Darkwind is a turn-based, 3D persistent-world multiplayer war game set in the near future, which combines the depth of detail inherent in turn-based games, with long-term strategic elements that keep the challenge going for months/years. The game is staged on a sparsely populated continent, one of the few surviving areas of civilization. The focus of the game is on vehicular combat - cars with guns - both in the wilderness and in man made arenas and racing circuits. Gameplay is split between a web interface (for strategic management) and a 3D interface which supports Windows and Mac OSX (for control of your characters and vehicles during a combat or race).
A disastrous solar event in 2019 and 2020 leaves the world devastated, with only small pockets of human survivors scratching out a living in a bleak, irradiated world. Largely fueled by the stockpiles of hardware left behind by a dead civilization combined with the desperation of a new world order, the gladiatorial deathsports begin, around 2035. The vast expanses of wilderness between the towns are menaced by gangs of road pirates armed with heavily armed cars and trucks, and traveled by equally well armed trade groups, making a living by carrying food, fuel, and other specialist equipment between the towns.
The turn-based nature of Darkwind makes it a very unusual, tactical driving game. The concept of turn-based racing is actually well established in a number of excellent boardgames that have been made over the last 40 years or so. Darkwind was inspired by these, most notably the Car Wars roleplaying boardgame, as well as films such as Mad Max. Darkwind is the only car game we know of that combines accurate physics with turn-based play. The race becomes purely about the tactics of entering and exiting corners, overtaking, and generally breaking down the nuances of driving. After all, real world professional racing is much more to do with tactics than reactions - just watch an F1 or Nascar race on TV. By making the game turn based we're letting the players all race more professionally, letting them battle it out tactically rather just seeing who's first to make some dumb mistake, which is what happens in most computer racing games. Another major reason for making Darkwind turn-based is to allow highly detailed rules and strategy: these things are not possible in real-time games. Players need time to assign orders to their characters, vehicles and weapons. It's a totally different experience to standard real-time car games. Think of it as a massively-multiplayer board game: you have time to chat, you have time to smack-talk, you have time to watch each others moves as well as your own. You win by having good strategy and tactics, not by having the best reactions.
Darkwind is best described as a war game due to its extremely detailed rules for combat, vehicle modifications, character injuries and morale, fame and reputation, as well as its detailed behind-the-scenes simulations which define the in-game trade economy and on-the-road piracy levels as a direct response to player actions.
The leagues and ladders that are staged in the town racing circuits and arenas form one of the main gameplay elements. In the leagues, you compete over a 12 week (one game year) period to win fame and fortune in races, deathraces (racing with guns allowed) and arena combats. In the ladders, you challenge other players on specific racetracks using specific cars, and earn points for each victory.
Many of the aspects of Darkwind run to a real world timescale. It takes days or weeks for your characters to heal from their injuries; it takes hours or days to repair/upgrade your vehicles, and it takes hours to travel between towns. This makes your strategic decisions carry real importance, and gameplay aspects such as trading take real time and effort, which allows them to work properly as part of the dynamic economy. It also takes months of in-game training and use for a character to become an expert in any of the various character skills such as driving, gunnery, mechanic, or scouting. That's is, assuming they manage to live that long.
Using the town mechanic shops as well as the player-run marketplace, you buy and customize vehicles of various types: economy subcompacts, saloons, muscle cars, trucks and vans. You define the armor, engine and weapons in them, and carry our repair work when they are damaged. The types of weapon include guns, missile launchers, ballistic weapons, melee weapons such as mounted spikes, and dropped weapons such as mine layers and smokescreens. The weapons have detailed statistics underlying them: recoil, close range and ranged accuracy, damage factors, psychological 'fear factors', ammunition, and so on. The availability of hardware in the markets is a carefully balanced gameplay factor - if wilderness pirates are not kept under control, for example, then rare chassis types and weapons will not be easy to find. Lucrative professional race, deathrace and combat events are also available to gangs who own their own cars.
One of the main gameplay elements revolves around travel and combat in the wilderness between the towns. Here the stakes are raised: you risk your own vehicles, characters' lives, and any valuable trade or courier goods you may be carrying. But you can also rapidly gain fame and accumulate looted hardware from your defeated adversaries (who may be either computer-controlled or player-controlled). Wilderness actions are performed by multi-player squads: by joining together, you can greatly increase your chance of survival.
A carefully developed economic model based on systems dynamic simulation ensures that the control and distribution of key resources unperpins a realistic, dynamic economy, providing real opportunities for trade to be used as a gameplay strategy, and control of key resources to be used as part of long term feuds and warfare. The actions of the player gangs and the victories and defeats of the computer-controlled pirate and trader gangs directly impacts the availability and cost of resources and vehicle hardware at each of the towns in the game. Lucrative trade routes are therefore not static but must be continually devised and modified.
Darkwind has a great community whose main aim is to have fun in a friendly and pleasant atmosphere. The Darkwind Gazette is a community-driven newspaper that has recently started.
Darkwind is under continuous development and we are adding gameplay features all the time. The player community is actively involved in this process. The major features that we are currently working on are: characters on foot (rather than inside their vehicles), and player-owned camps and factories.
Without paying anything, you can compete in Darkwind's race, deathrace and combat leagues and ladders. A very reasonably priced subscription is also available (15 euro for 3 months, 25 euro for 6 months, 45 euro for 12 months), which obtains you additional gameplay features: