Here is another update from your favorite dentist! I thought I should talk a little bit about the genesis of our current project: Beacon 38.
Before it was a game, before it even was a prototype, it started on a whiteboard as a very simple concept: "To observe is to influence". Inspired by the observer effect both in physics and anthropology, the idea is that one cannot ignore its presence and the impact on the system it is observing. The act of looking itself is not impact-less. In physics, it is often due to the input of the photons sent into the system to observe it. As soon as the system is small enough, these photons can dramatically change its energy and state. In anthropology, not only is your simple presence, and example, affecting those you are studying, the knowledge of being observed can alone completely change their behavior.
Considering our passion for exploration in games, it is no surprise that this concept fascinates Alex and I. We decided to make two prototypes where the main mechanic would be observation and the twist, the impact. One of them was called "Skull".
The other one "Sonar".
Sonar had you thrown into a dark world, one you would need to reveal with a "sonar". Initially, you would reveal sources of fuel and obstacles to evade. But soon, creatures would start reacting to your sonar, hunting for you. As you understand their behavior, you start being able to direct them. Observation as the main mechanic, where to look is to act.
It wasn't really a game yet, but there was something to explore. Pun intended.
To be continued...
Masi Oka's name is traditionally linked with the television screen instead of the gaming screen, but the star of Heroes and Hawaii Five-0 has always had been drawn to the world of gaming. "I grew up loving games and am still a big gamer myself," said Oka, a former World of Warcraft guild officer. "I love creating things, and loved the idea of creating something from zero to product in a shorter span of time. Movies can take many years, sometimes tens of years from conception to finish, while games can be created in a fraction of the time."
Oka in fact worked as a digital artist at George Lucas' famed VFX house Industrial Light & Magic before stepping in front of the camera. Two years ago he decided to create Mobius Digital, a studio dedicated to exploring fun, quirky, innovative games with rich story worlds.
"When I was building my studio, I sought out talent at the USC Interactive Media and Games department demo day," Oka explained. It was there that he saw Outer Wilds for the first time. "It was love at first sight. The only game that really caught my eye and I found that I would want to play was Outer Wilds."
I've been chipping away at Outer Wilds in my spare time for what feels like an eternity (or at least something measurable on a geological time-scale), writing code by the flicker of candlelight* and occasionally updating the site in a vain attempt to reassure our fans that we haven't completely abandoned the project.
Well those days are over, because we're finally working on the game full-time at Mobius!
I am UNREASONABLY EXCITED about this, but I'll try to keep my use of all-caps to a minimum and fill you in on a few of the cool new things we're working on.
That's all for now, but this is just a taste, a morsel, a mini tea sandwich held together by sword-shaped toothpicks of what we have in store for Outer Wilds. I should probably get back to work, but we'll have plenty more to show in the coming months, so keep your eyes on the skies.
* possible dramatization
It would be a huge understatement to say that fuel is important in Beacon 38. Many a play-tester has lost more than a few scout ships traversing the darkness to find any lingering sign of a Fuel Flower. Actually, I do this quite often as well...
The point is, our old Fuel Flower design had a couple of hiccups in terms of it being accessible to players in the 38th dimension. The round light particles were not doing a great job of directing players to the actual source of any fuel they could gather. Sure, it looked pretty, but it also didn't meld too well with the aesthetic of later props and creatures since it was one of the first things I designed. Yay for art direction!
And so, a re-design was in order.
We here at Mobius are super excited to start on Outer Wilds. Since some Outer Wilds fans might be unfamiliar with our studio, we thought we'd give a brief rundown of the team and its history. Located in the Arts District of Los Angeles, Mobius was founded in mid 2013. Our core values are listed below, which Outer Wilds actually fits pretty darn well with--not surprising considering its creator works here!
We here at Mobius Digital are very proud to announce that we are beginning development to complete Outer Wilds, the 2015 IGF Grand Prize Winner. An alpha version of the game won top honors as well as Excellence in Design this March. The game lets players explore a universe both tiny & infinite, uncovering alien wonders and oddities, searching for the answers to the unknown mysteries that seize their solar system.
The creative core that made Outer Wilds will continue to be at the heart of creative development at Mobius. Creator Alex Beachum has been a designer at Mobius since early 2014, and we'll be retaining the same level designer, composer, writer, and other integral members from prior development.
Outer Wilds began as Alex Beachum's student thesis project at USC, and grew into an award-winning phenomenon as a labor of love that Alex worked on in his off-hours. At Mobius, Outer Wilds will get the full-time, full-team dedication and resources it needs to be completed. The Mobius Digital blog will have some updates, but our mailing list will be the main source for the most up-to-date Outer Wilds information.
We here at Mobius are very excited to begin development on Outer Wilds and see this amazing, wondrous game to completion. Expect more updates soon!
Updates on our games, our process, and the joys of being Mobius Digital.