Blog Archives

Playtesting with Little to no Budget

Ideal testing environment?

Ideal testing environment?

Trials of Testing while Indie
We don’t have the money to hire a QA department to test Dadliest Catch for bugs and we at least didn’t think we had the resources to playtest it properly. When we started working on the game we used things we’d previously done with the first Octodad which mostly meant we reached out to friends and family to play the game. We still do this, but there’s a point where those resources either dry up in that they aren’t as interested or they aren’t as useful because at that point they’re too used to the game. At that point, like us, they’re likely unable to see the flaws we need people to point out.

There’s a time and a place for testers who are experienced and we bring them back to test new content/levels that it would make sense for them to play.  However, we also need to be consistently finding new players to make sure the game still holds up from new perspectives. The game can’t become so hard that a new player becomes lost due to not having logged the same kind of hours a more experienced player has.

Hard in this case doesn’t always mean traditional difficulty. There’s the possible situation in which we get too used to communicating to a certain subset of player, one that’s highly experienced in our chosen way of communicating to them. If we get stuck in this position then we’re alienating any one who doesn’t think in the same way. Someone needs to be able to pick-up and play the game without any interference or help from us. This is pretty obvious, but it isn’t an easy thing to achieve. This is why we need as many new testers and eyes as we can get on the game. We can’t ship ourselves digitally with each purchase to help out if and when players get stuck.

More after the break.

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Young Horses GOTY’s 2012

Have you ever been curious as to what games occupy the little free time we have? There were a ton of standout titles in 2012, and especially in indie games it was a prolific year. Here’s a look into the gaming lives of the Young Horses and some of the titles that continue to inspire us to do what we do.

Check after the break…

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Where We’re At

It’s getting towards the end of the year, making it a good time to get an overview of the progress we’ve made on the project thus far.  We ended our Kickstarter August 10th, 2011, which really marked the beginning of development, having spent the previous months kicking around what could be done with Octodad.

To give you an overview of accomplishments thus far:

Summer 2011

Fall 2011

  • Prototyped new gameplay mechanics unexplored from Octodad 1.
  • Began prototyping the Church level as our intro and tutorial to the game.
  • Showed off Octodad at MineCon and Fantastic Arcade.

Winter 2011

  • Created our first teaser trailer.
  • Settled on the story outline and level progression of the game.
  • Moved on from our first polished level (Church) while prototyping aquarium-type levels.

Spring 2012

  • Worked on the House and Grocery Store levels.
  • Finished creating the rest of the family character models.

Summer 2012

  • Blocked out additional Aquarium levels and flashback levels.
  • Continued iterating on Aquarium level blockouts.
  • Began our Steam Greenlight campaign.

Fall 2012

  • Finished up the House level and entered final stages of Grocery Store level.
  • Showed off the game at PAX Prime.
  • Succeeded in being Greenlit through Steam.

If we put our progress in terms of level content creation we get this sort of chart:

So about where are we in the project?  The consensus seems that we’re probably around 40-50%.  A large portion of the prior work was iterating on new ideas, testing them out, and building up our tech.  Not to mention, we ended up tackling some of the more content-heavy levels early on.  We have high hopes of reusing some assets and other trickery to make the latter Aquarium levels quicker to create.  Lastly, we’re still aiming for a high layer of polish with voice acting and story progression cutscenes for when we are ready to wrap up the project.

What’s been great about this project has been the evolution since we originally pitched it on Kickstarter.  For something that we weren’t sure what we could do with it, we’ve come a long way towards delivering a solid, focused, and refreshing experience.  Every time we have the opportunity to show it off to different people, we are always humbled by the great response!

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Horse Talk: Come get your Phil

Austin, TX. Photo by Rami Ismail of Vlambeer

‘Horse Talk’ is a series here on the Octodad blog where we run intra-team Young Horses interviews. The first 2 or so questions are the same for each horse, but afterwords we crowd-source the team for things they’d like to ask the interviewee.

Who are you and what is it that you do at Young Horses?

I’m Phil Tibitoski and my technical corpy corporate title at Young Horses is President & CEO. I handle a lot of the business related work for the studio and I’m also in charge of community management/outreach. If you’ve ever talked to us on Twitter or Facebook it was probably me you were chatting with!

What are your favorite games and why?

It may sound lame, but I really like games that have a lot of heart to them. I don’t usually praise games for feature-sets or things like that. Games that cause you to feel differently or just have the ability to change your mood are the ones that usually captivate me most. They aren’t always from the same genre and they don’t always make me feel the same way, but they do evoke changes in my mood. My favorite thing about games is that they can completely change your outlook on a day or time in your life if they’re well made. Some games that have done this for me include Halo, Gitaroo Man, FEZ, Brütal Legend, Hotline Miami, Rock Band, and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch on Steam’s Greenlight

Arrested Dadvelopment

When we started making Octodad: Dadliest Catch we had the ambition we still maintain today, that we very much want to distribute the game through Valve’s Steam platform for PC/Mac. (Linux too if it’s ready by the time we launch! Otherwise we’ll find another way to distribute our Linux build.)

Getting Dadliest Catch onto Steam allows us to reach a really large audience, and lets you the player get easy access to the game once it’s ready to release. Since then a lot has happened including a large amount of progress on the game itself. Recently Valve announced that it would be launching a new service for Steam called Project Greenlight.

