Responses by William Chyr, designer, William Chyr Studio
Background: Manifold Garden is an upcoming exploration puzzle game that reimagines physics and space. Set in a beautiful Escheresque world where the laws of physics are different, the world repeats infinitely in every direction. You manipulate gravity to change your perspective and explore the world in new ways by walking on any visible surface. As you progress through the game, you gradually master the rules of the universe to restore a barren world with vegetation and life. Our target audiences are people looking for artful and unconventional games, or those who are looking for something a little different.
Reasoning: I began working on Manifold Garden back in November 2012. I had no prior game development experience, and I originally thought the game would take three months to complete, but it ended up taking almost seven years. Initially the game was called Relativity, after the M.C. Escher print that depicts a world with multiple gravities. I was inspired by the scene in the movie Inception, where the characters fold Paris in half and walked up the wall. I experimented with changing the rules of physics and space, discovering how these changes affected the architecture in the game. Living in Chicago, I am surrounded by so much architectural history; it’s only natural that architectural influences worked their way into Manifold Garden.
Challenges: Learning to design spaces that would be impossible to create in the real world. When you can change gravity and walk on any surface, a wall is no longer a barrier. When you go up a set of stairs and end up below where you started, you begin to think of architecture differently. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of ingrained notions about space, but it has also been a liberating creative process.
Favorite details: We spent a lot of time and effort to get the appearance of the edges in the game to look perfect. This involved a lot of refinement to the edge detection shader and the post-processing stack over the years. These are small details, but they make a really big impact on the visuals and feel of the game overall. Between the old and current footage of the game, you can see how the visuals have improved.
Visual influences: Manifold Garden’s art style was initially inspired by the works of M.C. Escher and old architectural drawings. I wanted to create a visual style that showcased the architecture, while also feeling warm and welcoming. I also drew inspiration from architectural styles from all over the world. I was heavily influenced by architects Tadao Ando and Frank Lloyd Wright, and you can see elements of their work throughout the game. I was also influenced by the work of manga artist Tsutomu Nihei, who depicts colossal megastructures that are impossible in real life.