Hello, Alexandre Pernot Lopes here, co-founder and creative director at Trebuchet. We are the team behind Prison Boss VR, a game about crafting and selling contraband which released on PS VR in December 2018. Prison Boss VR was all about designing a game in a limited playing space, hence the prison theme. For our next game, we wanted to roam freely, and this is exactly what you will be able to do in Winds & Leaves, our upcoming title set to release this Spring as a PlayStation VR exclusive.
Winds & Leaves is a game about regrowing a world’s flora. The fantasy we set ourselves to recreate was to be able to take your shovel, dig a hole in the ground, plant a seed, and witness magnificent trees grow to maturity. After repeating that a few times, you would turn back and realise you just created a whole forest.
The world of Winds & Leaves is born from merging various inspirations. The general mood and pacing were heavily influenced by The Man Who Planted Trees, an old French-Canadian animated short film about a hermit spending his entire life growing forests all alone, one tree at a time. The art style of Winds & Leaves uses simple shapes and a colorful palette inspired by traditional animation ink-and-paint backgrounds to represent the contrast between barren lands and the lush forests the player creates.
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Walking on stilts
Early in development, we started thinking of ways to make this engaging in VR. We wanted to make a peaceful experience, but not a passive one. There comes our unique locomotion system, the Stilts, allowing you to feel each step you take with your PS Move controllers. You can raise or lower them to adapt your pace, or to reach fruits higher in your trees. Stilts can also retract to let you climb at the top of any tree to survey your surroundings.
Making a barren world blossom
We wanted the game to be non-linear, so the regrowth process could feel more organic. Therefore, you can plant anywhere you like, given you have the right fruit to fit the soil conditions. When trees start growing, the grass on the ground starts to spread. The landmarks you’ll encounter can give you access to new fruits or equipment upgrades. They all need to be activated growing the right vegetation at the right place. We wanted you to feel like you were the missing link that can spark the rich flora buried under the barrenness.
PS VR allowed us to design a simulation experience that is both a contemplative and hands-on simulation game. Grabbing your tools and picking your fruits rapidly become second nature with the PS Move controllers in your hands. With the adaptive soundtrack that reflects the region you are traversing and the amount of vegetation around you, the whole world literally comes to life.
Winds & Leaves is the largest project we ever made. It was an incredible and bumpy ride to work on this game. As if a pandemic wasn’t enough, we had to deal with an office fire (we didn’t need it anyway I guess), another fire at my house (ended up okay, but don’t make garlic bread), the CEO losing most of its teeth after a bike fall (always wear a helmet) and our level designer’s dog fled during a meeting (he found it after interviewing the whole neighbourhood). On the bright side, we have welcomed a bunch of new faces in the studio to help make this game a reality and I am very proud of what our awesome team crafted, the last year entirely from home.
We’ll share more of Winds & Leaves in the coming months as we are working towards finishing the game. Follow us to stay tuned and soon, we will be growing this world back to life together!