Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 30, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 30, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

How Goat Simulator really did become our next IP
by Armin Ibrisagic on 03/04/14 09:37:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


How Goat Simulator really did become our next IP

Using the word “alpha” for the first video of Goat Simulator is, in retrospect, a pretty misleading term. The game was no more alpha than it was a map in Unreal Engine 3 with a goat and some props you can run into. However, the internet did what it does best and exploded. After a day or two we reached more views on the Goat Simulator video than we had in all our other trailers we’ve produced over the last few years, combined.

First screenshot of Goat SimulatorThis is the earliest screenshot of Goat Simulator, a couple of hours into the production.

Let’s rewind to the start of Goat Simulator. We had worked on the Sanctum IP for four years, and with the Season Pass for Sanctum 2 completed, we looked at other projects we could start working on. We put some of our most senior and experienced developers on pre-production on another unannounced project, and the rest of the developers, a mix of seasoned developers and newly-recruited programmers that had only worked mainly with mobile platforms and never before in the Unreal Engine. We decided we’d run a quick game jam session to train our new programmers, to get our creative juices flowing, and to relax a bit after years of tower defense.

There were a lot of great ideas going around at our office for game jam games. A lot of them were deep and complex games. I wanted to go in another direction - something totally stupid and not serious at all. After all, creativity and outside-of-the-box games was the purpose of the game jam.

At start, it was actually really hard to get people on board the project. Every developer has a super-complex and deep RPG they’ve always dreamed about making. Or a super-artistic story-based adventure. The initial game pitch was very loose, it was basically “goats are funny, let’s make a goat game”. But as the game design became more and more defined, the score system was brought in, which incidentally also made the game idea exponentially more funny, people started actually considering the project for real. They were finally turning into goats!

Some day in January, goats were in the majority. We reached the point where the studio was like “OKAY FINE, LETS DO THE GOAT THING!”. After that, things went extremely fast. It only took a few weeks before I could record the first alpha footage and put it up on Youtube. A day later I woke up, and I remember it having 77 thousand views. We were stunned, that’s more than our release trailer for Sanctum 2! Then Kotaku picked it up. 200k views. 400k. A million. Journalists calling from everywhere, not just gaming media, but Vice, The Independant, Huffington Post, even a agricultural hobbyist magazine called Modern Farmer. Goat Simulator wasn’t just our game anymore, it was spreading uncontrolled everywhere. Like a fire. A good fire though. Maybe a fire isn’t the best analogy.

Requests started coming in from everywhere to make Goat Simulator into a real game, not just as a way to play around for a couple of weeks until pre-production on another project ends. Earlier, we had thought that we could put up a download of Goat Simulator on our website in case we felt like we proud of the finished product. However, seeing as people were already asking for some pretty big features and expecting a game the size of Skyrim with goats, when it in fact was four houses and a goat on a map in UDK, we felt that wasn’t an option anymore. People were asking for mod support, goat customization, open world exploring, missions, AI for humans that would run away from you. Dozens of sites had already crowned us Game of the Year 2014.

It’s extremely scary, but also extremely exhilarating. Sure, we’ve felt a ton of pressure, but it’s also been immensely motivating. When people’s expectations of you are insanely high, there’s nothing else, and nothing better you can do than deliver!

We placed more people on Goat Simulator, made a real project plan for it (seriously, it didn’t have a project plan), and started looking at how we could add content and make the game worthy of all the hype. We put our level designers from the Sanctum series on making way more content - with the help of Nvidia PhysX and Apex, we now have a gas station that explodes beautifully, a low-gravity testing facility, a waterpark, and a breakable stonehenge. We’re even adding AI for humans that will run away from you. However, we were still unsure if Valve would even accept such a stupid game on Steam. Our CEO mailed John Bartkiw at Valve, and we got this reply back:

“DJ has started wearing a goat costume to work he’s so excited about this game.”

We were set for a Steam release. Hours later, we put up a Steam release trailer, and the internet again, exploded.

Steam support is probably the most defining and important part of Goat Simulator, it means that we can add Steam Workshop, and let players not only make their own goat, but also their own levels, props, missions, and more. People are going to make levels filled with 10 000 explosive canisters, headbutt them with a goat, and make the game crash. And that will be glorious.

