Everyone loves a good couch co-op game; they bring people together to share in the magic of video games, because above all things video games are fun and having fun is what it’s all about. Except when they’re not because you’re struggling to progress in a game because it’s simply too difficult for a variety of reasons.
Take Overcooked for example, it’s a co-op game adored by people all over the world as it allows partners, friends or family to play together. However, Overcooked is known for its ability to test the strengths of relationships and friendships due to its often hectic and challenging nature. In order to progress you need to have the required amount of stars. Not enough stars? Then you’ll need to rinse and repeat until you do. But what if you genuinely can’t achieve the score/time you need to earn the stars in order to progress? Then your experience with that game is often sullied. It’s a delicate balance between challenging and fun that no doubt causes developers many sleepless nights.
Moving Out, the upcoming couch co-op game from Australia’s very own SMG Studio (Death Squared), the Swedish team DevM and publisher Team17, is the next hot couch co-op game set to hit the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on April 28. Recently we were invited to SMG’s Melbourne office, where we got to go hands-on with the game as well as speak to SMG’s head honcho Ash Ringrose. While playing through a handful of the game’s levels, Ringrose was keen to emphasise how Moving Out is doing things a little different and for the better when it comes to accessibility and inclusivity.
For example, Moving Out features an Assist Mode which allows players to adjust certain elements of the game to suit their skill level and needs, such as lighter two-person lift items, reduced difficulty/longer time limits, objects that disappear once delivered and the ability to skip levels if you fail. It means that players of all ages and ability can share in the fun without needing to worry about their skill level. For Ringrose it means that he can play with his children without having to worry about ‘winning’.
Furthermore, the game doesn’t rely purely on colour-coded score graphics (gold, silver, bronze). Instead they will include motifs that allow anyone who is colourblind to identify what level of score they achieved. SMG has also made sure that the levels themselves can be navigated visually without relying on colour alone.
Another big accessibility feature is that players won’t be locked out of campaign levels because of lower scores, meaning that everyone and anyone can experience the game’s ‘story’ without the frustration of feeling gated. There are perks for those who do score higher, with more coins to spend in the game’s arcade which will unlock bonus levels and other cosmetic items.
Then there are the game’s inclusivity features with the character customisation that allows players to change skin tones and to place their character in a wheelchair. Ringrose explains that the dev team felt it was important that everyone felt included – which is why the game’s dance emotes have been designed with the wheelchair characters in mind.
It’s attention to detail in both game design and demographic that has Moving Out shaped to be a big hit in households all over the world. Hopefully more developers follow SMG’s lead and include features that may not be for you and me, but makes the game enjoyable for someone else.
Moving Out releases on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on April 28.