The lights are on
Can you describe the
basic premise/backstory for the game? What is the character that the player
controls, what is the main goal, etc.?
Haggett: The player controls a long, thin creature
with a single eye, who we're currently calling the Long Mover. It is a very
expressive thing to control, and feels a little like doodling in the air with a
kite. Each place you visit has its own goals – the world is not bound together
by a shared "plot" (this is not a hero's quest game). In some places you
definitely are helping out (someone at Sony once made the analogy to the old TV
series The Littlest Hobo, which we
really like), but in other places your role isn't so clearly defined – you
may be causing mischief or just messing around for fun.
Hogg: Causing mischief! I have never thought of it
like that before. We really want Hohokum to be a game where the player feels
comfortable just moving around spaces in a playful, expressive, creative way. What
is the "main goal" of someone who is snowboarding or flying a kite?
So far we've only seen one level of
Hohokum, which involved floating city structures. How will the other levels be
different? Will you be introducing new gameplay mechanics? Can you describe
some of the other experiences players will have in Hohokum?
Haggett: Hohokum doesn't use the common approach to
making a game where everything is made up of a kit of parts which get reused in
different ways. Instead, pretty much everything is bespoke and handmade for the
place it lives in; there is very little repetition. This makes it special, but
also hard to make – not just technically, but also in terms of communicating
things to the player, and retaining enough of a common feel to everything. We
need to ensure that we get all these crazy, different things in without the "surface"
of the game feeling bumpy or uneven.
Recently we've been adding things like swimming through
pipes full of guano, making a Ferris wheel spin really fast, and having Gibbos
throwing fruit at the bottom of a giant Baribosa.
What is your goal for
Hohokum from a design/gameplay standpoint?
Haggett: We're trying to make a game where people can
relax and just enjoy being in a space, and make their own decisions about
whether to engage with the "things there are to do" or just fly around making
fun shapes and listening to amazing music. There are enough games out there
which spend too much time telling the players what to do constantly. Turns out
this is a really tricky problem; without any guidance, some players can find
the experience unsatisfactory – they are so used to games telling them exactly
how they are supposed to be having fun that when a game doesn't do that, it
feels stressful. So a big goal for us is figuring out a way to give players
enough information about what the "goals" of the game are without this
impacting negatively on the people who are content to take things at their own
pace and figure it all out organically.
Hohokum looks like a
really unique and uplifting game. What are your thoughts on the current state
of the industry? Do too many developers use violence as a core gameplay
Hogg: Cheers! It's got kind of sad bits in it too,
though. Anyway, the state of the industry, as far as I am concerned (which
mainly means indie games) is fantastic! There are so many great games around at
the moment and loads more in development that I am excited about and none of
them use violence as their core mechanic. It is an amazing time to be playing
video games. The indie stuff that is happening these days, it feels like a
direct continuation from the kind of gaming that I was doing as a kid in the '80s.
The stuff that happened in between mostly feels like some kind of bad dream.
Haggett: I think it depends on what you mean by "too
many" developers. As Dick says, if you look at the wealth of amazing smaller
games around now, there is every reason to be optimistic. For my tastes, there
is definitely too much money and talent being spent on violent games, but that
is a direct reflection of what games people are buying. The good news is that
every year the big money is being pooled into fewer games, and every year there
are loads of opportunities for smaller, interesting games to be supported
For more on Sony's
involvement with indie game developers, check out our previews of Counterspy
and Doki-Doki Universe.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.