Four goats go up, but only one can stay on top – because he’ll blast the others with fireballs if they try to knock him down.
The indie game Goat Punks puts two to four players in the hooves of superpowered mountain goats as they race and fight to be king of the hill.
“I was walking on the street and I saw this guy, he was walking like a pygmy goat in Sydney, and I just thought it was like the most bizarrest thing,” Goat Punks developer Alberto Santiago recalled at the 2016 SXSW Gaming Expo. “It’s like a dog, but with horns, and it just bounces around and stuff.”
Bemused by the bucking billies, Santiago dug deeper.
“I YouTubed it, and there was a like a lot of really cool videos. There was one with like 20 goats in a tree, and they just started popping out one by one. They just loved climbing trees. I thought it made sense – why not make a game about it?”
That led to a game with deceptively simple graphics, yet complex aesthetics, and easy-to-learn pick-up-and-play mechanics.
“I’m the solo developer, so I did all the art, programming, sound – I did try to do the music for it, but the music is a hard thing to do,” explained the founder of Studio Canvas. “I actually got my brother [Dennis Santiago] to do it, and he did a pretty good job.”
It took two years of hard work to make Goat Punks happen, but it was time well spent according to Santiago.
“Actually I was kind of learning how to program as I go, doing a lot of YouTube clips and just breaking up the whole project into smaller pieces.”
Although he studied design in college and worked as a 3D animator on films and game cinematics for about 10 years, Santiago never tried building a game until the developer-bug bit him.
“When you’re a 3D artist for films and stuff, you always have to work on a small piece for a massive project, and it’s hard to feel proud about something like that.”
Although Goat Punks was originally conceived as a mobile game with online multiplayer, Santiago said the gameplay just didn’t feel right.
“It was a very cold experience. You’re playing multiplayer, but you’re playing someone else that you have no idea about,” he explained. “You don’t get the bragging rights.”
After an exhibition at PAX Australia in Melbourne, Santiago redesigned the game for living room party play.
Eager goat-jumpers have a bit of a wait, as Goat Punks isn’t available yet, but Santiago hopes to have it out to the public by mid-2016. It will likely be on Steam, but Santiago wants the game on home consoles if he can raise the capital. He said he’d been “burning through” his savings so far, and is not sure the game will gain enough traction to be successful through crowdfunding.
The game is nominated for Gamer’s Voice Multiplayer at the 2016 SXSW Gaming Awards.