Hi there, I’m Stu Maxwell, and, in high school, I was the nerd who played too much Quake, though I’m proud of all the custom levels I created. Today, I’m an adult nerd who makes small parts of huge shooter games by day and, for the past four years, I have also been developing my own indie game by night. That game is Shape of the World, a dreamy, exploration-driven escape to relax in after a busy day at work, or when life is not really going your way… I’m super thrilled to announce it’s coming to Xbox One on June 6 – of this year!
It’s hard to believe I’m here. Shipping a game as part of a big studio is difficult enough but trying to figure out every aspect of making a game by yourself and holding down a day job, that’s taken a bit out of me!
Of course, I am lucky enough to have a varied professional background. Back in my younger years, when I could go for months without even owning an agenda, I enjoyed completing a degree in Fine Art. The immediate result was doing some fairly uninteresting graphic design work for a while, but I finally started learning about computer graphics and went back to school.
I then discovered that my city of Vancouver, Canada has a ton of video game companies. Oh, I thought, I could make Quake levels for a living (or something like it!). Getting a job fresh out of school, I tried roles designing user interfaces (UI) and creating environments, but it took me a few years to discover a discipline I really enjoyed: creating awesome visual effects (VFX).
Within a few years, I had studied the worlds of UI, environment art, and VFX. At my next job I started scripting and making shaders, so it began to feel like I really knew my way around a game. At this point, I met up with an old friend who was making his very own game from scratch and I thought… He’s not any more magical than me; I could do this too! What I once viewed as impossible seemed at least attemptable, and I started brainstorming and sketching my idea for a unique-looking exploration game.
Starting a fresh project is super fun. Creating concept sketches and paintings, then prototypes. But eventually the plain and simple execution began and it got a lot more sweaty, especially as I tried to fit development time into my evenings after work.
Then I had a kid, so free time wore down to nothing. It’s been a major challenge to always keep poking away at the game no matter what happens in my life. I’ve always known that until I finish it, all this work won’t give me that sense of accomplishment. Plus, since the game was kickstarted, I couldn’t come to terms with the idea of letting down people who backed my project. So I held up, always pressed on, and now, maybe against all odds, I’m at the finish line. It feels amazing.
Being able to release my game on Xbox One is an achievement worthy of all the work I put into it. But I do hope you will enjoy your peaceful and relaxing journey wandering in the lands of Shape of the World. Want to learn more? Read the previous article on Xbox Wire.