Frogsong is a game about a tiny tree frog named Chorus who dreams of becoming a warrior capable of protecting the ones they love. Featuring colorful hand-drawn 2D animation, imaginative characters, and fun combat, we immediately found ourselves mesmerized by Frogsong.
The game is currently being developed by Brandon Braun, a talented animator from Canada with a heartfelt love for frogs (and frogs with knives). Speaking with Brandon previously, they let us know that a Kickstarter campaign for Frogsong is set to go live in June.
In addition, an updated beta demo will release alongside the launch of the Kickstarter campaign! With one month left before the Kickstarter launch – and the updated beta demo – we found ourselves eager to dig in and learn more about Frogsong, its main character Chorus, and what the development process has been like so far.
For more on what to expect from Frogsong and why you should keep this indie game on your radar, read on for our full interview with developer Brandon Braun!
Frogsong | Interview with Brandon Braun
What first inspired you to pursue indie game development?
I’ve wanted to make my own video games ever since I was a little kid. My brother and I used to hang out and play Pac-Man World when we were little, and you’re able to unlock a concept art gallery, and seeing all these unused ideas and early concepts was mindblowing to me!
It was the first time that I had really thought about the fact that games were made by people, and seeing content that went unused really sparked my imagination. I still remember the first games I came up with when I was, like, 5 years old – ideas like "New Super Yoshi Bros."
You know, the pinnacle of originality.
I made some small, simple games throughout high school, most of which were never finished. I started off with RPG Maker, and then tried out Clickteam Fusion. I made a lot of tiny games and experiments. There's a joke game I made in two hours in Clickteam that I still think is funny called "Dying In Space." It's about an astronaut that's dying in space.
It wasn't until working on Frogsong that I realized how much I enjoyed making games, and that I really wanted to keep doing this! I don't know how many more big games I'll make, because it's just so much work and time, but I do have plans for at least one more.
Is Frogsong a solo project, and is it a project you’re working on full-time?
Sort of? Probably 99% of the work is being done by me, it’s my story and my world, but I don’t like the idea of accrediting the project to only me. I have a composer for the soundtrack, and I get a bit of help from other programmer friends when I need it.
I’m also using a handful of Unity plugins and assets to make things easier on myself – stuff like the dialogue system, the text animation, the inventory… I didn’t code those. For a while I felt like using assets and plugins was cheating, but they can really help a lot.
There's definitely such a thing as using too many assets, but for systems and framework it can save you so much time and effort. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to work on it full time, but that may change in the future!
Frogsong is a heartfelt adventure where players go on a journey with a tiny tree frog named Chorus. How would you define what the core game is, and what are some of the first things that players will be able to do in the game?
While combat is very important to the gameplay, Frogsong is ultimately about the characters and the story. Sure, there's a big adventure with high stakes, but what it's actually about is how Chorus deals with it and how it relates to their personal struggles.
Right off the bat players will be able to do the most important things in the game - explore, fight monsters, and talk to NPCs.
Chorus the Frog is absolutely adorable! What was the process of creating and designing Chorus like?
Chorus was initially based on a photoshopped ad I made featuring a frog with a knife that went viral on Tumblr. If you were on Tumblr around 2017 you've honestly probably seen it! After the post inexplicably blew up, I grew attached to the frog.
The first few drawings I did of "Knife Frog" are so wildly different from the Chorus we know and love today! The earliest concepts for Frogsong were of a wacky comedy game about a frog that liked to stab things.
As time went on it evolved into this heartfelt story about learning what it means to matter. This really informed Chorus' design, but it took some time to evolve. Even the first concept art of Chorus as they are today was a lot more… angry seeming?
Over time, the character went from being an angry, violent frog to a much softer, kinder character. I find Chorus really fun to draw, because even though they're so small and cute, you can still tell they're full of spirit and strength.
Are any aspects of Chorus’s story and personality inspired by real people, or events in your own life?
I don’t really intentionally base any of my stories on any real life events, but I think it’s impossible for me to not put at least a bit of myself into my main characters. Frogsong ended up being much more personal than it was meant to be.
It wasn't intentional, and I won't go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, but Chorus' character arc is a huge parallel to some events I was going through as I was writing the story. The message of Frogsong is a lesson I had to teach myself.
Something I've said before is that if I ever stop making stories, it's because I've learned all the secrets of the universe! A lot of my life goes into my work, and I feel like this leads to it being very heartfelt and genuine.
There's also ways I've learned more about myself as a direct result of working on the game. While working on early worldbuilding, I decided that due to how similar male and female frogs look, I'd explore the idea of what a frog society's views on gender would be like… and this is one of the things that helped me discover my own identity.
So there's a lot of ways that Frogsong is deeply personal, even though I never intended for it to be inspired by anything in my life.
In addition to Chorus, what are some of the other characters players will encounter in Frogsong? Of these characters, who’s your favorite and why?
There's tons of important characters and friends Chorus will meet on their adventure. One of the most important is Elder Bufo. He's a wise old veteran, and he helps the Defense Guild in their training. He's the only person in the entire game who believes in Chorus right from the start, so he's very important to Chorus.
