It’s been several months since we learnt about Moonglow Bay. Revealed during the ID@Xbox / Twitchgaming Showcase, this slice-of-life fishing RPG marks the debut project by Bunnyhug, a small indie team. Taking us to 1980s Canada, this colourful voxel game revolves around a rookie angler, tasked with fulfilling your partner’s final wish in keeping their business afloat.
Launching later this year on PC, Xbox, and Game Pass, we’ll be journeying far and wide across Moonglow Bay, uncovering the Bay’s secrets in solo play or in local co-op. After appearing in Wholesome Direct, we hoped to learn more and - with thanks to publishers Coatsink for arranging this - we spoke with Bunnyhug for an interview, and the team was kind enough to tell us more.
Moonglow Bay Interview – How Bunnyhug’s Debut Seeks To Restore A Fractured Canadian Town
Henry Stockdale, Gfinity: Firstly, thank you for joining me. For anyone unaware of your team, could you please introduce yourselves?
Lu: Thank you for having us! We are Bunnyhug, the small team spread all over the world working on Moonglow Bay, a slice-of-life fishing RPG set in an Eastern Canadian town that is afraid to fish.
I’m Lu Nascimento, the studio’s co-founder and art director, and Zach Soares, co-founder and creative director is joining me today - as well as Jeiel Aranal, programmer, and Lena Raine, composer!
Gfinity: As your studio’s debut game, it must be exciting to get Moonglow Bay out there, but as a smaller team, how have you all found development? Were there any challenges caused by the pandemic?
Zach: Since we’re all remote, working through the pandemic didn’t prove particularly difficult, the challenge came more in our day to day lives outside work and keeping up our mental health.
Jeiel: Development has felt smooth, since all we've known is full remote! The real challenges were more managing the external stress of the pandemic. You couldn't take days to work in a coffee shop and recreation to relieve stress is hard to come by.
Lena: As a freelance composer, my default operation is working remote since I work with teams in Canada, the UK, France, Sweden, all from my little studio in Seattle. Thanks to the small, close-knit team of Bunnyhug all working online, however, I've felt even closer to everyone and just a part of the team despite our various world-spanning locales. The only major challenges are coordinating across every timezone imaginable, but it also means there's always someone awake and working on the game at any time during the week. We make it work!
Gfinity: We know that Moonglow Bay takes place during the 1980s, set along an Eastern Canadian coastline. What did you find appealing about this approach over a modern-day setting?
Zach: Canadian cities are often used as “stunt-doubles” of other American cities in popular media so I felt like it was only right to set the game in Canada and make that clear. With it being a fishing game, using the East Coast felt like a no-brainer as it’s the country's hub of fishing.
Lu: The beauty of the region was certainly a bonus! About setting the game in the 80s, we wanted to set a tone of nostalgia, just like when you look through your family’s old photo albums. Additionally, setting a game just before technologies like the internet were available to the public means you need to go the extra mile to resolve local issues, which is what you need to do in the game.
Gfinity: Now, Moonglow Bay’s been described as a “relaxing, slice-of-life fishing RPG”, playing as a rookie angler. While fishing and RPGs go hand-in-hand these days, could you tell us more about the core gameplay? Did you have any specific inspirations behind it?
Zach: The core gameplay revolves around fishing, cooking and researching the ocean fish of Moonglow Bay. You’ll start with a regular rod, but as you progress you’ll be provided with more fishing tools like nets, traps and improved rod variants. One of the core inspirations was Legend of the River King wherein the environment had its own ecology for you to learn and master throughout the game. For the town, we felt a lot of inspiration from Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, so helping townsfolk is a key factor in progressing in the story. Building friendships and talking around town will all help you in your quest to find your partner, as well as uncovering the mysteries that lie at sea.
Gfinity: Throughout this game, we’ll be dealing with a troubled community, one you’ve previously described as “fractured”. As a rookie angler, how do we go about restoring those relationships?
Zach: As you work through the story, you’ll end up finding similarities between yourself and other people in town. Even though you’re going through a rough patch, there’s always a chance someone knows how you feel. You’ll be working through various arcs in the game which present a point of friction between yourself and someone in town. Slowly, but surely these points of friction get resolved through your persistence to better yourself, helping out others with their troubles.
Gfinity: One thing that many commented on during Moonglow Bay’s reveal was the colourful voxel graphics. How did that come about?
Zach: Well I'm happy to hear that! I’ve been making voxel art for nearly a decade and I’ve always been insistent on making games with voxels utilizing various styles, not just your expected on-grid retro format.
The style developed for Moonglow was something that evolved between Lu and Myself. We had done many mockups on the side together while freelancing, she would make concepts or pixelart and I would convert that to voxels or interpret it in my own way using voxel art. Eventually, over the course of a couple of years, we came to this blocky yet flexible aesthetic that was quite expressive! It felt right for the kinds of games we wanted to make, warm and cozy.
Gfinity: You’ve confirmed release plans for Game Pass, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Steam and Epic Games. Is there any chance of future Switch or PlayStation versions?
Lu and Zach: We are focusing on developing and releasing the game for PC (Steam and Epic Games Store), Xbox(es) (Series X|S, One) and Game Pass.
Gfinity: Moonglow Bay’s currently scheduled to launch later this year, but I must ask. Is there a more specific time frame in mind right now, or is it too early to comment?
Lu: All we can say is that it is launching later this year, sorry!
Gfinity: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to share with your fans?
Team: Be Kind to each other. Wishlist the game on Steam and Epic Games Store, follow Moonglow on Twitter @MoonglowBay, and you can find more about our studio at bunnyhuggames.com, Twitter @BunnyhugGames and TikTok @BunnyhugGames.