The Kind Chamomille | Interview with Xavier Moiny

How one developer is working to craft a beautiful game about a mouse who performs random acts of kindness on her way to her grandmother's 100th birthday.
July 7, 2020 12:34 PM by Morgan Shaver

In stressful times, nothing soothes the soul more than a wholesome indie game like The Kind Chamomille. The game’s premise is endlessly charming, and its visuals immediately bring a smile to your face.

In the game, you play as an adorable little mouse named Chamomille who’s on her way to her grandmother’s 100th birthday. With her, she brings a basket full of treats to give to her grandmother as a gift.

Aboard a ship bound for The Island where her grandmother resides, a patch of turbulence results in the treats getting knocked out of Chamomille’s basket. On The Island, she’ll work to find and collect treats to fill up her basket again before arriving at her grandmother’s home.

As she explores The Island, Chamomile will stumble across a variety of friendly animals who could really use her help. It’s optional to lend a hand to these Island residents, but it’s genuinely rewarding when you do decide to help out.

You get to continue on your journey knowing that you’ve done something good for someone else.

It’s this sort of gameplay that makes The Kind Chamomille truly special. It feels like a magical fairytale, one that lifts your spirits and brightens up your day.

Wanting to learn as much about the game as possible, we were thrilled to receive a message from indie game marketing and community manager Lauren Moses who was able to connect us with the game’s sole developer, Xavier Moiny.

Giving us new insight into his poignant indie game, Xavier was kind enough to answer the laundry list of questions we sent over to him. If you’re as enraptured by The Kind Chamomille as we are, you’ll love hearing more about its development in our interview with Xavier Moiny!

The Kind Chamomille | Interview with Xavier Moiny

© Xavier Moiny

What inspired you to make a wholesome game like The Kind Camomille?

Xavier: It all comes down to personal history, it's a bit hard to talk about and maybe there’s a time and place for it, but in the end let’s say it took me years to accept how much I actually cared about people.

Then I started to witness random acts of kindness when they happened, a concept new to me at that time, believe it or not, and it touched me. Deep.

That’s when it changed my life, kindness... and silence, because I finally understood that only silence gives you the opportunity to listen. If you listen (and not just words of course) you open yourself to care even about strangers, from that place can be birthed a random act of kindness.

That’s why Camomille is quiet, I didn't do it on purpose at first, then it was clear as day. I guess we can say making The Kind Camomille might actually act as a personal therapy of sorts? Maybe that's even the case for many indie devs? That would be subconsciously of course!

Consciously, what I hope for is for my little game to make some people’s day better, and maybe pass along that idea I have about random acts of kindness.

Is The Kind Camomille your first game, and how long has The Kind Camomille been in development?

Xavier: My first solo game, yes. But years ago we tried to make a game with my cousin, (a gameplay programmer who now works in a big video game company). It didn’t work, but that gave me the fire to have more of it!

Being in “control” of the whole creative process and the sole person responsible for my destiny (if I tried to pretend that I am sure my destiny isn’t more in the hands of the players who will either embrace the game or not) is so much fun and so much growth!

Can you tell us a little more about what The Kind Camomille is all about?

Xavier: Yes, of course! A nice gift basket filled up by her mom at her side, Camomille gets on a boat to visit her grandmother who lives on an island and who’s coming birthday will make a centenaire.

On the way, the boat rocks a bit harder than usual and the basket’s content is spilled to the water. It’s up to her now to fill it back up once on The Island. She will then meet The Island’s residents on her way to her grandmother’s at the top of The Island who could use a bit of hand themselves.

Why did you choose a mouse as the main protagonist in The Kind Chamomille?

Xavier: I needed a character that is gentle, quiet, and cute. I simply thought a white mouse in a yellow raincoat fits all those criterias :)

What are some of the other animals players will encounter in The Kind Chamomille?

Xavier: So, in the game you have wild animals and characters who are animals. It’s funny because you might see a rabbit character right after scaring some bunnies while running in the grass, but I kind of like it that way.

