Shape Of The World Is A Growing Exploration Game

Shape of the World is an “artistic exploration game where the world grows around you.” It’s being made by three game developers working in Vancouver: lead dev Stu Maxwell, who previously worked on Relic’s Space Marine; Athomas Goldberg doing “creatures”, who previously worked on animation systems at EA; and Brent Silk on sound and music.

And that’s pretty much all I know, except that the three GIFs below the fold – and the screenshots through on the game’s site – mean that I’m already in love with this dreamy, colourful, self-constructing world.

Those three GIFs:

There’s a little more info – including a few screenshots and extra pieces of concept art – with promises of more to come through at the game’s site.

Did I find this before Alice? I think I found this before Alice.


  1. padger says:

    Oh man. Like Proteus but MORE. Much more, by the list of names on it.

  2. Seth_Ablaze says:

    So basically they invented a game that looks like a a typical sandbox with the lowest draw distance setting and further lowered it? Cool, once can at lest assume it wont be tough on the requirements.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I was thinking it looks a bit like this. Still looks interesting, but I guess they need to maybe push the draw distance back and slow down the growing so it looks like it’s not just popping up out of the draw distance.

      • Geebs says:

        What would be really great is if people started to move these things away from heightmapped terrains. Some caves would be nice, for a change.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Heightmaps are easier to make and render, I guess. Sure, caves aren’t impossible, Minecraft has them after all. Cliffs and coastlines would also be nice; heightmap generators tend to be quite bad at them for similar reasons. Similarly, continental masses with realistic mountain ranges formed by plate movement tend not to be generated by simple Perlin noise, etc, techniques.

          • Ross Angus says:

            While it wasn’t procedural, I liked what they did in Far Cry 3 to hide the fact that it was height maps. Same with Sir. But once you know what to look for, height maps tend to jump out at you. Which is what makes the landscapes of Miguel Cepero so impressive.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I guess what you could do is to make a heightmap and then weather it somehow to deform the mesh into something that’s not just a Cartesian height field, like cliff erosion or river formation.

          • Ross Angus says:

            I agree, but it’s the lack of overhangs which give it away for me.

          • Razumen says:

            Heightmaps are so overused in games that seeing them used carelessly pretty much blows any immersion out of the water due to their rather drastic shortcomings-seriously, this isn’t the 90’s anymore, we should be on to better terrain generation than this.

        • Geebs says:

          This article still makes me terribly depressed about my total lack of ability. I only ever got up to the level of doing 2d clipmaps or chunked LOD myself; trying to do the same thing in 3d completely bakes my noggin.

          (edit: darn, meant to reply in a different part of the thread. Sorry!)

        • fish99 says:

          I’ve spent way more time in Minecraft underground in caves than I ever did on the surface. Exploring caves (and lighting them to make them safe) is what most of the gameplay in regular survival mode is about.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        If you pushed the draw distance back further, it’d look more like it was just popup than it does now.
        Actually quite enchanted by the effect, I have to admit. I love the way that tree(?) emerges in the first .gif.

        I think it could possibly all stand to be a bit more colourful though – but that’s just personal taste.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Well, I meant making things grow more slowly so it looks more like a process rather than a simple proximity trigger. I guess they’re playing about with all that, though.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Ah yeah, that actually would improve it somewhat. It could look less mechanical, more spurious.
            It’s still effing gorgeous.

          • Gap Gen says:

            It is.

    • notcurry says:

      I’m sorry? If you can’t tell the difference between the two then you must lack the slightest sensitivity.

      This game looks beautiful. It looks like a carefully, deliberately refined artistic effect, unlike the crude engineering workaround that is projection distance clipping.

  3. cpt_freakout says:

    Wow, this looks great. Will keep an eye on it!

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    I am reminded a bit of Alex May’s in-development Starboretum link to – not sure how ready he is to show any of it, but so far it does evoke some similar vibes.

  5. Frank says:

    Oh hell yes

    More games that look like what an artist would want from an interactive experience, please.

  6. Christo4 says:

    Ehh… I was hoping it was something like a procedural generated environment around you that you can explore, like say a sandbox in which you could walk forever, but this looks like skyrim with the ugrids and draw distance set at the lowest settings..

  7. mtomto says:

    where is the “game” element?

  8. Vitamin Powered says:

    Oh my. Yes, this is definitely my sort of thing. *tranquilly subscribes to the dev’s page*

  9. Urthman says:

    I’ve gotta admit I like the idea of a game dev thinking “What if we had an in-world explanation for distance popup.”

  10. fish99 says:

    That’s nearly as much pop-in as Oblivion had :o

  11. DantronLesotho says:

    Now I’m not a plantologist, but I don’t think trees grow their leaves first

    • DantronLesotho says:

      That being said, I think this is a really interesting idea and I am looking forward to more of it :)

  12. fahrenheit451 says:

    You know, at first I was a skeptical about this but those gifs are really growing on me