The 2020 Game Developers Conference will feature an exhibition called Alt.Ctrl.GDC dedicated to games that use alternative control schemes and interactions. Gamasutra will be talking to the developers of each of the games that have been selected for the showcase.
Milk! That! Cow! is a ridiculous cow-milking showdown where players need to pull udders to tap buttons, filling up a bucket which another player must collect the milk in. Whoever can drink the most milk without spilling it (or cracking up at the absurd control scheme) will come out on top.
Gamasutra sat down with Gary O'Reilly, a member of the team that put together this game of competitive cow milking, to talk about the difficulties of making an udder controller, inspirations from Japanese game shows, and the dangers of overzealous milkers.
We are a team of 5, with Hazel and Patrick on Art, Eoin and Sam on Tech, Gary on Production and Tech, and all of us collaborating on the design of the game and building the controller! We’ve all been studying game design for the last four years in college.
Udder control scheme
We were all brainstorming different ideas for a game using an alternate controller for a college assignment and the idea of using cow udders came up. We thought it was a really funny idea and decided to iterate on the concept until we had the 2 vs 2 cow milking simulator gameshow.
Using the Milkinator 5000™, players hit buttons with udders to simulate milking a cow on-screen as their teammate balances a bucket on an analog stick to catch the in-game milk!
Making an udder into a controller
We had a couple of different ideas for how the udders would work on the controller, but settled on having buttons underneath each udder to pull them down to. There were challenges in trying to hide the buttons from the players as this caused the buttons to malfunction, but this was (eventually) fixed. We also had problems with the stick used for the bucket, as the player has to pull it back to chug the milk in-game. Some overzealous players would pull back very hard which broke the stick! We had to redo the stick for the bucket after this, ensuring it was sturdier.
Milk!That!Cow!™ was made using the game engine Unity. The controller “cabinet" is made out of wood with udders sewn from a sheet of pink material (it was originally rubber gloves, but they tore too easily). The bucket analog stick is just a decorated shot glass stuck to the end of a wooden spoon. Everything is made out of very non-traditional materials for a game controller other than the wiring itself, which we took from an old PlayStation 3 controller.
Making milking competitive
We had looked at different cheesy game show concepts and were inspired by the wacky antics of Japanese game shows.
The appeal of the silly controller
Players are already laughing at the controller before they even play the game. Once they actually start playing, they tend to get really competitive and hammer the udders into the buttons. Getting to interact with such a physically funny game controller really adds to the overall fun and enjoyment.
The difficulties of udder durability
It wasn't until we took the game to Dublin Maker Festival that we noticed how fragile the first iteration of the controller actually was - kids got really competitive and ended up breaking one of the udder-buttons completely before the end of the day. We've since sorted that issue and rebuilt some of the controller to be more durable for the more enthusiastic player.