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Independent Games Summit: The Evolution of 'Manifold Garden'

William Chyr (Designer, William Chyr Studio)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Summits Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

In this lecture, Chyr will discuss the evolution of Manifold Garden's design over the course of 7 years, starting from a simple puzzle prototype to the final version. It will cover the technical and visual developments, and how those impacted design decisions.

Chyr will explain in detail how early design goals led to the creation of several key elements and mechanics. For example, the decision to not use words led to architecture being a key element for pacing and narrative. Likewise, requiring the player to be able to travel anywhere they can see without invisible walls blocking their paths eventually led to the world wrapping mechanic.

Alongside the design discussion, the talk will showcase the evolution of Manifold Garden's distinctive art style. Manifold Garden did not use concept art to drive the creation of the visuals. Instead, it emerged through a close collaboration between tech and design, and happened slowly over many iterations.


Attendees will learn how the design of Manifold Garden evolved over time, and how it was shaped by key decisions made early in development. They will gain insight into how and why decisions were made, and what the team did to follow through. They will see how iconic elements in the game - the architecture and unusual physics - grew out of originally simple ideas.

Intended Audience

The target audience is game developers interested in experimental and exploratory work. Some developers might be starting a project to explore a certain idea or theme, but not necessarily know where it will take them. This talk isn't intended to offer guidelines on such an approach, but to show through real examples how such an approach worked for Manifold Garden.