When an evil doctor kidnaps small birds to use them for his own misdeeds, there’s only one hero that’s up to the task. However, this isn’t about Sonic the Hedgehog; this time the fate of these creatures is up to players as they avoid spikes, chain saws, lava pits, and more in Panic Porcupine. The momentum-based platformer aims to test the skills of classic Sonic fans with some Super Meat Boy-esque difficulty thrown into the mix.

Game Rant spoke with the lead developers of Panic Porcupine about what went into creating their indie game.These devs prefer to be known by their studio titles, Spicy Gyro Games and Shiny Dolphin Games. Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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Q: So tell us about yourselves. Who are you guys and what’s your history in game development so far?

Shiny Dolphin: I started working on games with internships, so I did an internship at Deep Silver Volition working on Red Faction: Armageddon. And then I did an internship at EA working on Littlest Pet Shop Friends for the Wii. Complete polar opposites there. That was in college, and after that I graduated and went to Zynga. I worked on CityVille, and a few other products that aren’t as well known. I quit at Zynga to do indie games, and then I’ve been working on another indie game, Zap Blastum, for like eight years or something.

That one’s still not out, but in the process of working on it, I met Spicy Gyro at game developer meet ups, and we shared a love for Sonic the Hedgehog. I had some projects made with Clickteam’s products, which are like visual programming tools, that I had started programming as a kid. And Spicy Gyro had also made similar projects with these tools, so it was amazing that we bumped into each other with a similar background like that.

Spicy Gyro: I was just making games since I was a kid with any software I could get my hands on. Things like level editors, LoadRunner, Microsoft Power Point. I can’t say my Power Point games were good, but it did the job when I was like, eleven or twelve. And then I discovered Clickteam’s products and I started dabbling with them as a hobbyist. This was in the early 2000’s, and 2D was starting to die off with bigger games, so I wasn’t really seeking an active job in the industry. I didn’t think the industry was anything that would fit me, so I was just making games for fun.

And then I guess around 2011, after the iPhone was established, I saw an opportunity with mobile games. Clickteam’s products could port things to mobile, so I decided “eh, let’s try to sell some games.” I worked on Clash Force and Polyroll, which were both originally mobile games for iPhone, and then I think a few years went by, and I met Shiny Dolphin, and I was working on a sequel to Clash Force that I wanted to release. The iPhone thing didn’t really work out for me. I wanted to get Clash Force 2 out on Steam, and Shiny Dolphin got involved with helping out with that.

And then I went, “hey, I’ve got these two games I released five or six years ago on mobile, and I really think they’re a better fit for PC and Steam, can you help me with that?” There were various things that needed to be implemented to get them onto PC, and that’s when Shiny Dolphin and I started working together. We started out with Clash Force and Polyroll and then prototyped a bunch of other projects, and Panic Porcupine was one of the games that came out of that.

Q: With Polyroll, you guys coined, if not pioneered, the hedge-like genre. It’s clear that you’re taking inspiration from the Classic Sonic games, but what exactly did you two take away from those games in specific?

Spicy Gyro: I’ve always had my eye on things like all the Sonic fan games that keep coming out. There’s so many it’s crazy. But I’ve always been more interested in doing original stuff inspired by Sonic, so for me, it was always about finding elements of Sonic that hadn’t been explored as much. I feel like there’s a lot of genres and franchises that spawn hundreds and thousands of games inspired by them. Super Mario Bros. basically inspired the entire platformer genre, for instance, but I’ve felt like there weren’t as many games that used Sonic as a baseline. I’ve thought there were a lot of mechanics there that Sonic never explored as much as they should have been.

Polyroll came out of the idea of sort of trying to merge Sonic and Mario a little closer together, being a sort of slow-paced game with the Spin Dash mechanic from Sonic. The original prototype for the game was actually the first level from Super Mario Bros. with the Spin Dash added, and I added a bounce mechanic that acted like you were the shell that Mario could throw around the levels. I thought it was a cool gimmick to explore, even if it didn’t become the basis of the game. That was what inspired Polyroll’s wall-jumping, though.

