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The Girl and the Robot: Interview With Salim Larochelle

The Girl and the Robot is a kick in the right direction - Interview with game designer Salim Larochelle.

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The pleasure was all mine when I got the opportunity to fire some questions Salim’s way, he’s running a KickStarter for The Girl and the Robot along with his team at Flying Carpets Games. Salim’s role in the development covers game design and programming, there are five other members involved:

  • Monaka designs the characters and makes the promotional art, 
  • Peet Lee does the 3D character models, 
  • Francois Gilbert makes all the animations, 
  • Eiko Ishiwata Nichols composes the music,
  • and Olga Urbanowicz makes the level art…
To start off Salim, could you tell me what The Girl and the Robot is?

Salim Larochelle: "The Girl and the Robot is a third person action/adventure game where you take on the role of a young girl trying to escape from a castle ruled by an evil queen. On her way, she meets a mysterious robot that can be controlled remotely and together they encounter many challenges that test the strength of their new found friendship."

Whilst everyone else is trying to replicate realism in some way, The Girl and the Robot provides visuals which clearly tell the player they're in a fantasy world.

Watching the trailer brought back memories of Miyazaki films, the atmosphere that goes with the art style and the music in Studio Ghibli pieces just screams adventure. 

The Girl and the Robot brings some of that same charm to the indie scene. Although not produced by Studio Ghibli the influences are still clear, as well as intentional. Reading from the KickStarter campaign page: “The game brings the thrills of classic games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Ico, and pairs them with the sense of wonder and adventure found in animated movies such as those from Studio Ghibli.”

The visual oozes adventure and story, the watercolour art style is so refreshing. Whilst everyone else is trying to replicate realism in some way, The Girl and the Robot provides visuals which clearly tell the player they're in a fantasy world. It's true that the indie gaming scene is different and caters less to realistic art styles, but seeing it done so well is rare. 

What inspired your art style?

Salim Larochelle: “For the art, we decided to go with a hand-painted style since it fits so well with the theme of our game. Our artist Monaka has a style that is Japanese but that can be enjoyed by people from all over the world—a little bit like the Studio Ghibli movies.”

What inspirations helped lead you to develop The Girl and the Robot?

Salim Larochelle: “The sense of adventure that I get from games that I love from both my childhood and the present, games like The Legend of Zelda, Ico and Dark Souls.”

The basic mechanics of the game come across as traditional, with the twist being you’ll be utilising both the girl and the robot to complete challenges and discover more of the story. As an example, in the trailer we see the robot standing on a stone button to open a gate, allowing the girl to pass through. When we have control of the Robot we are administering the beat down on baddies, perhaps it's a brains and brawn kind of deal?

Could you dive into the gameplay mechanics a little more?

Salim Larochelle: “The player controls the girl but he can switch his control to the robot at any time by a simple press of a button. He will need to use both the girl and the robot’s abilities to progress. The girl can run fast, jump higher and go in small areas. The robot can attack at close and long-range but move much slower. The player is rewarded by receiving access to the next area and by discovering more of the story with hints inside the environment.”

 

Why KickStarter?

Salim Larochelle: "We went on KickStarter to raise funds to help us finish all the levels and bring the game to a higher quality."

Simple enough, right? Well probably not for them, but for us it’s as simple as sharing or donating a little spare green.

What are a couple of the cool incentives to back your campaign?

Salim Larochelle:  “I think the biggest incentive is the knowledge that you helped bring this wonderful game to life. But if that is not enough, we are also giving great rewards like the game, art prints, canvas and art books.”

The Girl and the Robot is a warm and charismatic story rife with adventure and exploration. It would be a shame to miss out on such a treat. At the end of the interview I asked Salim one final question. 

Was there ever a day when you wanted to quit development?

Salim Larochelle: "No, never."

Where to get The Girl and the Robot

You’ll be able to The Girl and the Robot on PC, Mac and Linux via the Humble Store and Desura. Flying Carpet Games is also looking into Steam and consoles, but neither are confirmed yet. They aim to release the game at the end of 2014.

Many thanks to Salim for his time providing me answers to my questions, I wish the team the best of luck with The Girl and the Robot. I for one can't wait to get my hands on it.

Originally Published Nov. 7th 2013

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Tommy Roberts is a UK based freelance writer for hire.



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