Burly Men at Sea is a folktale adventure about a trio of large bearded fishermen who step away from their ordinary life to seek adventure. Set in early 20th-century Scandinavia, the game unfolds through discovery, casting the player as storyteller and wayfinder.
Gameplay falls somewhere between a traditional adventure game and interactive fiction, with a storyline that branches not through textual choices but through discovered actions. Rather than directly controlling the characters, a player prompts their actions by influencing the characters' surroundings. This occurs primarily through manipulation of frames that visually represent the characters' consciousness of the world around them. Other gameplay includes object interaction and dialogue scenes written in third-person narrative with a storybook-style layout, highlighting the game's folktale nature.
Brain&Brain is David and Brooke Condolora, a husband-and-wife team with a love for quiet adventure. Their first release, a point-and-click adventure game called Doggins, debuted in 2014 and went on to pick up several accolades, including a nomination for SXSW's inaugural Gamer's Voice Award. Having recently made the leap to full-time indie, they are now developing their second game, Burly Men at Sea.
They currently live on an island in the San Francisco Bay with their indomitable cairn terrier, Oliver, who accompanies them on all dog-friendly escapades.
At its core, Burly Men at Sea is an exploration of everyday adventure. It takes the simple pleasure of wandering down an unknown path and adds to it a healthy dose of the fantastical.
Games with branching storylines are fairly common at the moment, but we've taken an unconventional approach with Burly Men at Sea. First, player actions lead to possibility, not consequence. There are no moral choices. Secondly the player must discover available paths through trial and exploration, rather than choose from a list of options. We're also keeping the story compact, so that players are eager for a subsequent playthrough to explore other paths.
Our story takes the tone of a folktale in that the player is one step removed from the protagonists. We view the player character as another of the folkloric creatures in the game: an unseen being with limited influence. As such, the player can direct the protagonists' attention by interacting with the environment or by expanding their frame of reference. The protagonists may then react to this change in situation in a way that moves the story forward.
The idea of framing the story through expanding viewports was inspired by the way fog at sea obscures distance, emphasizing what is visible and adding mystery to what isn�۪t. The resulting vignettes and narrative layouts are also a nod to illustrated storybooks, further emphasizing the folktale angle.
The game�۪s art style is inspired by colors and forms from Scandinavian illustration, with frame-by-frame character animation and realtime vector graphics.