So Panic Porcupine specifically was kind of like… “what if Sonic never developed the Spin Dash?” What if we went back to how Sonic 1 required players to really build momentum as opposed to being able to get a boost from a dash panel or whatever whenever you needed it. You’d have to back up, roll down hill, do stuff like that. Panic Porcupine itself is kind of taking a detour from Sonic 1 like that.

Shiny Dolphin: And also I think Panic Porcupine focuses more on exploring in the sense of like, if Sonic wasn’t constantly about going left or right but a bit more focused on letting players mess with the physics, putting them kind of in an “escape park” kind of environment. That was what got me really excited about the concept because it gave me an opportunity to deep dive into the Sonic physics engine and try to like re-create it, but also try to reiterate on it. To try and make it fit our needs for the game.

Spicy Gyro: I think the other core aspect is that the Sonic games were never very hard. They were developed from the ground up to have a very forgiving health mechanic. I think a lot of that was designed around the fact that you can’t exactly see where you’re going. You’re constantly crashing into things, so the game needed to be forgiving. So the idea for us was what if you just made Sonic really hard, and you needed a level of precision that the classic Sonic games never required you to have? Obviously if you’re precise, you’re going to be really good. You’re going to be a speedrunner, and you’re going to do all sorts of cool stuff. Outside of that, it didn’t really require you to do any really tricky stuff.

So Panic Porcupine became a game that makes players do Super Meat Boy-like maneuvers using ramps, loops, and stuff like that. And of course we had to do a little adjusting with things like zooming out farther back so you can see ahead of yourself and make modifications from that.

Q: Speaking of Super Meat Boy, what did you take from it for inspiration? I noticed that the tongue-in-cheek humor between that game and Panic Porcupine is rather similar, is that intentional?

Spicy Gyro: I don’t think we looked at Super Meat Boy and decided we wanted to copy their sense of humor or anything. I honestly haven’t played it super extensively. The humor came from the Sonic inspirations, too. Once we were doing a game that was so similar to Sonic in a lot of ways, we realized we just had to be humorous about it. Otherwise, we’d just be ripping it off. It was really about spoofing off of Sonic and finding the humor in that.

Shiny Dolphin: I’d say we looked at the level lengths, and I’m not sure how to say it, but we took the sort of small scale nature of the levels from Meat Boy.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, that.

Shiny Dolphin: Part of that is that we kill you so much with the level design. If it’s going to be hard, it’s gotta be quick restarts. It’s gotta take you back to the beginning of the obstacle so it’s not so frustrating, and the level size has got to support that.

Q: Were there any other gaming influences you two took into Panic Porcupine?

Shiny Dolphin: We looked at Celeste, definitely. We looked at the cool stuff Celeste does to make you feel good when you play. Like, we’ve got Coyote Time.

Spicy Gyro: You definitely have to lean towards the player in terms of the controls and stuff when the game requires this kind of level of precision. You sort of have to be forgiving in certain ways. We kind of just looked at games in the platformer genre. There’s League of Evil. I actually played that quite a bit. I don’t really think there’s anything outside of Sonic and Meat Boy-type games that we really thought about during development.

Shiny Dolphin: I was thinking about I Wanna Be the Guy from way back when.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, but I Wanna Be the Guy probably inspired Super Meat Boy, so. Oh. Super Monkey Ball kind of helped, too. About six months ago, maybe, we were pretty deep into development, and we were definitely having conversations about how hard is too hard. I had played Super Monkey Ball back in the day on GameCube, but I picked up Banana Blitz for Switch. I was like “this is brutal, this game is brutal,” and I said to myself “if they can do this really mean game with this silly and child-like theme and this game sells a million copies I’m like, I think we’re okay.” Monkey Ball is brutal.

Shiny Dolphin: Probably.

Q: When describing the game, you guys say that Panic Porcupine challenges completionists to find all the eggs, while it also encourages speedrunners to go fast. How does the game try to entice players to play like this?

