We’re here with more progress updates and answers to your questions, so let’s get started!
Where is Masi Oka in the ‘Outer Wilds’ production?
Masi is still very much part of Outer Wilds. In addition to being the owner and founder Mobius Digital, he is our Executive Producer. Though he’s very busy at times outside of Outer Wilds, he still makes time to stop by the office to check in with production and occasionally teach a team building improv lesson!
Executive Producer, Masi Oka, leading a few improv games with the crew.
Doesn’t the Wanderer also need final art?
The Wanderer does indeed still need final art, but it is currently undergoing some tweaks before that can happen.
Which bi-weekly did we mean?
As all of you have probably gathered by now, we will be posting development updates every two weeks.
We’ve had a couple of playtests since our last update, so let’s dive right in and see what we’ve learned.
The good news is, the game is still as fun as ever! All of our playtesters enjoyed traversing the Solar System and discovering the mysteries of Outer Wilds. We put a lot of work into making the game feel grand and open and we love seeing players explore the worlds that we created.
However, now we are dealing with the issue of our Solar System being too grand. One of the problems we are currently facing is how overwhelming the game is for some players. The Solar System is so much fuller than the alpha with each planet having it’s own unique structures, terrain, and mysteries.
Which brings us to another issue; clues. Outer Wilds is filled with clues that guide the player around the Universe. However, some of these clues are not registering with the player as obviously as we’d hoped. This was to be expected to some degree. One of our main goals of these playtests was to see how players would react to these clues in the greater context of the game and adjust content accordingly.
But fret not! Because of these playtests we now know that some clues need a bit more polish. We will do this mostly through level design tweaks and narrative iterations. And for those players that felt overwhelmed, we are currently smoothing out surface interactions to prevent players from getting lost as easily. That’s all for this playtest update. We are still playtesting every week, so we’ll have more feedback in the next update!
Playtester, Naomi, playing Outer Wilds.
Over the past few years, few systems have evolved as much as the Ship Damage System.
In the alpha demo, the damage system had always been designed as a stopgap system until we could implement something better. The ship was originally made of four different parts and an overall health. When colliding with something at too high a speed, it would damage whichever side of the ship was closest to the impact and reduce the ship health accordingly. If you took too much damage, the ship would explode. Repairing the parts of the ship would also heal the ship.
Original ship damage display from the Alpha. Ship suffers damage as a whole.
However, this system did not encourage the player to repair their ship unless damage was done to the front, where the damage visual effects reduced cockpit visibility.
With Outer Wilds at Mobius, Alex started testing different versions of distributing damage. Our first attempt involved deactivating the thrusters if they took damage. This in turn made the ship harder to pilot and forced the player to go outside and repair the ship. Unfortunately, this proved to be far too challenging for the players to manage and would cause the player to either abandon their ships or simply lose control and die.
Then when our art team started working on the player ship, we realized that with improved visual fidelity, we could build a “real” ship. Every tool and system could now be physically built in. We began incorporating physical objects like the landing camera or fuel tank that you could damage individually.
Ship damage display during development. Landing gear, landing camera, headlights, auto pilot, and cockpit window are shown damaged.
Land too hard and your landing camera will break. Crash your cockpit into a wall and the headlights will break. Run into an electric field and your ship’s lights and computers go haywire. The diversity and specificity of the damage now make the ship feel more real, more fragile and help ground spaceflight into Outer Wilds.
Kelsey Joins Us in LA
In a game about exploration, the narrative is one of the driving forces that compel the player to go in certain directions. There is a careful balance between wanting to explain things clearly and not revealing too much.
Recently to aid in production, Writer, Kelsey Beachum began working in house. Kelsey has been doing an amazing job creating an air of mystery and intrigue through her writing. And now that she’s working in the office for a month, we will be able to evolve the narrative and tweak dialogue much more quickly in response to playtest observations and design modifications. We are very excited she’s here and we’re looking forward to the month we have with her!
Writer, Kelsey Beachum at the Mobius Office.
That’s All For Now!
Thanks for tuning in this week! We’ll be back next time with more playtest reviews, development insights, and a summary of October production.
Also don’t forget to leave any questions below and we’ll try to answer them in the next update.
Hey everyone! The next development update has been long overdue so let’s kick it off with a brief look at what the Outer Wilds team has been up to for the past few months.
In our last development update, we announced that Giant’s Deep had been finished. In the time since then, the team has been making great progress on the rest of the Outer Wilds solar system.
Along with Giant’s Deep, Timber Hearth’s and the Hourglass Twins’ construction has also been completed. All planets will still be undergoing small tweaks with prop placement based off further testing but no additional art assets will be required. In the meantime, our art team has moved on to finalizing the construction on Dark Bramble and the mysterious Quantum Moon.
3 out of 5 planets have been completed. Dark Bramble and the Quantum Moon are up next!
We have officially moved into weekly playtests for the meta-game! It has been such an amazing and educational experience watching players explore Outer Wilds without us needing to give them directions. In addition, this process has allowed us to find many more bugs and provided us with insight into which places players are more likely to explore first. As a result, we have been refining the narrative and altering the difficulty level of certain areas based off player feedback and our own observations.
Laura (the Intern) playtesting the game in between writing updates.
Last month Lead Artist, Alena, finished the player ship! In the next update, we’ll be talking about how the player ship has evolved, the many new ways you can break said ship, and what we’ve learned through our latest playtests.
Updates on our games, our process, and the joys of being Mobius Digital.