By Andy Na / May 8th, 2013
In a recent interview, artist/designer Richard Hogg and Honeyslug’s Ricky Hagget discussed the creative elements behind the world of their new indie game, Hohokum. This game had the support of Santa Monica Studio, which had also worked on indie games in the past, such as Sound Shapes, The Unfinished Swan and Journey.
Hohokum was introduced at IndieCade 2011, where Santa Monica Studio’s Nathan Gary was first exposed to it, though a four-year-old’s enthusiasm for an early demo prevented Sony’s staff from actually trying it at the time.
Players control a floating snake-like creature — currently called a Float Runner — that solves puzzles, rescues inhabitants, and wreaks mischievous havoc on an expressive, hand-drawn world.
Talking about the game mechanics, Hagget and Hogg both compared it to the equivalent of doodling on the air with a kite, or snowboarding with a kite. Hagget likened the game’s helping of villagers to episodes from The Littlest Hobo, where a traveling owner-less dog helps people in need before drifting off to wherever life takes him.
When asked about the game’s main goal, the creators said that they wanted to make a game that does not have an overarching directive — a world that is “not bound together by a shared ‘plot,” unlike a “hero’s quest game.” Hagget talks about making a game where players “relax and just enjoy being in a space, and make their own decisions about whether to engage with the ‘things there are to do.” According to Hagget, the game has little repetition, as “everything is bespoke and handmade for the place it lives in” — which is a little ambiguous, but may refer to an organic overworld.
To keep things constantly different and prevent them from getting stale, they added numerous elements to the game, such as “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”.
The difficulty behind this design is that players can find the experience unsatisfactory without much guidance from the game, since they are used to games telling them how to play. A major goal of the creators was to design it so players could enjoy the game with ease without interfering with other gamers who can figure out their own play-style and pacing.
When asked about the uplifting nature of the game, Hogg and Hagget both talk about their disappointment in the amount of violent games currently on the market, but remain optimistic in the uniqueness behind indie-game development, and the sheer bliss that comes from people playing them.
Here are some extra screens from Hohokum:
Expect to hear more about the game in the future.
hohokumhoneyslugSCE Santa Monica StudioSony