Are you ready to dig into the conception archives of Twinsen’s Little Big Adventure (TLBA)? After reading your enthusiastic feedback on our first article, we’ve noticed that many of you are eager to learn more about the creation of the game’s 4 species: Rabbibunnies, Grobos, Quetchs, and Spheros. Luckily, we were able to get insights from Didier Chanfray and Frédérick Raynal, which shed light on the decisions made during the game’s original development. As we move towards the future, it’s important to understand the past. As we mentioned in our first article, the choices made in the 90s were based on technical limitations that are no longer relevant today, so there are still some mysteries to uncover.
So let’s start at the beginning: where did these 4 species come from?
Didier brought his collection of early illustrations to the office and shared the first sketches of the species. Meanwhile, Frédérick answered all of our questions, and we were able to gain a better understanding of the creative process behind these unique characters.
Didier & Sam are looking at archives of TLBA
Samantha: Wow! When were these first drawings made?
Didier: During the conception phase of LBA 1, which lasted three months. These drawings were made between March and April 1994.
Samantha: Is this a Quetch here?
Didier: Yes, the first version of a Quetch was a bit different: the species only had 4 fingers on their hands, and on top of that, they had gloves! Initially, it was to save polygons. But Fred [Frédérick Raynal] didn’t like the gloves version. (laughs) So, I added fingers.
Frédérick: Didier drew everything we talked about in meetings. Then, we sorted through them. I remember we had a discussion about the number of fingers on the Quetch, and we excluded the number 4 because the Japanese translation of 4 means “death.”
First Quetch sketch
Samantha: Why was the name “Quetch” chosen for this species?
Didier: It’s just a pun based on the ponytail and the fact that Twinsen’s head is slightly elongated, like a plum. (laughs)
Samantha: The Quetchs seem to be a topic of great interest within the community. Even in these early sketches, we can already see the recognizable traits of the species, which are quite similar to the final version. However, in this particular drawing, is that supposed to be a rat?
First draft of Quetch, Grobo & Sphero
Didier: That’s the Bunnyrat [Ratichon in French]! It was the version that preceded the Rabbibunny. The Bunnyrat was also nice, but Fred [Frédérick Raynal] wasn’t a fan of the Mickey Mouse ears. So, I turned the rat into a rabbit, which eventually led to the Rabbibunny we know today.
Samantha: Team Rabbibunny! And what about those huge characters compared to Twinsen?
Didier: We had other experiments that we didn’t keep. My idea there was to create a species of giants. We could have imagined a region of Twinsun where giants lived. However, we abandoned that idea: we did research, then made choices.
Abandoned idea: giants!
Samantha: One question that the community is wondering: why four species, and not, I don’t know… two or five?
Didier: Fred [Frédérick Raynal] had decided on 4 species. It was related to our constraints, for example, memory, but also development time, of course. Afterwards, what can be interesting for lore work is that the number 4 comes up often: there are 4 species, 4 behaviors, 4 levels of magic…
Frédérick: Yes, originally, in the beginnings, I wanted several species to have antagonisms and material. In the early discussions, we decided to settle on that number. But the Spheros were the ones who asked the most questions. We realized as development progressed that with 3 species, we actually had enough elements, which is why this species was less developed.
Samantha: I’m glad you brought up the Spheros, because when you look at the early sketches, they have a somewhat mechanical aspect, right?
Didier: There are indeed drawings that show mechanical arms and elbows! It’s because I was trying to figure out how I was going to animate the arms – it was causing me problems. In the end, we kept all the technological aspect for Funfrock’s creations, the clones.
Samantha: Okay, because some texts mention that the Spheros would be bio-androids… which is not the case, then?
Frédérick: I think this idea of a “bio-android” species was developed during the conception, that we had to associate with a specific function… but the function was lost in the process. The Spheros were meant to have a differentiating species… but we never really dig into their workings.
A Grobo and a Sphero during conception phase
Samantha: I think it would be very interesting to work more on the origin of their species, to fill in these gray areas. I vote for the rehabilitation of the Spheros!
Frédérick: Completely. For example, one of the first Spheros we see in LBA 1 was supposed to have a slightly more important role in the scenario… and ultimately it was cut. More broadly, what are the origins of the 4 species? Everything is still very open.
Samantha: And the Grobos? Can you tell me more about them?
Frédérick: The Grobos… I remember the very first drawing. The first Grobo was in armor, because we wanted a category of characters that was more warrior-like. Together, we discussed a lot before we could start working. We only had Yaël’s PC, we took notes on it. Then things evolved with the needs of the gameplay… when it didn’t work, we tinkered and modified. We didn’t have a very strong discipline, we dealt with the constraints we encountered. Every week we had meetings, and to make it fit the gameplay needs we would modify it. This explains the fact that there are “small” inconsistencies.
Samantha: Yes, we haven’t talked about some of the unanswered questions… for example, the soldiers in LBA 1. What species do they belong to?
Frédérick: They don’t seem to belong to any species.
Samantha: It’s a form of inconsistency…
Fred: Completely. Originally, we didn’t want to kill living beings in the game, hence the invention of the clones… so why the soldiers? To make them different. But it wasn’t well thought out, because we thought of the dictatorship, so we associated it with soldiers. But looking back, I think it should have been clones. Can we say they’re Quetches without hair? (laughs)
Samantha: (laughs) Why not? Quetches without ponytails…
Didier: The soldiers have a very burlesque and inhuman side: it was also a form of satire of the dictatorship.
First draft of soldier in TLBA
Frédérick: Depending on the needs, things fluctuated. But we can also allow for deviations, it’s part of the slightly crazy side of LBA. As long as it doesn’t break fundamental principles of the universe’s logic, it can add surprises!
Samantha: Alright, to nod to the previous article… the revelation of the first sketches of Twinsen, with the famous “big nose”, caused a lot of talk! And you, Didier, still have some gems in your archives…
Didier: Yes, I found an old sketch of an idea: the older a Quetch was, the bigger his nose was. (laughs) Unselected idea.
Abandoned idea: a Quetch’s nose gets bigger over time
A huge thank you to Didier and Frédérick for sharing these archives and anecdotes with us. I hope you enjoyed this article full of unpublished drawings from the conception of Twinsen’s Little Big Adventure! Don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comments, and suggest a new theme for the “Funfacts” section…
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