Donut County

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Donut County
Donut County Header.jpg
Developer(s)Ben Esposito
Publisher(s)Annapurna Interactive
Composer(s)Daniel Koestner & Ben Esposito
EngineUnity
Platform(s)iOS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
ReleaseiOS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • WW: August 28, 2018
Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
  • WW: December 18, 2018
Mode(s)Single-player

Donut County is an indie video game developed by American indie designer Ben Esposito and published by Annapurna Interactive. In the game, the player moves a hole to swallow objects, which makes the hole increase in size. The concept originated in a game jam that used video game pitches from a Twitter account parody of game designer Peter Molyneux. It later expanded to be the inverse of Katamari Damacy. Other inspirations for the game included Hopi figurines—a theme Esposito later relinquished—and locations from Bruce Springsteen songs. Donut County was released in August 2018 for iOS, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows platforms while versions for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch were released in December 2018.

Gameplay[edit]

In Donut County, the players control a hole across several different levels. As players move the hole to swallow objects, the hole increases in size. There are some puzzle aspects to this; to swallow objects floating on top of water, the player may need to maneuver the hole to drain part of the water, and then have that water consumed by a bird, repeating this until the water is drained. Later in the game, the player gains access to a catapult that fits in the top of the hole. This can be used to fling certain items swallowed by it to hit outcroppings to dislodge objects or to trigger switches.[1]

Plot[edit]

Human Mira works for her friend BK, a raccoon, at the local donut shop in Donut County. She finds BK more interested in a new mobile app, trying to earn enough points for a quadcopter drone, which he does by scheduling the delivery of donuts to the residents of Donut County. However, Mira discovers that these aren't donuts being set by the app, but actual holes which have been consuming the homes and residents of the place. BK refuses to acknowledge he did anything wrong, and when he receives his quadcopter, Mira purposely destroys it and then orders a donut to the shop, swallowing it up as well. They join the other residents trapped underground, and they all try to reason with BK of what he did was wrong. They come to learn that this was part of the plan of the Raccoon King - to acquire more trash, the Raccoon King and other raccoons developed the app to swallow all the trash it could find, ignoring the whims of the people that lived there. Mira and BK launch a mission to stop the Raccoon King. As Mira uses a hole to wrack havoc within the raccoon's facilities, BK tries to convince the Raccoon King to stop what he is doing. The Raccoon King tempts BK with a lucrative position, while sending a giant quadcopter to fight off Mira. BK rejects the offer and races out to help hack the quadcopter and destroy it, destroying the raccoons' facilities as well. BK agrees to help return all the people of Donut County back to the surface.

Development[edit]

You play a hole, you must move around an environment making certain elements fall into correct targets at the right time.

Peter Molydeux, a Peter Molyneux parody Twitter account, January 5, 2012[2]

Indie game developer Ben Esposito worked on Donut County in his free time while developing The Unfinished Swan.[1] The core game concept was prompted by a game jam based on video game pitches from a Peter Molyneux parody Twitter account, Peter Molydeux. Esposito made a game called The Pits from a pitch wherein the player moves a hole around an environment. The game grew to work as a "reverse Katamari": instead of a ball that expands upon touching items, as in Katamari Damacy, the Donut County hole expands upon swallowing items.[2] Esposito described the game as a "whimsical physics toy".[2]

Donut County was originally called Kachina,[2] based on the Native American "spirit beings that personify nature".[1] Esposito was inspired by the design of Hopi doll sculptures. Following a blog post that expressed criticism of his treatment of Hopi culture, and his subsequent effort to make an "authentic game" that incorporated the culture, he decided to change the title and abandon the theme.[3] Donut County also took inspiration from indie game Windosill's art style,[2] Los Angeles's high density of doughnut shops, and locations from Bruce Springsteen songs, such as Asbury Park and the New Jersey Turnpike.[2]

A demo of the game was featured at IndieCade in October 2012. Its goal was to knock the sun out of the sky by regurgitating objects once swallowed by the hole. Polygon's Michael McWherter noted that while some of its levels felt aimless or more like an "experiment" or "interactive toy", others "showed puzzle-like potential", including a level where chickens needed to cross a road.[1] Rock, Paper, Shotgun reported that a presentation of the game at the GDC 2013 Experimental Gameplay Workshop made the audience "cheer and applaud in delight".[3] The game was expected to show at the Austin, Texas, Fantastic Arcade event in September 2014.[2] In March 2015, Esposito presented on the game's development at the 2015 GDC.[3]

