2DBoy is a brand new studio founded by the very talented Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel. Their first game “World of Goo” which was inspired by Tower of Goo, will be releasing shortly and, if early reviews are any indication, it’s going to be awesome. We’ll have a full review up soon enough and maybe a few other gooey surprises for you, but, in the meantime, we were given the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Kyle and ask him a few questions.
I feel I should warn everyone ahead of time that our line of questioning and some of Kyle’s answers cover everything from lancing strange growths, to Jack Black, to glorious ways to end ones’ own life, so read ahead with caution and an open mind.
CG: Hey Kyle. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
First thing’s first, we hear 2Dboys’ first game “World of Goo” has gone gold and should be hitting Wiiware and PC soon. Can you tell us what’s next for you guys?
Kyle: I can’t imagine what our days will be like now that we’re almost done. Finishing World of Goo is kind of like that phenomenon where abducted people fall in love with or become obsessive about the person who captured them. Or if you have a growth growing somewhere and you feel kind of sad about chopping it out. We’ve been emotionally attached to World of Goo for over a year and a half, it’s bittersweet that we now have to say “ok, it’s done” and then chop it out and put it in boxes for the low low price of only $19.99. I just hope it makes everyone else as happy as it made us.
As far as a next game, we have no idea. In the meantime, we’ll be reading every single comment anyone makes about World of Goo, and freaking out about them, and learning.
A screen from World of Goo.
CG: Ummm…gross? I think.
So do you have any plans for future releases over Xbox Live, PSN or even disc based console games?
Kyle: Not yet. We’ve been very happy with Nintendo though.
CG: Do you have a specific goal or mission statement for 2Dboy or are you taking more of a “wait and see” attitude?
Kyle: I’m not sure, but I’m really afraid of the “second system effect”, which is, basically, where the second thing you make always sucks. The second album is never as good as the first. In a trilogy, the second movie is always the weakest. So consider this a fair warning. Don’t buy or even talk about whatever horrible thing we make next.
CG: Well hopefully whatever you make turns out like The Empire Strikes Back. Thanks for the heads up, though.
The latest World of Goo trailer.
CG: You and your partner Ron Carmel decided to form 2dboy on your own. That’s gotta be risky. Why not just go work for EA or something?
Kyle: We both worked with EA for a while. It’s actually not a bad work environment at all, it just wasn’t for us. I thought EA was special, because they had nerf rockets and stuff for pretend killing each other. But it turns out, every workplace in the world has nerf stuff for pretend killing each other. Nerf weapons must be in an Effective Management book somewhere.
Also, in a large company, there’s no accountability. If your game fails, you keep getting the same salary and benefits. If your game does really well, you keep getting the same salary and benefits. I think we kind of liked the idea that we could totally fail, and end up financially and emotionally broke, and we’d be completely responsible for it. Here in the non-nerf real world, we’re able to ride that cold metal rocket of failure right into the ground.
CG: So if I come down to the 2dboy offices I won’t see any nerf toys lying around? Yeah right.
Have you hammered out a solid release date for the various versions of World of Goo yet? Can Linux geeks (like me) and Mac elitists expect to see the game before Hanukkah?
Kyle: The Mac and Linux ports are going well. We’ll announce estimated release dates for them as soon as we know. Meanwhile, doesn’t Virgin Airlines have a Linux instance in that back of every seat so you can play games and stuff? It would be fun to get World of Goo flying around in the air. I’m pretty sure they had DOOM, which is fantastic, because if there’s one thing I always think to myself on an airplane, it’s “I wish I had a gun!”.
(Note: We received notification earlier today from 2DBoy that World of Goo will be releasing this Monday, October 13th.)
From “Gravity Head”. One of Kyle’s 7 day games.
CG: Thanks for the heads up. I know who I’ll be flying with from now on.
Jonathan Blow (the maker of Braid) has been pretty vocal about how hard it is for indie game devs. to make a profit. Is it as hard as he makes it out to be and do you see that changing in the future?
Kyle: I hadn’t heard him say that, but I imagine the opinion would have changed somewhat after seeing how well Braid was received. It’s an encouraging example though – if you make a good game, indie or not, it’s likely to sell! But apparently there are shortcuts too. I didn’t know this until recently – maybe it’s obvious, but I was surprised (actually not that surprised) to find out that it’s become standard practice for large studios to put more money into marketing a game, than they put into developing a game.
