Outer Wilds  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Outer Wilds  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Interview: 8 Questions with Creative Director and Producer of Mobius Games, Developer of Outer Wilds https://www.gameskinny.com/1am89/interview-8-questions-with-creative-director-and-producer-of-mobius-games-developer-of-outer-wilds https://www.gameskinny.com/1am89/interview-8-questions-with-creative-director-and-producer-of-mobius-games-developer-of-outer-wilds Sat, 05 Sep 2015 17:30:01 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

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As it stands now, Outer Wilds has achieved almost 90% of its initial funding goal with just under two weeks to go. In the time that I have played the Alpha, it is immediately apparent that the amount of care and detail put into the game is dwarfed only by its masterful design.

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A huge thank you to Alex Beachum and Avimaan Syam for taking the time out of their busy days to answer these questions.

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GS: Not to sound like a fanboy (too late), but how cool is it to work with Masi Oka on this project?

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Masi is a very cool, creative boss but also skilled in the worlds of business entertainment. He knows what works in art & technology and he's very giving--just this last Monday he ran us through an improv session!

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GS: When all is said and done, how do you want people to remember Outer Wilds?

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Alex Beachum: I’d be happy if people simply remember it as “that game where you roast marshmallows in space”. What I really hope is that it inspires people to explore the real world (whether that means space or the bottom of the ocean or the human mind or whatever) simply for the sake of curiosity. By which I mean c’mon space programs of the world, Europa’s not going to explore itself!

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GS:  What are you most proud of about Outer Wilds?

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Alex Beachum: I’m extremely proud that we succeeded in making an open-world exploration game that avoids giving players explicit missions or quests, yet doesn’t feel aimless. Instead of telling players what to do, we simply hint at mysteries and places that exist elsewhere in the solar system and rely on their curiosity to do the rest. And what do you know, it actually works!

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GS: You've had the alpha build of Outer Wilds downloaded over 90,000 times (myself included). What has the gamer reception been like?

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Alex Beachum: Gamer reception has been overwhelmingly positive! Honestly, I’m happily stunned how much people have enjoyed playing the alpha, especially considering most of the narrative content hasn’t even been implemented yet. It’s also been a blast hearing about all of the crazy things players have tried (like outrunning the thing that happens at the end of the time loop, which I didn’t even know was possible).

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GS: A lot of people look at crowdfunding and don't really appreciate the amount of work it takes to prepare for a campaign. Talk about some of the challenges you faced in making sure you were ready.

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Avimaan Syam: It is exhausting, and there's no perfect way to do it. Planning rewards, creating videos, developing new content, editing text, etc. We were working on it for two months leading up to it, and even then everything changes once the campaign starts: you see what works and what doesn't. Based off some advice, we took the demo down because it's not an easy pick-up-and-play game. Two weeks later, we're rolling out a revised demo because people wanted a better feel and understanding of what they're signing up for. It's good, tough experience.

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GS: This game has won some pretty prestigious awards from the Independent Games Festival. Other big titles that have won this award went on to do some pretty big things (Minecraft, Fez, Papers, Please). Is there an added sense of pressure within the team to make sure the game lives up to those standards?

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Avimaan Syam: Winning that award really made us realize we had to finish the game and get it out there, for ourselves and for our fans. Finishing a game is a very hard process and challenge enough--we are grateful to be amongst such prestigious and awesome games, but we're mainly focused on making Outer Wilds as awesome as possible regardless of awards.

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GS: What has been the toughest part about about getting exposure for Outer Wilds?

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Avimaan Syam: Crowdfunding is in large part built around organizing a community to action. The community of players & fans that love Outer Wilds hadn't been previously brought together, so in a lot of ways this campaign is our way of building that community. That's a very difficult thing to do, but we've been learning a lot in the process about how to do it better.

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GS: I've played a lot of games, and I can safely say that I haven't seen anything quite like Outer Wilds. What would you define as the foundational pillars of Outer Wilds' design?

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Alex Beachum: We have three major design pillars that guide our creative decisions.

The first is “curiosity-driven exploration”, which is just a fancy way of saying that the sole purpose of exploration in Outer Wilds is to seek answers to questions you have about the world (e.g. “why am I stuck in a time loop?”) Of course it’s on us to make sure that you can actually discover the answers.