Shiny Dolphin: The eggs are in interesting positions, almost puzzling at that. So there’ll hopefully be a drive with players to solve the puzzle. Asking themselves “hm, how do I get this egg?” That’s what we’re aiming for on that.

On decreasing your times, there’s definitely places where players are going to see opportunities to speedrun or pull off the little tricks they could do, like jumping sooner or jumping off of a wall to get a different egg.

Spicy Gyro: It’s been interesting watching people play the game so far because so far the streams and the people who I’ve seen play it in person have more of a tendency to chase after the eggs. Moreso than I even expected them to. So many people are determined to get the eggs right from the beginning until they realize “oh, I’m gonna struggle with this, I need to beat the levels.”

But people really do seem to get a drive to get those eggs. And for the most part, they are quite visible; the idea was to tease the player with them. Because these levels are so small, we had to tease the player with the eggs, rather than hiding them. We did want a bit of exploration, so there are parts where the eggs are hidden, as well. There’s one level where you’re going to get to the end, you’re gonna get to twelve eggs and think you’ve got them all, and then it’s going to say “you’ve missed thirty eggs,” and go “wait, what? I didn’t see thirty eggs!” That’s going to be your signal that this is going to be a level where you’re going to have to look around for them. But a lot of them just make you go “how do I get that thing?”

Q: So how common are these eggs? Are they rare or are they easy to spot?

Spicy Gyro: They’re like rings in Sonic. They’re everywhere. There’s a lot of them.

Q: With what’s been said about difficulty, how hard are you guys planning to make Panic Porcupine, and are there any features in place to help players who get stuck?

Spicy Gyro: That’s a really good question. We’re still grappling with that. How difficult it should be is really hard to define when you’re working in a small bubble like we are. Like, honestly the best sort of gauge for me as the level designer is actually Shiny Dolphin, because as much as he’s spending time working on programming the game, he hasn’t played it nearly as much as me. Where would you put your skills with Porcupine, Shiny?

Shiny Dolphin: I’m more of a casual player.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. He’s not really like a diehard gamer. He’s not playing stuff like Devil May Cry or Dark Souls.

Shiny Dolphin: No, haha.

Spicy Gyro: But I’m not, either, that’s the thing. I’ve never beat a Mega Man game, I’ll tell you that. I’m not too much of a hardcore gamer, but Panic Porcupine is actually part of a genre that I’ve enjoyed in the past because it gives you the chance to do it over and over again.

We’ve done some conventions and stuff. We see a lot of casual players come out and play the game, and it’s pretty satisfying when like, a ten-year-old tries fifty times and beats a level.

Shiny Dolphin: Right. There’s something about Sonic where it’s like, it’s so fun to play around with how the game works after a while that it gets less punishing to die because you just get to play with the physics some more.

Spicy Gyro: Right. It’s just fun to roll down the hills and around the loops over and over even if you’ve done it twenty times.

As far as options for struggling players, we’ve implemented that you only have to collect so many Chikabirbs to complete a level, and it’s one of the greater challenges in later levels. Not only do you have to get through a challenging area and get one Chikabirb, but you have to get them all to clear the level, and so an accessibility feature we have there is actually that the stage records which ones you’ve gotten already. So you can get one, die, and that one will still be collected. That means you can tackle the levels in a bit more bite-sized way as opposed to having to tackle it all at once.

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah. It’s a good feature to have. Another thing that we’ve done to help players is how there’s both collectible Chikabirds and Chikabirb eggs. The eggs are optional, the Chikabirbs are required. There’s no end point to the level, so you have to get all the Chikabirbs to finish it. You can miss eggs, though. The eggs are more for hardcore people.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, the eggs are very hardcore.

Shiny Dolphin: It works well that way because players can use that to pick how hard they wanna go for certain challenges.

Spicy Gyro: We also decided rather early on that the game is mostly linear, but subsequent worlds will unlock before you’ve completed the previous world. And then, within levels, there are some optional paths. We’ve had some levels that I’ve designed that were really brutal, and we decided to take those levels and put them on their own path so you can go around them and circumvent them, and then tackle another level instead. The last world of the game, we knew it was going to be pretty difficult, so that level’s kinda open like a Mega Man game where you can play any of its eight levels in any order.

