Oct 8, 2021 - Technology

"Sable" creators design quiet video game world with unique surprises

Stable video game.

Image courtesy of Shedworks

Open-world adventure game "Sable" may have a basic mission for players to follow, but its creators designed its gorgeous, quiet world to still hold unique surprises depending on how you play.

The details: "Sable" is the story of a young woman leaving her small village as part of a rite of passage to find a mask that best suits her.

  • It's the first game from Shedworks, the studio founded by duo Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg, who actually got their start working out of a shed.
  • It's available for Windows, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.
  • The game has no combat, instead playing out through exploration and puzzles. Its world is big, beautiful and puts curiosity at the forefront of its adventure as players can travel to whatever they see.
  • "You're trying to build moments in, but you can never rely on the player experiencing every moment in a game like this," Kythreotis told Axios. "This is completely free-form ... you just hope that the layering of it will create opportunities for those [special moments] to occur."

In designing "Sable," Kythreotis — who has a background in architecture — said that he would build the basic blocks of the game's world while hiding them from Fineberg, to get an authentic reaction.

  • "But then once I've done that once, I can't do it again," he said. "And so then I have to find a new person, to get that first fresh impression."
  • Fineberg, for his part, says he got "quite familiar" with Kythreotis' tricks — tells in the form of hanging vines, or a bird that might draw the player's attention.

What's next: Shedworks founders say that while they're working on bugs and other updates for "Sable," ultimately they'll need a break before they dive into a new title.

  • "We will probably make another video game sometime in the next five years," joked Fineberg.

One highlight of "Sable" is its music, a mix of ambient tracks and vocals from artist Michelle Zauner, also known as Japanese Breakfast.

  • According to Daniel Fineberg, getting Zauner involved in the project was easier than expected: "I just sent her a DM on Twitter."
  • Fineberg spent a lot of time in 2017 listening to the artist's latest album, "Soft Sounds From Another Planet," which led him to reach out.

Her involvement wasn't totally out of left field; Zauner has dipped into video games before, with projects like a browser-based RPG that accompanied "Soft Sounds from Another Planet" and a Simlish cover of one of her songs.

  • Fineberg and Kythreotis met up with Zauner at a pub in London to talk and immediately hit it off.
  • "I don't know if you could do that anymore," says Kythreotis of DMing.
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