It's always obvious when Bennett Foddy has released a new game. Twitter is suddenly filled with devs, gamers and journalists pasting the appropriate link, then it all goes quiet for a few minutes. Finally, messages of frustration and profanity come in thick and fast, as players feed on Foddy's purposeful trolling.
Foddy has discussed the act of griefing players as a game mechanic numerous times before, and it's an angle that appears to work rather well, as shown by the huge popularity of QWOP and GIRP.
At first, his new game CLOP appears to be more of the same, and especially in line with QWOP. Players guide a clumsy unicorn from right to left, on a quest to reach a fair maiden -- however, an utterly hopeless control scheme that involves moving each separate leg with H, J, K and L makes this far more difficult than it sounds.
Those who have played QWOP before will no doubt find the opening moments of CLOP to be rather simple in comparison. The unicorn doesn't really topple so easily, and any combination of key presses appears to do the job, forcing the mythical creature forward.
This, however, is all part of the plan, as CLOP explores yet another method of griefing its players -- through lulling them into a false sense of security.
The game may start off easy enough, but just wait until you hit the incline that follows the flat land, and the obstacles that are laid out after that. What appears to be one of Foddy's least challenging games slowly but surely shows itself to be just as evil.
"It's much easier to custom-design a difficulty ramp when the difficulty comes in the form of an actual ramp," laughs Foddy.
He continues, "I guess it doesn't make sense for a horse to fall over from standing, like QWOP does, but I also don't want to start the player on a steep hill, before they've even tried the controls. Once you get a bit better at it, you can go really fast and clear the flat section in about five seconds, so I think that saves it from being too repetitive."
As it turns out, though, CLOP isn't just proving a challenge for players. Development of the title was also rather tricky for Foddy, as he found it difficult to get the movement mechanics to work well with the concept.
"I was trying to do it the 'right way,' like robotics researchers or Pixar animators would, and it wasn't working," he notes.
"But I had a bit of a breakthrough back at GDC, when I showed it to [SpyParty developer] Chris Hecker who is like the world expert in limb-physics animation. And what he said was 'why would you want to do it the right way?'
"It was basically the opposite of his famous 'please finish your game' rant, but it was totally the right advice," adds Foddy.