Young Horses may be a new developer, but it has made quite an impression on the gaming world thanks to its original series Octodad. From the original freeware game Octodad to the full-fledged and forthcoming Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Young Horses is making a mark with an adventure game and hero filled with humor and heart. Cheat Code Central recently got the opportunity to ask Young Horses's Phil Tibitoski (President/Business Dev/Community Management), John Murphy (Designer/PR), Kevin Zuhn (Creative Direction/Level Design/Writing/Asset Creation), Kevin Geisler (Programmer/COO) and Majdi Badri (Designer/Writer) a few questions about Octodad, so read on to find out what the team has to say about their Cephalopod hero and his latest adventures.
CCC: Let's start this off by talking about what everyone is probably most captivated by in the initial trailer: the Octodad: Dadliest Catch theme song. It's absolutely fantastic and I wouldn't be surprised if you received Steam upvotes just for it. How did that happen?
Tibitoski: One of our programmers and CFO Devon Scott-Tunkin has a friend, Ian McKinney, out of Austin, TX who is an independent artist. Ian has released a couple different albums on Bandcamp, and he dug what we were doing with Octodad. Devon asked Ian if he'd be interested in creating a track for our first teaser trailer for the new game. The rest is history, as they say.
CCC: How do you feel when you hear people comparing Octodad to QWOP? Did QWOP factor in at all when Young Horses first came up with Octodad?
Zuhn: We love it when people mention Octodad and QWOP in the same sentence; it makes us feel more popular by association! It's a bit odd that QWOP is the comparison, given that the two games have little in common aside from funny walking. There are plenty of games about awkward animals destroying things which make for a more apt parallel. For instance Minotaur China Shop, Velociraptor Offroad Safari, and Envirobear 2000. Our direct inspiration was Jurassic Park Trespasser, but once we settled on an awkward physics game, we definitely thought of QWOP as a premier example.
CCC: Give us an example of a typical day in the life of Octodad. What kinds of challenges could he face in, say, simply getting ready and out of the house? What would players have to deal with and work around?
Zuhn: Octodad never wakes up easy. He sleeps in his suit, and it takes a lot of caffeine to get his body off the ground. He's got to flop his alarm clock off, slam some coffee together, stumble his way through breakfast (especially messy whenever he's on cooking duty), give the morning paper a read, then off to do morning chores! His wife drives him to work. Nobody wants to let Octodad drive anymore. As for players, furniture is often in the way of player's progress, but Octodad rarely bothers leaving a chair or table upright by the time he's left a room.
CCC: The initial Octodad: Dadliest Catch gameplay videos are all very active and do a great job of showing off the challenge of just moving Octodad from place to place or throwing objects. Could you give an example of some of the incorporated adventure elements? How advanced can an Octodad mission get?
Zuhn: Octodad's missions are always something that sounds simple. Get some frozen pizza, win stuffed animals at the arcade, go get your suit out of the trunk of your car, run for your life, that sort of thing. But no matter how simple it sounds, Octodad complicates his own life. Just getting that pizza might require you to break through icy packages before squeezing through the air vents. The more adventurous parts of Octodad: Dadliest Catch involve sneaking through public areas under duress without being seen!
CCC: Octodad: Dadliest Catch is clearly a game that doesn't take itself too seriously and the slapstick element is definitely present. Is Young Horses also planning to insert a lot of in-jokes or humorous items that people won't catch unless they're really paying attention to the environment as they play? I notice there was a picture of a The Cephalopod Inside Me book on the Kickstarter page.
Zuhn: It'd be a tremendous missed opportunity if we didn't cover objects in the game with tiny jokes! In Octodad's house in particular, I've already written a series of silly book synopses and newspaper articles that I don't expect anybody to read. If you study them carefully you may even find further information about the story. As far as in-jokes and references go, there is a particular level which calls for an awful lot of different products and packaging. We decided to make almost all of the products in that level into references to other indie games. It should be quite a fun metagame trying to find and identify them all!
CCC: How aware of Octodad's quirks will his family be in Octodad: Dadliest Catch? Will there be multiple difficulty levels that will allow the family to be more "forgiving" of inexperienced players?
Zuhn: Octodad's family will be rather lenient on him throughout the game. After all, they've lived with his quirks for years! However, Octodad has to be more wary around strangers in public, as well as specialists who know their way around a sea creature. We haven't really talked about difficulty levels, but we do want to make sure that the game has caveats in place to help players who are doing badly.
CCC: About how long would you say Octodad: Dadliest Catch lasts, and is there any incentive (such as collectibles) to return to the game after completing it?
Zuhn: We estimate that the game will last about four hours for new players. For players who are experienced at controlling Octodad, there are neckties hidden around the levels that take superb tentacle skill or thorough ruination of the environment to find!
CCC: Is there going to be one set ending, or will players be working towards one of multiple endings? Will there be just one happy ending for Octodad and his family? Are there perhaps bad endings that can be triggered by failing to keep up Octodad's fatherly facade?
Zuhn: What are we, Heavy Rain? Though we like to keep the gameplay open, the story is mostly linear. Letting slip the facade results in a loss (which, depending on where it happens, could be a very bad end indeed!) As for it being one happy ending...who knows?
CCC: The original Octodad had a few control issues. How did you address this in Octodad: Dadliest Catch?
