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How Dig Dog Was Made Without Hands

Jack Gardner



Rusty Moyher, an independent game developer, hails from Austin, Texas where he quietly works from his house to create small, engaging games. His first title, Astro Duel Deluxe, released on Nintendo Switch in May of 2017. Dig Dog stands as the latest game Moyher has released, but it holds the unique distinction of being the first title he created without the use of his hands. 


Due to a repetitive stress injury, Moyher retained limited use of his hands, but could not work on creating his games via traditional methods anymore. He set about the difficult task of coding and creating artwork for a game without using his hands. That might seem impossible to a lot of people, but Moyher came up with some ingenious methods to achieve his goals. Instead of typing out code with a keyboard, Moyher developed a shorthand language to speak into a microphone that would be able to translate into the symbols and words needed to create functional game code. The result is something that sounds like extremely fast gibberish, but in the video included below, you can see his computer translate it into code relatively easily. 





To create the art assets for the retro silhouette aesthetic, Moyher had to get even more creative. Using a mouse was out of the question with his hands, so he attached a small reflective dot to a hat and set up a webcam to track its movements. He was able to then link those movements with those of the cursor and manipulate it within the art program he was using to create assets. Of course, one might wonder how he was able to click without the use of a mouse - he simply connected a foot pedal to his computer and reconfigured it into a mouse click. 


With those two technological adaptations, Moyher was able to create Dig Dog, an amusing tribute to retro gaming staring a dog on a search for more bones. Of course, much like the retro classic Dig Dug, the world of Dig Dog is populated by a variety of enemies that pose a threat to the lovable canine. Players will have to stomp, dash, and dig their way to defeating enemies and bypassing environmental hazards.


The game sports two different gameplay modes. The first is called Bone Hunt, which is the core roguelike game at the heart of Dig Dog. Players make their way through each stage searching for bones. However, as they make progress, they can discover shops that sell upgrades and a variety of other secrets. These stages shift with each playthrough, making each session a unique adventure. The deeper the dog delves, the more difficult the game becomes. Free Dig is similar, but enemies present less of a threat and the stages offer more freedom of movement.   


On top of all of that, players can unlock palette swaps for the game to change the ambiance while digging for those elusive bones. The game also comes with built-in achievements to preserve some sense of player progression and offer interesting goals. While Rusty Moyher programmed and created the art for Dig Dog himself, the music was composed by Matthew Grimm, who also goes by 8bitmatt. 




Dig Dog is currently available for the Nintendo Switch.


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