During tonight's Annapurna Interactive Showcase, we got another lovely look at Flock, the latest game from Wilmot's Warehouse and I Am Dead devs Hollow Ponds and Richard Hogg. In it, we get to see exactly how its adorable creature herding works in co-op, which you'd probably hope to see, given its own Steam page also describes it as a co-op multiplayer game. But rest assured, Flock is still very much a game you can play on your own, without the need to have a pal along for the ride, the devs tell me.
"The thing that hadn't occurred to me until just now, thinking about people like you seeing this trailer is, what if people don't realise you can play in single player?" Hogg tells me ahead of tonight's showcase. "This trailer has done almost too good a job of selling this as a multiplayer game. But yeah, it's totally playable as a single player game."
Hollow Ponds' Ricky Haggett adds that they did, in fact, have plans to include some single-player footage in tonight's latest trailer (embedded above), but when they came around to filming it, "there was just so much gold it just ended up being effectively a multiplayer game with two players," he says.
More importantly, though, Haggett and Hogg assure me that solo players won't be losing out on anything by choosing to play it in single-player. For Hogg, they wanted it to be "the kind of game where it's the kind of low stakes multiplayer where you might spend a lot of time just doing your own thing - effectively doing pretty much what you'd be doing if you were playing single-player", just in the same place with your friends.
"That's the kind of game we like playing and how we like playing multiplayer games a lot of the time and it was that kind of experience [we wanted to capture]," he continues. "Just hanging out with your friends while you're doing a thing."
Indeed, Haggett and Hogg tell me you could theoretically be on the other side of the world doing something completely different to your mate when playing in co-op, and it won't rely on you playing 'together', as such, in order to progress. I'll have more to say about exactly what you'll be doing in Flock tomorrow, but there will be tools in the game for comparing your respective guidebooks on the creatures you've discovered, and creating markers to suggest good places to maybe have a noodle about it.
As for how Flock will work when playing with strangers online, that's something Haggett and Hogg are still figuring out. "When it comes to multiplayer and playing with people you don't know, and where you're not just hanging out with your mates while you're playing, I think there's still some work for us to do there to figure out exactly what the shape of that is," says Hogg.
Haggett agrees, adding: "A big part of multiplayer is being able to talk to each other and chat to each other. And if you take that away, and you're playing with a stranger who you potentially aren't talking to, then it would feel derailing for somebody else to come and just start making things happen. So we're still figuring out the right level of what co-op means, you know?"
Hopefully there's still plenty of time for them to find an answer, as Flock's release date is still up in the air at the moment. You can, however, add it to your own ever-expanding flock of wishlist games by visiting its Steam page.Disclosure: Pip Warr (RPS in peace and formerly of this parish) is both one of the very soothing voices in the trailer above, and one of Flock's game and narrative designers.