Eurogamer: What was the first big evolution World of Goo took from its Tower origins?
Ron Carmel: I'm not sure there were any big evolutions. Or revelations. It was a very slow process, like... evolution!
Kyle Gabler: It took an obscenely long time to figure out how the levels would be laid out. It took a wall of Post-It notes to figure out that the game should be divided into "islands", and then each "island" would contain "levels".
Ron Carmel: At some point we're going to put out some early versions of World of Goo. They're hilarious, and really not right. A lot of small steps. We were still adding and changing stuff up until a month before the release. OCD didn't make it in until the last second. Last night I played an old version where all the islands and all the levels in each island were laid out on a single screen.
Kyle Gabler: With the giant rocket ship?
Eurogamer: There was a giant rocket ship?!
Kyle Gabler: You'll see how much the art evolved, if I remember right. At that point, I think the whole game was a giant joke about international outsourcing.
Eurogamer: When did the World of Goo Corporation appear instead?
Kyle Gabler: Oh, that was another one. We didn't know there were pipes in World of Goo. At first, the end-of-level goal was a glowing vortex thing which would have been horrible. Then pipes seemed to make a lot more sense. And of course, a giant global pipe system must be connected to a giant corporation. The corporation helped tie the islands together. But the real glue that brought everything together was the Sign Painter.
Ron Carmel: I remember the day Kyle had the idea.
Kyle Gabler: That little guy (or girl) was a life-saver.
Ron Carmel: I didn't give it nearly the credit it deserved. I just wasn't seeing it. And it turned out to be one of the things that people really love about the game.
Eurogamer: What about the level-creation process? How did each level come into life?
Kyle Gabler: I try to think, "What level will look good in a trailer?" Since we have no marketing budget, the videos and screenshots have to sell the game, so the game should try to be as interesting-looking as possible
Ron Carmel: Kyle, I didn't know you were such an evil marketing mastermind.
Kyle Gabler: Fisty the Frog got posted around the internet a lot. It made him so happy! So I tried to make more levels that had humanity, or at least giant eyes or vomiting creatures. So I would sketch on paper, take photo with my cell phone camera, and trace over it in Photoshop. And for the level gameplay, it's similar. Sketch out geometry, try playing and see if it's fun using just squares and circles, if so, then proceed with art. [There's a video of this process on the website. - Ed] The painful part happens, occasionally, if a level is made with full art complete, and it's still just not fun. It happened more than I'd like to admit, and they all had to get cut out of the final game.
Eurogamer: Was there a level in particular that was hard to let go of?
Kyle Gabler: There was a level called Crash. Where there was a giant spiky ball, and you had to build a bridge with Skull Goos for it to roll across so it could plough into a tower of Gray Goos, destroy them, and allow a big level to fall, and more Goo slides down out of that. I just couldn't make it work. But the Giant Spiky Ball eventually became the Beauty and Ugly Goo Balls, with puzzles where you had to indirectly guide them through dangerous situations.
Eurogamer: The beauty theme really stood out to me. Where did that come from?
Ron Carmel: Project Runway?
Kyle Gabler: I watch a lot of America's Next Top Model. And Project Runway.
Eurogamer: Me too. The shame. Those big beautiful Goos, smashing the ugly to make their pathways. It seemed a strong statement.
Kyle Gabler: One of my favourite characters is Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard. She makes a bit of appearance through the Beauty Balls, and especially MOM. A silent film icon, who never let go of her former beauty and fame, ends up going mad. There is something really sad about beauty, and time passing. But the game isn't serious at all. It was really important for the game to never take itself seriously.
Eurogamer: There are other sad tones, of course. The lonely Sticky Goo especially.
Ron Carmel: Poor Pokey. I so badly wanted to see him go into the pipe with the other Goo Balls.
Kyle Gabler: Yeah, that horrible Pokey Ball. There was a limitation with that one, where we couldn't have two Pokey Balls in any one level. Or the game would explode.
Ron Carmel: No! I fixed that!
Kyle Gabler: You did?! Well, that's why he's lonely. But apparently he could have been a social butterfly.
Ron Carmel: A perfect example of how technology influences game design.