With a certain hardcore CRPG arriving on the Xbox in December, it’s been nice to dip into a family-friendly alternative that treats our free-time with more care. If you haven’t heard of it before, we’d implore you to give it a chance: Born of Bread is so effortlessly charming and easy to play that you’ll thank us for introducing you.
When we fall head over heels for a game, we grasp at any opportunity to interview its creators. And so it goes with Nicolas Lamarche, the lead designer of Born of Bread. We discussed bakery puns over some dipping breads, and are here to bring you the results.
Hi, could you please introduce yourself and your role on Born of Bread?
Hi! My Name is Nicolas Lamarche and I’m the lead designer for Born of Bread. It’s a pleasure to be here.
How would you describe Born of Bread?
Born of Bread is a Paper Mario inspired RPG with a big emphasis on exploration and character interaction. Since this is a relatively new genre, the community is a bit torn as to what exactly we should name it but I think for now Paper RPG is fine.
‘The hero this land kneads’ is officially our favourite pun of 2023. Is it an indication of the humour we will experience throughout Born of Bread?
Of course! From “wheaty” banter to “rye” humor we packed the game with loads of puns and jokes! We made it one of our objectives to try to make the player smile as much as possible throughout the game and having puns is just one way we do that.
We have to ask: why bread? What makes you look at a loaf and think ‘that’s the hero for our game?’.
What we initially found was great about having a protagonist made of bread was how versatile and interesting his abilities could be. He could be squashed, burnt, thrown up in the air like a pizza, etc. It was really fun to come up with clever ways that he could interact with the environment and for a game that needs great exploration this variety of movement options was welcomed and really necessary.
Also, what’s more french than bread I mean come on!
The 2.5D art style really catches the eye. What made you go in that direction for Born of Bread, and what are some unexpected complications with combining 2D and 3D?
As we settled in to develop the art, we initiated tests to explore the boundaries of merging 2D with 3D, specifically concerning the camera. We quickly realized that its weakest aspect was the “front to back” and “back to front” movement since the camera needs to always be facing the main character’s sprite. As a result, we had to design levels with that in mind and sometimes take control of the camera to help players traverse levels more intuitively.
How did you land on the reflex-focused combat? Is that something that came about from multiple iterations?
We aimed to stay close to the combat system in Paper Mario, as it was one of the aspects we truly enjoyed. We did however try to make it deeper by adding weaknesses and resistance to enemies. We also added many status ailments to really spice up combat! Through it all we wanted to make the game as accessible as possible for players new to the genre while having something for experienced fans too.
How do you balance RPG depth against all-ages accessibility? It must have been difficult to find the sweet-spot where anyone could pick it up.
This has got to be the most challenging aspect of making an RPG like ours. It involved careful design decisions, intuitive gameplay mechanics, and clear instructions to maintain a balance and to cater to both experienced gamers and newcomers alike. Ultimately, we discovered that enabling players to personalize their challenge level by choosing their equipped boons was the most effective choice. Presently, discussions are underway regarding the potential addition of a dedicated difficulty setting at the beginning of a new game.
What kind of progression systems are in Born of Bread? Please say that we get to advance Loaf into a baguette or croissant.
Besides having a classic level up system we also have lots of other progression systems in the game. Loaf can acquire new combat moves by equipping them in his backpack, where each weapon corresponds to a distinct Tetris-like shape. To expand the capacity of his backpack, Loaf needs to level up and select the option to increase the backpack slot.
We also tried to tie in exploration with combat by adding hidden lizards throughout the levels. These lizards can be traded in at shrines to unlock new attacks for your buddy as well as increase their stats. These progression systems are just a glimpse of what’s in the game.
I’d prefer players to discover the rest on their own—I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises!
Players have been able to play Born of Bread for some time, as you released a free demo onto the store. Is that something that you’re glad you did? Has it been worth the effort?
Of course! The feedback we received as a result of the demo has been invaluable to the team.
We addressed lots of concerns players were having at the time and polished lots of things since then. The attention received from the demo was another remarkable aspect. Visibility is a challenge for small indie teams in today’s gaming landscape, and the significant boost we received from the demo was incredibly valuable.
And finally, the in-laws are coming over, and you want to impress them. What’s the bread product that you serve?
At WildArts, we’re big fans of what we French-Canadians refer to as “chocolatines.” Essentially, they’re chocolate-filled croissants, and they’re absolutely delicious. We adore them so much that we’ve incorporated them as the third save slot in our game!
There’s actually a heated debate right now going around in french circles on whether to call them “chocolatines” or the much worse and deplorable “pain au chocolat”. So, by naming our third save slot “chocolatine” we have taken a deliberate stance on this very important critical issue.
We had no idea that the chocolatine vs pain au chocolat debate was so heated! We’ll namedrop chocolatines when we’re next in Greggs. We’re sure Nicolas Lamarche will appreciate that.
Huge thanks go out to Nicolas for giving us some time post-launch of Born of Bread.
You don’t have to wait to pick up Born of Bread on Xbox either. It’s out now on Xbox at the very respectable price of £24.99. You’ll also find it on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC.
We’ve also reviewed Born of Bread recently, handing it a deserved 4 out of 5. Which is all to say that ‘ciabatta’ pick it up soon.