Finalist | Excellence In Design
Richard Atlas is the CEO and Alex Attar is the CTO of Clever Endeavor Games, which created Ultimate Chicken Horse.
Each year at GDC, MFA students from the NYU Game Center interview the Independent Games Festival nominees, asking them three questions about their development process. In addition to this interview, you can read all the insightful interviews from 2017 here. These conversations, and much more, will happen when the Game Center returns to GDC in 2018. Learn more about the Game Center at GDC 2017.
Corey Bertelsen: What main concept, image or question began this project?
Richard Atlas: This project started as a 48 hour game jam. One of the game jam topics was ultimate, and another one was modularity.
So the idea was always that the player was building the level, rather than being the person who was running in the level. Originally there was an idea to have a dungeon crawler, but you’d act as the person who creates the dungeon, but we realized we were in a 48-hour game jam, so we had to change the scope.
Alex Attar: I was a culmination of a lot of ideas. We compromised somewhere in the middle of all of them.
Richard: It was also a test to see if we could work well together.
Alex: Yeah, we wanted to know how we functioned together before we started a company.
Corey: Can you describe a specific experience with another game or media that influenced you as you worked on Ultimate Chicken Horse?
Alex: The physics of the game were originally very Meatboy-inspired. It’s sort of diverged from that as we were getting feedback, so it’s been tuned, but there’s still the idea of having a tight, precise platformer, which is important when you’re competing.
Richard: We weren’t really thinking about that when we were making it, but we get comparisons to “incredible machine” a lot. It ended up being a Mario Maker, Incredible Machine, Meatboy… thing.
Alex: We actually started before Mario Maker was announced, so that was an interesting coincidence, but we get compared to that a lot.
Richard: Later on, Nintendo approached us. We figured they wouldn’t be interested because they already have Mario Maker, but they liked our game.
Corey: Oh, is Ultimate Chicken Horse coming out on the Switch?
Alex: We’re working on getting the game on all available consoles right now, yes.
Richard: Aiming to come out in the summer, on XBox One, PS4 and Switch. Hopefully simultaneously, but we’ll see.
Corey: Is there a specific tool or methodology that you feel was important in shaping a unique characteristic of your game?
Richard: I think a lot of it was reacting to feedback and play-testing. We’d go to a lot of small, local shows, and see how people were reacting. A lot of changes in gameplay modes were based on feedback we’d get from getting people to play it and make suggestions.
Corey, a recovering structural engineer from Minnesota, is studying game design at NYU. He likes synaesthetic games, improvised music, and pancakes.