Outer Wilds

Heat death time ma­chine



Well, this is new. We’ve played a lot of in­com­plete code, but never have we failed to get past the ti­tle screen be­fore. Ex­cept this is not a bug, and it’s no fault of Alex Beachum and Sarah Scialli’s, the duo head­ing up the devel­op­ment of Outer Wilds. We’re to blame. For 20 min­utes now, we’ve been star­ing at a wisp of smoke ris­ing from a camp­fire through a copse of trees on a hunk of rock that’s spin­ning through space. A softly plucked banjo phrase builds and builds, then drops away and starts up again. And again. And again. It’s per­fect.

Hap­pily, what we find when we fi­nally muster the strength to move on is pretty spe­cial too. We aren’t alone in this opin­ion: this hith­erto-un­known project from a young, hob­by­ist team caught the eye of the IGF judg­ing group and se­cured it­self nom­i­na­tions for both Ex­cel­lence In De­sign and the Seu­mas McNally Grand Prize, the most cov­eted award in indie gam­ing, past win­ners in­clud­ing ti­tles such as Fez, Minecraft and Pa­pers, Please.

“I was pretty flab­ber­gasted,” Beachum tells us. “We sub­mit­ted [ Outer Wilds] last year to the stu­dent IGF, and didn’t get in. Now, a year later with a slightly dif­fer­ent build, we’re in mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories. It’s like, ‘Whaaat?’” It’s an ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion given that Beachum, Outer Wilds’ cre­ative direc­tor, and Scialli, its pro­ducer, are try­ing to elicit much the same feel­ing from their game’s play­ers. Outer Wilds is, on first in­spec­tion, about lan­guidly ex­plor­ing the half-dozen plan­ets and moons in an alien so­lar sys­tem. We meet a man on a moon who ad­mits he has noth­ing much to do. At his in­struc­tion, we ad­mire the view from its north pole. We board our craft again and head back into space, spot­ting

Alex Beachum de­vised Outer Wilds for his Masters de­gree. Work­ing on the project along­side him is pro­ducer Sarah Scialli

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