Greetings from Outer Wilds Ventures! One of the big questions campers have had is how our previous titles relate to Outer Wilds, so we thought we’d gather y’all ‘round the fire for a good story about the games we make at Mobius Digital.
Our motto is “We make games wild and wonderful. Come explore with us.” We believe this rings through all our design: giving players only part of the map and asking them to discover what’s out there in the wild. That’s certainly true for the mobile game we’re just finishing, Beacon 38. The first core pillar of the game was “At its heart, this is a game of EXPLORATION.”
Beacon 38 puts players in an unseen alien dimension where they must use sonar pings to expose the flora and fauna of the world around them, but the underlying principle is "To Observe is to Influence." The world is constantly moving around the player, and they need to figure out what's going on rather than rushing head-on into danger, a mantra that works well for making it through the tightly constructed chaos of Outer Wilds.
In fact, the second pillar of Beacon 38 also sounds like it could be written for Outer Wilds: "The player needs to feel TERRIFIED but EXCITED to traverse the space. The player can't help but wanting to know what's out there, even if they know it's danger." As Alex was Lead Designer of both, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise. The idea with both games and the worlds surrounding them is to give the feeling of an open-world game in a contained environment. Beacon is a shorter, mobile experience, but in some ways is more difficult--it has more Dark Souls in it (one of Alex's favorites).
Beacon 38 will be available in the next couple of weeks on the App Store and Google Play, so keep your eyes open! We also wanted to detail our first game, Terra Chroma, which might look very different than its space-themed descendants but carries some interesting commonalities.
Terra Chroma's core mechanic (see gif below) requires the player to use different Tetris puzzle pieces to navigate a landscape in a set number of moves--the pieces affect the landscape as well, so the player must plan their moves in advance. The further the player gets in the game, the more complex the systems they must get past, though they can upgrade the type and number of puzzle pieces they have each turn.
While Terra Chroma has a brighter world and more linear story adventure, the game itself had a few important parallels with Outer Wilds and Beacon. Like many jRPGs from the 8-bit era, Terra Chroma never tells you exactly where to go and allows you to engage in as many puzzles as you want. It has that Zelda-like feel of allowing you to go any way you want, even if it's the wrong way.
And despite a nice tutorial, there's a lot of secrets to the gameplay that a player only comes upon by accident, though not by accidental design--Loan + Alex have always pushed the players to learn through discovery.
Having completed these two mobile games, we're excited to move into 3D development and back into a strong engine like Unity. Though the mobile market has its own constraints, I hope y'all can see how there's a lot of overlap in what inspired Alex to make Outer Wilds in what inspired us to make Terra Chroma and Beacon 38. If you like Outer Wilds and you have a mobile device, do check them out on the App Store or Google Play!
Updates on our games, our process, and the joys of being Mobius Digital.