tow­ers may be Sen­si­ble Ob­ject’s great­est chal­lenge. They must stack well, but not so se­curely that tow­ers rarely fall, and they need to be suit­able for mass man­u­fac­tur­ing. The game’s dif­fi­culty and flow ex­ists within those pieces’ fi­nal phys­i­cal form. As such, the an­i­mal, el­e­ment and abil­ity blocks are un­der­go­ing con­stant pro­to­typ­ing, and their var­i­ous it­er­a­tions litter Sen­si­ble Ob­ject’s stu­dio space. Many are marked with neat pen lines, as the de­sign team play cos­metic sur­geons dis­sect­ing their ab­stract an­i­mal creations. Else­where, ideas like the po­ten­tial to in­cor­po­rate soft Plush-style crea­tures abound. “I think of the pieces as be­ing like a chaotic Lego,” ex­plains com­pany founder and CEO Alex Fleet­wood. “They are de­signed to be in­ter­est­ingly weird to play with and put to­gether.” im­me­di­ately im­pact­ing the evo­lu­tion of the dig­i­tal world the player-gods co-gov­ern. And on the next turn the de­mands of starv­ing species on­screen may very well force the evo­lu­tion of the tower’s con­struc­tion. In Fab­u­lous Beasts, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween phys­i­cal forces and pix­els is ever po­tent, and it’s made the game a dar­ling of crowds at nu­mer­ous game ex­pos.

But while Sen­si­ble Ob­ject is a rel­a­tively new en­tity, Fab­u­lous Beasts has been around some­what longer. Alex Fleet­wood is the stu­dio’s founder and CEO, hav­ing spent time at Hide&Seek, the ac­claimed UK out­fit that spe­cialised not only in videogames, but in de­sign­ing for play in real-world spa­ces. Af­ter Hide&Seek’s clo­sure, Fleet­wood spent some time in ru­ral re­flec­tion.

“I came out of [Hide&Seek] want­ing to really fo­cus on one project, and set things up in a sus­tain­able way,” Fleet­wood ex­plains. “I went camp­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia for a bit, made lots of fires, looked at the stars, saw a few bears, that kind of thing. And I think in a way that does all feed into this game that we’re making. Fal­low pe­ri­ods can be quite good for the brain. You do need to let it all sink in some­times.” Some of Fleet­wood’s re­flec­tion cen­tred on a Hide&Seek cre­ation named Blocks, and an idea that just wouldn’t go away. A purely phys­i­cal game used as an in­stal­la­tion pro­mot­ing PlaySta­tion Move, Blocks saw play­ers stack­ing cubes, pair­ing sym­bols on their sides.

“There was some­thing about that game,” Fleet­wood re­mem­bers.

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