Greenlight is a program in which smaller developers such as us can create a fan page similar to something like a Facebook fan page. The major difference is that this Greenlight page uses upvotes/likes to say to Valve, “Hey we’re fans of Octodad and we’d love to see it on the Steam store.” This acts as an attention getter for the Steam team and allows them to more quickly notice high quality or fan favorite games. This means the games you love get on Steam more quickly than they might have otherwise.

The Greenlight program has launched today, and we’ve got our page all setup to go. So, we’re putting out the call. If we can get all of our fans to spread the word and vote for us we know we can secure our spot on Steam.

This is where you amazing folks come in to play.

If you like Octodad as much as we do please vote for us here, and if you know anyone who does or might like Octodad get them to help out too!

We know there will probably be a bit of a flood of this kind of thing in the coming weeks as this service gets off the ground, but we could really use your help.

– Phil


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Horse Talk: Chris Mans the Stall

‘Horse Talk’ is a series here on the Octodad blog where we’ll be running some intra-team Young Horses interviews. The first 2 or so questions will be the same for each horse, but afterwords we crowd-source the team for things they’d like to ask the interviewee.

Who are you and what is it that you do at Young Horses?

I’m Chris Stallman, the lead artist on Octodad where I focus on characters, architecture, some UI, and just try to make the game look as pretty as I can. I do my best to squirm my way into every aspect of design on the game as well; Having all the fun of discussing ideas and making things work, without having to implement any of it (thanks designers).

What are your favorite games and why?

I’ve always been a fan of Sim games like The Sims, Sim City, and Roller Coaster Tycoon. It’s just so much fun to build things and see how they work in game. There’s a certain creative freedom that I enjoy about them. Balancing aesthetic and function. The build music for The Sims is forever burned into my skull, I’m pretty sure I just built cool houses and finally quit when I couldn’t build basements or split level homes. Pokemon has been a favorite of mine since the beginning. Playing Red version, exploring the land with my Charmander, an unopened Official Strategy Guide just in case I got completely lost, and a burning need to be the very best, like no one ever was… It was really the sense of adventure and discovery that hooked me. Finding new pokemon and evolutions was a great joy. Eventually I became a fan of shooters. I got killed by my friends in Halo, stormed Omaha Beach in Medal of Honor, and found a great clan to play Battlefield 1942 with for years. They were great ways for me to just hang around with my friends, both online and off.

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Horse Talk: Devon Explains It All

Devon Explains It All

This gemstone in our regal horse crown was put together by one of our designers John Murphy. We’ll let you figure out which head is Devon’s.

‘Horse Talk’ is a new series here on the Octodad blog where we’ll be running some intra-team Young Horses interviews. First up we quiz Devon Scott-Tunkin.

The first 2 or so questions will be the same for each horse, but afterwords we crowd-source the team for things they’d like to ask the interviewee. (Question sources are anonymous to protect the safety of the interviewer from the wrath of the interviewee.)
(Not really.)

Who are you and what do you do at Young Horses?
Am I supposed to answer this? I AM Devon Scott-Tunkin. I wear many hats but usually I can be found programming parts of the game involving Octodad’s parts, NPCAI, or the Macintosh Experience, being the netmaster and wwwdesigner, creating some promo and UI arts, and the treasuring.

What are your favorite games and why?
I am afflicted with terrible nostalgia for Ultima VII, Day of the Tentacle, Betrayal at Krondor, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Simcity 2000, Civilization II, Rock’n Roll Racing and Quest for Glory. My favorite game I’m playing right now is The Real Texas, it has one of the most creative worlds I’ve ever visited. I also get an urge to play Gain Ground and Counter-Strike, every year or so. I guess you could say I like games with strong characters and writing, a wacky sense of humor, realized worlds and deep sandbox simulations. Octodad has all of my favorite “features” (except npc scheduling, but that’s coming soon).

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Young Horses Vacay


We couldn't manage all of us in one photo. So from left to right, phantom Kevin Zuhn, Majdi Badri, John Murphy, Me(Phil Tibitoski), ghost Devon Scott-Tunkin, Seth Parker, Chris Stallman, and Kevin Geisler.

People always talk about how important things like team building and vacations are. Around June of this year we realized that we had actually been a team and had been working on Dadliest Catch for an entire year already. We’re always keeping track of how much work is getting done every week and things like that, but to realize you’ve been working on a project for an entire year is sort of a jolt to the brain.

Dadliest Catch is probably the longest running project any of us have worked on before when it comes to games. With all of us either working full time jobs and working on the game or working full time on the game itself we had yet to really take any sort of big break to recharge our horsepower. Geisler came up with the idea that maybe we should go on a team vacation and once we all hopped on board with the idea we ended up deciding to rent a cabin in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.

We all had a pretty amazing time, and it allowed us to come back to Chicago to start kicking some serious ass on the development of the game again. It also did a great job of providing some perspective on things while giving our hivemind brain some time to sort of process everything that’s gone on in the past year.

Geisler’s car broke down about 2 hours from our destination, John and I swam under a freakin’ waterfall, we played some board games, and even watched all 3 Jurassic Park films. (Even the awful ones, aka 2-3.) Oh, and we ate at Applebee’s.

We figured we’d share some of our pics that we took while we were out.

Coincidentally we didn’t have food catered or hold a depth-jam.

Pictures after the break.

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