The second pillar is that “things change over time”. Space (the XYZ kind) is naturally a big part of most exploration games, but we wanted when you explore to matter just as much as where. Having planets that fall apart and hurtle around the Sun also feeds into that sense of fragility and insignificance that is so central to the idea of space exploration.

The third and final pillar is “backpacking in space”. The tone of Outer Wilds is largely inspired by that feeling you get sitting around a campfire at night looking up at the stars. Only in our version, you’re part of NASA and the campfire is on the moon.

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In my search to find my first (ever) game developer to interview, I took what I felt was a complete shot in the dark and reached out to Mobius Digital Games, developer of the upcoming open Solar System time-warp camping adventure, Outer Wilds. The game recently made headlines as the debut project for the brand new crowdfunding platform, Fig, and was already very popular amongst its followers - its Alpha build downloaded over 90,000 times.

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I was amazed and humbled that they agreed to answer a few questions from a rookie journalist, and I've picked their brains on the design fundamentals of the game and crowdfunding campaign.

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New crowdfunding platform, Fig, trying to revolutionize how we support game projects https://www.gameskinny.com/sjr59/new-crowdfunding-platform-fig-trying-to-revolutionize-how-we-support-game-projects https://www.gameskinny.com/sjr59/new-crowdfunding-platform-fig-trying-to-revolutionize-how-we-support-game-projects Sun, 23 Aug 2015 05:05:23 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

Over the last few years, Kickstarter's popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. It has served as a platform for up-and-coming game developers to get their names and ideas out on a large platform and gain deperately needed exposure and capital - all without having to reach out to a publisher that will ultimately take a large chunk of sales profits. On the flip side, Kickstarter has allowed millions of gamers both old and new to feel like they have discovered and contributed to the success of a game that could become the next big thing. Like a financial hipster, if you will.

The downside of current crowdfunding.

There is a growing perception that donators have evolved into a more mitigated form of financial risk.

As Kickstarter has grown in popularity, so has its pitfalls. More and more big-time developers have flocked to see what the crowdfunding craze is all about, and they've successfully raised some pretty significant amounts of money. As a result, there is a growing perception that donators have evolved into a more mitigated form of financial risk, since none of the funds generated actually come from a developer's own pockets. There is also a growing number of projects that have either failed to live up to expectations or failed to release at all - and donators don't really have a way to protect themselves in the event that something goes wrong. 

One of the (hopeful) solutions to that problem is Fig, a brand new crowfunding platform, headed up by a panel of industry and crowdfunding veterans. The panel includes Double Fine's Tim Schafer, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, inExile CEO Brian Fargo, and Indie Fund Partner, Aaron Isaksen.

What is Fig?

Fig's intention is to bring backers even closer to the projects they support by allowing them to become investors. Until June of this year, only accredited investors, people with a net worth of over $1 million, were allowed to invest in any sort of start-up company. This has now changed with a newly-approved sort of investment opportunity called Regulation A+. For now, Fig is only allowing accredited investors to participate, but the company "plans to open up investment opportunities to everyone in the near future," they said in a news release.

If you need a reason why something like Fig would be infinitely more beneficial to the backer, look no futher than the Oculus Rift.  In 2013, the VR headset raised over $2.4 million on Kickstarter but was sold to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Granted, there was nothing that said they couldn't sell the VR Headset to the social media giant, but this obviously did not go over well with many backers, who saw themselves as initial investors who would now end up with an obsolete product.

One backer, Carlos Schulte, voiced this very opinion on the Oculus Rift Kickstarter page

"I think I would have rather bought a few shares of Oculus rather than my now worthless $300 obsolete VR headset. What's two billion dollars amongst 9,522 friends? I'd be happy with my $300 back."

Why should anyone trust that Fig can do better?

Only one or two projects will be accepted per month, so (in theory) the process will be a lot more scrutinizing, hopefully mitigating the risk for investors and supporters.

Currently, Fig only has one game, Outer Wilds, that can be backed. And if its qualifications are any indication, it could very well be a lot tougher for projects to be accepted. Developers have to pitch their games to the advisory board, which then reviews everything and decides whether or not they will accept the project. 

Outer Wilds is a sci-fi camping adventure that began as a thesis project for the USC Games Program and won the Seamus McNally Grand Prize award at the Independent Games Festival, as well as the award for Excellence in Design. Just for reference, past winners have included Minecraft, Fez and Papers, Please, so you could say that it's kind of a big deal. 

If you are interested in supporting Outer Wilds or just want to check out Fig, you can head over to the website here.

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