Barrett Brooks is a guy that not only resembles some rather famous celebrities, but he’s also the project lead on Churbles, a cartoonishly adorable RPG currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. In Churbles you play as a Churble, which is a basically a hamster that can fight. Players can choose their character class, including warrior, rogue, mystic, and druid, then explore the expansive open world, and engage in Final Fantasy style turn based combat. The team have been really promoting some of the more unique aspects of Churbles, outside of the obvious adorableness of it, such as extensive character customization, a wide variety of bosses, and pets.
After reading our discussion with Barrett take some time to check out the Churbles Kickstarter page, there’s a lot of information on it, as well as the entertaining updates. If you’re looking for even more you can head over to Churbleworld.com for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Churbles, and then some. If you opt to become a Churble backer make sure you pledge before the campaign deadline of November 17th.
Barrett Brooks : Wouldn’t that be nice? Seriously though, Kia definitely missed a great opportunity to make a Kart racer game.
Cliqist : Your last game, the well-received Slay Ride, is completely different than Churbles. What inspired you to go the direction you did?
Barrett Brooks : My daughter is really into video games, Skylanders, Minecraft; she devours games. Slay Ride was designed with adult, old school arcade shoot em up players in mind. The difficulty was high, and some of the character designs were less than kid friendly. I wanted to create a game with an aesthetic that would be accessible to younger and more casual gamers. Something a parent could feel good about buying for and even playing with their kids.
Barrett Brooks : I like the idea that just because something is small and cute, does not mean they are ineffective. This can be very empowering for kids, who can sometimes feel dismissed for those same reasons. Things would certainly have been easier with a more traditional set of heroes and monsters, but in the end we wanted to create something new and distinct, even if it put us at odds with gamers hoping for more of the same.
Cliqist : Are you afraid that the core gameplay will get lost in the graphic design? That maybe some people won’t believe there’s a game for them under the cuteness?
Barrett Brooks : Yes and yes. Our experience thus far reminds me of the initial reception to Windwaker over a decade ago. The radically cute toon shaded style was all anyone could focus on. It was not until the game was launched and in the hands of players that people acknowledged the incredible story and engaging gameplay. There are many who are hesitant to support Churbles because of the overly cute aesthetic. I feel that with a playable demo their fears can be assuaged.
Cliqist : Big name JRPG’s aren’t exactly in vogue like they used to be, but it seems like more developers are harkening back to them for their games, why is that? What inspired you to go that direction with Churbles?
Barrett Brooks : As an indie studio, resources, particularly talented programmers and developers, can often be limited. I think many indies are returning to their roots because the formulas for these games are tried and true and make for a strong foundation to build a game around. With Churbles we wanted to reintroduce some of the charm of these older games to the new generation of gamers while also letting experienced gamers enjoy a bit of nostalgia.
Cliqist : Why should someone back the Churbles Kickstarter campaign?
Barrett Brooks : We are all about Kickstarting projects and want to reward the brave backers who were willing to help our unique project get off the ground. Through the Kickstarter rewards backers can have the ability to re-skin their Churbles as powerful npc’s, villains, and even monsters. We even added in a special promotional pet available to backers. Additionally, our entire team of artists and devs are standing by to answer backer questions and listen to feedback and suggestions about the game.
The altruistic answer is simple; because we could really use the help and support.
Cliqist : What did you do to prep for you campaign? Has anything caught you by surprise?
Barrett Brooks : We worked extremely hard on our Kickstarter campaign after doing a ton of research. Unfortunately there were still many things we did wrong, but then hindsight is 20/20. The biggest surprise to us was the polarized reaction to the art style. People seem to either love it or dismiss it outright on the premise of it being too cute or childish.
Barrett Brooks : That is because our backers are the best. 😀 We’re trying something different for an audience that does not always get the attention and the love it deserves. This is their chance to let people know that yes, they would like a game that is not about half naked heroines and ultra-violent antiheroes.
Cliqist : Any final words or thoughts?
Barrett Brooks : Yes. To any fellow indies out there planning to Kickstart, it is so very important that you do pre-marketing and establish a strong fan base BEFORE Kickstarting. If you can have a playable demo available, or at least several polished examples of gameplay, even better.
Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Churbles inspired Haiku?
Barrett Brooks :
Journey through darkness
Swords, spells, boomerangs ready
Fight on brave Churbles
Thanks to Barrett for answering our questions!