What in the world is Untitled Goose Game? Where did it come from? Who made such a bizarre game, and how didit explode in popularity seemingly overnight? If you’ve been following Untitled GooseGame’s development for a while, it might not surprise you that such a charming titlehas gained such widespread acclaim so quickly.
What’s really fascinating about the game, though, is just how relaxed and downright unprofessional its developers are.
We mean that in a good way.
For the team at House House (yes, that reallyis the studio’s name), Untitled Goose Game was a joke that went too far, and its suddenpopularity has come as a complete surprise.
House House are not what you’d call professional.
They’re not what they would call professional, either.
In the words of one member of the studio, Jacob Strasser, “We’re three years more professional than we were three years ago”.
That is, apparently, all they can commit to.
The four fledgling members of House House, Jacob, Michael McMaster, Stuart Gillespie-Cook, and Nico Disseldorp, made their first gameentirely for fun.
Push Me Pull You was a summer hobby projectthat got out of hand.
The team worked on their game in their timeoff, building it after work or during study breaks.
Without really knowing how it happened, theteam eventually submitted the game to Sony and managed to get it released on the PlayStationstore, but it was hardly a deliberate attempt to make a commercial game.
Nor was the game in any way financially lucrative.
House House managed to get some funding fromthe Australian government for advertising the game, but beyond that, their budget cameentirely from their own pocket.
Push Me Pull You brought in some revenue, but it was so negligible that it wasn’t even worth dividing between the four of them.
Nevertheless, they’d made a game that theywere pleased with, and they were eager to find a new project to work on.
They just had no idea what it should be.
Sharing ideas together in a group chat, themembers of House House started throwing up some random, silly suggestions.
Eventually, Stuart posted a simple pictureof a goose.
This picture of a goose should be their newgame.
The rest of the group laughed at this ridiculousidea…before thinking that, sure, why not? They didn’t have any better ideas, and itwould be fun to mess around with a goose game for a while before making something more serious.
The team were all interested to develop theirskills and learn new things.
Push Me Pull You had been a graphically simple2D game, so they really wanted to make something three-dimensional, like Mario 64.
To help them learn, they made a simple goosemodel and a little garden area, and let chaos reign.
While House House are all Australian, theyfelt that the perfect setting for this game was a quaint English village – somewherequiet and peaceful, where a naughty goose would be the worst thing any local residentcould possibly imagine.
To this end, the game’s art style drew significantinspiration from British children’s television: programmes such as Fireman Sam or PostmanPat.
The blank faces of the humans were deliberatelymodelled after background characters in Thomas the Tank Engine.
This was fun, but it was time to move on tosomething less inherently silly.
Nobody at House House really expected anyoneelse to get much from their goose game; it was simply their own little in-joke.
They wrapped up their training exercise bymaking a trailer from the limited gameplay footage they could get from their garden, and they released it online.
They didn’t even bother giving this pretendgame a title.
They figured that if people liked it, great, but otherwise, they could release what they’d already done as a small game, put it to oneside, and try at finding an actual new idea for a bigger project.
Except, to their surprise, a lot of peopleactually really liked Untitled Goose Game.
They really liked it.
10It turned out that, as Australians, House House had underestimated the notoriety ofthe humble goose.
What they had thought was an in-joke amongstthemselves tapped into a shared – but unspoken – anxiety that plagued many people acrossthe Northen Hemisphere.
Everyone agreed: geese are terrifying.
Met with an astonishing early wave of enthusiasmand attention, House House accepted that there was clearly more to be done with UntitledGoose Game.
They would need to expand the scope of theirinitial demo, they’d need to actually come up with a name for their project, and, itseemed, they’d need to explore their options for the game’s music.
While the initial plan was to leave UntitledGoose Game without a soundtrack, the team had roped in Dan Golding for the game’strailer.
Dan had previously provided music for PushMe Pull You, so he was an obvious choice.
Dan had reached for the simplest, easiestgrab: Claude Debussy’s Prelude Number 12, which is out of copyright, and therefore freeto reuse, even commercially, as it’s within the public domain.
Scoring the trailer was quick, easy, and didn’ttake any extra thought.
It was clear from reactions to the trailer, though, that people really liked how well the eclectic piano music fit with the gameplay, with commenters expressing their hope that this music was present in the game.
So, Dan began building a dynamic soundtrackout of Debussy’s work.
He recorded himself playing each piece ofmusic twice: once slow and calmly, and once fast and energetically.
He then sliced these recording into tiny bitesizechunks, so that the game’s soundtrack could switch effortlessly between fast-paced chaosand casual nonsense.
As work progressed on the still Untitled GooseGame, the team at House House attempted to keep things as casual as possible.
They weren’t interested in becoming seriousprofessional developers, whatever that might mean.
Where necessary, they roped in other developersto help with things they couldn’t do alone, and worked with publisher Panic Inc to getthe game more traction.
Otherwise, they did their best not to taketheir work too seriously, which is why the game eventually shipped still without a name.
In fact, on launch day, after a hectic fewinitial hours of dealing with the game, House House packed everything up and headed intodowntown Melbourne to join a protest against the ongoing climate crisis.
Sure, their goose game was important, butit wasn’t the most important thing they could be doing.
Speaking to Kotaku, Nico said:“If striking for you means that you can’t play our video game on launch day, that’sOK.
People can play our game, or another game, some other time.
The climate emergency is urgent, and needsus to drop what we are doing and demand that governments act immediately.
” (We look forward to the healthy discussionthat will arise from including this quote in the video.
) Environment protests notwithstanding, UntitledGoose Game became an instant hit upon release.
Players couldn’t get enough of the anticsof an adorable yet very unruly goose.
The only major complaint among many playerswas that there simply wasn’t enough of this game! Well done, House House – you’ve left peoplewanting more.
A dumb joke has turned into one of the mostnotorious indie games of the year.
The moral of the story is that you shouldn’ttake yourself too seriously.
Have fun, be creative, and feel free to explorethe weirdest, wackiest ideas you can think of.
You never know what little nuggets of goldyou might find along the way.
Have a good time.
Everything’s going to be okay.
Everything except the climate, of course.
If we don’t do something soon, we are allgoing to die.