Whether you love cakes that pack a punch, lovable poochies that know two heads are better than one, or robots in disguise, do we have one hell of a week lined up for you. In the last of a three-part interview series, with the assistance of CoatsinkSoftware, we’re chatting to the members of the dev team over at Bit Loom Games. Let’s give it up for Douglas Flinders, Henry Pullan and James Morwood:
Who Let the Dogs Out? Bit Loom Games has the Answers (Part 3: PHOGS!)
Miketendo64: In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers, provide us with some background history and detail your involvement with PHOGS!?
Douglas Flinders: I’m Douglas Flinders, artist at Bit Loom and co-designer of PHOGS!.
Henry Pullan: I’m Henry Pullan, a programmer and the composer at Bit Loom.
James Morwood: I’m James Morwood, a programmer at Bit Loom.
Douglas Flinders: The three of us share the design of the game. The three of us came together at the end of University to make PHOGS!.
After winning a competition run by the University and getting to showcase the game around the UK, we met with Coatsink who we tricked into working with us to get PHOGS! out to the world.
When Two Becomes One:
Miketendo64: Available now on various platforms, what is PHOGS!? What’s it about? How does it play and what is there for players to enjoy?
Douglas Flinders: PHOGS! is a playful puzzle adventure game starring two excited dogs connected by a long stretchy belly. You slink your way through the three worlds of Food, Sleep and Play meeting strange characters and uncovering hidden secrets along the way.
PHOGS! in the Wild:
Miketendo64: Having seen and experienced PHOGS! for ourselves last year at EGX, it’s certainly a fun game to play and one we can’t wait for, but what is your personal favourite aspect of the game?
James Morwood: I love the way the three worlds feel so different. Each one has its own vibe and yet they all make sense in the context of the silly cartoon world we created. You can go from snoozing on a mattress in Sleep World to giant bowling in Play World without questioning it.
Henry Pullan:Back when we were still able to go to events I really loved seeing it bring people together. We’d often get parents and kids turning up to play and it was always super rewarding to see a reluctant parent jump in and have a blast.
Douglas Flinders:I personally love how much the game lets you make your own fun while working your way through the levels and solving puzzles. The Phogs themselves are such an innately fun and silly character to control that whether trying to bounce on things to get where you shouldn’t, stubbornly dragging trinkets around with you or mucking about with the excitable creatures in the world there’s always a way to play beyond just completing the core task ahead.
Miketendo64: The design style for PHOGS! is absolutely gorgeous and the screenshots shared for the game always look so tasty. Are there any particular levels or environments you feel stand out the most?
Douglas Flinders: We’ve tried our best to make sure every level feels like an exciting and unique part of the world waiting to be explored. While the worlds were originally going to be a bit more generic in terms of their art, thanks to all the help from Coatsink’s talented artists we were able to get tons of lovely set piece moments that really set each level apart from one another.
As far as which parts stand out the most I think it’s different for all of us and incredibly hard to pick any one location out, I’m really looking forward to seeing what parts of the world stick out most to players and end up being the more memorable parts of the game.
Doggy Training and Development:
Miketendo64: So much can change during a game’s development cycle. What started out as a good idea is suddenly scrapped and what could be a seemingly bonkers idea, makes it in. Over the course of the development and publishing process of PHOGS!, how much has the game changed?
Douglas Flinders: The early stages of development were very rapid and within a few weeks we had the double-ended character and basic interactions of biting and stretching to solve puzzles; that much has not changed, but the worlds around the Phogs have grown immensely.
In the very early days the idea was a competitive multi-phog sports game, but that didn’t really make it past concepting. The biggest change to the game is probably the scale of the levels. When we set out we had plans for very small contained levels but they continued to grow and grow throughout development.
We never could have dreamed the game would be so full of life and as charming as it is now. We really poured our hearts into it and every level has new surprises for players, characters to meet, secrets to find and lots of strange ways to use the anatomy of the Phog to navigate the levels.
Miketendo64: How have you found working alongside Coatsink in recent months? How much of an impact has Covid-19 had on your working relationship?
Douglas Flinders: Luckily throughout development we’ve always been working remotely with Coatsink as we’re a little too far apart to travel regularly.
As such it wasn’t too hard to adjust for us as a small team especially since we had been working remotely for a while already.
I know it was a much more challenging transition for Coatsink however to get their 100+ person team set up for working from home and for the team to adjust.
Never say Never, Just not Right Now:
Miketendo64: Depending on how things go post-release, what’s the state of play with PHOGS!? Will it be on the receiving end of post-content DLC, or could it be a case of every idea devised, possibly saved for a sequel?
Douglas Flinders: We have experimented with lots of different ideas over the years while making PHOGS! and while plenty didn’t make the cut I think the current version of the game is definitely the best of what we have designed up till this point.
That being said if people really enjoy the game and want to explore more of the Phogs world we are open to experimenting with some fresh ideas or some different ways to play.
Currently there are no plans in place though as we want to make sure our attention is on getting this version of the game ready and out.
Another Piece of the Puzzle:
Miketendo64: As a highly insane puzzle game, what are some of your own favourite puzzles in the game and were there any that properly stumped you when you first experienced them?
Douglas Flinders: We always had a ton of fun while prototyping, each going away for a day and throwing together some puzzles to test on one another by the end of the day.
There were definitely some that took us a good while to solve which we’ve reserved for the later parts of each world and towards the end of the game. In a lot of ways our primary goal when designing puzzles was to stump each other by putting a twist on familiar mechanics in new and surprising ways, hopefully this makes a lot of the game feel fresh and exciting for players with no mechanics wearing out their welcome or becoming repetitive.
Give a Dog a Bone:
Miketendo64: Lastly, is there anything you wish to say to your ever growing fan base?
Douglas Flinders: We hope you enjoy the game when it comes out and we can’t wait to see people sharing their own experience of playing through, whether with friends, family or on their own!
For more PHOGS! coverage, why not check out our EXPlay as we share our full thoughts and gameplay video on what is a wonderfully delightful game.
Until next time, Keep On Gaming! We hope you enjoyed reading our Coatsink interviews!