Running this blog comes with its fair share of responsibilities. What should we cover, what shouldn’t we cover, which games need the coverage? All of this sets us up for a complicated balancing act. With that in mind, I want to throw all of that out the window to talk about what makes the Sokpop Collective games just so good.
Yes we’ve covered the Sokpop games fairly regularly since the team started releasing projects biweekly, but the salient points are these: Sokpop is a small “boy band” (their words) of developers who release games every two weeks that are funded through itch.io sales and Patreon contributions. These games typically have a stripped back pixated-but-low poly artstyle and have a short runtime. They’re also uniformly great.
But what makes them so good? Let’s take a look.
In our interview with Sokpop Collective the crew revealed how they’re able to release games so frequently: while there are 4 members of the collective, each game is largely developed by one person. This means that the team is leapfrogging through the schedule and allowing each game more than just two weeks to bake. Of course this isn’t just a speed thing, it becomes one of Sokpop’s greatest strengths: each game is very human.
Without going into the specifics of each individual Sokpop game (there are over 40 released on itch.io alone), each one feels like something a human being --not a committee-- willed into the world. None of them feel like traditionally marketable projects and you can see individual fingerprints all over the design. Why are the controls of Clutchball so weird? Because someone on staff thought it would be a laugh. Why did someone, in the year 2019, make a Runescape fan game? Why not? There’s a personality in this design approach which makes me feel like I’m constant conversation with the developers.
The quick release cycle has an added benefit, these games can’t be very long and thus are all micro explorations of a few ideas. In each game there are really only a handful of mechanics that the game pushes to their limits, then discards once the next game is out. Because of this every game is fresh and shares nothing but its pedigree. It’s refreshing to see a team able to publicly throw so many ideas at the wall, and it's even better to see so many of them stick.
If you haven’t checked out the Sokpop Collective’s oeuvre it’s worth looking at if for no reason other than to see what a team marching to the beat of their own drum can look like.
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