GO YOUR OWN WAY
Why Sable’s sumptuous sandbox is an open world that truly values player freedom
AMoebius-drawn Tatooine” is how we described Shedworks’ beautiful debut – an open-world coming-of-age tale about simultaneously discovering a world and yourself – in E361. Right universe, wrong planet: “The very first inkling of an idea was from the first five minutes of The Force Awakens, where Rey is on Jakku,” creative director Gregorios Kythreotis tells us. That sequence prompted a thought: “What if you lived there? What would that be like, with these monumental ships and ruins and you’re just surviving?” Kythreotis and co-founder/programmer Daniel Fineberg began to imagine a hero who “wasn’t anything special” (this was, of course, before The Rise Of Skywalker retconned Rey’s lineage). As the title character glides around on her hoverbike, this beautiful, desolate world stretching off in every direction, we find ourselves gripped by a strong desire to chart its farthest reaches. The wanderlust is strong in this one.
Conventional game design wisdom holds that developers should start small. Don’t overscope. Don’t get too ambitious. But from the early stages of development, this two-man team – which has since grown to between six and ten staff on any given day, having recently moved out from the tiny converted shed (belonging to Kythreotis’s parents) that gave the studio its name – “made a poor decision” to make an open-world game. “So we’ve simply had to roll with that and adapt to it,” Kythreotis smiles.
It started, as all the best ideas do, in the pub: in this case, a regular meet-up for London-based indies. With two hours to kill beforehand, Kythreotis and Fineberg pulled out a laptop, and started browsing the Unity Asset Store,
THIS DESOLATE WORLD STRETCHES OFF IN EVERY DIRECTION, AND WE FIND OURSELVES GRIPPED BY A STRONG DESIRE TO CHART ITS FARTHEST REACHES