The PAX showfloor is usually dominated by fantasy games set in a medieval or space context. One game looked to encapsulate a different fantasy – every parent’s worst nightmare. Think of the Children from Jammed Up Studios is one part “Overcooked” and one part “Who’s Your Daddy?” And to learn more about it, I caught up with the game’s producer, Adric Polkinghorne to talk all things virtual parenting.
Think of the Children – hit me with the pitch.
Think of the Children is a co-operative parenting simulator gone wrong. You are playing as parents, and you need to stop your children from getting themselves into all kinds of trouble, such as finding the bleach under the sink or ripping through a strangers luggage at the airport…. the fun stuff I got up to as a kid.
Was that where inspiration for the game came from?
For the most part, it was inspired by the things [the team at Jammed Up Studios] got up to as kids, and classic Australian hazards such as Magpies and Dingoes stealing your baby. We made the game in a 48 hour game jam (Brisbane, last October) that had the theme “love, power and surprise” and we were immediately drawn to the “love and power” on the parenting side, and thought we could add a lot of surprising hazards the children could get into.
A lot of the look of the game came from the 48 hour challenge. We needed an art style that was very quick to do, and we just kind of fell in love with it after that. Plus, we are good friends with the Crossy Road team at Hipster Whale and we love that art style and wanted to see if we could have our own twist on it.
Why did you decide to include character customisation?
When it comes to parenting, we believe there isn’t a “one size fits all” definition of a parent, and wanted the game to reflect that. The customisation is there so everyone can jump in and make their own little family, however they think it looks. Also, we knew early that we wanted players to be able to name the kids because it’s a lot funnier when a friend is drinking bleach (except in real life).
What inspired the unconventional headgear options?
We had a meeting where we just threw out ideas for hats, and it got a little wild. In the end, almost all of them got made and are unlockable in the game, but we wanted there to be a lot of different options to help drive the customisation.
So I’ve seen people some playing by themselves and others playing co-operatively. Are both modes fleshed out?
It has a full story mode that you can play single player or co-operatively. The story is that you are in court for gross negligence and have to try to prove your innocence by parenting well in different situations, that is, each level. There are twelve levels in the game that you need to progress through and each one becomes more and more extreme. The early levels are very mundane like a trip to the grocery store or to the park, later levels will have you freefalling out of an airplane, trying to put parachutes on your kids before you hit the ground.
Let’s talk about the team – how many people work on the game? And where are you based?
We are a team of 6 based in Brisbane, working online mostly from our homes or meeting up for some drinks and talking ideas.
Does anyone of the team have children?
None of us have kids, and I’m not sure if we’ll be allowed to after this.
What are your plans for Think of the Children?
At its inception, Think of the Children was made to be a party game. Moving forward I think we really want to continue to drive that party game theme with a lot more customisation of the gameplay to really get some crazy scenarios going. Bringing it to consoles also fits well with this goal, so that’s definitely in planning.
What is platform/release time frame you’re aiming for, and how can we support the game?
Think of the Children is available now on Steam!
The game has been well received at PAX Aus – we’ve had a constant crowd hanging out, people have really enjoyed it. Thanks to our publisher Surprise Attack! They have been amazingly helpful bringing us out here.
Here are some other places where you can show your support for Think of the Children: