Organic Panic has arrived on Xbox One and looks set to mix up the platforming/puzzle genre with a madcap combination of the good fruit and veg in their fight against the evil meat and cheese. It all sounds a little strange to say the least so we thought it best to give the developers a shout and fire them a few questions. Damon Branch seemed to have his fingers in many pies and was the obvious choice!
Please introduce yourself. What is your role at Last Limb and on your Xbox One title, Organic Panic?
Hi, I’m Damon Branch – I did a bit of everything but mostly design and programming. Actually the team is mostly my brother and I, so we both did a bit of everything and the stuff we couldn’t do we brought in some expert friends to do the background art (Sylvia), comic art (Brad), and the music (Brett) – and lots of others too.
So sell it to us. Why should Xbox One gamers buy your game?
I think the best thing to say is that it really is a big, extremely fun game, and it totally sucks you in and makes you laugh – er and scream. We spent 7 years building and refining it and every review so far – except for one (always!) – really loved the game-play and found themselves positively surprised and gave it a good or great score.
Why did you decide to tell the story through a comic book style?
We made the comic as part of our Kickstarter and the game story is like a version of the comic with some bits missing (ie. the levels you play). We changed the format a bit, taking out the speech bubble etc. so we could translate it into all the languages. We actually did try doing some cinematics early on, but we just got introduced to a really good comic guy from Marvel, and it worked out so we went down that route.
Kiwi, Carrot, Coconut and Cherry sounds like a strange mix of fruit and veg. Why did you choose these above all others? Did you have plans to include more?
Yeah we had a pineapple who could create extra earth and a banana who controlled wind. Both were programmed into the game but there was so much work, we just took them out – maybe for a sequel. We have about 50 ridiculous characters designed in the universe and lots of stories so a sequel is definitely a possibility.
How did the crazy special powers come about? Which is your favourite?
We wanted to make it mechanically very diverse game-play wise, so chose to use powers that did very different things and had a totally different gameplay feel. Blasting is your standard and always fun, so that’s carrot. Cherry smashes through the earth which is just inherently fun, kiwi creates water which is a brand new experience altogether, and coconut controls gravity which is more standard yet really actually very powerful – he’s also a bit of an emo so he’s my favorite.
What were the biggest issues you faced throughout development of Organic Panic?
The water took ages. I wrote it in the CPU and then we couldn’t do anything else, so I had to throw away months of work and start again doing it in the GPU and that took even longer. I have no knowledge of physics or fluid dynamics so I just worked on it trial and error style based on intuition and how water should behave. It took a long time to figure it out. In retrospect I should have just used some standard (Navier equations) to do it.
The physics engine is a huge part of your game, how important was it to get that completely spot on?
That took ages to get right. The interactions between different types of fluids, different materials, floating, burning, breaking etc. was a lot of work. Then we just had about an entire year of fixing bugs when this interacted with that, this interacting sound etc. We had to get it right or the basic experience would be cranky so this was a massive endeavor.
How important was it to you to ensure the multiplayer crowd were catered for? Surely you could have thrown Organic Panic out there as a stand alone single player title?
Yeah we knew it would probably play really good as a coop game and it really did, so we ended up making that pretty big. The versus is really just an experiment in pure chaos with everything getting completely decimated. At a super high pace, we think it’s really good fun, especially the team versus. In the future we’d like to build out more modes.
… and further to that is there any reason why you finally settled on local multiplayer as opposed to harnessing the full power of Xbox Live?
We might do a live version but networking all the fluids is a problem – so maybe a version without the water, but it’s a lot of work to add all this. The entire game is written by me and there’s lots of elements so adding the networking would have added another 6 months at least.
Just how twisted is the gameplay found in the ‘Twisted’ bonus mode?
Well there’s 3 bonus modes, one is the same level repeated 8 times with different enemies/objects. Then there’s choosy where you choose which characters to bring into the level. There’s also a time run where you have to do 4 levels in a row before the timer dongs!
How many hours of play should the average gamer expect to find within your game?
We’ve seen people play it through anywhere between 10 and 20 hours. Some people get through the first half pretty quick and then have to don their thinking caps a bit so even if you’re an ace, it’ll test you. The coop takes a long time too depending who the weakest link is.
If you were tasked with helping out a struggling Organic Panic newbie out, what would the first piece of advice be?
Read the tutorial pop up text – that explains everything and it’s very simple, one line texts etc. Sounds obvious, but of the hundreds of people that we’ve seen play the game, only a very few stopped to read the text. I get it though, I’m exactly the same – I don’t want to read the text, I want to work it out myself too – but if you want advice then that’s it. Hypocrite!
Are there any other games you are currently working on? Should we be keeping our eyes and ears open for new Xbox One titles from Last Limb?
Not yet, we’re just focused on getting the game out there now. We’re at PAX East on April 22nd, and after that we’ll bring it out on Steam and maybe Nintendo, maybe mobile too, then we’ll look at the next steps. Honestly it will depend on how well it goes down as to whether we’ll do the sequel.
And finally, who is better? Kiwi, Carrot, Coconut or Cherry?
Coconut – he’s so slow and grumpy, he’ll make you laugh.
Many many thanks go out to Damon for spending the time to answer our questions. You can download Organic Panic on Xbox One right now and you should be keeping an eye out for our full review dropping very soon. If you want to know more about the game, make sure you are following the guys at Last Limb and their Organic Panic exploits over on Twitter and Facebook. We’re sure they’d love to hear from you!