Donut County was released on August 28, 2018 for iOS, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Windows platforms,[4] and for Nintendo Switch and Xbox One on December 18, 2018.[5] Annapurna Interactive has announced an upcoming physical edition of the game.[6]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticiOS: 83/100[7]
PC: 77/100[8]
PS4: 75/100[9]
XONE: 87/100[10]
Review score
PublicationScore
TouchArcadeiOS: 5/5 stars[11]

Accolades[edit]

The game was a 2015 Independent Games Festival finalist in the Excellence in Visual Art category, and an honorable mention in the Seumas McNally Grand Prize category.[12]

It won Apple's app store "iPhone game of the year" for 2018.[13]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2015 Independent Games Festival Awards Excellence in Visual Art Nominated [12]
2017 Game Critics Awards Best Independent Game Nominated [14]
2018 Golden Joystick Awards Mobile Game of the Year Nominated [15]
The Game Awards 2018 Best Mobile Game Nominated [16]
Best Debut Indie Game Nominated
Gamers' Choice Awards Fan Favorite Indie Game Nominated [17]
2019 New York Game Awards Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game Nominated [18]
22nd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Portable Game of the Year Nominated [19]
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Design Nominated [20][21]
Mobile Game of the Year Won
Game Developers Choice Awards Best Mobile Game Nominated [22]
15th British Academy Games Awards Debut Game Nominated [23]
Mobile Game Nominated
Italian Video Game Awards Best Mobile Game Nominated [24]
2019 Webby Awards Best Game Design Nominated [25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d McWhertor, Michael (October 8, 2012). "IndieCade selection Kachina has shades of Katamari Damacy and one intriguing hole". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g McWhertor, Michael (August 11, 2014). "Donut County is like a reverse Katamari inspired by Bruce Springsteen and fake Peter Molyneux". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Walker, John (March 4, 2015). "Hopi-less: How Kachina Became Donut County". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Oh, Ashley (July 31, 2018). "Donut County is finally coming this summer". Polygon. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Makedonski, Brett (December 18, 2018). "Donut County sprinkles its joy onto Switch and Xbox today". Destructoid. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  6. ^ "Donut County and Gorogoa gets a Limited Edition Physical Release for the Nintendo Switch". whatoplay.com. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "Donut County for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  8. ^ "Donut County for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  9. ^ "Donut County for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "Donut County for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  11. ^ Tylwalk, Nick (August 27, 2018). "'Donut County' Review: A Hole Lot of Fun". TouchArcade. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Makuch, Eddie (January 7, 2015). "2015 Independent Games Festival Finalists Revealed". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  13. ^ "Best of 2018 - App Store - Apple Developer". developer.apple.com.
  14. ^ "Game Critics Awards: Best of E3 2017 (2017 Nominees)". Game Critics Awards. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Hoggins, Tom (September 24, 2018). "Golden Joysticks 2018 nominees announced, voting open now". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Grant, Christopher (December 6, 2018). "The Game Awards 2018: Here are all the winners". Polygon. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  17. ^ Glyer, Mike (November 19, 2018). "2018 Gamers' Choice Awards Nominees". File 770. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  18. ^ Keyes, Rob (January 3, 2019). "2018 New York Game Awards Nominees Revealed". Screen Rant. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  19. ^ Makuch, Eddie (January 10, 2019). "God Of War, Spider-Man Lead DICE Awards; Here's All The Nominees". GameSpot. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Trent, Logan (February 11, 2019). "Here Are Your 2019 SXSW Gaming Awards Finalists!". South by Southwest. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  21. ^ Khan, Zarmena (March 17, 2019). "God of War Takes Home 'Game of the Year' at SXSW 2019 Gaming Awards". PlayStation LifeStyle. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  22. ^ Good, Owen S. (January 4, 2019). "Red Dead Redemption 2 tops list of Game Developers Choice nominees". Polygon. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  23. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (March 14, 2019). "'God of War,' 'Red Dead 2' Lead BAFTA Game Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  24. ^ "Italian Video Game Awards Nominees and Winners". Italian Video Game Awards. April 11, 2019. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  25. ^ "2019 Winners". The Webby Awards. April 22, 2019. Retrieved April 25, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]