Interview: “I love bards. Their role and skills are silly”

You play as a walking musical instrument! You can run, jump, and sing anytime you want. Different things respond to your music in different ways. You use your song to solve puzzles and help characters while playing as a bard who finds out he can be the hero by only using his voice. We are talking about Wandersong, a video game created by Greg Lobanov. His project started as a kickstarter, got successfully funded and is on it’s way to PC and Switch now.

While creating the game, Greg got some help from other creative persons. Em Halberstadt did the sounds, and Gordon McGladdery did the music. They all come from different places. Greg’s been making games and comics since he was a little kid, and has released a few indie games to Steam and mobile over the last few years. Gordon’s done sound and music for multitude of games, including Rogue Legacy and Full Metal Furies. Wandersong was Em’s first game project, but since starting on it she’s also worked on hit indie games like Night in the Woods, Untitled Goose Game and Ikenfell.

Now you guys are working on a game about how singing brings people together. Greg Lobanov, what inspired you to make a musical adventure game in the first place?

“I got inspired by a 5,000 mile bike ride across America. This game is all about going on an adventure, meeting characters and using the power of music to bring them all together! Music is such a powerful thing, and so fun to play with! I was curious to explore what a game might be like if that was your primary mode of play. Also, I adore bards. I love that their role and skills are silly.

In particular we’re inspired by flavourings of Irish folk, Amelie, and game soundtracks like that of Wind Waker.  I love the positive, whimsical energy in those kinds of songs. It really fit the vibe I had in mind for Wandersong. But as we’ve gone forward on the game, our inspirations grew in all sorts of directions. The final game and OST go on a wild roller coaster ride of emotion and genre.”

– This game was successfully kickstarted. What made you  decide to kickstart it and what was your reaction when it was funded successfully?

“I started on the game by myself and realized that it was going to need a really amazing sound design and OST to work. I started the kickstarter so I could afford quality work! Honestly the whole campaign was a nail-biter and I was never sure we were going to make it. When we did, it was a huge relief. It was a great experience in the end; so many people were so excited about the idea. I’ve never felt such community energy from one of my own games!”

At the moment Wandersong started it’s Kickstarter campaign in January 2016, it started to create a big community. While Greg Lobanov only asked for a pledged goal of $18,000 he achieved a pledge of $21,936. 989 people backed the campaign, which definitely helped them on creating a community for this game. After the successful kickstarter the game started to evolve even more and also got more and more attention on social media. After working on it for 3 years the game went gold on 24 July.

– How did you guys keep motivated working on it for so long?

“I personally love making and finishing giant projects. I enjoy the process of making things, and once I have a direction to go in I very naturally stay in that direction! It also helps that I adore this game and still love it after so long. It also helps that this is an unique project. There’s nothing else like it! For people who are interested in heartfelt, positive, earnest and musical experiences, there’s just nothing else in video games that’s doing what we are. I hope we can help change that.”

– And if you could be a bard yourself for one day. What would you sing?

“Right now it’d probably be “Love Away” by Capital Cities. It’s a sweet song and it feels really good to sing! I got an instrument called an Omnichord while working on the game, and I play in a small band with friends. But I don’t know if you want me to be the bard…. I’m the least musical team member… Gordon and Em are both talented guitarists and singers.”

Wandersong will release 27 September on Steam, Humble Bundle and Nintendo Switch. The game can be played by 1 player. If you want to keep that bard experience outside of the game you can always get the soundtrack from Bandcamp. It won’t take long until you can sing a song with this bard yourself.

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Kevin de Bruin
Freelance game, tech and movie journalist from the Netherlands.

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