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How Viscera Cleanup Detail teaches physics with a bloody mop

"To me it helps to bridge the gap between the player and the physical world of the game," dev Nolan Richert tells Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "The physics of the mop respond to your input immediately."
"To me it helps to bridge the gap between the player and the physical world of the game. The physics of the mop respond to your input immediately and show that your input affects physics in the game directly."

- RuneStorm Games' Nolan Richert, chatting with Rock, Paper, Shotgun about the studio's game Viscera Cleanup Detail.

Two years ago RuneStorm Games released its first-person janitorial sim Viscera Cleanup Detail. Now, in a fresh interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, RuneStorm's Nolan Richert explains that the physics system which lends weight (and motion and friction and) to the game's darkly comedic tone was never really part of the initial plan.

"What started off as us just ticking boxes turned into a game-wide layer we hadn’t planned," said Richert, adding that a lot of the game's objects and physics systems have been tweaked to feel "solid" (some small items that need to be cleaned up are extra-large, for example, as is the bucket the player needs to put everything in).

Of course, this begs the question: if your game becomes all about touching things against other things, and those things don't always behave like their real-world counterparts might, how do you effectively teach a player how those things work? 

The answer, for Richert, is to immediately give the player something familiar that's interesting to swing around: a mop.

"To me it helps to bridge the gap between the player and the physical world of the game,” Richert said. “The physics of the mop respond to your input immediately and show that your input affects physics in the game directly. After players see the mop, the fact that other things respond with similar physics is more intuitive."

It's a notable observation in light of how well the game has done in the years since it first surfaced as the result of a RuneStorm internal game jam. For more from Richert on how Viscera Cleanup Detail was developed and honed around the notion of having a satisfying time tidying up combat zones, check out the full RPS feature.

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