31 Great Independent Developers in one month.

Interview with MagicalTimeBean

IndieMonth | 394d ago
User blog

Made by MagicalTimeBean, published by Double Fine, Escape Goat 2 is a goat-based puzzle platformer - plus a mouse. HonestDragon and Cat asked Ian Stocker about all the goatliness, more goatliness on PS4, and financial realities of indie life.

HONESTDRAGON: Was the game protagonist always a goat? If not, did you have any other animals in mind for the game?

IAN: Escape Goat 1 started as an unthemed platform game for its first few months in development. When I heard the term Escape Goat come up in conversation, I knew I had to name the game that, and that called for a goat protagonist. No other animals were in the running.  At this stage, the game was using placeholder art from Soulcaster, and even had ladders... I was happy to be rid of them, since there are enough ladders in games. I wanted to have a special laddergoat easter egg room, but never really found time to put it in.


 
CAT: Goats in indies. Are they the new vampires*? I see them cropping up in roguelikes, simulators and er, platformers...
(*Editor’s note: Obviously I’m a little behind the times, since Armin Ibrisagic has already dubbed them the new zombies)

IAN: The real question is, why did it take so long? Goats are the perfect complement to just about any game. They can be associated with everything between the occult (survival horror) and companionship (farming).

HONESTDRAGON: Did you have any inspirations for making this a puzzle platforming game?

IAN: The original inspiration was Jetpack, from the DOS days. Any single-screen puzzle game, like Lode Runner, Adventures of Lolo, or Solomon's Key were definitely gameplay inspirations. The goat's movement is a combination of Alucard and Robot Unicorn Attack.  The theme borrows a lot from Castlevania, especially the soundtrack.

HONESTDRAGON: The artwork looks amazing. Was any of it hand-drawn?

IAN: All of the art was 100% hand drawn by Randy O'Connor. Every frame of animation (and there's a ton) was hand animated and shaded in Photoshop.
 


CAT: Can you talk about the value of artwork vs gameplay? What kind of balance has to be struck in development?

IAN: Gameplay always comes first, so the tiles always needed to read properly so you know what is a platform and what is part of the background. The different gadgets have to look unique. But with that said, there are a lot of liberties we can take with the foreground and background walls in the game. Randy came up with all of the tileset concepts, and it's hard for me to pick a favorite (though it would probably be the library).  As for the music side of things, it's important that the songs have a particular pacing and energy level that drives you forward without distracting you from solving the puzzles. It took some iteration to get that down.

HONESTDRAGON: Do you have any plans to make another installment of Escape Goat in the near future?

IAN: I don't think I'm starting on EG3 any time soon--but there might be some updates in the goat world...
 
CAT: You're not planning EG3 at this time, what other ideas are bumping around in your head?

IAN: I've started tinkering with my first series, Soulcaster, to make a third installment. Over the last two years, ideas for new features in that world have been piling up, so I need to spend some time there. Who knows, I might not be able to resist including a goat this time around...

HONESTDRAGON: Any chance of the game to make an appearance on console?

IAN: Escape Goat 2 will be on PS4, launching this summer if all goes well!



CAT: We gamers are greedy. Have any thoughts about those things that may be added to the game?

IAN: I come up with new ideas every day, though tragically I have only so much time to work on stuff. I haven't done much new content since the game launched, because my focus has been on fixing bugs and distribution deals. That stuff is winding down though, so I am moving forward. I don't want to list things here because I may not follow through with them--but I would like to add another campaign, and get a free demo going at some point.

HONESTDRAGON: What did you enjoy most when making Escape Goat 2?

IAN: My favorite part of development is playtesting. I like to observe a person's reactions to the game and think of ways I can adjust things to make it more fun.

CAT: You've said more than a couple times publicly that Dark Souls is your favorite game - and that you liked it before it was cool. Can you: a) prove it? b) talk about how your favorite games inform your own game'(s') development?

IAN:Hope I "liked it before it was cool" doesn't end up as the 32-point pull quote for the article. But I will say that when I first saw it at E3, not only was I interviewed on my impressions by Adrianne Curry (video evidence at bottom), but it became an obsession for me to watch Japanese let's plays every evening after work, mostly from EpicNameBro because of English language commentary.  As for influence from this and other games, I'm not terribly aware of that happening, but I know it happens subconsciously. The Escape Goat series is not intended to be the epic onslaught that the Souls games are, so the ties are pretty thin--but I did like the minimalist tutorial the game offered, and have my own version of that in EG2.

CAT: What does being an independent developer mean to you? What do you think of the current indie scene?

IAN: We are in a very peculiar time in the history of game development. On the one hand, the rate of indie games being launched per day is increasing, so marketplaces (on PC in particular) are getting more crowded. You have to figure out how you're going to get visible. On the other hand, we have more support than ever from companies like Sony and Valve who are really showing strong support for indie game development. The big change from when I first started was the prevailing wisdom being "just focus on making a great game"... which is really a bad plan in 2014, if that's all you're doing.



CAT: What about the finances of being indie - what does this *really* look like?

