We had the pleasure to interview EVC Games, the developer actually working on Wintermoor Tactics Club. Promising visual-novel turn-based tactics RPG set in a High School featuring; 7 Playable characters with lots of abilities to upgrade and a school to explore freely in order to complete side quests and learn more about the characters in-game.
Our question was answered by Jackie Kreitzberg (Producer), Ben Walker (Programmer), Kyla Fury, (co-writer) Mike Sennott, (co-writer), and Ryan Anderson. (Combat Designer)
Hi, in this format launched about a year ago on our blog, we interview the developers, asking them 10 questions. With these 10 questions, we try to find out more information about a specific project and better knowing the developers themselves.
We are super excited about Wintermoor Tactics Club’s release and so happy to talk with you, so without wasting time, let’s start with our interview:
1st TURN) One of the most original aspects of your game is the setting. On the description of the Wintermoor Tactics Club, we can read “a story about surviving high school”! Can you tell us something more?
Yeah! Wintermoor Tactics Club is a game about Alicia, a student at the prestigious Wintermoor Academy. She is shy and has trouble fitting in, but she’s found a home in the Tactics Club, a group of nerdy kids who play the popular (and totally fictional) tabletop RPG Curses & Catacombs. She’s happy there until the Principal suddenly announces a giant snowball tournament between all the clubs, where any that lose are disbanded instantly!
So in order to keep their club alive, Alicia will have to use her imagination to turn the snowball fights into turn-based fantasy battles where the Tactics Club members become their tabletop heroes and the opposing clubs become villains and monsters. Of course, that’s only part of surviving high school! Alicia will also have to reach out to students who need a hand and make new friends. Especially since that might hold the key to solving the mystery of what’s really going on at Wintermoor Academy…
2nd TURN) W.T.C. seems to be a strange mix of visual novel and turn-based RPG. We’re talking about two (very) different genres. Why have you decided to create something in the middle and why do you think this is the right decision?
We wanted to make a tactics game that felt intimate and personal with regards to the characters and story. Where the mechanics are a way of exploring the characters more, and vice versa, rather than just taking a standard tactics game and adding a story on as an afterthought. Visual novels are great at really helping you get close to characters, so we wanted to borrow that feel from visual novels.
3rd TURN) Developing a game as an indie software house is always hard, but now, with current sanitary emergency and the obligation to use the “smart working”, I think it’s even harder. So how are you managing the situation e how have you organized the teamwork?
We were working entirely remote before the global pandemic, so there hasn’t been much of a change in our processes and work style. However, just like with everyone, it takes a toll on your morale. We’ve been trying to stay positive by focusing on all the good news around us, sharing funny memes, and having lots of video conferences.
4th TURN) The description of the story behind W.T.C. that I took from Steam is rather obscure. We know for sure that the game is set in a high school (the mentioned Wintermoor Academy) during the 80s, but can you tell us a little bit more in this regard?
We introduce the story as a retelling of the legendary “War of the Clubs,” a great conflict at Wintermoor Academy in 1981 that would change history. Every chapter, you have to face a different club in the snowball tournament. Because Alicia is kind and empathetic, she tries to help students who have lost their clubs in the tournament by inviting them to the Tactics Club and writing an adventure to help them deal with their problems. Not to spoil anything, but the snowball war escalates a bit from how it first appears. And Alicia will learn that helping people feel included is both more difficult and more important than it seems.
5th TURN) Ok now let’s change the subject. What can you tell us about the combat system? How depth and complex it will be?
We wanted to make a game people of all experience levels would enjoy. In this regard, we made a lot of decisions to streamline the combat systems in comparison to other tactics RPGs. We aimed to reduce the barrier to entry for tactics newcomers while still making the combat dynamic and interesting for veterans of the genre. This developed into a combat system where your party load-out and options dramatically change the playstyle. For people who are experienced with tactics and looking for a challenge, we’ve included a set of tougher challenge levels with special rewards that unlock more advanced strategies. They’re not required, but they can really help you flex your tactical muscles. You can replay any of the battles with a different set of characters, so you can experiment with different builds and upgrades. There are lots to explore in the combat system, while simultaneously having less complexity at a lower level.
