Wholesome games are quickly growing in popularity among gamers of all ages and backgrounds – ourselves included, we're huge fans of wholesome games!
Among the wholesome games we've encountered, one that immediately captured our attention is Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan from indie studio ManaVoid Entertainment.
Filled with heart, soul, and personality, Rainbow Billy encourages players to embrace their own inner joy, accept themselves for who they truly are, practice empathy, and both understand and work through negativity and negative emotions.
Eager to learn even more about the game, we recently interviewed Christopher Chancey, CEO and President of ManaVoid, and Anthony Vaucheret, Art Director on Rainbow Billy. Through this interview, we've walked away with an even greater appreciation for what Rainbow Billy is, and the impact it can have on those who play it.
If you’re curious about the game, or you’ve played it and want to know more about the game’s development, we encourage you to read on for our full Rainbow Billy interview with Christopher Chancey and Anthony Vaucheret of ManaVoid Entertainment!
Rainbow Billy | Interview With Christopher Chancey and Anthony Vaucheret of ManaVoid Entertainment
For those who may be unfamiliar with Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan, what is the game about, and what sort of experience can players expect from it?
Anthony Vaucheret: Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a wholesome, creature capture, 2.5D Adventure-Puzzle-Platformer with over 30 hours of gameplay! It is a family-friendly, openly accessible, RPG-infused adventure in which you must save whimsical creatures by bringing back color to the world you once knew!
Rainbow Billy tells a universal coming of age story about dealing with changes in the world and accepting ourselves and the others around us! Sometimes it only takes a conversation, empathy, and a new point of view to make a world of a difference.
What first inspired the team to create a game like Rainbow Billy, and what were some of the inspirations the team looked to while developing the game?
AV: We wanted to make a game that showcased our strength in cartoon drawing and animation, so we were very inspired by early Disney shorts and indie games that were using this style like Cuphead and Bendy and the Ink Machine were examples that there was a market for it. We knew we wanted it centered around sea exploration as well.
I really wanted the game to be entirely in black and white and Chris hated that idea with a passion, so we compromised and made the game all about recoloring the world. As we were designing the game a big story around inclusion and empathy came to us. That’s how Rainbow Billy came to be!
Are there any elements of Rainbow Billy that were inspired by the team’s own real-life experiences?
AV: Everyone on the team had a significant impact on the game. The game showcases many different characters with wacky personalities who are going through a variety of issues.
We pulled a lot of these personalities and issues from the team’s own experiences. We think this added a lot of authenticity to the dialogues and made a much better game in the end.
The game has a character who is non-binary – what was the inspiration behind this, and why do you think it’s important that games include a more diverse cast of characters?
Christopher Chancey: This design choice was born out of two things. First, we allowed ourselves to follow where the game was taking us. When we made the choice to showcase a world that falls to black-and-white, we knew we were essentially bringing the world to an old, binary way of thinking.
Billy as a character keeps their color, their identity, their unicity, and basically goes on a quest to help everyone discover themselves as well. The Leviathan was created as an ancient patriarchal figure as well… The premise helped us lean into the non-binary choice.
Also, as a studio, we believe representation in video games is extremely important. When I was young I had a plethora of white heterosexual idols and heroes to choose from. We wanted to give people, kids especially, from a variety of communities a new face that they could look up to.
Which is why we chose to make Billy non-binary and the game to be about their coming of age story.
The art style of Rainbow Billy is absolutely phenomenal! Who did the art for the game, and what was the process like in bringing the game’s world to life?
AV: I was the art director and the lead artist on the project early on, but as the team grew everyone really made the style grow and become something very special and unique. The process was incredibly iterative, starting in old 1930’s inspirations and ending in a more modern cartoon art style.
We knew we could go wild with this project as the game is essentially being played in Billy’s imaginary world, but if you get to the credits you can get a glimpse at what was going in the real world throughout the game.
Everything you see in Rainbow Billy has a purpose and is rooted in the character’s backstory. Once the rules for the universe were there for the design team and artists, we just let ourselves go.
Were there any challenges in developing a game like Rainbow Billy as an indie team?
