Recently, we here at The Reticule got the chance to pose some questions to Kyle and Ron. Or, to be more accurate, we crushed them under a veritable cavalcade of questions. Now who’s 2D, huh? They were so overwhelmed that they had to flee to Europe at one point to escape the madness. Fortunately they found the time to answer our probing questions, and in this first part of the interview we all talk about the game at the heart of it all, World of Goo.
Please think of this as an early Christmas present.
The Reticule – The music in World of Goo is something which has been mentioned time and time again as being awesome, how on earth did you manage to get such good music in the game? Are there any plans to release a soundtrack? I know that plenty of people would be interested in something like this.
Kyle: Thanks! I wrote two of the songs specifically for World of Goo – the Main Theme, and Ode to the Bridge Builder. The other tracks are excerpts from songs I’ve written over the past few years for various projects. They are very dramatic, which somehow worked ok combined with cartoon art and screaming Goo Balls. I’m thinking of putting out a soundtrack soon for free, or maybe optional donation with proceeds going to charity or something.
TR – How important was the role played by sites such as Rock, Paper, Shotgun and other blogs? Also what impact did winning two IGF awards have on the game?
Ron: A little while ago we plotted the number of sales we got on each day from the day the game first became available for pre-order until the day it launched. Every sales spike corresponded to positive attention from the gaming press. No press? No sales. It’s only through the passion and excitement that guys like you have sewn for the game that the word spreads. Winning IGF awards helped us in discussion with publishers, but didn’t generate very many sales.
TR – How did you go about spreading the word of World of Goo so that there would actually be people to buy it?
Kyle: I think Fisty the Frog is one of the only reasons anybody knows about World of Goo. He’s the big depressed frog with the huge eyes and goo crawling out of his mouth. From very early on, he unintentionally became the game’s mascot. His screenshot is used any time someone mentions World of Goo in blogs and articles. Fame is nice, but he hopes to one day meet his friend Misty.
TR – Have you learned anything unexpected about World of Goo’s hugely positive critical reception?
Ron: Yes. A game that the press get excited about will do well, but without a big marketing machine behind it, 9 out of 10 gamers still won’t know it exists.
TR – What is your favourite thing about the game, you can only choose one thing mind.
Kyle: Chapter 4. It is the in-game equivalent of the almost-mental-breakdown at that point in development when we thought we would never finish. The important lesson here was to stop obsessing so much, stop following self imposed “rules”, and start being more fabulous and liberated.
TR – I got a feeling that you were trying to make a statement about the world today with the story in game, what was your intention with the story in the game?
Kyle: World of Goo is just a silly physics game. There were no subversive themes that snuck past the ratings boards.
TR – What is your favourite type of Goo and what is your favourite level?
Kyle: Beauty Goo is my favorite. If she were a human, people would tell her she is pretty all the time and she would say things like “thanks so much” while she looks for someone better to talk to on the other side of the room, and as she walks away, she leaves a trail of perfume and broken men.
TR – Was the game technically difficult to make? The physics work so well, how did you manage to implement that system?
Ron: It took a lot of work to complete the game and to playtest and to tune it so that even people who never played a game before could jump right in, but this game doesn’t break any new ground in the software development realm. For physics, we used an open source engine called ODE which worked really well for us.
TR – I know the community has started working on a level editor, is this something you plan on doing too?
Ron: We’ll do whatever we can to support the modding community, but we’re not planning on making a level editor ourselves.
Kyle: The community are amazing. They also translated the game into a bunch of languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Dutch. We ended up using the community translations for our brand new European releases of the game. They were able to maintain the humor and spirit of the game. I just hope nothing naughty snuck in.
TR – You have made some mention to a couple of people regarding the mysterious 6th “Moon” Chapter; will this ever be released and what was it all about?
Ron: Originally, there was a plan to release World of Goo as a retail game for both Wii and PC in Europe, and to support the higher price needed for a retail release we were going to add a 6th chapter, called “The Moon”. There was an outcry about the price difference and the release schedule from European gamers and we decided to change course by releasing the game sooner, at a lower price, and without the 6th chapter.
Kyle: The Moon was a prequel to World of Goo, taking place “one year ago” when World of Goo Corporation was a brand new Web 2.0 startup company, and they decided to monetize the Moon by making it ad-supported with community features. Eventually they detonate the moon, and replace it with M.O.O.N. 2.0, a giant ball of homogenized glowing/flickering Goo Balls, to create a giant hi-definition LCD panel in the sky for displaying important animated marketing messages to the World of Goo down below. The plot is told through a love story, involving “The Architect” who changes jobs at the end, and becomes one of the characters we meet in World of Goo.
TR -How is work going on the profanity pack?
Kyle: I hear reports that the original Tower of Goo was possibly filled with profanity too. We might never know!
TR – Has your partnership with Steam paid dividends? What has it been like working with the Valve guys?
Ron: Valve have been great to work with. Jason Holtman and Jason Ruymen in particular have been very helpful. World of Goo did well on Steam and to any developer putting out a PC game, I would highly recommend contacting Valve and trying to get the game on Steam.
Why don’t you check back tomorrow, there may be another suprise then for you all..while I am still here, seasons greetings to all our North-Eastern European readers.