There's also Lord Lithos, the tyrannical ruler of the Taural Empire, who is trying to expand his rule as much as he can. He's an interesting character to me, because he has a sympathetic motive but he's in absolutely no way a good person.
These days there's so many villains who are good people deep down. There's nothing wrong with that, I love it! But unfortunately sometimes people are just horrible. He doesn't want to die and be forgotten, but that doesn't make any of his actions okay.
There's plenty of other friends Chorus will meet, like Espo, Rana, and Rimbal.
As for my favourite – I don't know if I can choose! I've made dozens of characters so far, and there's still lots more on the way. I love Espo because he's just so weird. I love the Dreamreader because they're such a fraud. I love Herb because he's just… a normal frog, really.
Can you tell us more about the world that Chorus will explore in Frogsong, and some of the challenges that Chorus will have to overcome?
The world of Frogsong is real, sort of – it's Earth. More specifically, it's Western Canada, where I've lived my whole life, viewed through the lens of a frog. There haven't been humans for a long time, and frogs have developed a society.
There's a lot of history to the land of Salia, some of it more important to the story than others. The whole world was developed around frogs! Frogs are small, fragile prey animals, though, which is why the Defense Guild exists – their job is to protect others from the dangerous world around them, and they generally do a pretty good job! This is what Chorus wants to do. It's not so much about fighting, it's more about protecting.
There's lots of challenges Chorus will face, mainly vicious bugs, but some of the biggest challenges are other frogs. Chorus will need to prove themself to the other members of the Defense Guild, and Lord Lithos has a plan that threatens all of Salia.
Can players upgrade and improve their skills and weapons as they progress in the game?
You'll be able to upgrade Chorus' blade a couple times at the blacksmith throughout the game, giving you a stronger attack each time.
There's also a new mechanic I've been adding that I haven't revealed yet that will help players in small but useful ways. There's still some tweaking to be done before I can talk too much about it though!
Frogsong features lovely 2D hand-drawn animation. How did you approach the game’s animation, and were there any challenges when it came to animating the characters, scenery, and gameplay in Frogsong?
The art style of Frogsong comes from my love of cartoons. I've been a huge fan of animation my whole life, and I'd actually love to work as a storyboard artist one day. I wanted the art of Frogsong to be cute, clear, and very round. I wouldn't call Frogsong realistic or "serious," but the world is meant to be very grounded.
There's no magic healing potions, you aren't gonna find a sign in the middle of the woods that says "Press A to Jump!" The world is a real world. The frogs are real frogs. Because of this, I don't exaggerate animations as much as I might with other projects.
Characters aren't super stretchy or bouncy, and their movements are meant to look very normal without being boring or stiff. As for challenges, the hardest part has been Chorus' animations! There's a lot of common practices that are used to make animation look and feel nicer.
For example, "anticipation" – a bug tensing up before spitting poison, a soldier raising their sword back before swinging, a frog crouching just before jumping. Not only do these things make an animation feel more natural, but in a video game it can help you tell when an enemy is about to attack!
But it also adds time to the animation, and when it comes to a player's animations they need to be quick, snappy, and instant, meaning you're able to have very little anticipation, if any. This made it difficult to create natural looking animations for Chorus!
What are some of your favorite areas that you’ve designed in the game?
I still can't choose! So far I've shown off 3 of the 5 areas – the shore, Maldar's Meadows, and the Gloaming Grove, so I'll talk about those. I love the shore because it's meant to feel like a new home. It's bright, sunny, and comfortable, but has a lot of history.
There's ruins and old shrines all over the place. I love Maldar's Meadows because it's so beautiful and serene looking. The whole idea is for it to be a forest of flowers! It's also the location of the Copper City, which is an important place Chorus will visit on their journey.
I love the Gloaming Grove because it's a very important location in the history of Salia, and it's where Chorus originally lived. It's a very spiritual place, and some of the more religious frogs believe it to be the birthplace of all life. And it's purple!
But I'm also really excited about the areas I haven't shown off yet. One of them just has such a strong mood that fits perfectly with its timing in the story, and the other is such a different landscape from anything else in the game.
When are you hoping to release Frogsong, and what platforms are you planning to release Frogsong on?
Right now Frogsong is planned to release August 2022! So far the only confirmed platforms are Windows, Mac, and Linux, but I'd love to take it to consoles some day.
Are there any ways that gamers can help with the ongoing development of Frogsong?
This June, Frogsong is coming to Kickstarter! If people donate, they can get all sorts of rewards, from a copy of the game to exclusive posters and stickers! Supporting the Kickstarter would help so much, as it will allow me to spend a lot more time working on Frogsong.
Outside of that, there’s plenty of free ways to support the game. Sharing social media posts, telling your friends, wishlisting the game on Steam… spreading the word helps a lot more than you’d think!
Finally, where can people go to follow you and get updates on the development of Frogsong?
We want to thank Brandon for talking about Frogsong with us, we can’t wait to see the Kickstarter campaign launch for Frogsong in June along with the updated beta demo on Steam!
As Brandon mentions above, consider supporting the Kickstarter for Frogsong when it goes live, wishlist the game on Steam, and for updates on the game, follow the Frogsong Twitter account and sign up for the newsletter on the game’s official website!