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The Vibrant World Of Hohokum

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 mechanic?

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 financially.

For more on Sony's involvement with indie game developers, check out our previews of Counterspy and Doki-Doki Universe.

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