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02/16/21
Nintendo Switch

PHOGS! developer explains how two yapping pups became an ultimutt puzzler

Ya like dogs? What about a double-headed pooch ready for adventure? In PHOGS!, you’ll extend, bark, and bite your way through puzzles as a two-headed doggo linked by a stretchy belly.

But why a double-headed pup? A member of the PHOGS! development team explains how the game evolved into a wacky adventure starring the dynamic duo.

What is PHOGS!?

“I’m Henry, programmer, composer, and designer on PHOGS!, a weird and wonderful co-operative puzzle adventure where you share control of Red and Blue, either end of a long, wobbly double-ended dog.

IT'S ALIVE!!!!

After a few days of frantic prototyping, we had the first embryonic version of the PHOGS!, two yapping hemispheres connected by a wobbly tube body. To our delight, it was actually pretty fun to slide around the basic cube level we had set up—especially when wrestling with a friend controlling the other head. We realized we had a chance to make something really, really weird, but a double-ended gelatinous dog alone does not make a game. So, we had to work out what our doggy duo would be getting up to beyond sliding around and barking.

Double-ended dog puzzler?!

While having an atypical and quirky character is great, we knew we needed to build some interesting things for players to do to turn our toy into a game. We experimented a lot with virtually any ideas that came to mind. Platforming challenges, critter wrangling, logic puzzles, and just plain bouncing around on giant pumpkins—we tried it all!

It wasn’t long until we realized the most exciting things to do were all things that only a PHOG, with their unconventional anatomy, could do. Things like stretching over an obstacle and bungee-ing your partner across or hosing a stream of water through your body and out the other side to grow a plant. From this more concentrated experimentation, we developed a rather extensive—if unconventional—library of puzzle-solving tools. However, we still needed some kind of world to house them all and add at least a sprinkling of logic to the PHOGS! Adventure.

Creating the wonderful world of PHOGS!

Some of the early ideas were Door Land, Upside-Down House, Sock Puppet Kingdom, and so on. While they all fit with the silly cartoon tone we wanted, none of these concepts felt intrinsically connected to the PHOGS! themselves. Then it hit us like a wobbly PHOG in the face. What do dogs spend their time doing? Well they love to eat, sleep, and play!

Without much hesitation we realized this was it: food, sleep, and play became the core inspiration for the rest of development. These three themes instantly began to generate even more ideas that branched off from what we already had prototyped; becoming the core of each world. As we continued experimenting and iterating, the worlds kept on growing, each ending up with their own extensive range of unique puzzle mechanics, inhabitants, locations, bosses, and stories.

We are extremely proud of what we have achieved. The love from the community for the PHOGS! and the bizarre world they call home has been truly incredible.”

To learn more or purchase, visit https://www.nintendo.com/en_US/games/detail/phogs-switch/.