Game of the Month: “Goat Simulator”

By James Page
Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
ESRB: Mature
Release Date: 04/01/2014
System: PC/Mac/Linux/IOS/Android
Graphics: 2.0 out of 4.0
Game Play: 3.0 out of 4.0
Personal: 1.5 out of 2.0
Total Score: 6.5 out of 10.0 Player’s Page: Goat Simulator

Goat SimulatorThe life of a goat is a simple and relatively peaceful existence. Long days are spent wandering around verdant green pastures, eating delicious plants, bleating in order to communicate with fellow goats, head butting various things, and chewing on the occasional tin can. When not wandering around goats are useful creatures acting as pack animals and providing humans with milk, and once a goat has finished its life it will provide meat, hide, and horn.

Considering the relatively simple and uneventful life of a goat, one is driven to ask the ultimate question: why would one want to make or play a game where the player is a goat? The answer is simple, the development, promotion, and overall game play of “Goat Simulator” is a joke.

Early in 2014 Coffee Stain Studios, known for the first–person shooter game Sanctum, held an internal game-development event. A group of developers decided to create a joke prototype to enter in the event. The submission was described by developer Armin Ibrisagic as “an old-school skating game, except instead of being a skater, you’re a goat, and instead of doing tricks, you wreck stuff.”

After a successful reception by the developers at Coffee Stain, the company decided to post the prototype footage of the ragdoll goat in all of its glitchy glory to YouTube. The large amount of positive feedback from the YouTube posting convinced Coffee Stain Studios to develop a full version of the game and release it on Steam.

When developing Goat Simulator the creators decided to maintain the low-budget, glitchy quality of the prototype. Coffee Stain allotted a small budget and time window to the development of the game. They did not want to create a well-polished game, deciding part of the fun was enjoying all of the odd glitches, and they removed only the problems that would cause the game to crash.

As a result, when Goat Simulator released on April Fools’ Day of 2014––meaning the total time from initial concept to release was less than three months––the game only had a single player campaign and the ability to modify the game through the Steam Workshop. In June the studio released a free expansion for the game, which added a new area to explore, the ability to perform freestyle tricks, a local multiplayer feature, and corrected various game breaking issues.

Goat Simulator as a game reflects the actual life of a goat in its simplicity and lack of a serious nature. As a goat, the player will have access to a selection of goat-like abilities such as walking, running, jumping, head butting, licking, and bleating, and in addition the player will be able to perform a small number of actions which are not commonly associated with goats such as climbing, handstands, and bike riding.

October-Live-From-Japan-2The player will use these actions to take advantage of the environment and cause destruction to a small world. Beyond causing destruction, there is no real objective to the game with the exception of running up a relatively meaningless score counter and amusing oneself with the odd things one can do while playing the game.

Goat Simulator makes no attempt to hide the simplistic and absurd nature of the game. Despite this, there is a wide range of criticism and praise for the game. A number of critics pan the game for being too short, too simplistic, and taking advantage of social media to drum up hype for a game of poor quality.

However, on the opposite side there are those who praise it for being a fun game that is not complicated. In the end the reviews of the game come down to the simple fact that some dislike that which they cannot understand and some can see the game for what it is and enjoy the experience. One thing is for certain, regardless of criticism, Goat Simulator has sold well over one million copies and has more than covered its costs to become a very profitable title.

Overall, Goat Simulator is a fun experience that can help to pass the time. If one is looking for deep game play or an engaging story then it is best to spend one’s money on a different game or take the advice of the game’s creators and “spend your money on something else, such as a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe pool your money together with your friends and buy a real goat.”

The game is absurd and amusing but it may contain some content which could be deemed inappropriate such as goat-on-goat violence, traffic accidents, jabs at Michael Bay’s favorite and most-used film element, and demonic goat possession. When all is said and done, anyone who purchases the game will find that it delivers more than enough entertainment for numerous hours of enjoyment.

Remember, like all games if you play them just to have fun, there will never be a bad game.

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