The overall playtime is also shorter than many tactics RPGs — Wintermoor takes about 15 hours to complete the main story. There’s hours of replayable battles, but we wanted to make the story portion long enough to be satisfying, but not a huge time commitment.
6th TURN) What role the exploration will play in the game? In other words, there will be the possibility to freely explore the Academy?
Yes, between C&C and snowball battles you’ll explore the school, talk to other students, spy on opposing clubs, and investigate the mystery behind the “Ultimate Club.” During these segments, you can get to know your fellow students and Tactics Club members better. If you choose to hang out with your Tactics Club members you will earn upgrades reflecting you getting closer as friends. You can also spy on the opposing clubs to gain an edge in the snowball tournament against them.
7th TURN) The graphic style is really fascinating. Which were your inspirations?
Thanks! We felt people deeply associate isometric tactics RPGs with a certain chunky pixel-art-ish style — often because the games they’re thinking of are decades old and made for 640×480 screens, but look at Wargroove and Into the Breach, as well. Our big goal was to keep references to that style — in our character proportions, level of detail, and the like — but update it with non-pixel-art graphics. Also, Alicia is a character who is very into writing and imagination, so a more story-book style of illustration was a good fit for her character and for the overall tone of the story.
8th TURN) Can you tell us something more about the characters progression and customization?
You’ll recruit new characters as the main story progresses, but there are optional side-quests that can help you earn the ability to customize. In these quests, you’ll not only learn more about the characters in Wintermoor Tactics Club, but you’ll also earn upgrades you can use in combat. These upgrades reflect the characters’ bonds with each other and therefore work best with those same characters. To reach a character’s full potential, you’ll need to find which characters have upgrades that work well with their build.
9th TURN) I’ve to confess that I’m not very confident with the graphic novel genre, so I need to make you a question in this regard. During the game, there will be the possibility to make choices and therefore to gain friends or enemies? If so, there will be different endings?
The visual novel components aren’t too different from exploration and conversation in many RPGs, though hopefully with more frequent choices for the player. While there won’t be different endings (we wanted all players to get the best ending instead of having worse ones), you will get to write “adventures” for your fellow Tactics Club members. You’ll make choices during these writing sessions which will change the C&C battles you play later in the chapter. There’s also the sidequests with characters around the school mentioned earlier. These sidequests take place in the “visual novel” style, where you’ll talk to the characters and help them solve their problems. There are other times where you’ll be able to spy on an opposing club, giving you a special bonus in that club’s battle.
In general, there are plenty of choices to influence the characters around you and your relationships with those characters, but no decision is so monumental that it can derail your playthrough. You don’t have to worry about backing yourself into a corner by making a wrong choice: this game is friendly for beginners in both the tactics and visual novel genres.
10th TURN) When will be able to go back to school (in other words, when the game will be released)?
Soon! On May 5 2020 on PC and later this year on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PS4.
11th BONUS TURN) Before leaving you, just a bonus question. Which is the latest turn-based game you’ve played or still playing?
[Ben, programming] I just recently gave up on Corruption 2029. I was a huge fan of the studio’s previous game, Mutant: Year Zero: Road to Eden (although Wintermoor borrows more from Into The Breach), so I picked it up on day one. I think all the reviews were roughly accurate, but those guys get a lot of points for creating their second game so quickly.
[Ryan, combat design] Overland a bit? Although maybe just don’t mention me, I wasn’t a fan… Mostly dug into older influences like Into the Breach and Final Fantasy Tactics for combat on this.
[Mike, narrative & music] I’ll admit to playing Fire Emblem: Heroes. The readable AI and lack of randomness make it feel a little like Wintermoor! There aren’t any gatcha mechanics in Wintermoor though, unless you want to make narrative decisions by printing out the options and putting them in capsules.
[Kyla, narrative] I did play some Into the Breach, which I really enjoyed despite not generally being into roguelike mechanics. Other than that, I will admit to being woefully behind in my classical tactics games: I only recently played Fire Emblem: Awakening, which everyone else has long beaten by now!
[Jackie, production] This probably dates me, but I find myself coming back to Heroes of Might and Magic 5 about once a year. Honestly, I think it’s the art direction and world-building that brings me back. Just sits right at the edge of modern enough but the art is still stylized and bright.
Thank you so much for the time you have dedicated to us! And good luck with Wintermoor Tactics Club release.
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