Q: Are you guys aiming for people to naturally decide to speedrun or complete the game themselves or are there going to be bonuses for those who attempt to collect all the eggs with the shortest times?

Shiny Dolphin: I think it’s basically naturally driven. But we do have different endings if you manage to get all of the eggs.

Spicy Gyro: Vaguely. I feel like 100% games is just a matter of that they either are driven to do it or not. For the most part I haven’t been a 100% completion gamer myself.

Q: Vaguely? Is it like the classic true endings in the original Sonic games, where for the most part you just get a “try again” if you don’t manage it, or is there a real true ending in Panic?

Shiny Dolphin: It’s just a different joke at the end, basically. Is that how you’d put it, Spicy?

Spicy Gyro: I mean, without saying too much, the whole game is kind of a joke, so reaching 100 percent is going to be a joke.

Q: Your previous game, Polyroll, is also a hedge-like. What did it teach you in preparation for Panic Porcupine? You guys have mentioned that there’s a big difference in difficulty with the games publicly, was it intentional for Panic Porcupine to be harder?

Shiny Dolphin: Well, we were trying to do something different from Polyroll. That was one of the things we took into the game with us.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, Polyroll definitely does not have any Sonic-like physics. It’s got its own engine. But we wanted to do something with Sonic physics. We wanted to play with those loops and those jumps, and things like that. Difficulty-wise, I think it just game from the premise of Panic. Like… I think it just started out with building a Sonic-like engine. I really think it was just the idea of combining Sonic and Super Meat Boy that got us into making the game. I don’t think there was really anything else we considered with it.

It’s Sonic with Super Meat Boy, and that kind of already lends itself into being more difficult. I don’t know if we had any thoughts of “Polyroll is too easy, why don’t we do a hardcore game?” Honestly, after working on this game, we’ll probably move to do something a lot easier next, just to mix things up.

Shiny Dolphin: It’ll make it easier to test, haha.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. Well, like, y’know, who knows what sort of audience Panic Porcupine finds? What sort of crossover is there between the hardcore audience and the Sonic audience? I guess we’ll discover that for ourselves.

Q: Well, don’t you think that the Sonic speedrunner community might like this game?

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah, that’s one of the big things with this game. A lot of Sonic is that memorization of all the levels and being able to blast through levels that you’ve played before. Panic Porcupine is very Time Attack-y, if we use Sonic terminology.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah.

Shiny Dolphin: It’s about going back and replaying the levels over and over, and besting your previous time, things like that. So yeah.

I think another difference, too, is that Polyroll was very exploration-based. It had a lot of large levels with a lot of different paths. There’s a different kind of freedom in this game. You’ll be busy looking for more clever speedrunning routes and things like that. Like the branching parts of the levels are not as obvious. It’s about discovering tricks with how Panic plays, I guess.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, as far as learning anything from Polyroll, I thought I had learned how to rapidly make levels, but that proved to not be the case because as soon as we implemented the more Sonic-y physics and the precision, there’s a lot of trial and error in designing these levels. Like, I have to design it, try it, die a hundred times, tweak things a little, try it again. And I thought “oh, these levels are going to be really small and Polyroll’s levels were really big, so this is going to be super easy.” No, it took me just as long to make these levels as it did for a single Polyroll level, even though they’re like, a quarter of the size.

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah, I think that one of the things when it came to implementing the physics, was… we mentioned the Clickteam products, right? Polyroll was made in Clickteam Fusion, and the style of programming and the workflow from was how Spicy had been porting games to PC. Panic Porcupine’s in Unity. One of the things we did was try and re-create that work flow in Unity. I guess we were aiming for efficiency, because we had a certain way of working together, and we wanted to make sure that would translate over. It would have been a little risky if it didn’t, so. I guess the programming and workflow process that we use in this game is very much like what we did with Polyroll. Which I think is kind of cool.

Yeah. We figured out how we like making 2D platformers with Polyroll, I suppose.

