Hi F.A.R.Ts (that’s Furniture Arrangement Relocation Technicians to you!) I’m Dave Lockman, lead designer on Moving Out 2, which is currently being carefully packed in bubble wrap and boxed ready to move onto Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One later this year. Now it may seem obvious, but we think games should be for anyone and everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, or skill; it’s a philosophy we keep in mind at SMG Studio whenever we make a new game, and Moving Out 2 is no different.
Like the first Moving Out, the new game is being built from the ground up with a haulage truck full of accessibility options and design decisions so that players of all ages and abilities can enjoy. For designers, the earlier accessibility is taken into consideration the more it can inform the design and presentation of a game; it means by planning ahead you avoid the pitfalls of designing yourself into a corner with no easy way out! It also means that for players, accessibility feels like a natural part of the game’s experience, not tacked on like an afterthought.
We focused on three core elements for Moving Out 2 that iterate on the positive work the first game achieved around accessibility: Assist Mode, ‘Quality of Life’ Accessibility, and Art & Design.
In the first Moving Out, we introduced Assist Mode, a series of settings that would affect the player experience, and we’ve carried over all of these into the sequel! Oh, and what are they these settings?
Well, if you haven’t played the first game (and you should, it is a lot of fun!) some of the settings allow players to lengthen time limits to enable some breathing space, which is perfect when playing with younger gamers who just want to have fun in a level; they can decide to allow objects to disappear on delivery, removing the extra layer of challenge of fitting the objects into the removals truck from the game entirely; they can make heavier objects designed to be moved by two or more players lighter; and for the Moving In game mode, players can also add a Snap+ option so that finicky toaster can be placed just so. Players can even skip levels they fail! After all, why should a particularly difficult level stop you from enjoying later levels?
Settings can be enabled or disabled at any time too, so you won’t have to start your campaign from scratch if you decide to make objects disappear on delivery or give yourself more time to complete some of the trickier levels in the game.
‘Quality of Life’ Accessibility
Now, I can hear you all ask, “Dave, what is ‘Quality of Life’ Accessibility? Simply, these are common features we feel most modern games should include by default, features which improve the experience for all players. So, for instance, we’ve introduced fully remappable game controllers and keyboards, allowing Moving Out 2 to be more compatible with the various accessible peripherals and controllers that are available on the market.
For players who have difficulty holding down buttons or triggers for a length of time, we’re also allowing them to toggle the hold control for grabbing and throwing. This means that a single button press is all that’s needed for your F.A.R.T to grab a box, fridge, sofa, or anything else, and another button press to release it.
Other quality of life settings include the ability to switch all text to a dyslexic friendly font, scale the user interface, turn on/off subtitles, and manage the level of screen shake.
Art & Design
Together with the Assist Mode and Quality of Life Accessibility options, there have been stacks of art & design decisions made by the development team that we feel make Moving Out 2 accessible and enjoyable for all. For instance, one of these decisions was to clearly label key mechanics and rooms with visual shapes, and not just rely on colour. This means that people will color blindness will equally be able to make informed decisions as they play through some of the more puzzling levels in the game. The labels also look pretty cool!
A lot of levels in Moving Out are dynamic; there are moving parts and mechanisms, conveyor belts and contraptions that rotate or sway … which can make some people unfortunately feel a little queasy or nauseated. The solution? We’ve reduced the motion in these objects so that while they still feel dynamic, they also don’t make players feel sick (nobody needs that when they’re trying to set the gold medal time!)
Communicating how levels work without the need of onscreen text or instructions is another challenge we’ve tried to overcome; instead, and similarly to the first Moving Out, flyovers at the start of each level deftly and visually explain in an intuitive way how to work things out.
These are just some of the thousands of decisions made organically and through extensive player testing during the two years we’ve been working on Moving Out 2. We’re really proud of the game, and we can’t wait to update you with information as we approach launch.
Moving Out 2 is coming soon to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
Moving Out 2