Ex­plode into life

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Black Tusk’s visual-ef­fects artist switches weapons for saplings

Black Tusk’s weapons ex­pert branches out

Stu­art Maxwell’s

day job in­volves cre­at­ing visual ef­fects at Mi­crosoft’s Black Tusk Stu­dios, which has taken up the reins of the Gears Of War se­ries. But con­stant ex­po­sure to ex­plo­sions, weaponry and war zones has pushed his per­sonal project, Shape Of The World, in a very dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

“For seven years now, I’ve been blow­ing things up in triple-A games,” Maxwell tells us. “I’ve been dy­ing to build a game where things just grow. It’s nice to come home and build up a world that doesn’t want to kill you!

“I’ve been watch­ing truly stylised and beau­ti­ful games slowly emerge onto the scene, with leg­ends like Flower and Limbo mak­ing a state­ment that’s been res­onat­ing with me for a long time.”

In PC game Shape Of The World, which Maxwell is work­ing on along­side creature de­signer Athomas Gold­berg and audio de­signer Brent Silk, you ex­plore a world made up of dis­tinct re­gions. Each step you take grows the surreal land’s flora around you. You will also en­counter a va­ri­ety of in­dige­nous life­forms along the way, as well as dif­fer­ent weather and times of day.

“[The game] is de­signed to en­cour­age the player to ex­plore and get a lit­tle dis­ori­ented,” Maxwell says. “Since the for­est only grows when you en­ter it, you can’t see where you’re go­ing in ad­vance. There’s al­ways a sur­prise ready to pop up in front of you.”

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