At PAX Aus 2019, we were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Sam from Sad & Son about their upcoming 3D co-op puzzle platformer – Grabimals.
Alex: Hello everyone, this is Alex from Switchaboo and I’m joined her by Sam from Sad & Son. How are you today, Sam?
Sam: Yeah, I’m great! This is my first PAX ever actually and I’m definitely losing my voice, but it’s been great!
A: A bit overwhelming?
S: Yeah well, we’ve had so many people at the booth and we’ve had lines to play the game; I’ve just been saying, “please wait five more minutes, you’ll get there,” [laughs].
A: I can see why, it’s a very colourful game! I can see why people are drawn to it.
S: Well I’m the artist on the project, so I really wanted to make a game that looks tasty and edible, and that’s been a lot of fun!
A: I can imagine! So please tell us about Grabimals.
S: Grabimals is a 1-4 player physics-based puzzle game that has you solving puzzles by connecting together with your little grabby hands and rolling around. Maybe you’ll catch a ball; maybe you’ll flip and egg; maybe you’ll build an object or maybe something as simple as needing to cross a gap. It’s all about communicating and working together.
A: In that case, how does single-player work?
S: When playing it in single-player mode, you can swap between pieces by using the bumper buttons on the controller. That allows you to play as all the parts and as you connect, you move all of the pieces at once.
A: And will the game feature online multiplayer?
S: Probably not. We’re still pretty early into development and we still need to talk to the PC distribution platforms and think more about it then. Local co-op is really where the game is at, though.
A: Yeah, communication seems like it’s key here.
S: I don’t want to rule it out, though.
A: Of course. Does Grabimals have a plot?
S: The lore behind the game is that they are a failed/cancelled science project to which the scientists are about to throw them out because they’ve lost their funding. Now, the Grabimals have to prove their worth or escape before the night is over.
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A: That’s hilarious! I noticed some really clever puzzles as well, the shadow puzzle in particular. How does that work?
S: Ian is the programmer but essentially, it’s doing shadow detection. The players are tasked with looking at a shadow shape and match that up with their own creation.
A: Where’d you come up with the idea for Grabimals?
S: The gameplay is pretty crazy! I played a lot of games as a kid and my parents would get motion sick and they weren’t really interested, so I wanted to make a game that someone could play with their kid or their loved ones and get together to have a good time.
A: How long has Grabimals been in development for?
S: About a year. Ian and I are only part-time developers where we work on our Sundays. It’s been pretty hard but we’ve got the day job in order to the pay the bills.
A: You and me, both.
Both: [Sad laughter]
A: So apart from not having enough time, what have been some challenges that you’ve faced in the game’s development?
S: Well, I’ve been making games since I was fourteen. I’ve been working in this industry for a while now and Ian is probably the best programmer I’ve ever worked with. So this isn’t really a challenge, but we have very similar tastes but our minds work completely differently, which I think works really well. We usually have a different plan of attack each time. If I had to choose one main challenge, it’d probably be the control scheme. Making sure that the players understand everything that they can do is tricky but I think that once people get the hang of it, they can pull off some pretty crazy stuff.
A: As I unfortunately haven’t played the game myself, it does seem a bit complicated.
S: Yeah well, it’s basically a matter of many hands make light work and you need to use the shapes to your advantage. Connect, roll and flip and it will all usually come together.
A: And it’s just the two of you working on Grabimals?
S: Yeah, just us. We’ve recently received funding from Film Victoria, which is great!
A: Congratulations! So where can people go to learn more about Grabimals?
A: Fantastic, thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Sam.
S: Cheers, mate!
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