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Q: So you two have spoke at length about working on the game together by now, is the game made by just you guys or do you guys have anyone else helping out?

Shiny Dolphin: There are others, but we’re the primary two.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, we’re the main team. We did have another level designer helping out for Panic. His name’s Keon Mashayekh.

Shiny Dolphin: He did like six or seven level designs, something like that.

Spicy Gyro: We’ve also worked with a composer that I’ve been working since my iPhone games in 2012. His name’s Andrew Riley. He typically promotes as Lucky Lion Studios. He does fantastic music. I worked with him on Polyroll in 2012, and when we went to re-release it on PC, it had a pretty major overhaul. There were tons of new levels, things like that. He came back after all those years to add a few more tracks for me, and that kind of rolled into Panic Porcupine. We’ve also brought in a few contract workers.

Q: In the trailer for Panic Porcupine, you guys feature statistics on how many spikes, how many lava pits and so on there are in the game. Just how accurate are these numbers?

Spicy Gyro: Total BS. We completely made it up.

Shiny Dolphin: I’ll write a new script that counts them.

Spicy Gyro: We talked about that, actually, when we did that. I think Shiny asked “is that actually how many spikes there are?” And I was like “no, I did not count them.” But I’m curious now, actually, on how many there are.

Shiny Dolphin: We can release one with updated statistics. ‘Cause I can count them exactly.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. I want to know. I do wanna know how many there are. I don’t know how we would measure the lava, though.

Shiny Dolphin: It’s almost like an engineering question. We’ve got to figure out how to estimate the lava properly.

Spicy Gyro: 32,000 pixels of lava is my answer.

Q: How long will Panic Porcupine take players across its 50 stages?

Spicy Gyro: It’s 58, including bosses. We’re actually not sure how long the game will take just yet. I think it’s mostly dependent on the player’s skill. At one of the conventions we went to, we watched someone play Panic, and he played for 45 minutes straight collecting all the eggs. I went to him and told him that particular stage was the hardest to get all the eggs in, and he just told me “nah, I’ll get them.” It took him 45 minutes, but he did it. If you look at that as an example of what it’ll take to 100% it, times that by 58 levels, and what do you get?

Shiny Dolphin: They’re not all that hard, though.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. You actually don’t have to get through every level to beat the final boss. There’s times you can take different paths and levels, so you only need to beat like… 80-85 percent of it to get to the final boss. I don’t know. It’s not like an insanely long game. I think if someone mastered it to a level that I, a developer, have not, they could beat it in maybe even an hour. That level of skill would be pretty crazy.

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah.

Spicy Gyro: I think it’ll be like a 4 to 8 hour experience depending on if you want to get everything or just get to the end.

Shiny Dolphin: I think that range is reasonable, but like we said, we haven’t finished our process of figuring that out exactly.

Spicy Gyro: I feel like it’s in the realm of Polyroll’s length. I don’t think it’s too much shorter or longer.

Shiny Dolphin: Agreed.

Q: Back to the bosses. You guys haven’t showcased much of the bosses. What can players expect from them?

Spicy Gyro: We haven’t shown them off too much on account that most of the game is levels. There are six bosses total in the game. I think we’ve shown off two of them. It was really about finding ways to use the game’s momentum mechanics in a slightly different way. In the boss battles, you’re actually still trying to save the Chikabirbs, but in these levels, the villain Dr. Proventriculus has them trapped in these metal eggs. You have to sort of attack him, but you’re actually trying to break the eggs open at the same time.

One of the ones we haven’t shown is where it’s in a giant U-shape where you have to build momentum and end up high enough that you can hit the Doctor while he’s dropping bombs on you. It’s kind of similar to Casino Night Zone’s boss in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Casino Night Zone was one of the bosses we looked to for inspiration a lot. When you actually look at the Sonic bosses, most of them don’t really use Sonic’s physics and momentum in any sort of way. We wanted to find more interesting ways to use the gimmicks and how they interact with the physics with the boss fights themselves. The final boss, for instance, is actually just a big chase.

