The Wandering Village Interview: biology, symbiosis and a faithful art exhibit

Published: 11:44, 01 September 2021
Updated: 08:10, 02 September 2021
The Wandering Village key art with logo
The Wandering Village - an indie city builder developed by Stray Fawn Studio

We were lucky enough to get the folks from Stray Fawn Studio to answer some of our questions regarding their upcoming title The Wandering Village, the inspiration behind its setting and art style.

Read on to discover more about the devs behind The Wandering Village , the influence Studio Ghibli and Frostpunk had on the city-builder/survival sim and how one afternoon at an art exhibition can shape the next couple of years of your life.

Q: Hello, indie game developers from Stray Fawn Studio! Tell our readers something about yourselves that they can't read in any other company bio.

A: Hi, thanks for having us! Well, for one thing, we just took a new team picture with everybody doing their favourite anime pose and it was hilarious. Turns out we have 2 people in our team learning Japanese, 2 people who originally wanted to become manga artists and a cosplayer. Guess we are a pretty nerdy bunch.

Q: The Wandering Village was featured as part of the ID@Xbox showcase. How important is the support of such a large brand?

A: It’s an amazing opportunity for us. We have never worked so closely with a platform before and so far we’re really enjoying the collaboration. Bringing The Wandering Village to Xbox Game Preview is also a great motivator to implement controller support right off the bat. This can make quite a big difference to how natural the game will feel for players on consoles.

Q: We've recently been seeing a lot of indie studios trade in detailed character animations for a more realistic-looking environment, especially in survival games. How do you prioritize this sort of thing?

A: Since we are a small studio (10 people) we try to take into account each team member’s wishes on what kind of game they would like to make. In this case, our animator really wanted to create 2D hand-drawn animations since he is a huge Studio Ghibli fan. So we decided to go with a 2D/3D mix for our graphics this time.

Stray Fawn Studio The Wandering Village - a mix of 2D and 3D graphics The Wandering Village - a mix of 2D and 3D graphics

Q: We love the idea of communicating with Onbu. What other unique gameplay features can the players expect from their habitat?

A: Players will be communicating with Onbu, but also help to maintain its health by getting rid of toxic plants and parasites on its back. Since Onbu keeps wandering, carrying your village with it, players need to constantly adapt their settlement to new biomes and their unique challenges, such as temperature and weather events. In some biomes, there might be very little for Onbu to eat, but valuable resources for players to forage. So in this case, make sure you bring a snack for your giant creature.

Q: Onbu's back is not a massive place to build a society. How does the decision to make the players work with such limited space come about?

Playing Frostpunk really convinced us that having limited building space can make for an interesting game. You really need to think about which buildings you need and where you place them. And finally researching newer technology that saves you some space is a satisfying game mechanic.

Q: City builders usually feature some type of upgrades for the available buildings. Can players look forward to advancing their agricultural society towards a more industrialized community?

A: We are still in the middle of figuring out how advanced the buildings can get in the game. One thing we’re pretty certain about already is that players will be able to find old blueprints of a long-lost society. They were more technically advanced, so you will have some pretty high-tech buildings/machines to work with.

Stray Fawn Studio The Wandering Village - high-tech buildings can wait a bit, let's enjoy the view The Wandering Village - high-tech buildings can wait a bit, let's enjoy the view

Q: Your two previous games (Niche and Nimbatus) see the players tinker about with genetics and drone creation with little limitation. How did you evolve the concept for The Wandering Village?

A: My business partner and I visited an exhibition together and saw a gorgeous concept art featuring a city built on a giant creature. We faced each other and said at the same time: "I always wanted to make a game like that". After we pitched the idea to the rest of the team it became clear what our next project would be. We also have many people in the team who love city-builders. I took the lead of the project, as I did with Niche, and if you put me in charge of making a concept, chances are pretty high you will have a biology-inspired game. With Niche, the main topic was genetics and in the case of The Wandering Village, it’s symbiosis.

Q: When can we expect to see a demo for The Wandering Village?

A: Currently, our release date is set for Q4 2021, though we might decide to take some more time and release in early 2022. In this case, we’d like to participate in the Steam Winter Festival, where a demo would be available to play for everyone.

A massive thanks to Philomena Schwab and the rest of the Stray Fawn team! It was an absolute pleasure getting to know you and your upcoming game a bit better. 

You can now wishlist The Wandering Village on Steam.

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