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Capturing imperfect concepts in Jeremy Couillard’s surreal Fuzz Dungeon

This interview is a part of our Street to the IGF collection.

Fuzz Dungeon is a journey via an absurd imaginative and prescient of human historical past, all so you could find a “sasquatch intercourse amulet.” And recreate a society the place you won’t need to go to work. It is a surreal imaginative and prescient of existence, however one which captures the imperfect methods our good concepts are likely to take form after we carry them into the world. 

Recreation Developer spoke with creator Jeremy Couillard and musician Chris Parrello in regards to the IGF Excellence in Audio and Nuovo Award-nominated work, speaking about how our concepts do not at all times come out fairly as we think about them, how the sport’s imaginative and prescient of actuality mirrors the discordant, but harmonious points of our personal each day lives, and a have a look at how the whole lot appears to be “gamified” in the meanwhile.


Who’re you, and what was your position in creating Fuzz Dungeon?

Jeremy Couillard (creator of Fuzz Dungeon): I’m Jeremy Couillard, a visible artist primarily based in New York. I’m the creator of Fuzz Dungeon along with collaborator Chris Parrello, who did the music.

What’s your background in making video games?

Couillard: I went to grad faculty to review portray and slowly moved into animation and messing round in sport engines. Fuzz Dungeon is my fourth challenge on Steam. I’ve no formal sport design or programming coaching. All my foundations are within the visible arts…however effectively, clearly, I feel video video games are, at their core, a visible artwork!

How did you give you the idea for Fuzz Dungeon?

Couillard: I used to be attempting to attract, I feel, Mickey Mouse or some cartoon character like that. I noticed it completely in my head, however once I went to attract it, it simply regarded terrible. After which I believed that was a terrific analogy for the way we reside as people typically. 

We now have these nice concepts that we see completely in our heads, however after we go to get them out they’re by no means what we initially meant and sometimes appear to be monsters. And this will scale means up. Like, the inventors of social media didn’t anticipate their infrastructure to contribute to the rise of fascism and mass surveillance, and Henry Ford didn’t assume the mass manufacturing of cars was going to contribute to rising sea ranges and cities turning into far more ugly and inhospitable.

I needed to make one thing that was self conscious of that course of. As an alternative of the standard workflow of getting clear and bold concepts for a sport and executing them, I needed to work in a looser fashion and make issues up as I went alongside—make issues that have been very private and about my life as I used to be dwelling it whereas making the sport. Possibly all this plotting and planning isn’t so good a number of the time and solely will get us chimeric monsters that come again to eat us alive. Possibly there are different methods to do issues? Or perhaps not. I don’t know. I simply needed to experiment with it. 

However, effectively, being nominated at IGF is significant as a result of it kind of solutions that query to some extent. For those who’re persistent you might be your bizarre self and a few folks will be capable of relate.


What growth instruments have been used to construct your sport?

Couillard: I used UnrealEngine 4 primarily, in addition to Blender, Zbrush and Substance Painter.

Fuzz Dungeon incorporates a distinctive protagonist. What ideas went into its design?

Couillard: The method for all of the characters was just about the identical. I might simply open up Zbrush and begin doodling. I used to be actually impressed by this collection of drawings by William Blake known as Visionary Heads the place he drew ghosts or spirits he claimed to be taking a look at. The drawings have this awkward gaze and uncanny valley really feel to them. I used to be attempting to seize one thing much like that. 

I felt that once I opened up Zbrush to sculpt a personality, reasonably than taking a look at spirits within the classical sense, I used to be trying on the ghosts of popular culture detritus that hang-out my unconscious since I can bear in mind. The Flip character is simply an amalgamation of all of the cartoons and video video games I’ve performed all through my life…however I wasn’t essentially attempting to make her interesting or engaging. She’s an embodiment of that failed try at drawing Mickey Mouse from reminiscence.

The sport takes gamers to a wide range of totally different locations, many with totally different seems to be and play types. What challenges got here from creating this sort of selection, and the way did you take care of them?

