One of the industry’s best qualities is that a strange premise can make a great game. Super Smash Bros., Kingdom Hearts, and Katamari Damacy are all concepts that sound odd on paper but have created critically acclaimed franchises. Donut County has the potential to be such a title. It is a weird idea about a Racoon unleashing a remote-controlled hole in the ground that swallows up any and everything in its path.
When I saw the first trailer for Donut County I was instantly intrigued. And after playing the demo I was hooked. It was more than just a game about being a hole, it was a story filled with believable characters and hilarious dialogue that filled my brief hour with smiles and laughter. As odd as it may sound it was satisfying to be a hole in the ground.
I still wanted to know more so I reached out to Game Designer and Developer Ben Esposito to see if he could give me the “hole” story.
The Hole Story
Where did you draw the inspiration for Donut County from? Were there any other games or movies that inspired it?
The connection is obvious to some, but Katamari Damacy was a big inspiration to me. Katamari opened my eyes to different modes of interacting with a game world. Windosill by Vectorpark is another game that changed the way I think about games. Windosill emphasizes playfulness before anything else, and I tried to incorporate that thinking when developing Donut County.
What can you tell us about the story of Donut County, and what we can expect as we play through the game?
In short, the story is about a raccoon named BK who works for a company that opens up holes and steals people’s trash. He finds himself at the bottom of a hole with his best friend Mira and a group of angry Donut County residents who have to convince him that stealing their trash and putting them in a hole was wrong.
The story has more complexity than some people expect, haha. It’s told out of order and from a few different perspectives, which I think makes it more interesting to play a second and third time!!
The humor in Donut Count is very organic. How did the team develop the conversations and interaction between characters?
The humor in Donut County is just exactly my sense of humor, haha. I spend a lot of time thinking about the tone of the game and of the humor. To me, tone is the one thing I leave a game or movie or book thinking about. It’s a direct connection to the creator’s attitude & worldview.
My approach for Donut County’s humor and tone is to be playful. I’m always going back and forth from being ironic to being disarmingly sincere– I really think the fastest way to the truth is a joke. Also, everyone in the game talks like they’re in a chat room because it’s fun to imagine a raccoon saying “LOL”.
Is BK a cool friend or horrible monster?
BK is both a chill friend and a horrible monster, that’s what the game is all about!!
Will there be any variety in gameplay, or will we always be a hole in the ground causing mayhem?
You always play as a hole in the ground, but the ways you interact with the world change pretty dramatically over the course of the game, for instance, halfway through the game you get the ability to launch things back out of the hole, which makes the puzzles a lot more complex.
What was your favorite moment in making Donut County?
My favorite moment was watching a six-year-old speedrun the demo at MineCon last year, hahaha. She said it was OK.
Donut County is scheduled to release on PS4, iOS, and PC sometime in 2018 where we will all be able to experience the simple bliss of being a hole. While watching Mira and BK’s story unfold after being stranded 999 feet below the surface.