Greetings future sky architects! It’s Tom again, developer here at Bossa, and for the last few months I’ve been working on a tool that we are now ready to release to the public. It is a free application that anyone can use to create, share, and explore islands that will form the Worlds Adrift universe.
From the initial concept of Worlds Adrift, the plan was never to rely entirely on procedural generation for all of our content. We believed that a genuinely mappable (albeit massive) world, partially created by real people, would be much more compelling to explore. The only way we saw this happening was to use procedural generation mainly, and follow up by running over as many islands as we could with a level designer’s eye, changing the odd thing or placing the odd ruin in the appropriate place.
Coming across an island in the world such as this ring world concept by our designer Luke would be a much more stand out moment and definitely not something that could be created with procedural content only:
As I was tasked with the procedural generation part of the islands, I started building a tool to generate and visualise the islands. The more developed this tool became, the more obvious it became that it could be a genuinely fun experience for players in itself. Terraforming lands, building stories through environmental design, and swinging around them became something worth talking about. So we made the decision to make it available to the public.
Below you can see a video tutorial that goes through the features of the tool and shows creating a simple island step by step.
After we’d decided to make the creator available to the public, the next step was to find a way to encourage the community to share their islands and be able to view and explore the works of others. Thankfully, the solution was right under our nose with Steam Workshop.
We implemented an island sharing area on the Workshop, and even with a relatively small pre-alpha group of testers we were really impressed by the quality of our fans’ work. Not only does it inspire us further, but the ones we like will become a permanent feature in our game world.
As far as we know it is the first time a game has allowed the player community to have such a profound impact on a persistent, shared universe.
It was a scary decision to allow this kind of engagement. The added development cost of keeping a consumer grade tool fresh and responsive alongside trying to make an MMO was a big consideration. But we’ve already seen great results from the fans we’ve released it to, so we’re super excited to finally have this available to everyone.
Looking ahead, we’ll want to update to the Island Creator when we have a new set of assets finalised – don’t worry, when you update the app on Steam, the new goodies will automatically be downloaded. Of course, there are many improvements and enhancements we want to make. We have ideas to expand the workshop so players can make individual prefabs by combining the assets we already have into a specific layout and allowing those to be downloaded and placed by others as if they were single objects. Look out for this functionality in a future update!
For now, we hope you enjoy playing around with the Island Creator. See you on the forums and hope to see some of your creations on the Workshop soon!