CC: The game’s scope is significant for an indie team. There is over 30 hours of gameplay to finish the game 100%! Financing a project of this scale took time, starting with a humble Kickstarter and then receiving help from different financiers like the Canada Media Fund and our publisher Skybound Games.
Every step of the way we dreamed a little bigger and found the right partners to help us make that vision possible. Looking at the reviews today and knowing what the original scope was, we’re incredibly proud to have been able, as an indie team, to realize our full vision for this project!
What sort of creatures and characters will players come across as they play Rainbow Billy?
AV: There are over 80 characters in the game, 60 of which you can collect in your team, so there is a large amount of characters to encounter. Each of them have a deep backstory to explore if you manage to upgrade your friendship levels with them as well!
We wanted each character to feel unique and important. Everyone is going through something and our hope is that every player can see themselves when speaking with some of these creatures throughout their playthrough!
Adding to this, what sort of landscapes and scenery will players be able to explore in Rainbow Billy?
CC: We released a trailer called the “World of Imagination” that goes into detail with visuals about exactly this subject! The trailer will do more justice to this question than my words ever will! ;)
Rainbow Billy has non-violent encounters, can you tell us a little more about these encounters and how players interact with things in the game?
CC: An article in 2019 we read mentioned that there were only 17% of games at E3 that year that were non-violent. We hated that statistic, being fond of video games as a medium and understanding as developers everything that can be achieved through interaction in games, we wanted to be a part of the change we’d like to see in the industry.
In that sense, we decided to rehaul our turn-based RPG combat system into a non-violent “confrontation” system that revolves around dialogue. Through listening and communication, Billy helps creatures discover their true colors and brings them to their team.
We wanted that positive feedback loop to help everyone out there remember that despite being in a very polarized world, communication and empathy is still the best way to understand someone’s point of view and find common ground with other human beings.
How did the team approach accessibility in regards to Rainbow Billy’s gameplay? Is Rainbow Billy a game that can be played by gamers of all ages and skill levels?
CC: We tell everyone that Rainbow Billy is a game for ages 7 to 77. We’ve added a variety of accessibility features for the game to be enjoyed by as many people as possible!
First, a game about color needs a color-blind mode. We were lucky in a way to have two of our programmers be two different types of color blind. XD That’s why every color in the game is associated with a shape that allows players to identify more accurately what they’re working with.
Having over 200 000 words of dialogue in the game, we wanted dyslexic players to have an easier time. So we added a dyslexia-friendly font to make the reading of words as easy as possible.
On land, we control the camera for the players, making the game easier to play for children and non-gamers who aren’t always used to twin-joystick camera controls.
You can also choose the difficulty of the game, making it easier for children and harder for those hardcore gamers out there! Rainbow Billy is a game that is fun for all ages and we really did our best to make sure all types of gamers can have a blast with the game.
Finally, more and more gamers are embracing wholesome games like Rainbow Billy. Why do you feel like we’re seeing this shift towards more wholesome, positive game experiences, and why do you feel it’s important to have these sorts of experiences?
CC: Video games like all entertainment industries go through waves of different themes being popular at different moments. For a while it was vampires, then it was zombies, and so on and so forth… After a worldwide pandemic, I think we’re slowly coming to a time where people are getting tired of all of the doom-and-gloom that you see in games, movies and tv.
Video games are a medium that allows people to escape and immerse themselves in great big fantastical worlds. Why not escape in colorful and wholesome worlds filled with good vibes and positivity!? ;)
All I can say is that in the past two years, there were some dark times where working on this game felt like a healthy respite from everything going on outside. Our biggest hope is that a game like ours can have a positive impact on someone who’s having a bad day.
That would be the ultimate validation that what we’ve done with Rainbow Billy matters!
We want to conclude this interview by thanking Christopher Chancey and Anthony Vaucheret of ManaVoid Entertainment for taking the time to talk to us about Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan.
We highly recommend checking out the game, with Rainbow Billy being available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam). And for more on Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan, be sure to check out the game's official website, and follow ManaVoid Entertainment on Twitter!