Geisler: The intent of Octodad has always been to have awkward controls in order to simulate what it would be like for an octopus pretending to be a normal human father. But, there were a lot of unintentional problems that we've been able to focus on fixing since the first game. A ton of the changes are technical fixes, like more intelligent targeting, more fluid movement, elimination of physics popping, and improved leg placement accuracy. We also picked up on some usability issues like noticing that it is more cumbersome to move the mouse forward and back compared to left and right, so why not just make forward/back movement require less mouse movement?
CCC: With all of Octodad's limbs, is Octodad: Dadliest Catch being designed specifically with keyboard and mouse controls in mind? Or will there be an optional gamepad control scheme?
Geisler: The goal of the original game was to be as inclusive as we could for a PC game, and having primarily gamepad controls would have limited our audience. This time around, we are definitely intent on having gamepad fully supported and hope to support alternate control schemes and key remapping so that people can find a control scheme that works for their setup.
CCC: I noticed an early Octodad editor is already available in the wild. Have you seen fans come up with anything particularly awesome or unexpected yet?
Geisler: Not yet! Most of our fans produce great stuff in the form of Let's Play's on YouTube or through fan art. The original editor for Octodad 1 was pretty rough, so I'm not surprised to see anything big crop up yet. I figured that it didn't hurt to release it for those who were curious, though.
CCC: How supportive will Young Horses be of the modding community? Will there be a full Octodad: Dadliest Catch level editor available at launch?
Geisler: We've been putting a heavy emphasis on modability throughout our development so far. We plan on releasing the in-house level editor either at release or shortly after. There are a ton of situations and challenges we want to do but feel they would take away from the main story by being too fantastical. So, we thought it would be great to give people a chance to change up Octodad and share their creations using the base we provide them.
CCC: Will we see any DLC or expansions for Octodad: Dadliest Catch?
Tibitoski: We've definitely talked about DLC or future challenge levels we could release for the game. We've got no shortage of ideas in this respect. Only time will tell, but I know we would at least like to do DLC. A lot of this depends on demand from fans/players.
CCC: When Octodad: Dadliest Catch appeared on KickStarter, it cleared the $20,000 funding goal by $4,320. How pleased are you with the response? Especially considering the first Octodad was a freeware game.
Tibitoski: Not only did Kickstarter allow us to stay financially afloat and allow us to start our studio, but it also let us know that players were looking for a bigger/better Octodad. Just to know that players want to see more Octodad and that they're willing to support us is really great. We're glad that we have an audience of people who enjoy our work as much as we do. We knew people liked the game, but we had no idea whether or not they'd want more. It was a nice surprise to find out that they did. We're happy with the response for sure.
CCC: Back in June 2012, Young Horses offered an initial accounting of where all the Kickstarter money was going so people could see where their money went. $9,760 was left at the time and a list of ways that money could be spent. (For example, an ESRB rating, FMOD License, etc...) How much money is left now?
Tibitoski: About the same amount is currently left, as we haven't had any other big events go on as of late. The next time we need to dip into our Kickstarter money will probably be PAX East where we hope to exhibit.
CCC: Octodad: Dadliest Catch was playable at PAX. Will we see a demo online soon for the general public?
Badri: Not yet. PAX was all about gauging feedback and making sure that what we were making made sense to a more general audience. Octodad (the first) has developed a kind of cult following, but definitely has some major faults that would keep a larger release out of the hands of gamers. Our demo at PAX proved that our game was accessible to the normal gamer, but we didn't take away the awkwardness that loyal Octodad 1 players love.
CCC: What was the general reaction from people at PAX and any other conventions Young Horses has attended with Octodad?
Badri: The reactions were great! We would have two kinds of people at the booth. The first group, and majority, were unaware of Octodad and what it was. These were people we'd get in to playtest the game. The second, and our favorite, were diehard fans of the first Octodad, who would be pitching the game to their friends before we'd even start speaking.
CCC: Should Octodad: Dadliest Catch do well, could we possibly see it, or perhaps a spinoff, appear on a console or handheld?
Murphy: We've talked about and see potential for Octodad-related silliness on a lot of different platforms. Right now we're focused on the PC/Mac/Linux game. Only time will tell what else we do. One thing that we're pretty sure of is that we won't release an Octodad game for the Virtual Boy. Or will we...
CCC: What do you see Young Horses doing next? Will you remain a PC developer and perhaps further develop the Octodad IP, or could we see the group branch out and begin developing an entirely new game on another platform?
Murphy: We haven't really decided yet. We've got a lot of ideas, both for Octodad and other projects. We come up with new crazy ideas every day, and some of them are even good! We'll probably wait to decide what we're doing next until near or after releasing Dadliest Catch.
CCC: Do you have a release window and perhaps even a possible price set for Octodad: Dadliest Catch yet?
Tibitoski: Right now we're looking at a late 2013 release for the game, but it's really just an estimate. Schedules during game development frequently change, and for the most part it's just the nature of the beast. As of right now we're hoping to release at a price between $9.99 - $14.99. We haven't quite decided yet, as you really don't know how lengthy or full a game is until it's finished.
There you have it, lots of fresh Octodad: Dadliest Catch information direct from Young Horses. If you liked what you've read, follow up by visiting Octodad: Dadliest Catch's Steam Greenlight page to see the latest gameplay videos and screenshots. It'll be available sometime in 2013 through Young Horses, Steam, and other online retailers. In the meantime, you can always visit Young Horses page and go through Octodad's inaugural adventure and see if you could help him maintain his cover.
Date: October 25, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*