What The Golf?: Hands-on at GDC 2018

What happens when a developer trying to put together a golf game gets bored of that idea? Shacknews goes to this year's Game Developers Conference to find out.

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There's nothing wrong with a perfectly good golf game. Sometimes, golf games can be fun. They're a competitive test of skill and accuracy, sometimes sprinkled in with fun gimmicks. But golf games aren't for everyone. And in the case of developer Triband, designing golf games isn't for everyone either.

What The Golf? is what happens when a developer tries to design a golf game and, by their own admission, grows bored with that idea. It starts off as a golf game and quickly morphs into something different. Shacknews went to this year's Game Developers Conference and went hands-on with this oddball game.

The demo kicks off as any golf game would. The idea is to hit the button on the gamepad and measure how hard you want to hit the ball. The object isn't even to sink the ball in the hole, but simply make contact with the pole. After getting a quick hole-in-one, the next hole is where things got interesting. As soon as the power bar maxed out, I hit the button, only to see my golfer take to the sky. The objective here was to send my golfer to the hole.

Objectives vary wildly from hole to hole and there's no telling what that goal is until the action begins. Some holes had the actual hole itself move around. Other holes placed the hole around explosive barrels. Some scenarios involved hitting random objects towards a hole, like cars or soccer balls. Elements of other genres are also tossed in. One example saw me on a 2D course with portals, with the idea to hit the ball through the portal and emerge on the other end and at the hole.

The possibilities for What The Golf? started to feel endless by the end of the demo, especially with Tribend experimenting with other indie games. The demo ended with a series of stages set in the world of Superhot. The idea was to hit the ball towards a gun on the ground, take a shot at enemies to shatter them, pick up their guns, and repeat the process until reaching the goal. This part of the game was incredibly challenging, but also a lot of fun. There are different kinds of diversions like this, which are built on the roots of golf, but are ultimately paved into something else.

Development for What The Golf? looks to be going well, but developer Triband isn't ready to commit to any kind of release date at this time. But look for this "golf" game to release on PC at some point in 2018.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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