How World of Goo Changed Construction Games Forever

Ever since SimCity hit shelves in 1989, gamers the world over have been obsessed with constructing their game worlds. But the truth is, revolutions wouldn’t really come that often within the genre in the following years. Fast forward 20 years, and it was not a huge triple-AAA game but a tiny indie release that changed how we perceive construction in gaming forever. This is the story of how World of Goo changed construction games forever.

What it Wasn’t

Now, I mentioned SimCity at the start, and it is right to do so, as it is the stick by which all construction games are judged. But World of Goo wasn’t a city builder. It had no electricity grid, no mortgages to take care of, no transit system to develop. But that was a good thing.

You see, that’s what everyone else was doing. Riding high on the wings of SimCity, knockoffs were impressive and sometimes better than the real thing, but rarely were they innovative.

And that’s where World of Goo comes in.

What Set World of Goo Apart

Instead of micro-managing every aspect of a city, World of Goo focused on physics. This was a radical change, reducing the scope of the game and allowing this differentiator to shine.

In the game, you must construct structures using balls of goo. The goal is to reach the goo vacuum at the end of the level with enough balls of goo to satisfy the counter.

It was a mixture of bridge-building and real-time physics, the likes of which had never been seen before. Bridge-building games would, in turn, not see the light of day for a few years to come.

Initially released on Windows and the Nintendo Wii, World of Goo became a worldwide phenomenon. It was one of the first indie games to be commercially successful, and went on to be available on 8 platforms, including Android, Linux and the Nintendo Switch.

The World of Goo Legacy

The legacy left behind by this game is hard to measure, but we’ll do our best. Firstly, the whole concept of a financially successful indie game was not really commonplace in 2008. Super Meat Boy was 2 years away, while Minecraft was still 12 months from seeing its first release. It’s no exaggeration to say that, had it not been for World of Goo, the developers of said games, and of other early indie hits such as Braid, Fez and Limbo would have not believed their ventures could be commercially sustainable.

On the other hand, World of Goo allowed the construction genre to evolve beyond decades of stagnation. Sure, it did so by breaking away from the rules, but that was exactly what was needed at the time. Would Bridge Constructor exist without World of Goo? I’d say not. Physics-based puzzles inspired by WoG are clearly seen in games outside of the genre, too, demonstrating once more the wide-reaching effect this little indie gem had on others that would follow.

Be it as an inspiration to follow one’s dream in the games industry, or as a blueprint for disruptive innovation in level design, World of Goo will go down the annals of history as a landmark moment in gaming. And now, you know why.

About Marcos Codas 257 Articles
Lover of portable gaming and horror cinema. Indie filmmaker and game developer. Multimedia producer. Born in Paraguay, raised in Canada. Huge fan of "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic 3D Blast". Deputy head at Vita Player and its parent organization, Infinite Frontiers. Like what I do? Donate a coffee: https://www.paypal.me/marcoscodas

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