I am a firm believer in the old adage that “you learn something new every day” and the thing I have learned today is the word “caprine”. As equine is to horses, and ursine is to bear, so caprine is to goats. However, I didn’t start writing this article to come across all Sesame Street, I wrote it to look back to one of the silliest games I’ve ever played – Goat Simulator. So come with me, five years into the past to this game’s crazy world!
The story of how Goat Simulator came to be is a fairly interesting one. Coffee Stain Studios, who came up with the game, held an internal “game jam” one day, and this is what was developed as a kind of joke prototype. Early alpha footage managed to escape to Youtube, where it was quickly met with more attention and excitement than the studio ever thought it would garner. With the world seemingly gagging to play a game where a goat has to cause chaos, Coffee Stain Studios did what any sensible studio would do and quickly got the game into a working state, so it could be unleashed onto the masses. This occurred on PC in September 2014, and best of all, as the alpha footage showed lots of bugs and seemingly non-game breaking glitches, and these were a lot of what people seemed to like, polish was denied to the final product. And so, in 2015, finally, the game came to Xbox One, courtesy of Double Eleven, and I dived straight into its bonkers world.
And straight away I wondered “what have I done!?”. The graphics were unconvincing, the game ran poorly, and the controls seemed to be either broken or designed by someone who had never actually seen a human hand. I fumbled around the first area, a construction site in a small town, in a kind of a daze, with my tongue getting stuck to passing cars, firing me hundreds of feet into the air, and I thought I had made a hideous mistake. Slowly though, carefully at first, I began to get a handle on the way the game worked, and started to appreciate the humour in the carefully broken state of Goat Simulator. I made some headway with making the goat go where I wanted it to, and soon it began to make a kind of sense. If, somehow you know nothing of the game though, it is best described by the lead developer Armin Ibrisagic as “an old school skating game, except instead of being a skater, you’re a goat, and instead of doing tricks, you wreck stuff”, and with certain set pieces, carnage could indeed be wrought.
It all plays out as a sandbox game, and what you and your goat get up to is entirely up to you. There are some objectives, such as finding the small golden goat statues hidden around the levels, which unlock mutators that transform the way your goat looks: the Devil goat, the Angel goat, and many more, including my personal favourite, the Jetpack goat! With a jetpack, reaching higher levels suddenly became a breeze, and I still to this day have a photo of my goat standing proudly on top of the crane in the building site, having flown, jumped, bounced and largely lucked my way up there. With other areas to explore, including some sewers with familiar turtle-looking dudes to find, to a DeadMau5 style concert to enjoy/ruin, depending on your mood, there was always a lot to do.
The achievement list was varied and interesting too; just reading the descriptions gave you some idea how to achieve the requirements. Some were bonkers: how am I supposed to lick a hang-glider when it’s way up there? How do I bounce on mattresses 100 times in 30 seconds? How can I get into space?! Well, with a bit of exploration and a lot of lateral thinking, it’s amazing the things that you can achieve as a goat. Bouncing on five trampolines without touching the ground? The hardest part of that was finding five trampolines that were sufficiently close together, and the second hardest part was having sufficient control of the goat to make the jumps. However, the achievement that nearly broke me on my way to 100% completion was the Flappy Goat one. As you explore, you find a house with a tv running a copy of the Flappy Bird game, but featuring a goat instead. All you had to do to unlock the achievement was score 10 points, what could be easier? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot of things, including rocket science and brain surgery. I was however so determined to beat this game that I sat in front of my TV, playing a goat sat in front of a tv, for an entire evening until I finally got it – the 10 points required. That’s 5 hours of my life I’m not getting back.
This then was one of my proudest completions, as the demanding list of achievements made it very tricky to do, and the total mastery of the goat that was demanded wasn’t easy. This was largely down to how the game worked, as ragdoll physics and a sticky tongue shouldn’t be so much fun, but they totally were.
There were a couple of expansions released for Goat Simulator as well, with one being a kind of MMO-styled expansion, and the other a parody of Day-Z, called GoatZ. As I feared for my completion, I never played them, but having fired up Goat Simulator for the first time in almost five years (I won the last achievement on the game on the 5th of June, 2015) I can see that my future will soon involve another dose of goat related madness. It is all just as stupid, and more importantly just as much fun, today as it was back in 2015. It really never gets old, attaching your tongue to a rollercoaster, going all floppy and watching in amazement as a goat can indeed fly.
So, these are my memories of Goat Simulator on Xbox One. Now I’ve shown you mine, how about you show me yours? Did beating Flappy Goat cause you the stress it did me? Have you played the expansions, and if so, does my urge to buy them seem like a good idea? Let us know in the comments!