over details like tree bark and rocks.