IAN: Pour yourself a stiff drink. I'll just say that the average earnings of an indie is probably around zero (I can generously count negative numbers as zero), and it takes years to rise up out of that pit--excepting of course the occasional indie "out of the blue" success story. I'm still clawing my way up to making what I made before I went indie (doing game soundtracks as a contractor). I can only really do this because a) I had savings from contracting, b) I can still take occasional gigs, c) my wife works full time, d) my games are actually profitable thanks to a multitude of distribution deals and shoestring development budgets.

Day 3 | MagicalTimeBean

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Derekvinyard13  +   394d ago
If someone was play testing my game I would get so nervous thinking they wouldn't like it
randomass171  +   393d ago
I have a feeling that that anxiousness is shared by many, many devs.
kingdom18  +   393d ago
Especially considering how vocal and critical the gaming community have become, including journalist.
MagicalTimeBean  +   393d ago
I learned to distance myself from this. One trick is to always hold a pen and pad, so you can approach it scientifically. Also creating a mental barrier between myself and the game is crucial... playtesting in person isn't even so bad, because people are generally really nice and supportive. Online is another story--people can actually be pretty mean. Unlike here, where everyone is being positive... I wouldn't have guessed this is on the internet, but here we are! You guys are all amazing
F4sterTh4nFTL   394d ago | Spam
IamRhino  +   394d ago
Games should feature more goat-like creatures
Caffo01   394d ago | Spam
beepbopadoobop  +   394d ago
All these goat games, clearly subliminal advertising by goat farmers :P
randomass171  +   393d ago
Those dastardly miscreants! D:<
dictionary  +   394d ago
I really love the design.
SpeedDemon  +   394d ago
I don't really keep up with PC gaming and haven't heard of this game before, I may give this a try.
thoffman7411  +   394d ago
the hard part about having someone playtest your game, is that you never want to hear that it is bad or broken. This game is your baby. Props to Ian for having a positive outlook on the playtesting phase.
Valenka  +   394d ago
Awesome review, Cat & HonestDragon! I was looking forward to this one. I'll have to give this game a try while I'm still on my goat kick.
coolbeans  +   394d ago
Hope greater success awaits Mr. Stoker. He seems like a hard-working guy.

Cat and HonestDragon did interview questions? How did that work? Was it a 3-way Skype conversation with notes written afterwards?
#10 (Edited 394d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Cat  +   393d ago
HD asked his questions, then I emailed follow-ups and didn't want to tarnish his reputation with my silly questions :P
MightyNoX  +   394d ago
Curious why they didn't go with the traditional white goat. Would have looked more heroic...unless the sinister purple reveals a twist that the goat is actually evil?
Budobear  +   394d ago
I must have missed Escape goat 1!
jpepsi24  +   394d ago
Goats are gaining huge buzz right now
(unlike female characters) cough cough
not saying it should happen overnight and i do realize it is getting better but really a goat
AgentSmithPS4  +   393d ago
I guess that means we'll have a goat president before a female.
Disagree  +   394d ago
art is nicely done
Fullmetalevolust  +   394d ago
Excellent questions, Are goats the new vampire? hehe
It is trending at the moment. Will we have a goat of time this month for the indie spread? lol
All of the art being hand drawn is amazing, reminds me of the dedication of Vanilla ware's projects.
Unfortunately, the embedded video doesn't seem to play.
xHeavYx  +   394d ago
The video isn't loading, can't wait to hear more
ldurham  +   393d ago
Will there be an Escape Goat 3?
mydyingparadiselost  +   393d ago
Wicked artwork.
gobluesamg  +   393d ago
Yeah I really like the art style.
Juliussmith12  +   393d ago
This game looks amazing, can't wait for more.
FITgamer  +   393d ago
Vid won't load. Artwork is cool though.
ichizon  +   393d ago
I believe the actual term is "scapegoat" ^.- It still means the same though, and "Escape Goat" is a better title.
randomass171  +   393d ago
Goat Escape
A Scape Goat
The Skate Goat

There you go, more titles for future installments. :P
ExCest  +   393d ago
Hand drawn. Nice
pyrocloud7  +   393d ago
The hand drawn artwork really stands out and heps differentiate Escape Goat from other indie platformers (of which there are many). I have not played Escape Goat or Escape Goat 2 yet, however when I am satisfactorily done with Goat Simulator I might go ahead and transition into Escape Goat (which I shall henceforth dub Goatsylvania).
MrxDeath  +   393d ago
hand Drawn , looks great , love the goats :3
awesome looking game
PrimeGrime  +   393d ago
Has anyone played the first one? How is it? This game kind of reminds me of the new Deer God.

I love a good platformer.
randomass171  +   393d ago
I'm really digging the 2D art style. It has a classic, almost Disney-like quality IMO.
PSNintyGamer  +   393d ago
All these Goats
Virtua_Awesome  +   393d ago
Game looks fantastic. And it's great that the game is hand-drawn; I always love that in games.
RexDD  +   393d ago
Seriously the Art looks fantastic!
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