Exo One Mixes Journey-like Gameplay With a Beautiful, Galactic, Science Fiction Catastrophe

Envision an open globe Sonic video game, however Sonic has his very own manageable individual gravity maker. Or think of Marble Chaos inside No Guy’s Skies. Or think about Tiny Wings, however with located video and also an area disaster. Someplace in the center of all these conceptions you could obtain a concept of Exo One, an attractive, gravity-bending motion video game regarding a little spacecraft attempting to reverse a horrible occasion.

Exo One is a current Xbox Video game Pass launch title where you relocate a little orb by enhancing and afterwards launching its individual gravity to speed it up down hillsides, launch it off inclines, and afterwards slide it with the skies, seas, and also ambiences of a collection of lovely, unoccupied globes. Wordlessly, Exo One pushes the gamer to specific locations on each earth using evident radiant columns of light, periodically disrupted by haunting pictures and also voices damaged up with fixed informing the tale of an area exploration failed. It’s an odd, disturbing experience, however typically a deeply lovely and also rewarding one, as you release your little orb right into a sea of clouds forgeting a sea area with a huge transcendent column extending of the globe in advance, awaiting you.

Jay Weston, its developer, has actually worked with a variety of jobs for many years along with run his very own organization photographing specialized skies hemispheres for movie, video games, and also designs – which possibly clarifies just how he sharpened his eye for striking holy pictures. Exo One, he informs me, was influenced by Tiny Wings and also WaveSpark, and also started as a brief “3D Tiny Wings” of kinds called Unidentified Orbit that was little and also score-based.

As Weston adjusted his vision, he understood that his models were expanding significantly intricate and also much less immediately, clearly enjoyable. After that, eventually, he tossed a metal shader on a “sphere” he’d been playing around with in Unity, threw down some cubes and pillars to roll around on, and realized he had the fun he’d been looking for.

“Perhaps more than anything with games, I love to play very unique things I’ve never experienced before, possibly to the extreme where I’ll not play as many games as I should,” Weston says. “So I mostly wanted to craft something that was unique in as many ways as possible. Having spent a year prior on Unknown Orbit, I felt a bit hollow from forcing the game into a rigid ‘standard game that most gamers will like with all the usual features like scoring.’ It was formulaic, and something I would certainly possibly never play, and also I wasn’t really even a mobile gamer.

“So along with that inspiration I received from Journey, I decided I wanted to make a PC game, and also something personal and creative that could really elicit a strong reaction from players. For me that meant space, science fiction, a meaningful story and bags of melancholy atmosphere.”

I wanted to make something personal and creative…that meant space, science fiction, a meaningful story and bags of melancholy atmosphere.

Weston mostly made Exo One as a one-man team, with his friend Rhys Lindsay doing the music and later with the help of David Kazi coding and Future Friends for publishing. Exo One was also part of the [email protected] program, which Weston says “takes a lot of pressure off” since he was guaranteed a payout on the game before it had even launched, and had the benefit of visibility on Xbox stores and Xbox marketing.

Even so, though, Exo One’s vision and journey was shaped at least somewhat by Weston’s small team size and low budget. Exo One took five years to make, Weston says, in part because he didn’t even know how to code when he first started out – he just had basic 3D modeling and texturing ability. And as he added story and cutscenes, he says he “tripled or quadrupled the number of skills required.”

Weston started out with the idea of being a ball on a hilly planet, and from there began adding in complexities like the craft’s different abilities and ways of movement. He says that Unity ensured the physics worked fine, but what was more complex was getting everything to work and look right when the craft reached incredibly high speeds and heights. “Most game engines are more designed for a 3rd person shooter or something like that, at head height,” he says. “Meanwhile in Exo you’re kilometers in the air going 100s of miles per hour, pushing the terrain generation to its limits the whole way, and making it very hard to get everything looking nice at all altitudes.”

Exo One Screenshots

Then there’s Exo One’s story, which Weston says is inspired by games that had emotionally impacted him during development like Journey and Dear Esther, similar experiences like Abzu, Proteus, and Flower, and the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Contact.

“I rewrote the story countless times though, I had actually say it was the hardest part of the whole game to get right, and a fair number of people would argue I got it wrong! It’s probably among the most varied feedback I’ve gotten, some love it, some are fine with it and are glad it’s a light touch, others wish it wasn’t there.”

He also looked at real space missions, like the Challenger and Columbia disasters a bit, though he doesn’t feel there’s a lot of similarity to the stories. “I remember being struck at how unfair it was that those crews had worked their entire lives to be the best in their fields only to suffer their fate,” he adds.

With Exo One out in the world at last, Weston is feeling quite satisfied. He says it’s been successful for him, with positive reception and enough financial success that he can keep making video games for some time to come. And he’s especially proud to have released his own fiction/sci-fi/space universe into the world with a story, art, sound effects, and gameplay that’s all his own work and vision.

“I wanted to make a unique game, and there are no other space games where you control gravity with a spherical spacecraft that can transform into a glider and ride thermals in clouds. It’s a extremely singular vision, so when people tell me it got them in the feels or they loved the video game, it’s an amazing really feeling.”

Rebekah Valentine is an information press reporter for IGN. You can discover her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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