Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Poppermost Productions are now inviting players to apply for access to the Closed Beta version of "SNOW" – a stunning winter sports game that is striving to become the most authentic and in-depth interpretation of the real thing ever created.
As the winter weather continues to beckon millions of skiers and snowboarders to the slopes, one indie developer is about to welcome its own wave of new visitors to the whitewashed wonderland it has spent years painstakingly creating.
We last caught up with the studio on the eve of SNOW's arrival on Steam Early Access, back in autumn 2013. Since then, the game has evolved from its basic form into a more fully-fleshed out experience – one Poppermost believes has been infinitely enriched by the feedback of its first players.
Sign up for Closed Beta access to SNOW at www.snowthegame.com
"Watching people play the game was perhaps the most valuable asset for us," says Alexander Bergendahl, CEO at Poppermost Productions. "Having hundreds of videos of people riding down the mountain gave us a deeper understanding of how players interpreted the controls and approached navigating the terrain. At our early stage, having this behind the scenes look into our users' gameplay experience was extremely beneficial and allowed us to start improving the core gameplay immediately and make the mountain more approachable and interesting. An ongoing connection with our community has been a huge priority for us from day one and something we feel has been a key element to our success on Early Access."
If the team at Poppermost thought the game's initial progress would play out in relative obscurity, however, things changed midway through 2014 when SNOW was splashed across the screen at Sony's gamescom press conference in Cologne. Hailed from the stage as being among the very best upcoming indie games, SNOW was suddenly hot property, and also now established as having a future on PlayStation®4 as well as PC.
It was – and remains – a moment worth relishing for Alexander and his colleagues. "Announcing SNOW on the PS4 was both a milestone for us as a developer but also a statement of support from our community. Thanks to the backing of our fans, we were able to bolster the game’s development and have the opportunity to bring SNOW to consoles.
"Needless to say, the response from the announcement was overwhelming. There is clearly a demand for games in this genre on consoles, and we’re proud to be the ones filling that gap. Sony’s support has been incredible, especially seeing that we’re an indie developer publishing our own free-to-play title. Working with their dedicated free-to-play team to bring the game to their platform only makes us more excited for the release."
Created using CRYENGINE, SNOW's upcoming Closed Beta phase adds significantly to the gameplay experience but stays true to the core idea Poppermost first had for the title – an idea every bit as grand as the mountains new players will soon be conquering.
"SNOW is totally unique as it is the first game to truly recreate the experience of skiing," says Alexander. "We’ve painstakingly recreated the physics of the sports and handcrafted a massive open-world full of unique features and landmarks. We’ve been working with all the biggest brands, athletes and trend-setters to make sure this is the definitive game of the genre, so whether you’re a fan of the sport or simply interested in a new gaming experience, SNOW should have something for you.
"Our Closed Beta is the natural next step from Early Access. The game is at a point where it has a few game modes, solid core gameplay and enough hooks that will keep you coming back for more. Since our last major update we’ve added events, leaderboards and achievements. This launch is also the beginning of SNOW as a free-to-play title, which means that players will be able to purchase clothing and equipment to customize their character or events to compete in to prove their skills."
While players invited to be part of the Closed Beta will have more than enough to keep them busy in SNOW, Alexander says there's still an avalanche of fresh content in the offing; including an even more comprehensive multiplayer experience.
"What we’re launching with the Closed Beta will be a solid game but not a game with every feature present. We don’t necessarily see this as a negative, since in the world of free-to-play games, the game acts more like a service, and it isn’t always in the best interests of developers or consumers to have all features locked in place from the beginning. We look forward to adding new features during the Closed Beta period as well as during the Open Beta period near the end of the year. We intend to release the best possible version of the game for each of these milestones, and continuing to work with our community to build and fine tune all features throughout the Beta period."
Poppermost's emphasis on putting players first is evident as they discuss SNOW's development, and for Alexander, the growing interaction with community is rapidly becoming his favorite aspect of the project. "Personally, I’ve gotten a huge kick from seeing the amazing gameplay edits that members of our community have been filming, editing and uploading to our dedicated SHARE page. We’re seeing some serious skills and a huge amount of competition from our users and I’m excited to provide these users with more and more tools to enable them to make better and better edits. For example, we’ve been working on a replay mode that will allow users to rewind and replay their runs down the mountain and film from different camera angles. This will revolutionize the way our users can capture their riding - I can’t wait until it’s released together with Closed Beta!"
With the SNOW Closed Beta set to start in March, the team at Poppermost will have to wait a little longer for an eagerly-anticipated office trip to the slopes. But, as Alexander says, they're every bit as excited by the challenge of bringing the great outdoors into their game.
"Coming from Sweden means that we’re all used to the dark and cold winters, but it also means that we appreciate the season for its beauty, serenity and the overall Scandinavian atmosphere. Snow is such an interesting material – it covers everything equally with a pure white blanket and is equally beautiful in a bustling city or on a quiet mountaintop. When you combine snow with dramatic mountain vistas and the rush of rapid movement downhill, you’ve got a recipe for something great! It’s this thrill that keeps us hard at work and committed to creating a game that does justice to the unique experience of skiing in the great outdoors."
If you’re interested in supporting SNOW and taking part in the next stage of its development, you can sign up for a chance to join the Closed Beta at snowthegame.com. Alternatively, players who purchase the Early Access version will guarantee they are first on the slopes when Closed Beta begins in March.