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'Winterheart's Guild' Announced - Screens

by Rainier on May 1, 2007 @ 1:36 p.m. PDT

Winterheart’s Guild, developed by Zelian Games using its in-house ZelianX engine, is a post-apocalyptic action-RPG. The setting is a harsh, brutal Earth, after the destruction of civilization at its technological peak. In this world, resources are scarce, and the environment is as dangerous as the enemies that the player must face.

The world is mostly covered in snow and ice. It’s not only the health of your character that matters, but also warmth and energy. Valuable items are hard to come by. In this world, you truly feel the value of finding a good weapon and a reasonable stash of ammunition.

After the cataclysm, Earth’s population was diminished to a fraction of what it used to be. The planet was covered in snow and ice and resources were scarce, making survival extremely difficult.
Before long, several opposing factions started to emerge: the Dark Mages, the Technomancers and the Order of Nature, among others. Those who did not join the rising factions became known simply as “the free”. These villagers chose a simple way of life, and attempted to live in peace with others.

"Winterheart's Guild focuses heavily on natural outdoor scenery, and for this reason we needed the best possible tree engine and models,” said Zelian Technical Director Marius George. “During the integration phase, it quickly became obvious just how much effort and time it would take to create a similar system in-house.”

Mr. George added that SpeedTreeRT was the right choice for a variety of reasons. “SpeedTree RT has a proven track record, so it's a low risk option compared to building a tree engine from scratch, which will almost certainly work out more expensive in the end,” he said. “The quality (and quantity) of models and textures in the tree library is surprisingly good, and with the help of the SpeedTree CAD tool, it's really simple to create a highly optimized forest for your game.”

The Technomancers thrive on the revival of technology. It is believed that they are trying to locate a technological artefact, a device so powerful that it has the ability to destroy entire nations. If the Technomancers succeed in gaining access to this lost technology, they will study it and replicate it.

If they succeed in unravelling its secrets, they will hold the world to ransom, or worse, use the device to destroy all those who oppose them.

In an attempt to keep the peace and to stop the Technomancers (or any other faction) from gaining absolute power, Winterheart’s Guild is formed - a small group of heroes and leaders from the free people.

Winterheart's Guild is made in cooperation with Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica, the band members feature as the main characters in this alternate futuristic world, and have had some input in terms of gameplay ideas and features. There is no connection between the in-game characters and the real-world band, other than looks, voice, and distinct characteristics for each main character that may or may not match their real-world personalities. Sonata Artica is also providing the instrumental music (in-game and other) for Winterheart's Guild, as well as one or more bonus tracks (full songs).

Furthermore, many of the story, character and other elements of the game subtly draw from Sonata Arctica song lyrics, including albums other than its 2003 album Winterheart’s Guild.

Winterheart's Guild is currently scheduled for late 2007 on PC, but an Xbox 360 version might be possible down the line.

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