Dog Park – A Game For Top Dogs

This is my new eSport

Dog Park – a local multiplayer game by Kevin Cancienne about being a dog in a dog park – was at GameCity‘s closing party in Nottingham this weekend. I think Brendan’s going to cover that in more detail in his party games column but I wanted to talk about it in a shorter post first.

The GameCity appearance of Dog Park was very exciting for me. I’ve had a build of it for a few weeks now but I only have one Xbox controller for my PC and I live ages away from most of my friends. As a result I’ve been, uh, sporadically booting up Dog Park and playing it on my own.

When you’re playing with other people the goal is to get more fun points than everyone else by running around, sniffing butts, wrassling, mounting things, standing on picnic tables, barking… you get the idea. They can try to escape if you’re attempting to mount them (dog sexual politics discussion klaxon) or, if you’re locked in a clinch you can hammer buttons and waggle the stick in the hopes of getting your opponent to roll over on his back.

WHY DO YOU ALL HATE ME

When you play alone, three other dogs spawn in the dog park but they just stand there silently. Watching you. Judging you. Hating you. The game becomes an exercise in ignoring these haters and trying to have as much fun as possible without any positive social feedback. The difficulty curve on that is pretty brutal. On the positive side it meant I knew you got lots of points for standing on top of the picnic table for ages and was thus the best at being a dog.

Take that, PEOPLE WITH FRIENDS.

13 Comments

  1. yan spaceman says:

    … just one question regarding “dog sexual politics” … if your dog successfully attempts to mount another does he get a bone? … har har!

  2. Wowbagger says:

    Looking forward to more posts with this tag: link to rockpapershotgun.com hopefully yours..

  3. Lanfranc says:

    The City Council would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. DO NOT APPROACH THEM. DO NOT APPROACH THE DOG PARK. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and, especially, do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you.

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      Philippa Warr says:

      Do you have any idea how hard it is to not acknowledge the existence of the dog park nor become consciously aware of it while writing about this game? THE THINGS I DO FOR WORK

    • Axess Denyd says:

      We are pleased to inform you that the pack of escaped libertarian dogs was actually just a group of trash bags blowing in the wind.

    • Jubaal says:

      Glad I’m not the only one who thought of Welcome to Night Vale

  4. El Spidro says:

    I was under the impression that we weren’t allowed to know about the dog park, or its hooded denizens,

    • Lanfranc says:

      But we need to know about the dog park to know that we should not know or think about the dog park.

      We are thinking too much about the dog park, aren’t we? We should probably stop. Before it’s too late.

  5. __FOXHOUND says:

    I had also been looking forward to this game ever since I heard about it – I like dogs AND Xbox controllers, so this game seemed ideal for me! I tried out a build at a local event here in Austin and it fell well short of the hype, I’m afraid.

    Gameplay was confusing – it was very difficult to tell what buttons or combination of buttons did what. Animations are canned rather than physics-based, which means there’s a lot of being “near” something, activating a move, and watching your move pop/snap into position (sort of) as it does whatever action it’s supposed to be doing. There was also a lot of null interactions (along with one or two freezes/complete losses of control, which is forgivable in an early build, but certainly doesn’t help with the experience.)

    There was only the one environment and it’s actually less than conducive to multiplayer goof-offs: there’s not much to explore after the first five or ten seconds, and going off into the corners will muck with the camera.

    The net result was usually a group of players excitedly moving up to the controls, having a riot of a good time picking what dog they each play as, and then confusedly mashing buttons for about two or three minutes before being given a more-or-less meaningless set of scores and awards. Most players didn’t seem to give it more than a one or two tries, because there doesn’t seem to be anything else THERE.

    Making a game about dogs playing around is a lovely idea, but there’s really not much a game there at this point.

    • potatojin says:

      Sorry to hear you had a bad time with Dog Park. It’s still very much a work in progress, and I agree with many of your critiques. I’m doing my best to make the game more closely match the doggy experience I hope to bring to players.

      The good news, for me, is that the game definitely responds to work. The more work I put into it, the better it gets — the build you played in Austin was worse than the build I showed at IndieCade, which was worse than what I’m currently working on.

      Thanks for giving the game a chance, and sorry again that it didn’t live up to your expectations. I’m going to keep plugging away at it.

      • __FOXHOUND says:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply! I’m pleased to hear that the game is getting better! I know you’ll wind up with a great game when you’re done, and I look forward to hearing how development progresses and playing it again when you’re closer to being done – and sharing it with all my friends. :) Good luck!!