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