Beard: Life Grows On Interview
Christian Tamburilla is the chief operations officer of Bruxe Studios, a new game development company based out of Fairfax, Virginia. Christian took the time to tell us about his game, Beard: Life Grows On, which is now accepting donations on Kickstarter. We discussed what separates his game from others in its genre, the reward of success and the importance of humor.
Spencer Maxwell: Tell us about Beard: Life Grows On.
Christian Tamburilla: Beard is a 2D procedurally-generated platforming game planned to be released on Steam (PC, Mac, Linux), Xbox One, and Wii U. Drawing inspiration from some of our favorite games like Super Mario World, The Binding of Isaac, Dark Souls, and Spelunky (to name a few). Beard features modernized mechanics paired with procedural generation to create a challenging, yet rewarding experience that’s new each time.
Experience a beautiful and always unique world that is filled with dynamic quests and secrets. Colorful characters carry artifacts of great power. Will you aid them in search of a reward, or attempt to steal their loot when they aren’t looking? Perhaps you just want to attack them head on. See what happens, curiosity yields results in the Land of Beard.
The beard that you see on our current protagonist is more than it seems. Occasionally, in the Land of Beard you will pass trees laden with fruit. When consumed into the beard, these fruit will give the character “magical Beard powers,” assisting with both platforming and survival. These abilities are currently the only thing to persist through death.
In Beard, we’d like you to feel like you’re in a magical world full of interesting places and characters. You’ll be able to interact with all of these things in their own different ways: speak with fairies hidden in the mountains, steal the Glass Jar from the Alchemist, ask the Living Tree his age, return Wall Face his lost glass of juice. These actions will yield different outcomes based on the state of the game, which items you have, and even things like the non-playable character’s mood and the weather.
SM: Tell us about your team.
CT: Bruxe Studios is a culture built around the collective talent of the nine individuals who compose it. [Developers] Eric [Remigino] and Matt Johnston, created rogue-RPGs in their young teens. [Even] an online game that profited from micro-transactions long before the term and strategy had been coined. The majority of us graduated from George Mason University.
We’re motivated and ambitious. It’s our shared dream to build this company into something that both supports our costs and moves others through the interactive experiences we build. The company was founded in 2013. We acquired several contracts to sustain ourselves, but they have been all too time consuming, so we decided to operate more organically. Moving out of the office, and now developing out of our two bedroom apartment, we work every day and receive no pay to push Beard to its potential.
SM: What does the rogue-like (procedurally-generated) element bring to the table to a platformer?
CT: I don’t believe that mixing rogue-like and a 2D platformer is extraordinarily original. Spelunky’s already done it. It seems it’s become a buzzword for “hard game without checkpoints” rather than describing the actual genre. To us though, a heightened level of challenge brings a greater feeling of accomplishment once it’s overcome. That’s not to say Beard will be super hard, but rather that if you want a challenge and to achieve more, it can be done.
SM: What other elements separate it from other platformers?
CT: It really stands out to us how little emotion enemies and characters portray in your typical platformer. You see them, walking back and forth on their small platform with a grimace. Each of our enemies will carry an emotion, and carefully scripted AI will allow them to behave in a way that is unique to each type of creature. We also hope to involve player versus player encounters, which will make the game increasingly difficult, and fun in our opinion.
SM: What did you avoid in the gameplay that’s in traditional platformers/rogue-like games?
CT: Our gameplay avoids fitting into one niche genre. The game, though mostly platforming skill-oriented, will feature rogue-like elements, puzzle elements, RPG elements, and even a dating sim side quest.
SM: Humor is a very important aspect of the game. Why so much emphasis on it?
CT: Humor is very important to Beard, but balance is really key. We want the world to be meaningful and deep. But the light-hearted behavior of many characters, like in the real world, are the ones who keep us smiling. Humor is an emotion we can convey that is sure to bring the player happiness, as that’s really our motivation.
SM: How does the music mesh with the gameplay?
CT: Each of our songs will be made with a specific level in mind, and will be composed to mirror the emotion we want that level to convey. Our composer will be working closely with the rest of the team throughout development, and each song will be developed in iterations.
SM: How has Kickstarter helped other than funding?
CT: Kickstarter has been a good source of feedback thus far. Since going public, we’ve gotten the impression that people are interested in the game, but need to see more. We hope that once we can convey the feeling of the game and gain a proper following, the feedback will only increase, making the game even better.
SM: What challenges are you facing in development?
CT: Every day carries its own obstacles, but I think our biggest challenge has been forming a routine that works for everyone. Although we’re dedicated, a lack of funds definitely messes with some of our schedules and development time.
SM: What do you want gamers to take away from this experience?
CT: Life is one long experience, and succeeding is less important than what you learn from the challenges you face along the way. Players will die a lot in Beard, but each time they die they will (hopefully) learn from their mistakes. We hope to instill dedication, patience, and even self-awareness in the player.