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How speedrunners are unlocking the secret lore of Owlboy

November 14, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon

November 14, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: Console/PC, Indie, Programming, Video

Shortly after release, D-Pad Studio received an email from a speedrunner expressing how much they had enjoyed breaking parts of Owlboy and asking the developer not to remove bugs that currently make speedrunning possible. According to Henrik Andersen, creating a game popular with the speedrunning community creates a unique dilemma for game developers. 

“On one hand, it's like the game is super buggy in a way. This could become a problem for normal players," said Henrik.

"But on the other hand, I always thought it was really cool how in the old days all games used their own engines and all games had very different code and different mechanics so that you could find eccentricities in them and exploit those in completely different ways.” 

Henrik says his team has spoken with speedrunners quite a bit following release to make sure that the speedrunning community is still able to find ways to enjoy the game while the team works on fixing issues that might negativity impact normal players.

Simon Andersen notes that speed runners and Owlboy fans in general can learn a lot about the deeper mysteries of the game by digging through the code. Simon says they basically cut a sequels worth of content from the final release because it didn’t jive well with the overall game. Some of that cut content is still present in the game, either in abandoned lines of code or inaccessible areas hidden throughout the world. 

“We had one guy — I don’t know how he did it — but he managed to get out of bounds and fly around one of the bigger scenes of the game where we had just a bunch of temp text which makes the main villain just look like a complete idiot,” said Simon.

He admits that there’s a lot of weird stuff like that to be found if you dig deep enough, but also says that most of the answers to deeper questions people have been asking D-Pad Studio about the game can be found by looking closely at the main game itself. 

Check out the stream from last Friday to find out more about the emotional and technical challenges Owlboy’s developers overcame during the near-decade long development of their game, and be sure to subscribe to Gamasutra’s Twitch channel for weekly developer interviews and gameplay commentary.

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