2D Boy, creator of indie hit World of Goo, is made up of just two people. Ron Carmel and Kyle Gabler met at EA, where they were both struggling to function within the then-enormously-corporate machine, and both bursting with ideas that couldn't get out. Later they escaped, and made World of Goo, which we adored on the PC and loved even harder on Wii.
A few months on from the game's release, we grabbed them and demanded they tell us everything, from leaving their jobs to the process of creating the blobby puzzle game that's had us all swooning.
Eurogamer: How did 2D Boy meet?
Ron Carmel: At EA, through our mutual friend, Amin Ebadi. It was pretty random. Who leaves their perfectly good job after meeting their future business partner only a few times?
Kyle Gabler: We were having a similar existential crisis. I got a bunch of books on how to 'Do Business', because not having a job sounded scary.
Ron Carmel: You know that feeling when you've been meaning to do something and then you find out someone else wants to do it too? But it's actually not as scary as working 9 to 5 in a cubicle farm for the rest of your life.
Eurogamer: So was there a plan when you quit?
Kyle Gabler: The big plan was to make a game, and hope people like it
Ron Carmel: At first we were working on a game about the life of a tree that takes place over 100 years.
Kyle Gabler: If you're curious, it was based on Big Vine.
Ron Carmel: But then we switched to something based on Tower of Goo.
Eurogamer: Why Tower of Goo? Was there something specific you were both interested in heading toward, or were you experimenting?
Kyle Gabler: Around the same time, we noticed a shady company trying to make a Tower of Goo clone for mobile phones. It was like Tower of Goo but horrible. And it hurt, and made me feel sad that someone would so blatantly borrow a game design. Ron and I were lazy up to that point. Then we decided we had some good competition, and we could make Tower of Goo bigger and better.
Eurogamer: So you had Tower of Goo, and you wanted to develop it. Were there goals?
Kyle Gabler: Tower of Goo always seemed like it could expand well into a bigger game. Originally it was going to be a very casual game. With fireworks at the end of levels, etc.
Eurogamer: Ode to Joy?
Kyle Gabler: Exactly. But then it turned out to be a bad thing we were making a game based on Tower of Goo. It generated a lot of self-consciousness. Because we knew people assumed that every additional level would be crappy extensions of the main Tower of Goo prototype. Like, Ice Level. Or Generic Bridge #14.
Eurogamer: Lava Level.
Kyle Gabler: Egypt World.
Ron Carmel: Oh, good one!
Kyle Gabler: So, fuelled by self doubt, the game kept evolving because it never felt good enough. We had never directly made something that people paid money for. And it felt wrong to try and charge money for a crappy game.
Eurogamer: So how did your day-to-day lives work? Did you have a base of operations?
Ron Carmel: Our base shifted. I remember one meeting about the tree game we had in a park in San Francisco. Seems like the right place to brainstorm about trees, right? But most of the time we worked at various coffee shops. Probably three or four times a week. The rest we just worked from home.
Eurogamer: Why in public, rather than going to one or other's home?
Kyle Gabler: Working at home is lonely. It turns out there is a whole secret underworld of slackers who "work from home" out of coffee shops. I met one guy with a bunch of circuit boards plugged into his laptop, doing embedded programming right there.
Eurogamer: What were the roles you each played then?
Ron Carmel: So, it was a little weird. And changed over time. We never had any assigned roles. At first both of us were doing programming. And over time, clear roles emerged based on our individual strengths. I think it took a while for me to get to trust Kyle's game design sense and took him a while to get to trust my software design sense. Once we realised, "Oh, they have that end of things covered," about each other, things really flowed well. It became clear who should make what call.
Eurogamer: So who was Allan Blomquist? He's the other name on the credits.
Kyle Gabler: Allan is a friend from grad school. We made Virtual Reality 3D Pong together. He's in the top five best developers I've ever worked with. Ron and I made the PC game, which Allan then took, and made it run on the Wii
Ron Carmel: He got the game running on Wii in under three weeks. Who does that kind of thing?!
Kyle Gabler: He did amazing things, like optimise which CPU registers are used, and memory alignment. Those things, of course, don't actually mean anything, but you can notice it, if you play the game, and it feels like butter. Some other facts about Allan Blomquist - he is nourished entirely by Snapple, Subway sammiches, and episodes of Felicity.