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This time our indie Dev interview is with Florent de Grissac. Florent is a co-founder of Casus Ludi, the team who developed Blanc.
Lynne reviewed Blanc and loved it, giving it our highest praise of Two Thumbs Up. She said this in her conclusion: There isn’t a huge amount of gameplay in Blanc. But what you get is an incredible, emotional journey about friendship. This two-player game transports you to a wintry landscape and immerses you in a heartwarming adventure. The graphics and music work in harmony to create a truly delightful game.
Time to have a chat with Florent de Grissac.
Who is Florent de Grissac?
My name is Florent de Grissac, and I am a co-founder of Casus Ludi. I did game and narrative design on Blanc in cooperation with Rémi Gourrierec, the project’s game director. I mostly work on game and narrative design for our projects at Casus Ludi and manage the studio. In my spare time, I used to organize game jams, which is how I met some of the team who helped develop Blanc. What stimulates me when making games is to find ways to not only create fun but also raise awareness and inspire people to reflect on their experiences.
How did you start out as a game developer, and how did you come to found Casus Ludi?
I started as a game developer when I was studying biology but decided to join friends that were founding a video game studio instead pursuing my studies. This first studio ended up being seriously games oriented, and I learned game design in this context. A few years after leaving this studio, I met people I wanted to work with. They had the same desire as me to explore and experiment with game design and how it can convey meaning, information or messages. So we founded Casus Ludi, and it’s been almost nine years now.
Where did you take your inspiration for Blanc?
There are, of course, many and various inspirations for Blanc, which is true for all the team members. The game jam in Quebec City was themed “the Perfect Storm”, and serendipitously the city experienced a snowstorm when we were there. This probably nudged us to introduce snow into the game. Also, our concept artist, Raphaël Beuchot, wanted to work in black and white from the start, so snowy landscapes made a lot of sense. As for his graphic style, he says that there is no specific inspiration, but he’s from a part of France where snow is often abundant in winter, so he’s familiar with it.
The Perfect Storm
In the course of the design of the game, some games inspired us in several ways. While we were developing, we found ourselves arriving at solutions that worked in the context of Blanc and then realizing the similarities shared with projects we love. It was more a process of defining some goals narratively, and once ideas were drafted, we further refined them by comparing our ideas to games we liked, such as Journey or Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Rémi also said that A Short Hike’s simplicity, mood and set-up were trotting in his head all along Blanc’s production.
Most of the game’s design does not come from specific inspiration but rather from challenges we set for ourselves at the game jam. We wanted to explore radical commitments, such as no violence or antagonism, focusing on empathy, and striving to tell a story without text. That’s what game jams are here for; they are an opportunity to experiment! The game’s cooperative aspect also has an influence in the game jam context because in game jams, having a game played by several people at once is often a good idea to stand out and provide fun to players.
All those choices ultimately materialized in our will to make a game that would bridge generations and inspire families, friends, and loved ones to share a playful experience, even with people that normally wouldn’t be into video games.
Adventure, Puzzle Game
Why did you decide to turn this idea into a fully-fledged video game?
After we finished the Game Jam, we took some time to let the experience sink in. And later, when we talked about it, we thought that there was potential for something here that we would not only like to make but also play with our friends and family. We were all so eager to play a more realized version because the game jam prototype was scratching the surface of what we envisioned.
Want to read the rest of the interview too? Find out the biggest challenge in making a game like Blanc, and find out what the early versions of Blanc or game prototypes looked like.