Couillard: The problem was that it was simply a number of work [laughs]. We have been largely in lockdown, although, so I had a number of time. I suppose I additionally needed to discover a approach to join the whole lot in a means so the gamers may navigate the sport area, in order that’s why I put it in a kind of dungeon cave with totally different buildings used as entry factors to the totally different worlds.

Likewise, every of those worlds has a visible fashion. What concepts went into creating so many alternative types? In making them really feel like they’re nonetheless linked with the core designs of the characters?

Couillard: I needed the expertise to be an analogy of dwelling in our up to date world. Watching TV, scrolling via our telephones, strolling down the road—there may be a lot selection to seize our consideration, but it surely’s all mediated via the commonality of our world tradition. 

So, I can stroll down a metropolis road nearly wherever and see an animated commercial reminding me to put on a masks, a billboard for a lawyer, cabs with adverts for strip golf equipment, road indicators, folks with logos on their garments and so on. However that is all in a unique “fashion,” and on the similar time all by some means is sensible and is completely comprehensible. Nobody is strolling round completely misplaced and dumbfounded (or only a few anyway). 

It’s all simply a part of dwelling in a metropolis, which in itself is only a large hallucination we’re all having collectively. It’s a factor we simply made up and are kind of rolling with, making it up as we go alongside. I needed to create an expertise that was like that. Generally I really feel like video games and animations are too tight of their design and it doesn’t replicate the extra patchwork actuality we expertise in our day-to-day lives.


What have been you hoping to evoke from the participant with these varied seems to be and visible types in Fuzz Dungeon? With this “absurdist model of human historical past”?

Couillard: I feel historical past is a kind of Fuzz Dungeon…it has been stuffed with nice concepts that didn’t work out how the unique thinkers had hoped. And in addition, as we conceptualize historical past, we regularly do it via occasions that didn’t really occur how we predict however match our present methods of understanding our world (i.e. we name agriculture a ‘revolution’ but it surely took round 3,000 years to completely implement). 

I needed to play with this simplified model of historical past we inform ourselves and use it as a metaphor for the way the whole lot is gamified these days. We even consider historical past as a means of “leveling up” when actually it’s far more amorphous I feel.

What ideas went into getting the music and audio proper for the sport?

Chris Parrello (musician for Fuzz Dungeon): Fuzz Dungeon is a variegated visible expertise—it doesn’t appear to be one factor—it’s hand-drawn, pristine digital, 8-bit… Jeremy is a grasp of many modalities. However the really feel of the sport is fixed. I needed to discover totally different modes of music-making (reside devices, samples, chiptune), hopefully with related integrity, and in addition keep a standard spirit. Not austere, however inviting severe questions. Generally it is stunning.

What made the rating really feel proper for this surreal expertise?

Parrello: Maybe dressing up severe concepts in ridiculous clothes? Or typically the other.

What you about exploring the connections between concepts and penalties via this sport? What have been you hoping to convey via this work?

Couillard: Finally, I suppose I simply hope folks really feel they went via a novel expertise once they end the sport, and perhaps really feel that they linked with me on some stage (that’s why one of many final ranges is actually my lounge the place I invite gamers over to go searching). After which, in the event that they give it some thought a bit of extra, I hoped to convey an concept that issues might be totally different. 

An excellent online game doesn’t need to be a slick product with good mechanics and a decent visible fashion. An paintings doesn’t need to be a portray on a wall. A society doesn’t need to be pushed by grandiose, particular person concepts and market economics. Dwelling on this planet is a wierd and unhappy and delightful expertise and we are able to experiment with doing issues in a whole lot of hundreds of various methods. 

Issues really feel a bit of caught these days, so partly I wish to convey a hope of the opportunity of being rather less so.

This sport, an IGF 2022 finalist, is featured as a part of the IGF Awards ceremony, happening on the Recreation Builders Convention on Wednesday, March 23 (with a simultaneous broadcast on GDC Twitch). 

Recreation Developer and GDC are sibling organizations beneath Informa Tech.

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