« This tin can hurtling through space »: Outer Wilds developers talk about camping, space exploration, and making & breaking things
Outer Wilds is a difficult game to define beyond mentioning that you hurtle across space in a tin box as you seek to understand what is going on. Everything else is shrouded in mystery and hidden behind spoiler tags. Upon release, the title was heralded as one of the best video games ever made, with a plethora of nominations and awards, including a BAFTA for Best Game in 2019.
I recently had the good fortune to engage with Alex Beachum, creative director of Outer Wilds, and Loan Verneau, designer of Outer Wilds. I took the opportunity to pick their brains regarding all sorts of things related to the exploration title – the importance of music, the existential crisis, their favorite planets and more.
Alex Beachum and Loan Verneau talk about the inspiration, influences, and developmental journey in bringing Outer Wilds to life
It kind of fits with the idea of all of the details are focused around important locations. With all of the empty spaces in between, we tried to keep it fairly mundane. This was to focus your eye on things like, here is a place that you want to find something in.
We tried to make this a consistent thing throughout the game and music and audio helped a lot.
Angshuman: When I first played the game, I got reminded of the concept of musica universalis, which says that the movement of the spheres in the sky has their own music. In Outer Wilds, when you look at these planets with your Signalscope, you hear their music and if all of them line up together, all the instruments overlap. That was a brilliant touch from you all.
Alex: One of my favorite things we patched into the game was that the travelers stop playing when the supernova hits them. So, if you are way out into space, you can hear them all together and then stop playing one-by-one.