Moving Out is a delightful couch co-op game and I recently asked SMG Studio's CEO Ashley Ringrose about its development.
[A.J.] Hello. There are co-op games that involve everything from cooking to renovating so what made you decide to create one based on a moving company?
[Ashley] The initial game idea actually came from Jan Rigerl over at DevM Games, our development partner on Moving Out. He was inspired after helping some of his friends move to a new apartment. They actually got together and "pre-gamed" the move by drawing out diagrams and sizing up the couch so they could work out how to get it out the doors and down the stairs.
[A.J.] There's an overarching theme of incompetence with the moving company in Moving Out. Does this originate with a bad experience that you or Jan had with movers?
[Ashley] I think anybody who has moved, especially if they've done a self-removal, will have a story to tell!
Moving is such a relatable thing to everyone either good or bad (usually bad). That's the type of scenario I find interesting to add a twist to or play in a comedic way, that's what drew SMG to the project after seeing Jan's early prototype.
I did find out that in Japan moving companies are highly respected and seen as very professional people who are good at their job. So I wonder how the game is perceived there as it might be seen as more of a fantasy scenario than relatable.
[A.J.] Very interesting. Can you summarize how the gameplay experience differs between single player, 2 player, and 4 player?
[Ashley] Well Moving Out has been designed from the ground up to be a couch co-op experience, which really maximises the zany and wacky tone and gameplay. That said, there's plenty of fun to be had if you're playing solo - we introduced a split control system so that one player can control two movers on a single controller (if they wish!) It's an advanced player experience for sure, but it's something that those looking for the ultimate one-person mover challenge should take a look at!
We've also got scale in the game so that the number of items players have to move, the truck size and the time they have to complete each level increases depending on whether there's one, two, three, or four players.
[A.J.] There are oodles of references scattered across Moving Out's game world. Are there any Easter eggs that you're particularly proud of? How about references to your previous games?
[Ashley] We've got a bunch of pop culture references from the Ninja Turtles, to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the Future, Goonies and many more. I think the art team got sick of me trying to force them all in so it's not too overloaded as we wanted it to have its own identity.
Oh, we have small references to Death Squared in there but what people don't realise is that all our games are connected. Ominicorp originally started as Smooth Moves in Packmore in 1982 and through aggressive M&A become Ominicorp some 100 years later. The bot testing in Death Squared lead to military contracts, that lead to them eventually starting a private military arm which was OTTTD.
It's basically the SMGGU (SMG Game Universe).
[A.J.] That's awesome how everything is tied together. One thing that I noticed while playing Moving Out is that after completing levels, a list of challenges unlocks. What went into the decision to lock players out of these challenges with their first attempt?
[Ashley] To be clear, we don't lock players out of the side challenges at the first attempt - if they happen to inadvertently do (or not do) a side challenge then they'll be recognised for that. All we do is not reveal to them what the side challenges are before the first time they play a level.
[A.J.] Ah, I see. The music in Moving Out is fantastic. Can you discuss the process behind composing the soundtrack?
[Ashley] Thanks very much! What's really great is that aside from two tracks, the music in Moving Out is a time capsule of compositions made in the 1980s! It actually started when one of our devs cut our initial announcement trailer to the track "The Touch" by Stan Bush, which as everyone of a certain age knows from the 1980s Transformers cartoon movie - and it worked perfectly! So we reached out to Bush and his team about potentially licensing the song for the final version of the trailer.
During that short time we'd heard back from Lenny Macaluso who was the producer/co-writer on The Touch and so many other tracks from the 1980s. He opened up his archives of tracks literally made in the 80s but never released! There were so many that were amazing we decided to change plans and use as many of Lenny's tracks as possible. We've even released the Moving Out soundtrack on Steam and Spotify!
[A.J.] Finally, are there any plans for a sequel, DLC, or updates that Moving Out players can look forward to?
[Ashley] We've been super focused on making sure Moving Out has been polished to within an inch of its life, so for now we're just enjoying the reaction of gamers as they become F.A.R.Ts. But we've built a fun "sandbox" and we're looking forward to playing in it more.