Yah Man Games discuss yetis and endorphins in this promotional feature.
How do you make a game that’s zany, full of character, and appeals to all walks of life? What do you turn to for inspiration? For Ren Moffat of Yah Man Games, whose debut title releases on Steam this week, the answer was obvious.
“Pixar,” he says. “We’ve tried to live by what we saw as their philosophies. That cute is good, that intelligent is good, and that if you can make something with these two facets, you can make something that appeals to all ages.”
The result is Golfy Golf, an eccentric take on a sport that’s often considered a little lower down on the excitement scale. The core rules are the same: hit a ball into a hole in as few shots as possible. But in Yah Man Games’ puzzle-focused version, the ball is replaced by a cuboid puck, the greens and fairways by a 10×10 grid, and the lakes and sand traps by hungry yetis and UFOs.
“The game idea actually originally came from a friend of mine, the digital artist and game designer Oskar Alvarado,” Ren explains. The pair had begun to discuss the idea of working on an isometric golf game, but they couldn’t agree on where to take the concept from there. “He wanted a dystopian setting, whereas I was into the idea of doing something cute, more Pixar, so we decided to go our separate ways with the project.” (The pair ended up collaborating on another game instead, which Ren describes as “like Street Fighter, except with WWE-style wrestling, all in the vein of Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling.”)
Far from the dystopian landscapes envisioned by Alvarado, Golfy Golf’s world is one of blocks, bright colours, and bouncy tunes. “I think it gives the game a wide appeal,” says Ren. “Whether I’ve achieved that is another thing, but testing from the community has been very positive.”
As development went on, the idea evolved in Ren’s mind. “Golfy Golf is very different from the original vision in terms of gameplay,” he says. While the initial idea envisioned limitless procedural levels, Ren’s project developed into a tightly controlled, hand-crafted experience, set across multiple worlds, each with its own distinct theme and challenges. And in addition to the the standard puzzle mode, Yah Man Games added modes allowing players to challenge either the CPU, or a friend.
But while the feature set has been important, it’s the quality of level and puzzle design that’s been at the forefront of Ren’s mind throughout development. “The reason why we locked in on the 10×10 grid is that, without this cornerstone rule, when trying to develop tougher end levels, the only way seemed to make the distance from the start to end further away,” Ren recalls. “But further did not necessarily mean better. Ultimately, a great game is intelligently designed to give satisfaction to the user. Appeal is all about the endorphins a good game can create with in the user when a ‘sweet move’ is made.”
The result of this shift in mindset was huge, and soon Ren saw the game evolve, become more satisfying. “I personally love sinking a shot on a hard-fought level,” he says. “Seeing the ‘ball’ sink is quite neat.” Plus, the 10×10 grid – which friends had warned him would be too restrictive, proved a hit with testers. “I think it gives each level a familiarity that is immediately comfortable,” he says, “but the variation within that is intriguing, even exciting!”
Yah Man Games released a version of Golfy Golf onto GameJolt, to gauge public opinion. The response was strong and, feedback in tow, they set out enhancing and polishing the game for its full release.
Golfy Golf will launch on Steam on Wednesday 16th May, priced at $6.99.
This is a promotional feature sponsored by Yah Man Games. What does that mean? Find out here…