If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Bossa Studios: Whole new worlds

Sky whales, grappling hooks, floating islands, the indie studio is having fun with Improbable technology

Bossa has never been a studio that has followed the herd. Surgeon Simulator offered gory, high-skill medical mayhem and I Am Bread asked players to play the role of a gluten-based hero searching for a toaster. Its next project, Worlds Adrift, is no less innovative but its ambitions feel much much larger.

It's an open, persistent world filled with flying galleons and floating islands - one that will grow to include birds and sky whales. Players have a grappling hook and hang glider to help them navigate the world and a build their own ships. This super-powered sandbox is built on Improbable's simulation technology and as one of the first developers to use it, Bossa is learning new things everyday.

"Because the game is inherently physics based you have to change the way you think"

“The whole idea of creating the game was to try to push the envelope a little bit and show people that MMOs can be more than just that cardboard thing," says Henrique Olifiers, Bossa co-founder.

"If you think of it the people that grew up playing Minecraft - it has been around now for four or five years - can you imagine having that freedom to create what you want and change the world and all of a sudden you're in an MMO where there's just a guy telling you what to do? To go there and come back?”

Improbable's technology and Bossa's ingenuity aim to challenge this idea with true persistence. Kill an animal and its bones will litter the floor. Keep killing and you can wipe out an entire species. The real physics, meanwhile, pose challenges for players that they may not have encountered before.

"Because the game is inherently physics based you have to change the way you think about stuff," explains Luke Williams, game designer.

"So people think it's a problem because their engine is rolling down hill, but where are you building your engine? You're trying to get us to solve a problem that's your fault."

The principle is the same for developer and player, building a truly persistent MMO - where a crashed sky galleon can be scavenged by other players, where an animal species can be killed off, where players can go to war - is no small undertaking.

“The ecosystem we're playing with at the moment. We have lots of models of it. It has to be able to survive, it has to be able to recover from player intervention," says Williams.

" We're not deluded into thinking we're not going to get absolute knob heads playing the game"

“In other games like Day Z you can be like a naked troll and grief people and cause problems, but here if someone has a ship they can just fly another way to another island so then you have to build a ship and it needs to be good enough to bring another ship down, then before you know it you've actually got something you could lose. It definitely won't erase people being trolls and stuff but it might change general player attitudes. That's the hope anyway. We're not deluded into thinking we're not going to get absolute knob heads playing the game.”

Both Williams and Olifiers refer to the way Eve Online's players create their own stories, and they see the same thing happening in Worlds Adrift.

“The nature of the sandbox means we want players to have little stories, like maybe in their first hour they do have an oil tanker sized thing rock up and maybe they do get slaughtered. or they help them out, or they stow aboard,” explains Williams.

“We don't have systems of ownership for islands but we suspect people might group together and decide this region of the world is now ours and they'll command an armada.”

"If you develop for more than a year and a half in isolation it's very dangerous"

The ambition is huge and the results so far impressive - the game is due for release next year with a beta planned for later this year.

“If you develop for more than a year and a half in isolation it's very dangerous. It's not what we do as well, we open up as soon as we can so people start giving feedback," says Olifiers.

A note from the editor: We accidentally published an incomplete version of this interview initially. We sincerely regret the error and any confusion this may have caused Bossa and our readers - James Brightman

Related topics
Rachel Weber avatar

Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.