Have you picked up Octodad: Deadliest Catch yet? If you haven’t experienced the crazy world that Young Horses created you should read our review! We caught up with Young Horses President Phil Tibitoski around the game’s launch and hell tells us about the inspirations behind the game as well as working with the Vita.
Hi Phil, thanks for taking the time to talk with us! How did you all come up with Octodad?
One of the things the idea of Octodad was inspired by is the film Being John Malkovich. The idea of driving a body and managing movements in an awkward manner. The first Octodad, as a student game, was born out of a team of 18 at DePaul University which Young Horses was a part of before we existed as a studio.
Seth Parker our audio lead explains this best since he was one of the initial sparks that formed Octodad. Seth Parker, Audio Composition/Design: “We had pitched for three days of basic ideas…one page pitches. So…we split up into teams of three and four and basically sat around for an entire day, banging our heads against the wall, trying to come up with eight-page pitches to bring back to the team… John Murphy, one of the artists and I were in a group together and we were like, ‘okay lets just go crazy.’ Somebody said something that reminded me of Descartes so I was like, ‘what if you were kind of a passenger in your own body?’ And then someone was like, ‘what if you were driving your own body?’ ‘What if you’re a guy inside a robot and you were driving them?’ ‘What if you’re an octopus in your head?’ ‘Well, what if you’re just an octopus?’ And that was how it happened.”
Is there anything about the game that you don’t like? If you could have the development time all over again would you change anything?
In my opinion with Dadliest Catch we spent too much time attempting to make the game exciting in the traditional sense. The end of the game comes to a climax that doesn’t always feel like it’s a fitting thing for the Octodad universe. We could have stuck with every day situations and circumstances rather than an aquarium cafeteria blowing up, or attempting a stealth Metal Gear Solid-esque level.
We did go back and try to adjust as much as we could after we realized our mistake, but that was post-release and something we didn’t understand until the game was in players hands. It’s difficult to say because some players like this hard section of the game, and others think it’s going overboard so to speak.
What made you want to bring Octodad to the Vita? Do you think it is well suited to a portable system?
When we announced that Octodad was coming to PlayStation 4 we got a ton of great responses, and one of the things that we kept getting asked was if it was coming to PS Vita as well. We didn’t have the expertise within our own team of having released on a mobile platform like Vita before which caused some amount of hesitation. The idea was to put the game out on PS4 to see how it goes and get our feet wet with consoles in general.
Though Octodad isn’t a graphical powerhouse, it is a physics playground and so we weren’t sure if we could create a playable version on our own that would live up to the PS4 version on Vita. Sickhead Games and PlayStation had our backs in this regard and that’s when we decided getting the game on Vita was a definite possibility.
The gameplay in Octodad is suited to on-the-go play in that there are plenty of checkpoints and all the tasks in the game are split up into manageable chunks. You can mow the lawn or play one of the games in the Amazon Arcade while on the train. The game runs around 2-3 hours for most players and so it’s also great for a plane/train ride when you want to play something you can beat. The controls themselves work well on Vita since it has almost all of the same interfaces that a DS4 has as well.
How have you found developing for the Vita? Has it been a challenge to get Octodad onto the handheld?
I mentioned before that we did need some help getting the game on Vita since we’d never optimized for that kind of hardware before. A lot of the work was seeing what resolutions we could bring textures down to, and where we could reduce the amount of physics objects or characters in levels to have them run well enough to maintain the experience we wanted players to have. It was a balancing act, but I’m surprised at how well the game now runs on a platform that initially released 2 years prior to us even launching Octodad in the first place. It’s very cool to see it on the screen, and is a great/easy way to show it off to friends and family.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make to squeeze it in?
Mostly a reduction in the amount of physics objects and lowering of texture resolution. We tried to balance performance with the experience we wanted players to have. I think it turned out great.
What are your thoughts on the Vita as a system, and what do you most like about it?
It’s great for playing games that I would otherwise not get around to on PC or PS4, like Hotline Miami. The screen is one of the nicer mobile platform screens, and you can rub its back. So that’s cool.
What Vita games stand out for you? Do you have a favourite Vita game?
All the cross-buy titles are ones I end up playing on Vita instead of PS4. I’m not sure what it is, but I think Hotline Miami 1 & 2 play the absolute best on VIta. I think it might be the length of the thumbsticks? They’re shorter than the DS4 ones obviously and that works really well for the twitch gameplay. I also use the streaming play feature to play a lot of PS4 games from my Vita at home.
Would you bring any future titles to the Vita?
For sure. If the games controls can fit and it runs well there’s no reason not to.
What’s next for Young Horses?
Other than the ports we’re currently working on we don’t have any big new plans for Octodad just yet. Our next game isn’t Octodad related as we’re looking to branch out a little and see if we can escape being a one trick pony. We love Octodad, but it’s all we’ve known for like 4 years and we’re ready for a break. Our goal as a studio is to explore new and weird things that can be done with games while telling stories that people can relate to.
We want to thank Young Horses for their time. Have you picked up Octodad? Let us know what you think of Young Horses and Octodad in the comments!
This article first appeared in The Vita Lounge Magazine Issue Three. Look out for more exclusive content in the magazine soon!