Released in 2008, World of Goo was the first and only full game effort made by independent developer 2D Boy. Combining their experiences in game development at larger companies with a love for physics and adventure games, Ron Carmel and Kyle Gabler formed a critically acclaimed title. True to their inspirations, World of Goo is driven by physics-based gameplay while still exploring themes such as consumerism and the media's portrayal of beauty.
World of Goo is an expansion of Tower of Goo, a small prototype made by Kyle Gabler for his Experimental Gameplay Project, a rapid prototyping community. The goal of this game was to build as large of a tower as possible, a goal that would later be adopted by World of Goo's sandbox mode, the World of Goo Corporation.
The story centers around the World of Goo Corporation, a satire of big businesses that is exploiting goo balls for profit by turning them into popular products such as cosmetics and beverages. The corporation has set up pipes throughout the goo balls' home world in order to collect them. The goo balls work tirelessly to reach these pipes, as they constantly seek adventure and see the pipes as "warm and inviting." The goo balls sucked into the pipe during each level are collected at the World of Goo Corporation, where they instinctively build a tower to the sky. While the goo balls remain blissfully unaware of most of what is going on during the story, the player guides them through a quest to stop the World of Goo Corporation and finish their journey to the sky. The story is revealed to the player through brief cutscenes along with quips from The Sign Painter, an unseen figure who communicates exclusively through signs scattered throughout the world.
The story begins in The Goo Filled Hills, a pastoral island home to many goo balls. Desiring adventure, they escape the island using large balloons in hopes of finding new lands. The story then shifts to Little Miss World of Goo, a land where beauty reigns. There, a giant statue is encountered. This statue powers the majority of the World of Goo through the raw power of its beauty. This beauty, however, is failing as the statue ages. The player orchestrates the injection of Beauty Goo into the statue, ensuring its continued operation. The rejuvenated power source allows for a mysterious factory to open at the southern region of the world.
The next region, titled Cog in the Machine, follows the journey of the goo balls through this newly formed factory where outsourcing work is done for the World of Goo Corporation. Eventually, "Product Z" is launched at the factory, converting the 2-dimensional world into 3D. An error message informs the player that he/she is incompatible with this new world, prompting him/her to seek technical support in the next level, the Information Super Highway. In this world, the goo balls find themselves inside a largely abandoned and dilapidated internet. They first upgrade the woefully outdated internet to support modern graphics, and then proceed to MOM, a spambot who teaches the player how to destroy the World of Goo Corporation. This is done by "undeleting" all of the deleted spam email in the history of the internet and sending it to the World of Goo Corporation. This plan succeeds, blowing up the corporation and returning the world to 2D.
At this point, the main objective for the player seems complete, as the corporation played the role of the villain. The goo balls, however, have been ignorant of the entire affair, and continue their tireless quest upward. The player is taken to the epilogue level, titled The End of the World. Here, the goo balls take on increasingly difficult challenges, during which The Sign Painter loses faith in their ability to succeed. In a twist ending, a sign left in the final level reveals that each and every goo ball has been sucked up by the still active pipe network and transported to what was once the World of Goo Corporation. The sign then complains that a layer of smoke from the explosion of the corporation is blocking the view from a telescope at the center of the level. The player helps by attaching flying fish to the telescope in order to raise it above the smoke, allowing The Telescope Operator (the new title taken up by The Sign Painter) to see far, eventually spotting a faraway world seemingly inhabited entirely by goo balls, suggesting that this world may have been what the goo balls were seeking during their quest upward.
In World of Goo, the player builds structures using balls of goo in order to travel from the starting position to a pipe that sucks in excess goo balls that have not been used. While completion of the level allows for progression to the next level, goo balls collected in excess of the level requirement move to the World of Goo Corporation, a sandbox level in which players compete to build the highest tower using a maximum of 300 goo balls. Some end-of-chapter levels break this convention, requiring the goo balls to reach a certain location or complete a certain task in order to move the story forward.
Goo balls come in many varieties, each with its own properties such as tensile strength and flammability. Although missteps can result in an un-winnable scenario, some levels allow moves to be undone through a limited supply of "time bugs." These bugs will regenerate gradually after being used.
The developers showed a general dislike of overly artificial UI. The game's very world map represents this idea. The idea of clicking an island in order to zoom in on it and begin playing replaced conventional menus. The game's pipe system was created in order to give an exit that felt natural and fit with the story. The above-mentioned time bugs existed in place of an "Undo" button, turning a basic utility into a part of the game world. The issue of a pre-game tutorial, which troubled developers in early builds, was solved with a concise sign in the first level. More complicated concepts are handled as they come along in later levels, typically explained by The Sign Painter. The few conventional UI components are restricted to corners, small and deemphasized. The developers showed a particular apprehension for artificial time limits, presenting the level Super Fuse Challenge Time as an alternative. The only level featuring a time requirement, Super Fuse Challenge Time involves a slowly burning chain of flammable Fuse Goo attached to the structure that the player is building. If the player does not complete the level quickly, the structure is burned to the ground, forcing the level to be reset.
