Every year more and more developers are throwing their creative hats into the ‘simulator’ ring – a sub-genre of games that borders on the absolutely absurd Shower With Your Dad Simulator to the highly popular Farming Simulator series.
Brisbane-based development team Affable Games is working on their contribution to the eclectic genre with their comedy game Speaking Simulator – a game that had us in stitches while playing it at PAX Aus 2018.
For May’s Made In Australia segment we sat down with Affable Game’s Jordan Comino and Jed Dawson to find out all about their upcoming title.
We need to talk…
WellPlayed: In your own words, describe Speaking Simulator.
Jordan Comino: Speaking Simulator is about a robot that’s trying to infiltrate human society through everyday conversations. You have to manipulate the physics in order to move the robots tongue and mouth into the correct position so that right words come out.
WP: How exactly does the gameplay work?
JC: Imagine using your standard FPS controls, but used in an entirely new way. WSAD throws your tongue around inside your mouth, while you use the mouse to grab and push parts of your face around. You have a time limit to say each portion of the sentence and failing to speak fast enough will cause your suspicion to increase as well as your robot to overload and quickly breakdown. Too many mistakes and you get caught, but if you pull it off you can take over the world.
WP: Would you consider Speaking Simulator a party game of sorts?
JC: Not in the traditional sense of four people competing against each other, but it’s certainly entertaining to watch as well as play. You can play in “multiplayer mode” by having one player using the keyboard and one player using the mouse. After all, two sets of hands are better than one, or something like that.
WP: Where did the idea for Speaking Simulator come from?
Jed Dawson: I was teaching facial animation to students at QUT while doing my honours. I was thinking about how the mouth works, and also thinking about how amazingly fun and hilarious QWOP is. The idea of hilariously gamifying something that every human intrinsically understands, like walking or speech or using your hands, is cool to me.
WP: How long has the game been in development for?
JC: About 18 months. A lot of the early development was done part-time, so we estimate it’s about a year’s worth of work.
WP: What made you choose to develop this type of game instead of a traditional video game (one with a story etc.)?
JC: Well it actually does have a bit of a story! But you’re right, it’s not really what you’d call a traditional game. While we were prototyping game ideas we were also looking at the current market, and we noticed that there’s just not that many comedy games. We could make our own take on the platforming genre, or we could make something completely different and unique, and that’s’ ultimately what we decided to do.
WP: Do you believe there are any medical benefits that Speaking Simulator can provide?
JC: We’ve been asked that by a few people, and it’s taken me by surprise. While we were demoing the game at PAX Aus, some scientists from CSIRO were really interested in using it for speech or chewing studies which we both thought was really odd. But then we had a few other medical bodies suggest that it could be used to help with speech therapy or language learning, and others still thought it was a great game for people with autism or other social difficulties. It wasn’t something that occurred to us when we were originally creating the game, but now we’re really open to the idea of working with.
It’s important to maintain eye contact when talking to someone
WP: PAX Aus 2018 was the first time you’ve shown the game off publicly. What sort of reaction were you expecting?
JC: I was expecting a bit of a mixed reaction. The game is super weird, so I thought that might turn a lot of people off, but as long as the players that were into quirky games liked it, I’d be happy. In reality we drew a way bigger crowd, and people were watching and laughing at how crazy the game looked before diving in for a play themselves.
WP: What’s been the hardest mechanic to get right?
JC: That would have to be the core mechanic of the game, how do you actually say something to someone with physics? I think all up we trialled about 10-15 different mechanics, all ranging from perfect physics simulation to a DDR remake. Honourable mention goes to how difficult it was to get the tongue to feel right though.
WP: Will players be able to customise their character?
JC: A little bit! You’re able to choose your melanin and your junk, but you intentionally look like “generic human”.
WP: What platforms are you aiming to release on?
JD: We’ll release on PC; Steam, GoG, all that good stuff.
WP: Do you have a release window in mind?
JD: Soon ™
WP: Thank you so much for your time. We can’t wait to get our hands on the full game.
JC: Our pleasure! When it’s ready for release, we’ll let you know!
For more information on Speaking Simulator and Affable Games, please check out their official site.