March 2013

Why I Want to Emulate an Octopus

When you work on something and fill it with love, you sacrifice pieces of yourself to your creation. Time, energy and hope are all slain on the altar of design and implementation. Octodad has put a lot of time into building something he doesn’t want to see disappear due to a misstep or thrown vase: his family. I feel the same way, sometimes, when I open the Octodad Editor and start building little worlds for him to exist in.

If there is one trait Octodad seems to have, it’s confidence. He can stride through a room, flip tables and knock down grocery shelves without seeming to really care. Our game is a stealth game where the main character is wearing his disguise at all times and we encourage the player to go hog wild on the world around them. His confidence comes from the player and the need to keep up the charade.

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I try my best to hide my own cephalopod nature as people play at PAX East.

The secret is, Octodad does care. The suspicion meter that fills when you do things that make you stand out as non-human is a symbol of Octodad’s fear. A symbol of the people around him taking note of his flaws and marking them as strange. His ultimate fear is having his family slip away when they discover what he really is.

Octodad captures our foibles. He has an inept body and his communication skills could use some serious work, but he tries. He puts effort into keeping his family happy. He honestly doesn’t mean to flip that chair or destroy a cart of watermelons, but he’ll keep going after he does it. He’ll keep trying. He overcomes his fear, and continues on even while his suspicion meter fills and people begin to whisper.

This is a trait I need to use when I work on building his world. On occasion I will tie myself up in logic when working on a level, or I get overwhelmed with something small and my own suspicion meter begins to fill. When mine hits max, though, my level doesn’t restart I become paralyzed with dread.

How will I achieve my tasks? Why does time move so fast? How could I be so stupid and make so many mistakes? These questions lead me into bouts of anxiety and insecurity. I become manic and paranoid about getting kicked off the team or drawn and quartered in the town square.

These fears only stop when I finally stand my ground and say “No”. Octodad keeps going even when his suspicion meter is 90% full. He keeps trying to keep his family happy by doing the best he can, and damnit so should I. I sit at the computer, re-open the editor and get to work as my fears sizzle away under the joy of making something that functions like it should.

Something both Octodad and I have, that we should really put more trust in, is family. I didn’t know any of the guys on the original Octodad project when it started. Since it’s release and the shrinking of the team to what we are today, I can say with confidence, that we’re a family.Blog2

And just like Octodad I don’t want to let them down.

I know I can turn to Zuhn and Chris to help me solve my crazy logic knots and go on creative explosions. That I can rely on Geisler and Devon to fix bugs and provide me with cool new toys to make the game better. That John and Phil will both be full of feedback to give and Seth will compose the right notes that tie the game all together.

We’ve all put a lot of love into making Octodad: Dadliest Catch great. When we’re hitting our strides, and are together, any sort of personal fear is lost in the confidence that we’re happy with what we’re doing and we can’t wait to show the rest of the world.

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PAX East 2013

OctodadShip

Octodad’s excited, and you should be too!

Come play Octodad: Dadliest Catch in person at PAX East in Boston, on March 22nd-24th! Visit us at booth 781. We’re part of the larger AMAZING Indie MEGABOOTH, and 6 of the 8 horses will be in attendance to show off our neat-o game for ya’ll.

Meet the PAX going horses:

  • Majdi Badri – Designer, Writer
  • Kevin Geisler – COO, Programmer, Producer
  • John Murphy – Designer
  • Seth Parker – Music/Sound Design
  • Devon Scott-Tunkin – CFO, Programmer, Artist
  • Phil Tibitoski – CEO, Community Manager, Biz Dev
Sadly, Chris Stallman our Lead Artist and Kevin Zuhn our Creative Director/Designer/Writer/Artist/Jack of all trades had to stay at the Corral to continue work on the game.

We’ll be there to answer any questions you have or just chat it up about your favorite games. We could even talk about the oatmeal flavors that best fulfill your morning needs for sustenance!

Our proposed booth layout from our meeting this past Sunday. Readable, right?

Our proposed booth layout from our meeting this past Sunday. Readable, right?

Find out more after the break!

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And Another Post

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Video Post

Questions about whether design is necessary or affordable are quite beside the point: design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all. Everyone makes design decisions all the time without realizing its like Moliere’s M. Jourdain who discovered he had been speaking prose all his life—and good design is simply the result of making these decisions consciously, at the right stage, and in consultation with others as the need arises.

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Design is Science

Visual design is often the polar opposite of engineering: trading hard edges for subjective decisions based on gut feelings and personal experiences. It’s messy, unpredictable, and notoriously hard to measure. The apparently erratic behavior of artists drives engineers bananas. Their decisions seem arbitrary and risk everything with no guaranteed benefit.

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Design the Right Way

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