Whole Hog Games

Episode № 102
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There is a remarkable lack of boar digging simulators. Deceptively cute and amiable Full Bore by Whole Hog is fulfilling a need, a need to dig. We talked to the Casey, Jake, and Finn a band of brothers from various mothers about boars, puzzles, and the honest truths of indie game development.

Casey Carlin returned home typhoon-wet and earthquake-shook from Japan after completing projects Hard Corps: Uprising and Nurarihyon no Mago: Hyakki Ryouran Taisen at Arc System Works. Living with lifelong friend and game development cohort Jake Federico, Casey saw the tide of indie development rising and wanted in. They always poked around at game ideas together with Finn Beazlie, the team’s artist and animator, but the indie scene was moving forward and they weren’t going to be left behind.

This is when Full Bore started development, roughly 19 months ago.  They had many ideas and plans for the direction of the game. They started out with the concept for it to be an action-arcade high score focused game in the vein of Mr. Driller. Jake had some thoughts about this build when asked about it,

“Procedural generation is one of those buzzwords…everyone is like ‘Yeah let’s make procedural generation so we won’t have to work levels and it will be great!’ Then it turns out that procedural generation is totally a non-trivial problem. To make good procedural content is super hard.”

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So they pivoted away from arcade towards a puzzler. A hub and spoke designed overworld that connected to discrete puzzles was what came out. This build of Fullbore was sent to PAX 2012 PAX 10. Full Bore wasn’t accepted and that left the team wondering. They had to do some soul searching.

That quest led to what Full Bore is now. Full Bore: First Dig is the first half of the game. It is still a puzzler but now with a rich open world environment. It reminded me of Fez. The more I played the more I discovered, which only led to more questions than answers. I found bizarre glowing orbs and shrines with gem shaped indentations. I was given no explanation as to how to divine the significance or how to interact with these monuments.

After the rejection from PAX 10, Fez came out. Casey admitted that once it came onto his radar he had to check it out. Two weeks later, with the book translated and part of the first hundred to achieve total completion of Fez Casey, Jake, and Finn were emboldened. Fez wasn’t the only inspiration, they also pointed to Escape Goat and Offspring Fling as spiritual inspiration and vindication for their plans.

“After playing them and seeing their execution of an idea either gave us our own ideas or reinforced plans that we already had,” Casey explained. He presents a powerful argument to keep tabs on contemporary games through your development. Had they not played Fez, they admitted, they would have hesitated in their execution of Full Bore. They would have been afraid to fully ‘own’ their design, to take ownership of the mechanics, the aesthetics, and the music. Jake said, “The biggest lesson from Fez was that it is okay if everyone doesn’t gets ‘it.’” This is both an incredible risk as well as incredibly freeing to make the game you want to make.

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Landon brought up Miyazaki films as a proposed inspiration. Miyazaki often features boars prominently and uses them symbolically throughout his films. They admitted that it is probably true but totally subliminal. Casey is surprised that there weren’t more moments where he saw connections to one of the many Anime shows he’s watched over the years. He did say he tried to restrain himself, “I definitely had a weeaboo and a post weeaboo metamorphosis in Japan and that is definitely a part of me that didn’t make it into the game… at least consciously.”

The guys are wrapping up on the project and are excited for the future. Jake even mentioned that they are even unsure if their next game will be a video game or a board game. Full Bore will be available on Desura come September 30th, and the game is currently available through the Humble Store. If you are looking for an incredible rich world, stacks and stacks of puzzles, beautiful pixel art, and a catchy soundtrack; Full Bore is that game for you.

  • Miguel T. Acuña

    Agreed on that one room full o’ dirt being the hardest puzzle. Took me like all night.