Combining a wacky premise with hilariously exaggerated physics mechanics and endless replayability, the original Moving Out was a big hit with critics and audiences alike upon its launch in 2020.
Three years on, co-developers SMG Studio and DevM Games are returning with a sequel, and Moving Out 2 is looking like a step up over its predecessor in every way, from a greater variety in levels to even greater emphasis on the charm and whimsy of the series to, of course, improved multiplayer features. To learn more about the games and the biggest ways it will build on the original, we recently reached out to its developers with a few of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with SMG Studio CEO Ashley Ringrose and lead designer Dave Lockman.
"Moving Out was such a big project for us and close to our heart that when we decided to do a sequel, we really wanted to spend the time to get it right. Off the bat, our most requested feature from the first game was to add online multiplayer, so it was very important for us to get that in."
The original Moving Out was very well received by fans, owing to its unique premise and how charming it was. What has been your approach to Moving Out 2 in terms of delivering an experience that’s along those lines, but also doesn’t feel too familiar?
Moving Out was such a big project for us and close to our heart that when we decided to do a sequel, we really wanted to spend the time to get it right. Off the bat, our most requested feature from the first game was to add online multiplayer, so it was very important for us to get that in. Creating an online physics game comes with a lot of challenges though and it meant we had to completely change how we created levels and assets compared to the original Moving Out. We also spent quite a lot of time early on in development exploring new mechanics.
We didn’t just want to pack in heaps of stuff, we wanted to make sure it felt new but also felt like an evolution of Moving Out. Quite a lot of the mechanics we built and tested were left on the cutting room floor because a lot of the time they sound good on paper but not in execution. This also gave us an opportunity to expand on ideas we had for the original Moving Out but weren’t able to get in for one reason or another. We were very lucky to be given the time to really flesh everything out and make sure it’s a complete experience that all gels together nicely.
What can you tell us about the new locations that players will be visiting in Moving Out 2, and what kind of new gameplay opportunities they will bring?
This time we’re not just in good old Packmore. After taking the F.A.R.T. crew to space we knew we had to up the ante, so for Moving Out 2 we’re going interdimensional. There are five dimensions all together, each with their own world map and set of mechanics. You will start in the Packmore we are all familiar with which serves as a way to introduce or reintroduce players to the world of Moving Out. From there we take a non-linear approach and open three more dimensions.
Snackmore is a candy themed dimension that focuses a little more on mini game style levels and a new feature we call sorting which requires players to take items to specific delivery zones. There is Middle Folkmore which is fantasy based where you will see rotating levels, portals, floating trains and more magic themed style mechanics. We also have Packtroplis City which is based in a very optimistic green future where you can ride drones, alter your environment with cranks and power up elements with batteries. The last dimension we are keeping a secret so you will have to play to find out but that’s where things get really wild.
Moving Out was supported very well post-launch with both DLC and free updates. Do you have plans for similar post-launch support for Moving Out 2 as well?
Currently we have no plans for paid DLC post-launch as we wanted to make the game as feature complete as possible at launch. For Moving Out 2, we had a lot of time and freedom in exploring different mechanics and ways to play that we were able to get exactly what we wanted in the game. We will of course continue to support the game with updates and patches, but as of right now we can’t promise paid DLC.
"For Moving Out 2, we had a lot of time and freedom in exploring different mechanics and ways to play that we were able to get exactly what we wanted in the game. We will of course continue to support the game with updates and patches, but as of right now we can’t promise paid DLC."
What can you tell us about Moving Out 2’s assist mode and accessibility options and what they will entail?
We learnt a lot from Moving Out’s assist mode, as well as the reaction it got, so we’ve brought it over for the sequel. The main accessibility options from the first game all return, but the biggest change has come with level specific assist items. Reduced difficulty for example is now on a per level basis and levels were built from the start with this in mind so even if you do turn on assist mode you won’t be missing out on anything that makes the level great. We really want as many people as possible to get the most out of the game regardless of their playing style.
Moving Out 2 is promising a wide and varied cast of characters. What has the process of designing these personalities and all of their quirks been like?
Designing the characters is a lot of fun. It starts as a group process with everyone on the team brainstorming and throwing all kinds of ideas out there. During this stage there are no wrong answers and we encourage the team to be as wacky and wild as possible. We then categorize the characters and vote on what to concept. For example, even though we might have 20 great ideas for characters based on food, we want some variety and will have to cull some. Then we have them sketched up before another round of voting happens, during this stage we also come up with their personalities and traits. Finally, the characters that made the cut get modeled and make it into the game.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of the game be?
Depending on your play style, if you just want to run through the story without doing the optional objectives or unlocks then it will take you roughly 6-8 hours to complete. However, if you’re a completionist and want to see and do everything then it could take you anywhere from 15-25 hours depending on how you approach it.
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series’ specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS. How much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
Unless you’re making games that are extracting every last bit of performance you don’t really notice the extra TFLOPS. If anything, it just means you have to do less optimization as these machines are pretty fast now. It’s only on the Gen 8 hardware you need to go in and really think about how to optimize.
"We learnt a lot from Moving Out’s assist mode, as well as the reaction it got, so we’ve brought it over for the sequel. The main accessibility options from the first game all return, but the biggest change has come with level specific assist items."
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth. How can developers take advantage of this, and how does this compare to the Xbox Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw bandwidth?
For Moving Out we’re not really pushing the boundaries here with the size of the game. I will say that our funny jokes we added to the loading screens are now really hard to read as the game loads so fast on both systems! We decided NOT to artificially extend these just for the jokes. So you gotta read fast!
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60 FPS console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses? Super Resolution is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. How do you think this will help game developers?
For the types of games SMG makes, we’re not chasing the highest fidelity graphics (which is like a nuclear arms race in which only the biggest can win). We’re more interested in stylised art direction and fun. Super resolution just sounds like the games are going to be huge file sizes. And with the Switch still so popular we need to make sure our games run on that platform at launch also so for us the Series S is still a valid platform.