A Path Through Recovery

It's been a while. I know, and I'm sorry. A few people have been in contact due to my lapse in blogging to ask if everything's okay, and if the game is still going.

I'm fine, thanks. The last couple of months have been fairly torturous, but I'm back home in Exmoor now, taking plenty of exercise, and leaning on the support of my family. I was pretty severely depressed in Brixton because of the day to day loneliness, and generally feeling kind of burned out, but I feel like I'm getting back to normal now. Prozac seems to help a bit, but even with it, you can feel stressed out an panicky, so it's by no means a total cure to my situation. Still, I'm recovering and getting back up to speed.

Goo is still going, thanks mainly to Tommy's incredible hard work and persistence. It can't be easy to keep going at this project when the only other person doing the work with you is having a nervous breakdown, but he's soldiered on regardless, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Tommy's been reworking our engine, making it more efficient and stable. Previously, we had this rather nice feeling physics, but it was unfortunately not very efficient, and could be unstable - explosions of goo, a bit like in DarkMan. Tommy's taken that stuff, and completely re-worked it from the ground up to feel just as nice, but to also maintain stability. He told me that he left it on all night once, by mistake, and it was still stable when he got back. Result! We used to use some fairly devious corruptions of Lennard Jones spring potentials, but ultimately Tommy found that simpler is better, especially where bajillions of spring connections are concerned. We now use very basic dampened springs for our physics.

We're crunching for the IGF at the end of this month. Only two weeks to go. The same build we submit there (which won't be complete, but it's rare for primary IGF submissions to be the final product) will also be sent to Microsoft and hopefully championed internally.

Someone contacted me about World of Goo, and whether we're worried about the similarity in name to our own, "Goo".

I'm really looking forward to World of Goo as I've been watching the output of the Experimental Gameplay Project for a long time now. They've managed to popularize the idea of gameplay prototyping, and I want to kiss them for it. While I found all the experiments interesting in some way, Tower of Goo was the one which was clearly ready for a full production.

Am I worried about the similarity of names? Probably not as much as I should be. It seems like there's a whole micro-industry of games publishers who shovel lookeelikee games into their portfolio in a simple attempt to get mistakenly bought by Grandmas who happily purchase "Grand Thrift Aunt" amidst a confused hunt for similarly acronym'd hit games. It's the only service outside optometry dedicated to cataract suffers.

I wish I had the Machiavellian genius to think so hard about something so cynical, and admit to you, dear reader, that the name "Goo" was born of a desire to rob Kyle Gabler of some well deserved sales. I'm sorry to say that the truth is far more innocent.

The reason we call our game "Goo" is threefold:
  • Most obviously, you control a sticky, blobby fluid - like a dense oil or quick silver. The subject matter is Goo.
  • The main aim of Goo is to surround your opponent, much like the ancient eastern board game "Go". In a sacrilegious kind of way, Goo is like a spiritual successor to Go - the same premise but more organic and flowing. So, we added an "o" to represent that natural progression. Clearly, if we did a sequel, it'd have to be called "Gooo" (and have sniper rifles and exploding genitalia).
  • "Liquid War" was already taken. That's right. When I came up with the idea of Goo, I had never heard of Liquid War, and it was only after checking google to see if that name was taken that I found the game. Definitely worth a look, but if you're worried about the credulity of making a game so seemingly similar to it, I can assure you that Goo plays significantly differently, being based on very different physics and very different controls.
So, I don't know yet if we'll be changing name. I wonder how many sales "God of War" earned due to the proximity of its name to "Gears of War", and vice-versa? Perhaps "Tower of Goo" and "Goo" will be mutually beneficial in that way? Or maybe, the obvious answer is to call our game "Goos of War"?

Any suggestions for new names are welcome, of course! "Liquid War Copying Cunts" is the thing you would write if you enjoy trolling, for example!

In other news, I got into the Bioshock credits!


Matthew said...

Glad to hear things are going a bit better man. I've been wondering too since I hadn't seen you around in awhile. Do stop by the usual places. :)

Anonymous said...

Goo! Goo! Goo! Goo!

n0wak said...

How about "Othelloo" ?