Alex Beachum

Creative Director of Outer Wilds, the winner of the IGF in 2015

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 26, 2015

Discussion

Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
Hey, I'm Alex Beachum, creative director of Outer Wilds and designer here at Mobius Digital. I grew up in a faraway magical place called Michigan, where I spent a fair bit of time camping with my family, making movies, and building spaceships out of old refrigerator boxes. Now that I'm older and my priorities have shifted, I like to spend my time camping with friends, making video games, and building spaceships out of polygons and code.
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@alexbeachum Hey Alex! How did you get involved with Masi Oka? When was that connection made?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@russfrushtick Masi started an indie game studio with my friend and colleague from USC, Loan Verneau, back in May of 2013. I had already signed a contract to go work for Microsoft, but 7 months later Loan told me they had an opening if I wanted to come back to Los Angeles and work on crazy indie games with them (of course I couldn't resist!)
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@alexbeachum Hi Alex, thanks for joining us today! What are some of the development struggles you guys have run into so far?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@ems_hodge The biggest hurdle we've run into so far is that the physics in Unity 5 have been changed in a way that is really problematic. The planets in Outer Wilds are actually moving at very high speeds, and the new physics engine has been optimized in a way where this is no longer possible. We're looking into a bunch of possible solutions, but it's definitely not something we anticipated!
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Hey Alex! How would you describe Outer Wilds to someone that knows nothing about it? 😛
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@jacqvon It's an exploration game about blasting into space in search of answers to the mysteries of your crazy, constantly changing solar system. You travel to new planets, roast marshmallows, and sometimes fall into the sun. Maybe you even figure out why all of this is happening!
Funny Bunny@funnybunny98765
Hello! As a (quite massive) fan of your game, seeing your crowdfunding campaign getting a quite a few less supporters than comparable projects can be quite disheartening for me at times. It probably will still make its target, but it's quite a peculiar thing to see. Why do you think this is the case? Do you think it is due to the crowdfunding being on a completely different and new platform, due to the way the game just is, or something else entirely?
Avimaan Syam@avimaansyam · Producer
@funnybunny98765 Hi, I'm Avimaan, the producer of Outer Wilds. Every campaign is its own ride, and we're working to make sure the Outer Wilds campaign does as well as possible. Just today there's been a crazy surge! Part of the difficulty has been that though Outer Wilds had a lot of fans, they hadn't necessarily been organized into a community. We're working on making that community more cohesive through this campaign and beyond. And we'll be posting A LOT more updates very soon! :)
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
Thanks for all the questions everyone! This is Alex Beachum from Mobius Digital Games, signing off!
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@alexbeachum What are your thoughts on crowd-funding in general? Do you think this is where large-scale game development is going?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@eriktorenberg It's hard to say if that's where large-scale game development is going. Alex & I would say it's mainly given opportunities and business models to games and studios that wouldn't traditionally be funded or be given creative control, and that is awesome.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@alexbeachum How big is the team? Any plans to scale up as the project gets larger?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@bentossell Currently we have 8 full-time team members. We have plans to contract more artists, but we've done most of our scaling prior to crowdfunding.
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
@alexbeachum What is your focus on, development wise, right now?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@lejlahunts Right now we're focusing on developing our new art style (it's looking so good!), improving the game's underlying tech, and finalizing high-level design/narrative stuff (things like the locations on each planet and how they tie together into a web of clues players will piece together). Everything in the game is interwoven with everything else, so we're spending time up-front making sure it's all really solid.
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@alexbeachum Any plans for VR support?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@corleyh We think VR is awesome, but we're a little weary of doing putting people in VR with such an intense astrophysics simulation--think Sandra Bullock in Gravity! We would really want to avoid simulator sickness, so we're approaching it with caution.
@alexbeachum There has been a lot of innovation, especially recently from the growing indie game development scene, in experimenting with narrative structures which could only exist in an interactive medium. Outer Wilds certainly fits the description with its "time reset" mechanic and focus on exploration. What aspects of video games do you see as having the most potential to grow from a storytelling perspective?
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@jjxwang I think this is already happening, but I'd love to see more games where players interact with the story through the game's systems in a really organic way. What I mean by that is a game where the narrative responds to what you do on a moment-to-moment basis as opposed to only paying attention to certain dialogue choices for example.
@alexbeachum Yeah, it would be incredible to see a Telltale style adventure game which is more dynamic than what they have published so far (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us) and there are more ambitious titles such as Life is Strange which have a narrative that more readily changes based on the players actions. What challenges would you see creative teams which are innovating in these areas to overcome? Thanks for the answer!
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@jjxwang I think one thing that has to happen for this to really work is to make the narrative itself less scripted and more of a simulation. Which I imagine is easier said than done! I don't know the specifics of their approach, but there is actually another time-looping indie game called Elsinore that is attempting something along these lines.
Lukas Fittl@lukasfittl · Product Hunt
@alexbeachum Whats your personal story on game design itself? What made you pursue this focus in life / why do you care about it? :)
Alex Beachum@alexbeachum · Creative Director, Mobius Digital
@lukasfittl I've always been interested in creating worlds and telling stories...for the longest time I wanted to be a filmmaker (I think half of my childhood was spent with the family camcorder stuck to my face). I actually tried to major in both mechanical engineering and filmmaking in undergrad before realizing that game design is weirdly this perfect middle ground. You still get to tell stories like in film, but the worlds that you tell them in have to actually work. At any rate I decided to get my MFA in Interactive Media at USC and now I'm here!
Lukas Fittl@lukasfittl · Product Hunt
@alexbeachum Awesome, I can relate to that finding a middle ground between disciplines - thanks for sharing :)