Jenny Brewer

The Specifics of Level Design in World of Goo

World of Goo is a 2D puzzle game that requires the player to build a large variety of structures made up from the characterful goo balls that inhabit that world. The aim is for the player to create a path out of some of the goo balls enabling the rest of them to safely travel to a pipe situated in every level. I will be discussing the core specifics of the level design as well as looking at how meaning is added into the game and how a successful play experience is created.

World of Goo boasts a strong surreal world full of character and emotion. Its smooth dreamlike landscapes, pastel hues and deep darks make for a pleasing aesthetic which compliment the games theme very well. A strong technique that has been used in many of its levels is something called the savannah paradine. Savannah paradine is a term that is used to describe the arrangement of the colours on screen and their relation to the setting. If you imagine a savannah landscape, you have a rich blue sky, lush green on the horizon and a tan brown ground. It has been biologically proven that humans find this environment the most pleasing and sought after, for example many people travel abroad to hot countries where a similar environment and/or colour base can be naturally found. Judith Heerwagen, in her article on the Psychosocial Value of Space states “Drawing on habitat selection theory, ecologist Gordon Orians argues that humans are psychologically adapted to and prefer landscape features that characterized the African savannah, the presumed site of human evolution….

World of Goo is a 2D puzzle game that requires the player to build a large variety of structures made up from the characterful goo balls that inhabit that world.  The aim is for the player to create a path out of some of the goo balls enabling the rest of them to safely travel to a pipe situated in every level.  I will be discussing the core specifics of the level design as well as looking at how meaning is added into the game and how a successful play experience is created.

World of Goo boasts a strong surreal world full of character and emotion.  Its smooth dreamlike landscapes, pastel hues and deep darks make for a pleasing aesthetic which compliment the games theme very well.  A strong technique that has been used in many of its levels is something called the savannah paradine.  Savannah paradine is a term that is used to describe the arrangement of the colours on screen and their relation to the setting.  If you imagine a savannah landscape, you have a rich blue sky, lush green on the horizon and a tan brown ground.  It has been biologically proven that humans find this environment the most pleasing and sought after, for example many people travel abroad to hot countries where a similar environment and/or colour base can be naturally found.  Judith Heerwagen, in her article on the Psychosocial Value of Space states “Drawing on habitat selection theory, ecologist Gordon Orians argues that humans are psychologically adapted to and prefer landscape features that characterized the African savannah, the presumed site of human evolution….If the ‘savannah hypothesis’ is true, we would expect to find that humans intrinsically like and find pleasurable environments that contain key features of the savannah that were most likely to have aided our ancestors’ survival and well-being.”  A good game example that displays this theory perfectly is Super Mario Bros.  I believe that World of Goo references Super Mario Bros in terms of the level design, environment and structure, hence, demonstrates the savannah theory well in many of its levels.  However, it does tweak the rules slightly on some occasions- using a light tan sky instead of a blue one.  But it is certainly the lush, rich greens and rounded brown soil platforms that allow it to bend these rules and still work successfully.