Outer Wilds creator, Alex Beachum, left for a couple of days to go see the eclipse. Let's take a moment to ask him about it.
Loan Verneau: So how far did travel to see the eclipse?
Alex Beachum: I have no idea. That’s actually a good question. I flew to Chicago [from Los Angeles], drove to Saint Louis and because Saint Louis was going to be cloudy, we drove to Tennessee.
L.V.: What did the eclipse look like?
A.B.: The Eclipse looked like the Sun had turned into a massive black hole, with a corona around it. It looked like an eye! It looked like the Sun’s evil twin had shown its face or like the Sun had shown its true face. And I understand why ancient people thought the world was ending because that would be an appropriate reaction if you didn’t know what was happening.
L.V.: What did it feel like?
A.B.: Hmmm… Well 17-15 degrees chiller. [chuckles] I have been working on such systems for so long, getting to see something like that in the real world that illustrates these concepts in a very clear way is really cool. It was the coolest natural phenomena I have seen.
L.V.: Did it inspire you for Outer Wilds?
A.B.: Yes it inspired one very specific idea for quantum stuff in a very roundabout way that we can’t talk about… Because we don’t want people to figure it out on their own. But it was very appropriate to see the solar eclipse the week I am working on the end of the game.
L.V.: Do eclipses play a role in Outer Wilds?
A.B.: Eclipses happen all the goddamn time in Outer Wilds! And it’s great because it really illustrates eclipses. The actual eclipse is really cool because it forces you to think of the moon and the sun as these physical things that exist in actual space and in relation to each others and not as just these things that are always in the sky. Outer Wilds does that aggressively because everything is so small and moving so quickly and because you can actually of course move between them. So I guess eclipses are way less special in some ways in Outer Wilds because you don’t need them to make you think that way because the whole game forces you to think that way. But it’s cool to see them happen in Outer Wilds and be able to go out and see why they are happening and know that the same general concepts apply in the real world. Just more more slowly… The transit time on Timber Hearth is like a couple of seconds instead of two minutes.
As you heard in our previous update, we recruited a new concept artist, Ian, to help us finish the game. For her last day as an intern here at Mobius Digital, Katherine took some time to interview him about his new job and the creation of Nomai Architecture.
Katherine Wang: What’s your daily routine like?
Ian Jacobson: Get in an hour early, load up preference images and do some warm up drawings. I’ll usually have something from yesterday to show Alex, Wesley & co. That little meeting usually sets up for what I’m going to do later that day. For example, I’ll show them some iterations of wall designs and they’ll give me some pointers. Maybe they’ll like Figure 1 more but really like this little design from Figure 4 and ask me to put those two together. From there, I work the rest of the day improving and re-iterating that design.
K: What sort of inspiration do you use when working on Nomai Architecture?
I: I look at a lot of ancient ruins and culture, like Ancient Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, or Africa. I look for the colors and designs that they do and put them in a makeshift Pinterest folder that kind of acts like my art reference board.
K: A lot of the material and colors were already decided by the time you joined the team - did that make it easier or harder for you?
I: Both. Definitely both. Sometimes it can be easier because designing things can be a lot harder when there’s no restrictions and everything is open - it’s the curse of too many choices. You can go in a million directions and any of them can be valid so having kind of a course already established definitely helps narrow down the focus.
But it’s also a challenge when it gets to the technical aspects of it. We have a lot of grey box stuff already designed and it already has its own essence. Taking that and trying to put a cool and unique twist on it is what makes it challenging. It’s not something I’ve had to do before but it’s really cool and fun to try something new!
K: You’ve been asked a few times to make things “more Nomai” - how would you describe something as being “more Nomai”?
I: I’m still learning what that means more and more everyday [nervous laughter]. In my mind, the Nomai definitely use a lot of geometric, mathematical shapes in their design so I focus on intricate pattern work. I often pull from Ancient Mesoamerica and sometimes even Grecian designs. It has to be sophisticated with interesting patterns and designs but the materials they use is a bit more crude. It’s not sleek metal. It’s ancient rocks and stonework. So it’s smoothly blending the sophisticated designs with such archaic materials. The Nomai also liked color so I try to include a lot of muted, bright colors into the architecture.
We finally made our last hire for the art team and we are doing great progress with final visuals for the Hourglass Twins. It is very exciting for us to have a full team, moving forward towards locking content in at a steady pace.
So here is the final member to join our office here in Downtown Los Angeles!
"Hey there! My name is Emily and I work on 3D environment art for games. It's hard to describe myself because I'm into a wide range of topics; I'd like to say I'm one of those people who knows a little about a lot. It's exciting working with the team on such a cool variety of things being developed. Cheers!"
In celebration of completing our team, I thought I would post a quick Hearthian comic strip:
Updates on our games, our process, and the joys of being Mobius Digital.