Grabbles, an upcoming physics-platformer from Noble Whale Studios, has players controlling an amorphous blob that uses its slimy pseudo pods to traverse the environment. I chatted with Brad Murphy, co-founder of Noble Whale Studios about Grabbles, as well as the difficulties of being an indie developer as well as a space dictator.
I’m Brad Murphy and my role here is basically everything besides art. I handle game design, programming, random business duties, and probably others I’m forgetting. With such few people in an indie studio, you have to wear a lot of hats.
Explain Grabbles in a nutshell to our readers.
At its core, it’s a twin-stick grabbing platformer with an emphasis on controlled chaos. It has both single player and multiplayer. In multiplayer, your form of attack is solely the grabbing mechanic and tossing other players around. Everything in the game is based around a sort of multiplayer, Spider-Man-like mechanic.
So what brought you to the concept of Grabbles?
It all started as a Paperboy clone, oddly enough, where you had this sort of whip that traveled behind you and tripped people. I then moved that over to 2D side scrolling with these whip arms you couldn’t control that grabbed onto things they hit, but that wasn’t very fun. I then decided to go the opposite direction and have the arms be completely controllable, but the body was not. Some friends came over, and we had too much fun so I then realized we were onto something.
You mentioned earlier that you have to wear many hats as part of an indie studio. What are some of the other challenges you face?
Motivation starts wavering every now and then from seeing all of these great games coming out from these long time indies. You see how little these top rated games make when they release post mortems. I’ve also never worked on a single project for over a year before where I’m at the head of it. If I take a day off to play Ori and the Blind Forest, I feel guilty. Awesome game by the way.
So how do you keep motivation up?
This is said a lot, but you really do just have to make a game you want to play. You have to forget the outside motivational factors because chances are, less people will play the game than you’d like, and you will probably not make a good living doing this. I find myself forgetting I’m supposed to be testing for a bug, and just play through a level trying to beat my old fastest time or the other developer’s fastest time.
Also, just talking to the team helps motivation. Our artist lives over in the UK, so no matter what time of the day you log on, someone is usually working on Grabbles and there are new messages in the chat log about it. It’s sort of like a “Grabbles alarm” reminding you to stop watching Netflix and get back to it.
So for consoles, you guys announced that you’re part of the ID@XBOX initiative. What drew you to developing exclusively for Xbox One as opposed to cross-platform for PS4 and/or Wii U?
We are actually going to be announcing some stuff soonish, but we are definitely not exclusive to Xbox One.
Just waiting for some final things to go through.
Say no more. So what are your plans after Grabbles is finished?
Grabbles will be finished?!?! I didn’t know that was ever happening. Sorry, I’m starting to get a sort of cabin fever about Grabbles. What we talk about are short games that we can release within a month. We have a few prototypes that were pushed to the wayside for Grabbles that we’re dying to get back to. We are not looking to make another large game right after. Waiting so long for release is one of the hardest things about this. I think our release date has always been 6 months away since we started this game.
Any prototypes you’re really excited about?
The one I want to get back to is basically like the movie, Source Code, where you have to relive the same 5-10 minutes over and over again and stop a bomb from exploding. There will be murder, mayhem, all that good stuff. Basically a very dark Groundhog Day.
So I ask this question of everyone: if you had unlimited resources, time, money, etc….and no one to please but yourself, what would be your dream project?
Start a space colony of course. Did that have to be software related?
Not necessarily. But please expand on this space colony!
Not much to say, typical space colony. I’d be the dictator, people would bow to me. The human race is going to need a space colony one day in case of a global disaster, if movies have taught us anything. They’ve also taught me that space is scary though, so who knows?
Well, any good dictatorship will have a strong military presence, so you’ll have a slew of space soldiers to take out any hostiles.
Any closing thoughts for our readers?
We’re always looking to connect with our fans, so if you have anything to say about Grabbles, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in whatever format is the most cool these days.
Grabbles will be released in 2015. You can get more information at http://www.grabblesgame.com