Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Interview

Golf Club: Wasteland Is All About Chilling Out And Playing A Few Rounds Among The Ruins Of Earth

Everyone could use a few rounds of post-apocalyptic golf

When you think of golf, you think of Tiger Woods, lush fairways, manicured greens, probably Happy Gilmore, and of course, a fashion sense that screams local yacht club. What you probably don’t think of is the apocalypse, the colonisation of Mars, and PayPal founder-cum-megalomaniac-cum-cryptocurrency influencer Elon Musk. Lucky for you, the collective minds at Serbian developer Demagog Studio did, and the result is Golf Club: Wasteland, one of the most unique premises I’ve come across in a long time. If you’re wondering what exactly I am talking about then I want you to picture this: Earth is no longer the primary address for humankind thanks to an ecological disaster. The super-rich jettisoned themselves to Mars and now Earth is used as a golfing playground whenever they feel like hitting a few balls around. If that doesn’t pique your interest in golf then I don’t know what will. I was able to sit down with Demagog Studio CEO and Golf Club: Wasteland Creative Director Igor Simic to find out a little more about the inspiration behind the game, the design process and which billionaire he’d like to play a round of golf with.

WellPlayed: Golf Club: Wasteland is an entirely new take on a golf game. Where did the idea for the game’s premise come from?

Igor Simic: If you can recall, there is a now rather internet infamous photo of these towering wildfires burning while a group of golfers just carry on with their game. Well, that was the initial spark. From there my pitch to the team was literally “Desert Golfing meets Blade Runner.” I knew I wanted to make a game that talked about the idea of climate disaster, Silicon Valley culture, consumerism, etc. but in a way that didn’t scare people off as being too in your face and aggressive. So the idea of golf, a very calm and laidback sport when played leisurely contrasting against an apocalypse just worked. 

WP: It’s not just about putting the ball in the hole though, there is a light story involved. Can you give us a quick overview? Why did you choose to have a story and how did you come up with the idea?

IS: So the overview is, civilisation on Earth has collapsed, but the ultra-rich fled to a Mars colony set up by the elite and tech billionaires. To unwind, these last few survivors sometimes take chartered flights back to Earth and play golf among the ruins. The playable character is not exactly one of these people. I don’t want to spoil it but his story is a little more than ‘some rich asshole bought his way off Earth and now plays golf.’ So while playing, you piece together his story and also what led up to civilisation falling apart and the ultra-rich having an escape plan.

From the start, the game was always meant to tell our planned story. The golfing part acts mainly as an absurd vehicle to tell it through. The thing is we never wanted it to be overly direct and forced on you. You have to want to piece it all together to understand how the world came to be this way and what is the story of the golfer Charlie. That’s all done by the diary entries at the end of the holes and the radio station stories. There is also a graphic novel that players unlock towards the end that further explains the story of Charlie. 

WP: The game has a striking art style, mixing dull bold colours with pinches of neon. What was the inspiration for this style?

IS: From the start we were always aware that for this to idea work, the wasteland had to come to life in a way that showed the melancholy of our main character and emptiness of the future world but also leave enough room for us to add interesting visual elements that lightened the mood. We needed the space to be funny and draw out the humorous premise basically. So it was important that world-building and the visual style walked this line of being equally light-hearted and bleak at the same time.

We tried to achieve this with a highly stylised approach, where every environment asset is reduced mainly to its silhouette, and colour palette was kept minimal, almost monochromatic. This way we could iterate fast on the ideas and stay visually consistent throughout the game development, without fear that we will break the mood no matter what silly idea we come up in the process. Then once something was staying in the game for sure we’d go in add a few details, but nothing over the top.

Other important aspects of the visual style were fog and pink neons scattered across the landscape. The fog helped us achieve the gloominess of the post-apocalyptic landscape. When combined with pink neons, the bluish fog created a weird contrast that was a perfect visual platform for the message we tried to send. Basically these big, noticeable ‘We were here’ signs to remind you, people not too long ago still had a life and place here.

You don’t want to miss this

From the start, the game was always meant to tell our planned story. The golfing part acts mainly as an absurd vehicle to tell it through.

WP: One element I enjoyed while playing was the radio station where people share stories from their time on Earth. How did you come up with the stories? Are they from personal experiences?

