Design Philosophy

The Alpenwolf team has been designing games since 1988. Some designs have been successes, others have been failures. Many have never seen the light of day, mostly due to the vagaries of the game industry. Along the way, we have learned a great deal about the process of designing and developing games, and developed a few core principles that we apply to our new games, such as First Sword.

1. Gameplay First and Foremost  As one of the first pioneers of 3D gaming, we are far from unaware of the important role that graphics can play in the market success or failure of a game. A mediocre game with great graphics will often attract attention and sell well, while a great game with mediocre graphics can languish unnoticed. But market success and design success are two different things, although they are often correlated. Being a design-driven developer, we choose to focus on gameplay.

2. Don't Reinvent the Wheel  We have been innovators in the areas of 3D graphics, lighting models, artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and multi-level design. These innovations have seldom merited the resources devoted to them, and in some cases have actually tended to compromise the gameplay. So, having learned that we have a tendency to bite off more innovation than we can reasonably expect to digest in the development process, we now limit ourselves to a maximum of one potentially significant innovation per game. In the case of First Sword, that innovation is the sale of real virtual goods through our in-game store. So, in general, if there are basic game mechanics that are proven to work effectively in other games, we are going to utilize them rather than invent new mechanics out of not-invented-here syndrome.

3. Deep Story  All computer games are intrinsically the simple interaction of colorful moving lights and hand movements. The larger part of the entertainment derives from the meaning that is given to that interaction. Because the story, both backstory and narrative, is the primary means of providing meaning, the deeper the story, the more immersive the experience and the longer the player will remain absorbed in it.  Our goal is to provide entertainment that becomes a memorable experience through excellent gameplay and absorbing narrative.

4. A Transplatform, Transmedia Approach  As one award-winning science fiction author observed: "Print, video, graphic novels, online gaming? It's all one continuous media space now, and the different incarnations of a given property are all just different points on the same continuum. Books, live-action movies, animated movies, graphic novels, and video game cut scenes are all treated as equally valid. "The movie was cool but the game totally sucked" is a trenchant critique."  A holistic approach to the design process permits players entering into the world of First Sword to experience the game as a facet of a much larger creation.