We just announced the fitting April 1st release of Goat Simulator, and I’d like to say the exact same thing I said when originally pitching the idea: It could turn out great, it could also turn out terrible, but in either case, it’ll be really, really interesting.

Related Jobs

Churchill Navigation
Churchill Navigation — Boulder, Colorado, United States

3D Application Engineer
CCP — Newcastle, England, United Kingdom

Senior Backend Programmer
Guerrilla Games
Guerrilla Games — Amsterdam, Netherlands

Animation System Programmer
Square Enix Co., Ltd.
Square Enix Co., Ltd. — Tokyo, Japan



Bart Stewart
profile image
As an early fan of the "goat simulator" gag, I am delighted by this. :)

What's the point of making games if you can't grab these kinds of opportunities to enjoy entertaining people?


Armin Ibrisagic
profile image
Thanks! There's so much comedy in the film industry, but so little of it in video games. I'd love to see more dumb games like Goat Simulator in the future.

Domorat Bakaga
profile image
A really pleasant read. The guys at Portable Gaming Region wish you great success with this. Also, don't abandon the idea of Sanctum 3 in the distant future. :)

Armin Ibrisagic
profile image
Oh, it would be crazy to never do anything more with the Sanctum series. We'll definitely finish the series in one way or another, but right now we don't want to oversaturate our fans with yearly iterations or anything like that.

Alex Nichiporchik
profile image
I just love this story. Thank you, internet.

Alan Barton
profile image
A very interesting and funny read. :)

Here's an idea. After you launch your game, in the months after launch add a mod or special psychodelic coloured Llama mode, then give Jeff Minter a call and see if he'll give the mod or mode a kind of special Llama celebrity endorsement (as he is without doubt the foremost Llama supporting games developer in the world with a long history of being an all things Llama PR spokesman). He may go for it. :)

It should be easy to add a Llama mode and more importantly, it would give you another post launch PR oppotunity, in this case a cross-promotional PR oppotunity for your company and Jeff Minter, as its another funny story for the media. :)

I think its worth thinking about it. :)

Armin Ibrisagic
profile image
I actually got in touch with Jeff Minter recently, he's had a lot of great ideas for Goat Simulator. He's like the Goat guru, I think I can learn a lot from him!

Bruno Xavier
profile image
Once again we see it is all about marketing.
with proper marketing, anything sells well. Won't last long but; Still...

Dan Felder
profile image
By 'proper marketing' I guess you mean, 'putting up a joke video on youtube that wasn't even supposed to be a real game'?

Yep, all about marketing - not the intrinsic appeal of the idea.

Sebastian Bularca
profile image
Nothing random, nothing at all... Just cold-blooded deeply thought viral to become marketing initiative stuff... :)

Nicolas Arteaga
profile image
I would totally love to see it running on Mac and (why not?) Playstation.

Marc Schaerer
profile image
I love this story, because it, like Surgeon Simulator or Garrys Mod (which just started to exist a few years too early), shows that ideas that are really out the box, or any box, or the sane world ( ;) ), can gain serious traction by appealing through fun instead of brain wash attempts through eye candy.

Personally I don't think its that surprising though (aside of the pickup speed) because the game idea, as stupid as it might initially have seemed, tackles the game aspect from the right angle out of my view and thats the 'just have fun' and user experience side. Its so nuts that peoples normal expectation of HD+++ content etc don't trigger, it makes people curious to try it, be it just to see how ugly it fails.

Doctor Ludos
profile image
Awesome, really looking forward this game, especially the GOTY edition! ;)

It's good to see that improvisation can still make it to the top in a world full of cold marketing strategies fueled by AAA level budgets!

Robert Hentschke
profile image
GOTY? This is a contender for GOATY!
(Game Of All The Years)

Aaron Dave
profile image
When I first saw the trailer for the game, I paused it about a quarter way through, and said to myself: I just have to experience this first hand.

Douglas Scheinberg
profile image
This reminds me very much of "Catlateral Damage".