When I first moved to New York in 2007, I stayed with my brother, Damon, in his gaming studio office/living space, which he was closing down to focus on developing 2D technology to make a new kind of game. He had built an interesting demo of the product that would become Organic Panic. It was very rough, but the potential got me very excited: really powerful physics, including liquids, in a 2D platfomer. Levels weren’t perfectly hand-crafted – they were modular, so that different tools, objects, textures, liquids and characters could be easily mixed and matched, which offered almost unlimited level design possibilities.
I got hooked into Organic Panic‘s vision – little did I know what a journey it would be to realize that vision!
We had a design document lying around from the days of the Game Boy Color (yup!) about a game starring fruits and vegetables – it was kind of a dream of Damon’s – so we conceived “Fruits and Veggies vs. Meats and Cheese” as a premise for the character and story design.
Our heroes are an angry, punk rock-loving anarchist Carrot, an upbeat Aussie Kiwi, a fast and energetic Cherry, and a downbeat, emo Coconut. Against them is a maniacal Baby Cheese, who controls a technological army of Meats and Cheeses, including a Rambo-like, freedom-suppressing Cheddar Chunk, has-been boxer Steak, and Gorgonzola, a smelly riot cop turned bad, among others.
Each of our playable characters can control an aspect of the elements, like earth, water, fire, and gravity. What’s more, nearly everything in the game can be manipulated in interesting ways – earth can be turned to rubble, wood burns, water moves and conducts lightning, water moves, ice melts, fire can be doused… when you combine these features together, it can be sheer chaos!
In March 2013, we showed Organic Panic at IndieCade in NY – it was our first public showing. Later that year, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign with the intention of bringing the game out across multiple platforms. We also added local co-op for up to four players into the game, which we showed at PAX East 2014. Even though it was still in beta, there were gamers lining up outside our booth for three days solid to try it out, many coming back again just for co-op – it was staggering for us. Later we added a competitive versus multiplayer mode, which was almost like a new game. Players could combine mega powers along with their elemental magic powers – it was frenetic, mad and fun, great for hardcore action fans.
Organic Panic may look cute and even casual – and we’ve tried to make it friendly for newcomers – but it’s far from it. Dynamic physics and complete level destructibility offer a lot of depth, encouraging you to think outside the box, and even after all these years in development, I’m still discovering new things while watching players figure out unique ways to solve puzzles. It’s a huge reward for us as developers. Our D.A.F.T. (Destructible and Fluid Technology) Engine let us dream up crazy levels and make them a reality. You can see this creativity in the stages we made (over 200 of them!), and we’re really looking forward to the community getting to play them and come up with their own level solving solutions!
For much of development, it was just the two of us, but I have to give a huge thanks to all our contributors: without all their amazing talents, art and music, we could not have made Organic Panic. And to our friends and families for their support along the way.