Could World of Goo be the first killer puzzle game to hit the Wii? The work of independent studio 2D Boy (duo Ron Carmel and Kyle Gabler), this physics-based puzzler began life as freeware title Tower of Goo, and quickly started to gather recognition. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Lemmings, it's a game that 2D Boy hopes will deliver "a gameplay mechanic they haven't seen before."
Over five chapters of between ten and fifteen levels each, players must use the titular Goo Balls to construct bridges, chains, towers and other structures to negotiate each level's terrain and rescue as many Goo Balls as possible. It's not always a case of having to build up, either. A number of levels require the player to build sideways, downwards, or in multiple directions, while outside-the-box thinking is often helpful. The environments also come into play (one level consists entirely of a rotating chamber), and different types of Goo Ball with varying properties pop up, keeping things fresh from level to level.
Being the lucky bloggers that we are, we recently got to take a demo of World of Goo for a spin, and found ourselves playing one of the most inventive, charming and amusing puzzlers in a while. Better still, we managed to hassle one half of 2D Boy, Ron Carmel, into giving us an interview. Hit the break to see what he had to say.
Firstly, it's probably worth mentioning that both yourself and Kyle have previously worked for EA. What inspired you both to leave that corporate background and strike out on your own as 2D Boy?
I think we fed off each other's enthusiasm to start something new, something that was ours, that we could do with as we please without deadlines or design documents or management approval. We must have gotten caught up in that because who quits a good job to start a game studio with someone they barely know? Kyle and I had met only a handful of times before we jumped ship. We're awfully lucky it worked out as well as it did.
World of Goo began life as freeware title Tower of Goo, but going back further still, what else influenced the concept? A common comparison made by people who have tried the game seems to be Lemmings -- is that accurate?
Yeah, absolutely. When we first thought of how to turn Tower of Goo from a toy into a game, Lemmings was the first thing that came to mind. It's one of my favorite games of all times. That's from a gameplay-mechanic perspective.
Another strong influence comes from the old Sierra adventure games (King's Quest, Space Quest, etc). Each screen in those games is its own beautifully crafted environment. It stands alone as something to be seen and played with, yet is connected to the rest of the world in a way that makes you feel like you have freedom to explore and experiment. We try to infuse that feeling of exploration and freedom into World of Goo.
Any news yet on whether the Wii version will be a retail release or distributed on Wii Ware?
Look for an announcement during the Game Developers' Conference next week!
Having dabbled with the PC version, this is a game that seems like a perfect fit for the Wii, what with the grabbing/pulling/pointing mechanics. At what stage in development did you hit upon the idea of a Wii version?
You know, as two guys with no budget and no jobs, we were only thinking about the PC at first. At some point last year, after we started getting a little buzz, a "guardian angel" from Nintendo contacted us about the game and all of a sudden it was completely obvious to us that it has to be made for Wii.
As of November, we've been joined by Allan Blomquist who is a Nintendo genius and one of the better programmers I've worked with (in his spare time, the guy wrote an NES emulator for PS2). In a little over a month he got the game up running on Wii. Kyle and I were amazed.
Visually, World of Goo is pretty unique. What kind of things (games or otherwise) influenced this?
Thanks, I wish I could take some of the credit for that, but it's all Kyle, I'm in awe of his creative talents. The most common comparisons we hear are to Tim Burton, Roman Dirge (Lenore), and LocoRoco, but basically, this is just what comes out of Kyle when he stays up until 4am and draws.
Will the Wii version have the same online functionality as the PC version?
There will be differences between the PC and Wii versions, the biggest of which is that the Wii will have a co-op multi-player mode. Online functionality will likely be the same, but we haven't finalized that yet.
Most of the Goo Balls we encountered in the demo were the standard black ones, but there were also other types of Goo Ball, such as the green Balls that can be used to both build and break bonds, meaning they can be reused. Are there other types of Goo Ball you can tell us about?
Each chapter will introduce one or two new types of Goo Balls. I'm dying to tell you about them but I don't want to spoil the surprise! I can just say that they're each as different from the common black balls as they are from each other.
How have you found the Wii hardware to work with? Has it been a quick or slow learning process?
Allan seems to have picked it up rather quickly. There have been quirks and annoyances along the way, but the people at Nintendo have been very supportive.
Which games have appealed to you personally so far on the Wii?
I'm almost embarrassed to say that Wii Sports has been the most fun for me so far, especially because I like to play with friends, and many of them don't normally play video games. I also really enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy and Elebits. Can I whisper World of Goo as part of my answer?
Finally, got anything else planned we should know about? Or is your future swamped in Goo?
We've come up with a whole bunch of ideas while working on World of Goo and we're keeping a list. There's nothing specific in the works yet, but after World of Goo ships we're going to spend a couple of months prototyping and playing around with these ideas. That might be where the concept for our next game will emerge from.