1. World of Goo won in the Best Downloadable Game category at the Game Developer Choice Awards last night! It was a marvelous end to an incredible year for us. World of Goo was up against four fantastic indie games: Braid, Castle Crashers, N+, and Pixeljunk Eden. My hat off to Jonathan, David, everyone at The Behemoth, Raigan, Mare, and the guys at Slick, and Dylan and Q Games. You guys are amazing.
2. A bunch of people have asked for the slides I used in my IGS session, so here they are. Some of the slides don’t make a lot of sense without my commentary, so if you’re interested in this stuff I recommend you check out the video recording of this session when it becomes available (I was told it would be made freely available online soon).
3. World of Goo is part of the MacHeist 3 bundle, which is promotion running for another 12 days. In total, 12 Mac apps for $39 and 25% of your purchase price goes to the charity of your choice (Action Against Hunger, AIDS Research Alliance, Alliance for Climate Protection, Direct Relief International, Humane Society International, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Children, Save Darfur, Prevent Cancer Foundation, World Wildlife Fund).
the game developer’s conference is taking place here in san francisco this week. it was around this time last year that a spotlight first shone on world of goo, and it got me thinking about this past year and what an amazing ride it’s been. being a tiny little studio forces us to be in direct contact with the people who play the game, and though it can be stressful and demanding to handle all the tech support and random questions ourselves, standing so close to our audience also brought us the purest moments of joy — reminders that games can touch people, bring joy, and inspire. it’s particularly moving when this kind of thing involves kids.
THANK YOU, jack and celeste for your level designs (one day we will hire you!)
THANK YOU to aiden for the sweetest letter we’ve ever gotten!
and THANK YOU to everyone who’s written us with words of encouragement, funny stories, and entertaining notes. you helped two guys who worked their little butts off for two years feel really good about what they’ve done.
october 11, 2006. our baby is two months old! isn’t it cute?
notes from ron: now that the core mechanic is in place and the balls are juicy, focus has turned to adding some structure around the core mechanic. there’s a loading screen, a main menu, player profiles, a world map (just when you thought we were done with copyright infringement), and we’ve added the ability to put flash movies as cutscenes in between levels. you can also finish a level now and have that unlock the next level. before the pipe, we thought of the “exit” from each level as a mysterious animated vortex which at this point looks like an ugly spiral that a programmer would draw (sorry ’bout that). also, notice that the balls bounce when they hit the ground, another feel/experience enhancement that has no meaning for the game mechanic.
here’s a download link if you want to try for yourself. if you like digging around in files, you’ll see that we added an xml file that describes the order in which levels are played (<root>/res/worlds/default), that the main menu is itself a level (<root>/res/levels/MainMenu), and that we started working on a level editor (<root>/res/levels/LevelBuilderDefault), which we never got very far on.
Notes from Kyle: Man, this game sucks so far!
What is the game even about? What do the goo balls even look like? What are they climbing towards in each level? A spinning vortex? A bucket on a stick? (actually a possibility at one point) World of Goo Corporation didn’t exist yet, so we didn’t yet know there would be an international network of pipes, sucking goo out of each level! (more on that in the next edition)
But first – How are the levels arranged?
Are they presented as a list in a big menu and you get a little star next to each level when completed? (No, that would be underwhelming.) Maybe each level appears as a point on a map like Mario 3? (We eventually went more towards this direction.) Here are some menu options we were considering early on, and rolling on a bit into the future as we gradually discover the game’s eventual WORLDMAP->ISLAND->LEVEL layout, and … World of Goo Corporation.
Maybe the main menu would be like a casual game? Choose a button to start the game, some options, whatever? We eventually discarded this idea, because the text and buttons were too obviously removed from the fiction of the game:
What if the menu buttons were more a part of the world?
Hmm… Better, but still a bit too artificial.
Meanwhile, you can see below, we’re starting to get closer to the concept of a series of “islands”, each containing a series of “levels”. I wonder what ever happened to the giant rocket ship and the tentacle monster? The art style is getting a little better, but it is still too fluffy and innocuous, like something that would come out of an egg on Easter.
The center island was still something other than World of Goo Corporation – I don’t know what it was, but the idea here was that each “island”, when complete, would transmit some useful resource to the center island (like electricity, water, whatever) and when all 5 were connected, the light bulb would turn on, and then something would happen, and you win.
Another sketch, maybe with a little more terrain detail?
Meh. Too complicated. Too much stuff on one screen. Maybe if you click an “island” it will zoom into a more detailed island view?
You can see below (click to see higher res image), the idea of World of Goo Corporation is beginning to materialize. The last “island” was going to take place inside the corporation. And you can see there was a separate island for the sandbox building mode called “Tower of Goo Island”. It seems obvious now, but at this point, we had not considered merging World of Goo Corporation with the sandbox building mode:
The world is still too cluttered and confusing. And our logo sure sucked! But, when you click on an island, you go here! (click to enlarge) The world is starting to look a bit more familiar:
This flow of world->island->level seemed to work well. But how would we transition between them? Here’s an early prototype. (Notice a very early version of “Impale Sticky”!):
For comparison, here’s the final main menu (we went with a simple silhouette, where islands light up as you move over them), and final version of Island 1:
That’s all for now. “How we learned about pipes” in the next edition!