IS: Usually, I’d sketch out a story for the callers in Radio Nostalgia from Mars – one to two paragraphs and send it to an actor or foreign friend. They might adapt it to their way of speaking or if they can sing, we’d discuss an acapella song. For example, the mother that sings a lullaby to the first newborn on Mars is Sofijazz, a New York-based jazz singer. Shane, the DJ radio host voice but also the music director at the studio, also wrote two stories and he weaves them together into the radio show. You get to meet all of these characters and reminisce about the world today as if all the beautiful, small things in life had already been lost.

WP: The soundtrack is also great thanks to an eclectic mix of genres and songs that often tie in with people’s stories. How did the team decide which tunes would work and which wouldn’t?

IS: The songs came spontaneously. I’d write some lyrics, do a very bad audio recording, then Shane Berry would compose an actual melody and track demo. Then we’d either finish the song on our own or invite singers and musicians to work with us. Those are the strongest tracks, like Take my Hand, Hello Creatures or Two Astronauts.  In the end we have two hours of soundtrack, which comprises all kinds of songs, but all with an underlying synthwave, sweetly melancholy vibe.

WP: Some of the holes have an element of puzzle solving to them. How did you come up with the design of the different holes?

IS: The world-building comes first for us. We’d lay out the cityscapes to fit Charlie’s journey and then figure out each level depending on pacing, difficulty, surprise factors, etc. These are all light puzzles that add a funny twist both on mini-golfing and post-apocalyptic ruins.

WP: How many holes or levels will the game have?

IS: The final version of the game has 35 levels, each ranging in size and complexity.

WP: Playing through the game has this calming feel to it, which embodies the notion that the rich heading back to Earth for a round of golf to blow off some steam. Was this deliberate?

IS: Yeah for sure. If you listen to the radio DJ and some of the stories closely, you start to get a picture that life on Mars isn’t some laid-back, lavish vacation. Life in the colony is hard and comes with a lot of trade-offs. Mars in real life, as a planet to sustain life, absolutely sucks. Putting so much attention, effort, and resources into getting people up there long-term while we screw up Earth is such a lopsided idea to us (and to a lot of the scientific community) but yet here we are. So that’s where the idea of our rich needing something to do to go ‘relax’ comes from.

Another part of this whole feel is down to the intended design aimed at the players though. The idea behind Radio Nostalgia from Mars is to have the feeling of an interactive audiobook, a kind of intimate experience that hopefully draws you in. It’s all there to create a sort of mesmerising apocalypse where instead of being bombarded with doom and gloom from the start, you instead end up slowly and calmly facing the problems of today.

Cop that

WP: Often I find golf games more enjoyable when playing with mates. Did you ever consider adding multiplayer at all?

IS: It’s tough to say. Multiplayer for such a solitary experience feels like it would undermine the initial intent. But in general, any expansions or big add-ons really depends on how the game does.

WP: Are there any plans to add more modes or content to the game post-launch?

IS: We have a few ideas. But ideas are a dime a dozen and really easy to come up with. Making them happen is the tough part. 😀 Much of it depends on how the game does and also how the development of add-ons would impact our next game which we are also working on in tandem as we wrap up GCW.

WP: Charlie, the protagonist in the game is bald and we know Jeff Bezos is bald and has been to space recently. Is Charlie inspired by Jeff at all?

IS: Charlie is the pilot that took the elite to Mars. So he’s a real astronaut, unlike Jeff Bezos. His backstory in the game and art book partially explain his baldness and his general physical state and grumpiness. 

WP: The game features some Easter eggs of sorts regarding real-life rich folk, such as Elon Musk. How many are included in the game?

IS: The monument to Elon Musk is inspired by a German monument to Karl Marx. There are hidden references to Zuckerberg, Bezos, pop culture, games, architecture, contemporary art, social media, politics, NASA and a lot of literary references such as Moby Dick and Brave New World. To be honest, no one knows exactly how many hidden references are in the game. We kinda lost track.

WP: If you had to play a round of golf with a billionaire, who would it be?

IS: Elon Musk. Definitely. Just so I can hear some of those insane ideas come from the horse’s mouth. And if the golf course is in California, Larry David could also join us – the creator of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, SNL Bernie Sanders impersonator and an avid golfer. After all, Golf Club: Wasteland has a sketch comedy premise. We’d have to play at a course that overlooks some giant forest fire to keep with the climate theme. So the round of golf would be awkward, funny, nauseating and very cinematic.

WP: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and best of luck with the game’s launch.

IS: Thanks so much, Zach!

Golf Club Wasteland launches on September 3 on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

Written By

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

Comments

You May Also Like

Feature

Thrice the heat in the kitchen

Advertisement