Version Specific Features
- Simultaneous 4 player co-op game play.
- Online leader boards for every level were once hosted by 2D Boy. These, however, have gone down with no sign of return. Records are currently held by fan-made leader boards.
- Lack of DRM protection.
- A level editor has been completed by fans, and fully condoned by 2D Boy.
- Upon completing the final level, players access a bonus level in which they may "purchase" a blimp called the Mighty Blimp from a lone goo ball, mocking the microtransactions that have become ubiquitous in iOS games (particularly the Mighty Eagle from Angry Birds). Once purchased, this blimp floats around on the title screen. If clicked, the blimp is seen up close, trailing a banner that reads, "I bought a blimp." Once the game is exited, the blimp vanishes until it has been purchased once more.
- Unlike the other versions of the game which allow the use of 300 goo balls, the iOS World of Goo Corporation only allows the use of 200 goo balls due to hardware limitations.
- Welcoming Unit, Product Launcher, and Deliverance have been altered so that less goo balls appear on screen. The removal of these balls is relatively inconsequential, as they do not effect the completion of the levels.
- Super Fuse Challenge Time has been altered to require the collection of fewer goo balls. This is likely due to the level's strict time limit being too difficult when using iOS controls.
- Other minor optimizations were implemented, involving the removal of minor visual flairs that do not effect gameplay.
- "World of Goo Beginning" − 1:09
- "The Goo Filled Hills" − 0:25
- "Brave Adventurers" − 1:07
- "Another Mysterious Pipe Appeared" − 1:18
- "World of Goo Corporation" − 0:17
- "Regurgitation Pumping Station" − 3:40
- "Threadcutter" − 0:55
- "Rain Rain Windy Windy" − 2:45
- "Jelly" − 2:38
- "Tumbler" − 1:52
- "Screamer" − 1:36
- "Burning Man" − 1:49
- "Cog in the Machine" − 4:03
- "Happy New Year (tm) Brought to You by Product Z" − 0:54
- "Welcome to the Information Superhighway" − 1:56
- "Graphic Processing Unit" − 1:06
- "Years of Work" − 3:39
- "My Virtual World of Goo Corporation" − 1:05
- "Hello, MOM" − 0:06
- "Inside the Big Computer" − 2:21
- "Are You Coming Home, Love MOM" − 3:02
- "Ode to the Bridge Builder" − 1:25
- "The Last of the Goo Balls and the Telescope Operator" − 1:00
- "Best of Times" − 3:41
- "Red Carpet Extend-o-matic" − 4:04
- "World of Goo Corporation's Valued Customers" − 0:13
- "World of Goo Ending" − 1:09
- Supported OS: Windows® XP or Vista
- Processor: 1GHz or faster
- Memory: 512MB RAM
- Video: Any 3D graphics accelerator less than 5 years old
- DirectX® Version: 9.0c
- Hard Drive: 100MB
- OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later
- Processor: Intel Core Duo
- Memory: 512 MB
- Graphics: 64 MB
- iPhone 3GS or better
- 3rd generation iPod Touch or better
- All iPad models
- Android version 2.2 or better
- All Android tablets
- Blackberry 10
- Two free expansions were planned and later quietly canceled by 2D Boy. The primary expansion was a prequel chapter titled The Moon. It was to feature the World of Goo Corporation as a Web 2.0 startup company monetizing the moon by placing advertisements on it. Eventually, the moon is detonated and replaced by glowing goo balls. The story would be told through The Architect, a character who would likely go on to become The Sign Painter. The other planned expansion was a profanity pack, in which the nonsense chatter of the goo balls was to be replaced with good-natured profanity. The developers likened their vision to the benign crudeness of the Spring in Springfield sketch in The Simpsons.
- World of Goo won Spike TV's Best Independent Game of 2008 Award [sponsored by MT. Dew].
- The developers for World of Goo released the figures and it appears that the game had a 90% piracy rate comparing number of units bought and number of players uploading scores. Some pointed out, however, that these numbers were almost certainly somewhat skewed by the fact that each copy of the game can have up to three active profiles. Each of these profiles can upload scores independently.
- World of Goo was one of the games included in the first Humble Indie Bundle.
- The Wii version of the game was ported from the PC version in one week by programmer Allan Blomquist. Blomquist would later join Kyle Gabler as a member of Tomorrow Corporation.