This applies to the setting: “Warframe” is a unique, flesh-and-blood spin on the sci-fi genre; “Soulframe” would be a suitably weird take on fantasy. This will also apply to the gameplay.
“Where ‘Warframe’ focuses on shooting, it focuses on melee,” Sinclair said. “Where ‘Warframe’ is super fast and crazy high-speed, this is going to be a lot slower and heavier. But it still has a lot in common with the genre we’ve experienced.”
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Even in an age of constantly updated live service games, “Warframe” is a unique success story. Launched in 2013 to little fanfare and a middling critical reception, the game found an audience after Digital Extremes stitched numerous ambitious updates into it, creating the Frankenstein’s monster of the online gaming world. Slowly but surely, a humble cooperative shooter with an emotional story, complex character progression system, first-person assassination mystery, lots of spaceships you can pilot with friends, catchy musical numbers about labor rights, open-world planets, hoverboarding (with tricks), Pets and fishing.
Fans have been able to witness and help build many of these systems through development streams on Twitch that have been running since 2013. The result is a live service game directed at developers and players alike, with the question, “What’s the best thing we can do here?” At the heart of countless decisions.
But no game is unlimited. Finally, developers need a blank slate. For Sinclair and company, “Soulframe” represents an opportunity to step out on a familiar but fresh limb and see where it takes them.
The world of “Soulframe”, as suggested, may be its most interesting character. The game will focus on themes of nature, restoration and adventure inspired by works such as “Princess Mononoke” and “The Never Ending Story” – particularly the clash between art and nature. In its service, the world will show its displeasure to the players who occupy it.
“The pride [in ‘Soulframe’] The world itself is a little bit edgy about what it’s done, and the ground underneath keeps changing throughout the day,” said creative director Geoff Crooks. “So there’s going to be systematization under the world with cave networks and crevasses and so on.”
The hub world, meanwhile, will be open, more similar to open-world planets like the recently added “Warframe” than the primary base of corridors and space stations. Crooks wants “Soulframe” to focus on exploration in a way that “Warframe” never was — to make it feel more alive to players on a moment-to-moment basis.
“I’m chasing that ‘short session but high immersion’ thing where you sign in and you come out of your yurt and you’re back where you last signed off,” he said, “but the world feels like it’s going on without you.”
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Combat will be slow and melee-focused, though — and the game is literally called “the soulFrame” — Sinclair and Crooks insist they’re not trying to make a game in the vein of From Software’s genre-pioneering Souls series, which includes the 2022 megahit “Elden Ring.” Or rather, they didn’t go into the project with that in mind.
“I think it was definitely not the initial idea or an inspiration for what we wanted to do,” Sinclair said. “Ironically, other titles that may have borrowed from ‘Warframe’ may have had somewhat of the opposite effect. But the ‘Elden Ring’ has been quite a thing something Dialogue – Maybe to do with the camera, maybe to do with how awesome their battle pacing is. And you know, screw those people, because damn, [‘Elden Ring’] It was absolutely fantastic.”
Sinclair and Crooks weren’t ready to discuss the exact details that set “Soulframe’s” melee combat apart from the Souls games, and for good reason: “Soulframe” is still in the very early stages of development. Early ideas for the game began floating around at Digital Extremes in 2019, but only a very small team — mostly artists — was dedicated to working on it until this February.
So why announce now, when there is nothing to show for the game? Sinclair admits it’s become a “meme” when companies release games with vague CG trailers and few specific details, but above all he wants to be upfront with players.
“Our work has been extremely community driven,” Sinclair said. “It seems absurd to say no [players] About the changes and who is leading ‘Warframe.’ In fact, it is too early to announce ‘Solframe’! But in terms of transparency and making sure they understand how we think, we tend to be a lot more open than most studios.”
But Sinclair and Crooks don’t plan to announce “Soulframe” and then move into a quiet development lab that’s all metal bars and tinted windows. After finding success with regular behind-the-scenes “Warframe” Twitch streams, they plan to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at “Soulframe” as soon as possible. Ideally, that process will begin soon, and Digital Extremes die-hards will be able to play a version of “Soulframe” within a year.
“The thing we want to try is to make it similar to ‘Warframe,’ which is, ‘Hey, look at our game and touch the rough bits and tell us how you feel,'” Sinclair said.
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This strategy may seem inappropriate at such an early stage, but Sinclair believes it’s not too far off from what Digital Extremes did with “Warframe,” a game that’s now completely unrecognizable compared to its launch version.
“Creating it is kind of discovering it at the same time,” Sinclair said. “I think it’s like, well, if it doesn’t work, you just keep going until you die or whatever. There’s a lot of things in ‘Warframe’ that are just failures from a design perspective. And we just said, ‘ OK, OK, we’re not going to do that anymore. Just repair it and remake it.’
“It is exhausting and difficult. You get that thing where someone has made a spreadsheet of promises you’ve broken. But I think with ‘Warframe’ we’ve championed some people [of the game] Talk to them in a less guarded, less polished way.”
Sinclair also chose this moment to announce “Soulframe” because “Warframe” is about to get a new open-world expansion, “The Duviri Paradox,” and he wants to demonstrate that the game is being left in good hands.
“A decade into ‘Warframe,’ all the people in leadership positions have been there for 10 years, there hasn’t been much opportunity for other people to take leadership roles,” he said. “I wanted to get out of the way a little bit and get some new ideas – an opportunity to flex for the next generation of our great team.”
That said, after spending so many years on the project, it wasn’t easy for Sinclair and Crooks to let go.
“It feels like when you first leave home. It’s exciting, but it’s kind of bittersweet,” Crooks said. “Even though we’re leaving, I don’t see us completely ignoring ‘Warframe’. “
“We’ve already slapped our hands a few times,” Sinclair said with a laugh. “I couldn’t help myself from interfering, and it created some conflict.”