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This Animal Crossing-Style Exploration Game Is About Doggy Fun For All

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Butt Sniffin Pugs is an Animal Crossing-style game where players are presented with  a huge park filled with things to interact with and rewards to find. From decorating a doghouse to helping people and dogs with their problems, the game is designed to be a fun romp where players can feel free to wander and play with whatever they like.

 

What was most important for its director, Gabe Telepak, was that this style of game be open to anyone who wanted to play and enjoy life as a dog. Siliconera reached out to Telepak to talk about making his game accessible to all skill levels and abilities, hearing about the work he’s done to ensure anyone can enjoy life as a silly, smiling pug.

 

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What prompted the creation of Butt Sniffin Pugs?

 

Gabe Telepak, Director of Butt Sniffin Pugs: Simply put, we wanted to help fill the void of accessible videogames…and when I say “accessible” I mean to the point where your grandma thinks it’s accessible. I think there’s this misconception that games are only for “gamers”, to the point where people avoid the videogame space entirely…which sucks!

 

So we created Butt Sniffin Pugs in an effort to create a little virtual world where both people who do or don’t play videogames could have fun in! I’ll tell you, the best feeling we get showing our games at expos is seeing kids play the game, and then seeing them bring back their grandparents, or their mom, to play it. And instead of us explaining the game’s accessibility, hearing them explain it in their own words to their loved ones. Its those moments where a mom tells us “thanks for making a game I can play with my daughter!” or a person with a disability says “thanks for considering me!” that inspire us to make a full fledged Butt Sniffin Pugs.

 

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What sort of abilities do pugs have? What can players look forward to doing in this dog-filled world?

 

The pugs do everyday dog things! You know, everything from the standard biting, peeing, pooping, to even weirder stuff like butt rubbing.

 

Butt Sniffin Pugs (BSP) is about the joy of exploration, so the game has a day / night cycle, and different events, puzzles, and characters that appear as the day goes on. We decided to split up the content like this, so that players can define their own fun. Maybe they’ll try to raise bones to upgrade their doggie treehouse or maybe they’ll try to finish all the nighttime quests!

 

So whether you’re playing solo speedrunning all the Central Bark missions, or casually discovering wildlife with a friend, we’re trying our best to make sure BSP is fun at whatever pace you play it at.

 

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What are you looking to do with the game through your Kickstarter? What new features and places will be going into the world?

 

We’ve already established a lot of the game’s foundation through prototyping for a year, but the one thing we haven’t had time to do is flesh out Central Bark. So the Kickstarter funding would allow us to finally establish the BSP’s world design. That’s everything from making Central Bark randomly generated, to making the different “worlds”, to establishing the day / night cycle and the events that happen throughout the day, stuff like that!

 

I know people think that BSP is like a joke, with the butt stuff and its simplicity due to accessibility design, but I think they’ll soon see how much depth it’ll have. Central Bark is very Banjo-Kazooie-ish in its world design and we’re making sure that every world has dynamic music, sound, and game design, so that players are encouraged and rewarded for exploring and experimenting. 

 

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With so much to do and see in Butt Sniffin Pugs, what do you have to do to keep the player from getting overwhelmed by it all? What do you have to consider when creating a world of content the player can get lost in without actually making them feel lost?

 

You’re right! Too much freedom in a game can overwhelm a player so we try to make sure we illustrate, educate, and then expand the different possibilities a player can perform. Players are presented with a situation, and then can explore it at their leisure.

 

The wrong way to do this is when games bombard you with missions, side missions, collectables and your brain gets overloaded! WAY too much of the same thing. That’s why variance in tasks is so important and for us, Central Bark’s world design only helps that. For example, if you’ve helped more dogs in the “garden” world rather than the “lake” world, we’ve musically designed it so that the garden’s music would feel feel more complete as you complete tasks there. So that players might feel naturally compelled to travel around to “complete” Central Bark.

 

​The two things that are necessary for a player to have a unique personal experience is a large degree of freedom and a variety of choices, and I think we’ve done our best to make sure those two goals are met throughout BSP.

 

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How do you make a pug butt into a controller? How does it work? How can players get one?

 

Um…you just put a plushie pug butt on a controller? Haha! I mean…it’s basically just our way of piquing curiosity into our players. Like…the fact that players have to be uncomfortable with our controller a little before they get comfortable in having dumb joy. Seeing people interact with the little pug booty and watching their comfort zone walls come down in order to have dumb fun is what BSP is all about…having fun and experiencing the joy in videogames with somebody else.

 

It’s pretty much a trackball gamepad with 3 button inputs. Like if you wanted to..and if you could remap it, you could probably play Dark Souls with it! But that’s not our goal. We just want to use it as a tool to talk more about game accessibility. Like..the end goal for the large controller would be for it to be in arcades. We’ve already made one with the Toronto International Film Festival for their digiPlaySpace this year, and my hope would be that eventually we could mass produce BSP in arcade form but it’d be accessibility friendly! You know…like wheelchair accessible, 2 button design, etc, but we’ll see!

 

Right now we gotta make the mini pug butt controllers with IndieBox! And yeah, players can get one if they want. Some of the funding will fund controller production so that some fans can get their hands on their own BSP controllers, and so we don’t have to keep showcasing the game using the controllers we made a garage! If you fund at the $1500 tier or above you’ll get all previous rewards and 2 controllers to play BSP or other computer games with.

 

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Accessibility is very important to you in the design of the game. What work have you done in increasing accessibility?

 

Well to start with, we decided to talk with professionals on this matter. We decided early on to partner with Able Gamers because they’ve been designing for accessibility in both game and controller design for years. So when we have new game builds or controller concepts they know immediately what fixes would help like no red / green key elements for color blindness, or both audio and visual cues for those with hearing impairments, stuff like that.

 

On a larger scale I’ve recently I’ve started traveling to give talks on accessibility. It’s like surprising how many people just forget to consider it? Like…game accessibility is like choosing the vegetarian option at a restaurant. It’s not that difficult to consider, and it doesn’t negatively impact the main course..it probably just gets one more attention! All it requires is just some basic knowledge how to implement it. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard people complain about a game because it forgot to include button remapping!

 

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What sort of things do you have to think about that may not normally come to mind when focusing on accessibility?

 

Well, to start, you have to remember that everyone has a different way of playing. There is no one right or wrong way of playing with a disability. And most of the time disabled gamers just want to be able to play the game, and that means accessibility options are a must. I’d definitely recommend checking out Able Gamers “Includification” Guide. It’s got both basic and advanced options on how to add accessibility into games.

 

Even by implementing the basics like captioning, changeable font sizes, and mouse or controller sensitivity, one could make their game accommodate well over half of gamers with disabilities. Half! And while most games use some of these practices, sadly only about 15% of mainstream titles usually use these improvements.

 

For BSP at least, I’ve definitely gotten some comments that BSP doesn’t have enough depth, or it’s too simple but what matters more, the hundreds of “thank yous” or the one negative comment? Designing for the lowest denominator first and expanding the depth after allows everyone to experience your product. I think the number is that there’s around around 33 million disabled gamers in the United States alone, so why wouldn’t you try to include that demographic and reach that audience? 

Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!