Project Dust is a fully-simulated virtual island world with little people trying to survive the activity of a raging volcano, rivers, tsunamis and other natural hazards. The player possesses the god hand that can divert rivers or reshape the land, hopefully keeping the people on the island alive. Chahi described the game as "an action adventure on an epic level" and "like playing with sandcastles on the beach."

Chahi hasn't made a major video game in well over a decade. His 1991 adventure game Out of this World is considered a refined and restrained classic. But following 1998's Heart of Darkness, Chahi disappeared from the gaming scene. Chahi explained his long break to me: "I wanted to travel and do some painting." And then he discovered volcanoes.

Project Dust began with Chahi deciding to make a simulated volcano. A game was shaped around it, around what he believes will be the best volcano ever made in a video game. These days his development team sometimes leaves their best-volcano-in-the-making running overnight. They return to find its lava has spilled and cooled and grown the land around it. It's nearly natural and it is fully thrilling.


Atop this post is a Chachi-shot photo of the Piton de la Fournaise, the Dolomieu crater on Reunion Island, one of the many real volcanoes to impress Chahi. It is an inspiration for the one we will be able to play with in the spring. And if you listen to the rumbling and whistling of Project Dust's beautiful lava, we might hear the sounds, recorded by Chahi, of nature at its most powerful, captured in a video game.