In the realm of video games, there’s been flight simulators, driving simulators, even city planning simulators. And now there’s Goat Simulator from Sweden’s Coffee Stain Studios. With the game recently released on PC, and now being distributed in the U.S. by Deep Silver (y’know, the Saints Row people) — the Mac and Linux versions are available through the game’s website — I spoke to Line Jakobsen — who says “We haven’t really done titles for Goat Simulator, but executive director of goating sounds like a suitable title for me” — about the origins of this species.
For those unfamiliar with the game, what exactly is Goat Simulator and how do you play it?
Goat Simulator is a game in which you simulate the life of a goat. You put yourself in the hoofs of the goat, and experience what life is like as a goat. You spend your time rampaging around, causing havoc for humans, licking stuff, getting hit by cars, and running on walls, amongst other goat stuff.
Where did you get the original idea for it?
One of our designers brought forward the idea of making a game that was much like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but instead of getting points for doing cool tricks on a skateboard, you’d also get points for causing general havoc and doing stuff goats are not supposed to do.
And what made you think that people would want to play it for more than five minutes?
Well, the internet was fairly vocal about the need for this game to be released and, well, think about it? Who wouldn’t want to live the carefree life of a goat. It is just like being human, except without consequences.
Why did you decide to go with a goat, as opposed to a rhino or a marmoset or an insurance salesman?
Because goats are under appreciated. Go to YouTube and type in “goat,” and you’ll spend the next five hours crying from laughter. Then see if you can do the same thing when you type in “insurance salesman.”
What about a meth head? I think Meth Head Simulator could be cool. Or it would be redundant. Not sure.
Meth Head Simulator sounds like an educational simulator, which could be cool; let teens play a day in the life of a meth head, nobody would ever become a meth head after that. However, with Goat Simulator, we wanted to make a game that let people live out a dream that they could not live out otherwise.
When you were putting Goat Simulator together, and deciding how the goat would move and react in certain situations, did you go to a zoo or a farm, or even get yourselves a real goat, or did you just rely on what you knew about them from movies and cartoons?
We did visit a local goat farm, as you can see in the documentary made around Goat Simulator‘s creation [Goat Simulator: The Documentary], but the biggest inspiration was the vast amount of hilarious videos that exists of goats and their quirky ways. I think the most surprising thing we learned is that goats sound a lot like humans. We actually recorded ourselves screaming madly and added that as the “baaah” sound for the goat. Nobody seemed to notice.
Oh, and no goats were harmed in the making of Goat Simulator.
One of the interesting things you did while making Goat Simulator is that you decided to keep in some of the bugs that cropped up. Not ones that broke the game, obviously, but any that did something funny or weird. Why did you decide to do this? Or did I just answer my own question?
The development of Goat Simulator served as a way for us to blow off some steam after our last game, and have a lot of fun with it. Bug fixing clashed a bit with that initial goal, as fixing bugs is boring and time consuming, so we just skipped that part wherever we could. Fortunately, it turned out that the bugs are also funny.
It seems like this is a game that’s going to be the source of a lot of YouTube videos. Given that, did you build any systems into the game so people can capture footage and then upload it to YouTube automatically?
No, unfortunately not, but that is a great idea.
You’re welcome. Feel free to use it for Goat Simulator II: Electric Bookaloo. So another thing I wanted to ask about is the perspective. Goat Simulator is a third-person game. Did you ever experiment with playing it first-person?
We never did experiment with first person camera. We felt it was detrimental to the game experience that you wouldn’t get to see the goat’s body flip and flop around at your demand.
The reason I’m doing this interview is that Goat Simulator is now being distributed by Deep Silver. And one of the things you’re adding to this version of Goat Simulator are some four-player split-screen multiplayer modes: “Capture The Flag,” “Racing,” and “Ragdoll Hockey.” How do those mode work with a goat?
Well, being a simulator we take inspiration from real life goats, and we have observed that goats are more than capable of enjoying good team sports, so it only seemed fair to portrait that side of a goat’s life as well.
Why did you decide to make them local multiplayer only?
Goat Simulator has a lot of lovely physics in it. Unfortunately, those physics and online multiplayer do not go hand in hand, as there would be a lot synchronization issues. To add online multiplayer, we would have to remake the game from scratch, and dedicate a lot more time to its development, so we decided to go with the happy compromise of local multiplayer.
At the moment, Goat Simulator is only available on PCs, Macs, and Linux. Are there plans to also bring it to consoles or tablets?
Right now you can goat on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but the plan is to let people goat on as many platforms as possible.
Finally, Goat Simulator is not the first game you guys at Coffee Stain Studios have made. If someone really loved Goat Simulator and wanted to play another game of yours, which would you recommend they play next and why?
Sanctum 2 is our big pride as developers, we put a lot of love and effort into that game and it deserves to be played.