looking back on Butt Quest
today we're going to talk about one of the oldest princess projects, a game that's been in development hell since 2014 and may never be finished: Butt Quest. it's so infamous that, to this day, chicago developers will refer to a perpetually unfinished passion project as a Butt Quest.
at this point you might have some questions.
"princess why did you make a game called Butt Quest"
ok look it was just a joke at first, but everyone and their kids loved it and we were young and sad and impressionable and got carried away,
"what exactly is Butt Quest?"
ummm it's kinda like Mario or Zelda or any other puzzle-platformer-adventure, except you're a butt. the gameplay is pretty straightforward, but the challenge of controlling this awkward wobbly physics-based character makes it interesting. (or does it? more on that later.)
the story has changed a lot over the years, but it's basically this: the Wishing Stars have fallen from the sky, and you have to go find them and return them to the Celestial Beacons so everyones wishes can come true.
travel the world, make friends, collect stars. this butt is also a magical girl, so it can use crystals to transform into different kinds of butts with elemental powers like wind, water, fire, mushroom, etc.
"please finish this bad game so i can play it"
i literally spent six years trying to do that
"surely you could just make a smaller version of it?"
ok so heres the interesting thing about Butt Quest: the scope is not the only problem! there are a lot of problems. Butt Quest is inherently flawed.
1. the butt is not fun to control. it looks funny when princess is doing it, but for most people it's barely playable, not in a funny way but in a boring way. no one ever completed the tutorial except for a few people who were already very skilled at physics-based games.
2. where to begin? there are too many concepts and mechanics, most of them aren't even good, some contradict each other, and a lot of the code doesn't work. if you strip away all of that, there's not much left that's worth saving.
3. the best parts are slowly becoming obsolete. a lot of content from Butt Quest has already been recycled into other things like Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica, Bomb Dolls, and the Dreams Come True video.
"ok but this particular art style is cute, so why don't you just rework it into a different game? maybe a game that's not about a butt"
yeah we're doing that. obviously it will take time. we're also different people in 2020 than we were in 2014, so the style won't be exactly the same. it doesn't really matter because art is fake and everything gets recycled into something else eventually!
"how much work did you put into Butt Quest, anyway?"
i'm not sure, it was very on-and-off. here's the timeline:
- 2014: basic prototypes.
- 2015: got wisdom teeth removed, spent two weeks in bed on painkillers making most of what is recognizable today. prepared a demo and showed it at a local event. (it was worth it because we met our wife there!)
- 2016: tried to make progress, but the game was a mess and eventually became so unhealthy it was physically damaging our body. had to take a break and start making Jessica instead.
- 2017: designed some new characters, but it was still triggering unhealthy reactions from our body so we kept working on Jessica.
- 2018: Jessica was done, tried to focus on Butt Quest again, got distracted by life and ended up making Bomb Dolls instead.
- 2019: started a new game, a reimagining of Butt Quest.
- 2020: worked on the new game, made a lot of progress, but too sick with long covid to get anywhere near finishing it. currently on hiatus.
- 2021: ??? (update: we did not work on Butt Quest in 2021)
- 2022: reworked it into another game again, oops
most of these phases happened in short bursts, so it wasn't too much of a loss. we probably spent more time thinking about it than working on it.
so what is Butt Quest? vaporware? performance art? a learning experience? a testing ground for other projects? a mythical thing that exists only in the collective imagination of chicago devs? a game that will be released in 2030 and set a new record for the longest-delayed videogame in history? (probably not. but maybe.)