It has been a year and nearly seventeen days since we ran our Kickstarter campaign. A year. A year is A TON of time, or so you might think. It’s amazing that this seemingly large amount of time has flown by so quickly. I was talking with my friend Richard Flanagan of FRACT fame about this very thing on twitter a few days ago and we both came to this realization as we both had started the new incarnations of our previously student games around the same time. Richard, being the smart guy he is, already wrote up a nice reflective post on where FRACT has been and is now headed. I figured why the heck not do the same for Dadliest Catch.
One whole year and some change.

We started the year not really knowing what it is Dadliest Catch would be by the time we would be finished with it. At the time we didn’t even have a name for the game outside of the tentative Octodad 2 because we were so eager to start work on it, but mostly because we thought the name should decidedly fit whatever story it is we were going to tell. In July 2011 we had decided on a rough story for the game that has since morphed many times to be what it is today. We launched our Kickstarter without much of a clue as to whether it would fail or succeed. With a little luck and a lot of love from all of our family, friends, and most of all our fans out there we raised what we needed to get going on the game.

By the end of the first Octodad and after receiving a ton of feedback from players we had pinpointed the things we wanted to improve about the game. We set forth with the goal of pretty much raising the quality bar in every way we think we can. I like to think that anything worth pursuing is something that has at least a small amount of mystery to it. From the very beginning there’s always a problem to solve when creating a game. What will this game be? What constitutes an experience in our world that we have to create from the ground up? How do characters act or react in our world? Are there characters? These are some of the bits we were attempting to unravel from our giant ball of yarn while making Octodad 1, and we really felt like we’d only used up a small piece of what could be so much more.

An early tech shot.
An early example of Octodad's new look.

Octodad 1 was a proof of concept that this insane idea of an octopus fathering a human family was something people could actually care about, and maybe even love. Development on Dadliest Catch started off really strong with a focus on eliminating all those ruckus causing bugs that had plagued the first game. From there we decided to let our attention lie on the tutorial level of the game. The tutorial from the first game is admitedly lacking as far as effectively teaching a player everything they need to know. We planned out our new notification system and how we would improve all sorts of player feedback to remedy this.

Although, at some point along the way we kind of lost our focus on what the game should really play like. We had started to lean more towards these extra challenging situations in which we were nearing hardcore platformer status in some ways. As of right now though that first level is solid and from our continuous playtesting we’ve found that most anyone who plays it comes out knowing what Octodad is all about: small, engaging and dramatic moments in which Octodad’s movements tell a small story within the larger context we’ve set before the player. (Thanks Davey :P) It was definitely a long road to reach that sort of balance, as it took nearly 3 months to get to that point of knowing what makes up a level of Dadliest Catch and how it should play.

While wrangling this ever changing mass that is game development our designers Kevin Zuhn, Majdi Badri, and John Murphy have all been prototyping out some interesting toys/challenges that take full advantage of a lot of the new things that our editor can do. That in itself could take up an entire post so I’ll just leave this here and let you squabble over what it might mean for the potential of what can be in the game.

It may not look like much right now, but OH THE POSSIBILITIES.

We’re currently working on 3 levels with varying levels of completion on each. It’s really difficult to talk about the levels of the game in these kinds of posts due to the fact that they sort of spoil the story to a degree if you know what they are. We will most likely reveal a bit more about these in the future, but one thing you should know is that you’ll be able to play through some of them at PAX Prime on August 31st – September 2nd. More on that in a future post as well because there are some really cool things attached.

– Phil