Q: So what’s this chase sequence like? Is it like Labrynth Zone from Sonic 1 or like Stardust Speedway from Sonic CD?

Spicy Gyro: I think it’s a little like both? We definitely talked about Stardust Speedway. There are some similarities, because you’re chasing the giant container of Chikabirbs, trying to free them all while Dr. Proventriculus chases behind you. It’s got a lot of similarities to Stardust Speedway, though, it’s not an infinite loop. If you don’t free them by the end, you careen into a wall of death. We already know some people won’t realize that until they reach the wall of death and be very angry.

Q: What kind of mechanics can fans look forward to in Panic Porcupine that they’ll know from the Sonic and Super Meat Boy games?

Spicy Gyro: There are quite a few things. You’ve pretty much got all the basic elements. Loops, spikes, conveyer belts, and springs, things like that. Oh, I think there’s something that I haven’t seen anyone do with conveyer belts, and it’s that you can actually run around them to the other side and run upside down on them.

We’ve got pinball flippers. I guess cannons weren’t in Sonic. Like Donkey Kong-style cannons. Oil Ocean was all automatic firing cannons.

Shiny Dolphin: We’ve got wall-jumping, but only a few levels allow wall-jumping. It’s a gimmick in this game rather than something in your main skill-set. Some walls have wall-jumping goo on them.

Spicy Gyro: We wanted to explore wall-jumping because it’s almost like a cliche at this point, and Meat Boy-style games like League of Evil and Celeste have wall-jumping. But since we were doing a Sonic movement engine, you’re wanting to run up walls and stuff. It just didn’t feel right to say you can jump off all the walls. It would have made it feel like a different game. But we did want to explore it, though, so we added that to some stages.

Shiny Dolphin: We’ve got giant chainsaws and buzz saws, which are very inspired by Meat Boy.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. Things that kill you.

Shiny Dolphin: The “things that kill you” list is pretty long in this game.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah.

Q: So what mechanics can you find in Panic Porcupine that aren’t in Sonic or Meat Boy?

Shiny Dolphin: Poles!

Spicy Gyro: Oh, yeah, the poles are pretty cool! You can spin around them and launch off of them in various directions.

Shiny Dolphin: Wait, aren’t those just like the barrel from Carnival Night Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles?

Spicy Gyro: Oh, I guess you’re right. I guess we’ve got nothing!

Shiny Dolphin: Haha!

Spicy Gyro: Oh, wait, we’ve got the tilting platform. I don’t think they did that. It starts moving once you land on it and you’ve gotta avoid traps by making it lean up or down.

Shiny Dolphin: I like some single screen levels we have. Like, no scrolling… they kind of feel like something out of The Incredible Machine or Lode Runner to me. There’s not that many, but they’re some of my favorites because they’re really tight on the player.

Spicy Gyro: That’s an interesting thing to bring up, because when we first started this game, that was closer to our intention. We were originally going to do very, very tiny levels. I never thought they were going to be single screen, necessarily, but I was always going for this arcade-y vibe where there was only a bit of scrolling. But after we started building the engine, and how the momentum felt; going around loops, and going around hills and stuff, it just became too constricting. We couldn’t keep the levels that small. From there it just kind of increased in scope as we went along.

I think a big part of it was that when we were just building the engine, and getting all of these pieces together, we had a test level for it all. We were trying to put every single different gimmick into it so we could test them, and the level ended up being far bigger than the largest level in the game. It was honestly so much fun to aimlessly run around the test level that we thought “If we do this game with just these tiny levels, we’re doing it a disservice to its potential.”

It’s like that with any game. You start of with one intention, and then it becomes something else, and you think “what if we had done it this way or that way?” You get to a point where you can’t change course. You have to commit to what you’re doing.

Q: You guys called that specific platform the ‘irritating platform’ on Twitter. Was that based on your own experiences playtesting the game?

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, it’s pretty frustrating.

Shiny Dolphin: It’s one of my favorite gimmicks, though. There’s just something about it.

Spicy Gyro: I do like the platform, yeah.

