Game studio Giant Squid is creation a dash with a entrance project, an underwater scrutiny and diving diversion by a name of Abzû. Designed by Matt Nava, former art executive of Journey and Flower, the universe of Abzû bursts with colorful life, angel tale-esque seafloor landscapes, and thousands and thousands of fish. Recently, we had a possibility to pronounce with Nava while personification a opening hours of diversion for myself.
While Abzû’s concentration is on scuba diving, it’s no diving simulator. In fact, it flat-out ignores a nitty-gritty annoyances of genuine life scuba diving. Players can glide, flip, and whirl facilely by a water, yet any need to worry about abyss readings or oxygen.
“The reason given we scuba dive is not to consider about your atmosphere gauge,” Nava, a diver himself, explains. “It’s to have an extraordinary knowledge going into a unfamiliar universe and encountering these stately creatures. It’s unequivocally this knowledge that changes you, and that’s what we wanted to move in this diversion to a player.”
The outcome is an roughly otherworldly experience, some-more same to drifting than a difficult up-and-down of many swimming levels.
“Flight simulators were indeed something that we looked during creation this game,” Nava said. He forked out a transformation of a camera, that can be manually manipulated by a player, yet differently does a surprisingly effective pursuit of tracking a diver’s liquid motions and inverted loops yet flipping upside down itself. “Not a lot swimming games [let players make full loops] and that’s to make conceptualizing a controls and camera many easier. Because once we go upside down, what do we do with a camera? Does it go upside down? And we’re like, ‘no, it doesn’t go upside down,’ and we have to figure out all these cases where a camera wants to spin and hurl and we have to contend ‘nope, stay still, be cool.’ But we did that given it was unequivocally critical to get that underwater feeling.”
There’s a singular plea in perplexing to constraint that “underwater feeling.” Underwater games and underwater levels have been around for a prolonged time, yet they roughly zodiacally get a bad rap. There’s a reason a Water Temple in Ocarina of Time is a many widely reviled cave of a game—like many other underwater levels, it’s delayed and clunky, with irritating oxygen timers, slow-motion movement, and ungainly controls.
The problem, Nava explains, is that in many games, a underwater levels are an afterthought.
“[The developers] are like, ‘hey, we’ve done a debate where you’re a dude with a gun using around on land, and we wish to have a accumulation level.’ So it’s an underwater spin and you’re sharpened guys. The categorical tech for a diversion is focused on one thing, and a underwater thing is not a focus.” Abzû,on a other hand, is a diversion where a underwater scrutiny is the focus, and this, Nava explains, allows a group to “do probity to it and do all these things right.”
One instance of this is with a fish. At slightest a dozen will be on shade in any given moment, yet many of a time, there are even more—schools of hundreds or thousands that group around a diver, responding to her sonar “chirps” and movements.
“If we make something cool, it’s even cooler if we have 10 thousand of it,” Nava said, grinning.
The fish are many some-more than a backdrop. They’ll swell brazen with a diver, permitting her to benefit speed and do special flips and tricks. Larger fish can be grabbed and directed around, or, if grabbed and left directionless, will lift a player. Once, we attempted to lift a shark towards a aspect in sequence to try and do a flip with it above water, yet was stopped. It’s not a underline that’s in a diversion yet, Nava told me, yet it’s one that they’re operative on adding in.
In fact, a fish are such a distinguished partial of a diversion that there’s even a special mode usually for sitting behind and observation them. At certain imagining points, there’s an choice to lay behind and concentration a camera on a singular fish. It’ll lane that fish as it swims around and around, fasten adult with schools and violation away—right adult until a impulse that fish gets eaten. It’s a doctrine true out of Star Wars: there’s always a bigger fish.
That’s a doctrine for a diver to learn, too. Though Abzû evokes a beauty and assent of a sea building and doesn’t retaliate a divers’ scrutiny with death, there are some frightful things sneaking during a bottom of a seafloor. Though a diver was never harmed, during slightest not in a early indicate of a diversion we saw, it was still a startle when a shark leapt out of a low to assimilate one of her small droid companions.
“As we go deeper, we expose a story with a drones that we find and a shark, and we learn who a diver is,” Nava explained. “You can suppose some scarier moments in a deep. That’s where Abzu’s going.”
It’s not, however, unexpected going to spin into a diversion of one diver fighting off a society of sharks. The categorical idea is always exploration, and players won’t be punished with genocide or a resetting timeline for slow a small longer or going to check out a cold dilemma of a seafloor.
“There’s indeed a using fun during a studio given when we were pitching this, we pitched it to a garland of opposite publishers and several places perplexing to get funding. And some people got it, and some people really didn’t,” Nava said, laughing. “There were a integrate who were like, ‘this is unequivocally cool, yet we consider it needs some some-more risk or excitement. What about a stalk gun?’ And we was like, ‘you don’t know what this diversion is perplexing to do.’ It was unequivocally funny.”
Of course, a elephant (or elephant seal) in a room with Abzû is a unavoidable comparison to Journey. Nava served as a categorical art executive on both games, so it’s not startling that stylistically, they’re similar. Both are also sincerely singular in a gaming universe with their importance on wordless exploration, pleasing landscapes, and tension over fight or puzzles, yet that can be put down to a dual pity a same niche genre. As a fan of Journey myself, though, we beheld even some-more similarities: a diver’s sonar hail functions roughly equally to Journey‘s ‘chime,’ a impulse where a diver’s swept adult in a waves seems many like Journey‘s silt shifting level, and a shark unexpected leaping out and eating a diver’s initial droid is rarely suggestive of a Journey moment where an ancient automaton springs to life and destroys a witty throw of carpet. Even a song is rather similar, with Austin Wintory portion as composer on both games.
“A lot of people have described this diversion as ‘Journey Underwater!’” Nava said, when we brought it up. “And that’s unequivocally easy to know and promulgate quickly. But what’s engaging about this diversion is how it goes brazen from where Journey was and also is totally different. That reduction of elements from that diversion and new elements is what’s engaging to me. The biggest thing for me creatively was, Journey is a desert, with really empty landscapes, for good reason in a pattern of that game. And after operative on that dried for 3 years we wanted to make a diversion that was super colourful and full of life. That diversion was so dry and this diversion is totally wet!”
Of course, there are some-more changes than usually a further of water. There’s no multiplayer, for one, given Nava remarkable that a participation of another actor encourages players to rush so as not to be left behind, rather than relocating during their possess speed. Things have softened on a technical level, too, with formidable lighting and shade systems to impersonate light filtering down from a surface, and kelp and plants that hook and swish when a diver swoops past. Nava promises there’s some-more of a story, focused on a diver and her universe (she is definitely her possess character, he elaborated when asked, and not usually a faceless avatar for a actor to plan into a world), yet we usually played a opening levels and didn’t see many of this first-hand. And of course, there’s a universe itself—a vibrant, abounding ecosystem that’s ripping with tone and life.
A few unprepared tools of a levels and a placeholder soundtrack reminded me that Abzû is still a work in progress, yet it’s a diversion that’s looking beautiful anyway. we still came divided with a clever sense of Journey, but hey—Journey’s a diversion we suffer a lot, so that’s frequency a negative. Abzû‘s really a diversion that I’ll be gripping an eye on, generally given all my playtime was focused on usually a few levels early on in a game; we can’t wait to see what’s watchful even deeper down in a ocean.
“Also,” Nava added, as we was make-up up, “There are some crazy things that we’re not display you.”
Abzû is scheduled for a 2016 recover for PS4 and PC.