CG: I guess that means we won’t be seeing any World of Goo energy drinks. Maybe you could keep that in mind for your next game launch.
It seems like platforms such as Steam, PSN and Wiiware are a godsend for the indie gaming scene. Do you think 2Dboy, as a new indie studio, is in a better position today than it would have been, say, 10 years ago when none of those platforms existed? Or do they just a make it easier to get lost in the shuffle?
Kyle: Digital platforms do help a lot, since it means there are less people trying to leech cash out of every unit sold, such that the developer ends up with something like 15 cents per unit. But I think the real difference between now and 10 years ago, is that now, it’s possible for any kid in their bedroom to gain internet notoriety just by making something people like. There are no gate keepers, so success is (hopefully) based on merit. And notoriety, even internet notoriety, suddenly gives random kids in bedrooms undeniable negotiating power when it comes to publishing and distributing on an even larger scale.
CG: For anyone who’s not familiar with it, what exactly is the experimental gameplay project and what’s your involvement with it?
Kyle: Some friends and I started the Experimental Gameplay Project back in grad school. The idea was we’d make bunch of games in one semester, to discover as many new forms of gameplay as possible. We ended up making about 50 games, seven days per game, each made by just one person, each game based around some “theme” like “gravity” or “evolution” or “a game your mom would play”. One of the small games I made was called “Tower of Goo”. It turned out to have a kind of fun idea behind it, so we took that basic idea and made “World of Goo”. We’ve really neglected the site though. It hasn’t been updated it in almost a year.
From Kyle’s game “Attack of the Swarm”.
CG: Cool. Excluding your own contributions do you have any favorite games or developers hosted on the site that you think people should check out?
Kyle: From our original team, Shalin’s “On a Rainy Day” has always been a favorite. You build a tree out of hands, and the hands hold umbrellas, because, of course they do! And they have to protect a fleet of paper boats from the rain. It’s beautiful and weird. And Kyle Gray’s “Suburban Brawl” is deeper than anyone will ever know. More recently, everyone should investigate cactus’s creepy Mondo games. And it goes without saying, everything by Petri “kloonigames” Purho.
CG: Excited for Brütal Legend?
Kyle: Of course! Tim Schafer is the subversive Walt Disney of games. And I don’t even know if I care about Jack Black or Heavy Metal or Roadies or Guitars. But it’s not REALLY about those things anyway, I assume. Just like with Full Throttle, I was skeptical because who wants to play a game about dirty Bikers? But of course it wasn’t REALLY about bikers. (And Starship Troopers isn’t REALLY about shooting big space bugs, “it’s about people”, says Denise Richards on the DVD commentary.) The difference with Tim Schafer’s games, is that he uses strong underlying themes and character and heart, which we just don’t see a lot of in games, in a really sincere way. (Hi Tim, I’m in San Francisco too…)
CG: Sounds like you’ve got a little dev. crush on Tim. You’re probably not alone there.
Now that you’re a hotshot developer with a commercial release under your belt can we expect to see more stuff like Attack of the Swarm and Darwin Hill from you or are those projects just too time consuming?
Kyle: Now that I’m a hotshot game developer I hope to die in a drug related motorcycle accident. But if that doesn’t happen, and it probably will, I have no idea what’s next, but it might include rebuilding the life and relationships that were abandoned over the last year and a half. Darwin Hill was always a favorite though. I wonder if it will EVOLVE into anything in the future! That was horrible. Sorry.
From “Darwin Hill”.
CG: If you’re really bent on the self destruction thing, going down in a hail of FBI gunfire is always a good choice…just saying…
Last but not least, what does the term “casual gamer” mean to you?
Kyle: A casual gamer is probably a reasonable human who happens to play games, just like going to movies, or tea time. But who knows, because I hear, according to a certain largE corporAtion, a casual gamer is a 45 year old woman with 1.5 cats.
CG: Wow. You just described the majority of our readers perfectly. Well thanks a lot for your time and we certainly wish you all the best with World of Goo and your second (cursed) project.
And with that our time was done and the virtual security guards escorted us away. There’s at least one very positive advance review of World of Goo online right now and there should be more popping up in the coming days and weeks. Early impressions from almost everyone who’s played the game seem very positive. Keep checking back with CG for more World of Goo coverage up to and beyond the game’s release.