Q: So if you guys call something frustrating and irritating on your promotional posts, it’s based on what you guys feel about it?

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah. There are levels in this game that make me tear my hair out for sure.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah. It’s like, I designed the game, but at the same time, like… I designed the game, so I was putting together situations where I didn’t know if it was actually winnable or not, but I said “I’m gonna play it a hundred times and see if it is.” So I have plenty of experiences getting punished by this game. I’d say things like “okay, I’m going to move this platform a little closer so it’s not as crazy of a jump,” and then I’d have Shiny play it, and it’d take him a hundred times, and he’d tell me to move that platform a little closer, and that’s how we got to where we are.

Shiny Dolphin: Yeah.

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Q: When it came to creating a game like Panic Porcupine, what goals do you have for it? What do you want its players to take away from it?

Shiny Dolphin: We definitely want it to be funny when you die. That was one of the things we talked about a lot while working on it. A lot of the deaths let you know what you did wrong, but there’s also a “Spicy’s a jerk” element to the level design.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah.

Shiny Dolphin: Lots of evil level designer jokes here and there, but it’s hopefully fair enough that it won’t be annoying.

Spicy Gyro: Well, I’m a firm believer that the person who’s designing the levels is the true villain of the piece. Like, I’m Dr. Robotnik or Dr. Wily in this. It’s my job to torture the protagonist, so I guess I need to put some punishing stuff in there. I do enjoy watching people careen into spikes and things, too. I get a lot of joy out of that.

Shiny Dolphin: We also hope it’s fun to watch for the reason, too.

Spicy Gyro: We’ve had a couple of streamers play it, and somebody mentioned something once like, “Oh, I could see myself coming back to this as a torture stream,” like what people do with Jump King. Where they have their followers watch them die over and over again. We’re kinda intending for people to be able to do that. We hope that this’ll be a good and fun game to hurt yourself with. If you’re not willing to put yourself through it, then you should be able to extract some kind of joy from watching somebody else do it.

So far, we’ve been seeing a lot of people reacting well to the difficulty. I was watching somebody stream it the other day, and I don’t think they beat any of the levels in the demo. This wasn’t the Steam demo, this was a demo that had some later levels in it, but they didn’t beat any of them. But they said “I’m having a lot of fun losing.”

Q: You had mentioned earlier that the idea for this game came about while working on Polyroll. Do you have any ideas for future games that have come up from working on Panic Porcupine?

Shiny Dolphin: We do.

Spicy Gyro: Yeah, a long list. We spent a lot of the development time on Panic on getting the engine and the Sonic physics right. Even if our next project isn’t entirely Sonic inspired, I definitely think we want to utilize what we built for this game. Game developers want to use those kinds of things, you don’t want to have all that time to go to waste, and so we definitely want to find ways to do different things with this engine.

One of the things we’ve played around with is doing another similar game that’s a lot easier, ’cause I do enjoy easy games. I think it would be fun to do something like this that’s even more accessible.

Q: Is there anything you want to say to the future players of Panic Porcupine?

Shiny Dolphin: I loved Sonic when I was a kid, and I still love it now. I’m making games that’re inspired by Sonic because of that, so this is coming from the heart.

I think for me one of the cool things about this game is that it’s kind of an opportunity for people who grew up playing Sonic to really utilize that skillset that they’ve built up. Like… the Sonic games don’t put the players’ understanding of it to the test a lot. If you’ve grown up with Sonic, you’re like born to play Panic Porcupine.

Spicy Gyro: I’m just inspired by the reception we’ve gotten so far in terms of understanding the series’ we’re inspired by. Like what’s been mentioned before about the meat-like, hedge-like tags that we use, we didn’t use those until about a month or so ago and people still went “Oh, it’s like Sonic and Super Meat Boy.” I’m really happy that we put gameplay and screenshots out there and people immediately responded to it. I’m hopeful that when they play it, they’re going to feel like we did justice to these two franchises.


Panic Porcupine is scheduled to release on October 27 for PC, with a demo available now on Steam.

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