Shape of the World, A Game You Should Know About
You might have noticed that there's quite a few video games coming out this year and next. Amidst big-hitting names like Fallout, Uncharted, Halo, and Battlefront, it can be very easy for smaller titles to get lost in the shuffle. That's why we sat down with Stu Maxwell of Hollow Tree Games to discuss his upcoming game, Shape of the World.
Shape of the World is a very unique game that is currently in development for PS4, Xbox One and PC, and in need of a little more funding on its Kickstarter. As mentioned previously, the game is one of a kind. That's fairly hard to imagine without seeing it in action, which is why you should check out the video below and see it for yourself.
Maxwell, the lead developer for the game, described it like this:
"It's the exploration game where the world grows around you. In each level, you'll see a final goal, but I do my best to distract you away from the path. After all, the journey is always more enjoyable than the destination."
As you can see in the video, Shape of the World is a beautiful game that is reminiscent of The Unfinished Swan and Proteus, both fantastic games that pushed the boundaries/preconceptions of what games can be. And that's exactly what Shape of the World aims to achieve. It's a game that doesn't just feature exploration, it lives by it.
Maxwell went on to explain how his childhood and personal influences largely influenced the game and its emphasis on exploration:
"There's a lot of games that use exploration as a feature, but rarely the focus. For me, having the freedom to explore and get lost has been a serious part of my life ever since my parents let me wander in a gigantic castle-style hotel in the Rocky Mountains called the Banff Springs Hotel. I don't think parents let their children roam free anymore, but it was a pivotal part of my childhood to experience the pleasure of running through a labyrinth of a hotel until I no longer knew which direction would take me back to my room. It's this experience of getting lost, in a pleasurable way, that drives me to build this experience."
As impressive as the procedullary generated world is, the art style of the game is what immediately catches your eye; the wonderfully surreal color palate and constantly building world make Shape of the World feel like a sequence of dreams. Stu Maxwell commented on the importance of color in the game.
"When I started this game, I was obsessed with motion graphics and minimalist vintage Disney art. I think it's amazing when you can get the feeling of a place using only colors and shapes. I've found that high-resolution textures don't add to the emotional appeal of an image nearly as much as good colors."
On an incredibly intriguing, and exciting, note, Shape of the World is also being designed for virtual reality as well as current consoles and PC. The game was only recently announced for PS4, an opportunity that Maxwell confirmed came at E3 this year. Having the game on all systems is great for everyone but it's the decision to have the game in VR that is truly exciting.
"One of the most common things we heard was: 'Wow, this would look amazing in VR!' You can't deny it - VR seems like a perfect fit. And I happen to have a VR expert on the team (Athomas Goldberg) who really wanted to push it, and without warning he got the game running with Oculus Rift. So we took a look at his tests and decided there's no way we're not doing VR. It's just too good to pass up."
Indeed the prospect of navigating a procedullary generated world with a very trippy art style is one that fits perfectly with VR. Traversing at your own pace and seeing the world grow before you is an experience that could be very relaxing and potentially better on VR than regular console/controller.
As mentioned previously, Hollow Tree Games took Shape of the World to E3 this year and had a great response from the gaming community.
"E3 was incredible! My audio guy Brent Silk was there to demo the game to a constant stream of players and we both came away from the event so charged. There's been a ton of excitement and positive feedback which really gives us confidence that we're on the right path."
Shape of the World is a very relaxing game that can be played at your own pace, which could be hard to demo at a convention like E3, but Maxwell said it made for a nice change of pace for gamers.
"E3 is such a gong show of bright lights and action, and it seemed to be a bit of an oasis for people to stop by our booth, put on the headphones, and zone out in our meditative game. I watched as people calmed down after a few minutes in our game, which is exactly what a walk in an abstract, growing forest should do."
Shape of the World is a beautiful-looking game made by a very small team. It gets rave previews by any outlet that gets its hands on it; Destructoid, Polygon, Rock, Paper, Shotgun have all sung its praises. And yet it's still in need of some funding via Kickstarter. Ahead of the most crucial time in the game's development, Maxwell said:
"With 5 days left on the Kickstarter, every pledge counts."
If you like what you see and ever want to own the game on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Oculus Rift, help the team reach its goal!