I want to have as many types of wild animals I can fit in the game, as long as they fit with the type of “climate” and vegetation I picked for the game, you won’t see a kangaroo, but you will see foxes, raccoons, rabbits, deers and fawns, cats and dogs.

And you know what? I want players to be able to have one of these animals (once they found them, of course) follow them around in their journey. Characters-wise it will be very diverse also, I want a lot of variety in the final game. As of today I have 8 species of characters and I have more than 20 planned!

© Xavier Moiny

The game is set around performing random acts of kindness, what are some examples of things Camomille will be able to do to help others?

Xavier: It will always depend on each character’s little story, what are they doing? What are they saying? Did they lose something? Is Mr.Beaver worried that his daughter – who went to watch the whales on the other side of The Island – might be late for dinner?

You’ll just have to pay attention to get a clue on how to help them. Almost no character in the game will ask something from Camomille directly, and if you don’t help them, don’t be afraid, nothing bad will happen to them. But if you do... well, they will have a better day, and I bet you will also because of it.

Adding to that, what sort of gameplay can players expect from The Kind Camomille?

Xavier: The gameplay is set around exploration, the more you explore the more you can find people to help, and the more items you will end up finding to fill up the basket. I want people to be rewarded as they explore every nook and cranny of The Island.

Some light puzzle-solving lies in the way; you have to be attentive to what characters you meet might need. I want the game to be enjoyable for everyone, including younger players, so these won’t be much difficult at all.

Players will be able to finish the game with very little done, or everything done! Being kind is a choice not an obligation and the game is an invitation to relax, explore, and enjoy helping characters who didn’t ask for help. 

The art style in The Kind Camomille is beautiful, what was the process like of creating characters and the game’s picturesque world?

Xavier: Thank you, that’s very kind! At first, when I was designing the game I did some drawing, but I quickly realised that my sketches went through so much changes in the span of a 3D modeling session that I would be much better off sculpting and designing on the fly.

A normal process looks something like this: I set off with creating a new character, so I pick 10 pictures of references for that animal I'll base him/her upon. In there, I will most probably get some character illustrations from also, then I start modeling in 3D.

I set the appearance of the model to flat colors, which is the closest I can get to what it looks like in the game itself. Doesn’t look like much, but when you use mostly flat shading the silhouette and the relation of each geometric shape to one another becomes extremely important to the aesthetic of the thing.

And a couple of hours later I might end up with a character I like, or not! I discard approximately a third of everything I make. If I would listen to myself I would keep a third, at most, but then it’s going to be very difficult to finish a game! Being picky is okay, you have to stop sometimes though.

Are there any pieces of concept art or stills you’d be able to share with us?

Xavier: These are simple early drawings from my sketchbook.

© Xavier Moiny

From the clips we’ve seen on Twitter, The Kind Camomille has a fairytale sort of feel to it. Was this the vibe you were going for?

Xavier: It's funny because the way I set out to make a game about random acts of kindness almost gives it the quality a fable would have – that being of a moral compass that is good to follow, right?

I avidly read all the Fables from Jean Delafontaine when I was younger. And only very recently did I notice how much it might seep out of my subconscious onto the game… I mean, animals? Morals?

But when I designed the style of the game I really did not make a conscious decision about giving it a sort of fairytale feel. I guided my decision with three key feelings: Joy, Relaxation, and Discovery. These are my guidelines. Then they are not far from a fable’s I suppose?

We also loved seeing Camomille use a glider in some of these clips.

Are there other tools like the glider that Camomille can make use of?

Xavier: Ah the feather glider, I really like that thing. Honestly… I just planned that one tool, and you are the first to ask me this question, believe it or not.

And now you might have sparked something in my mind which goes, “Yeah, why just the one tool?”

And... I have an idea now… I’ll keep it a secret, I think that if I make it work you will like it! And you will know your question sparked that idea that others will enjoy, isn’t that wonderful to think about?!

© Xavier Moiny

The music in The Kind Camomille sounds really fun and upbeat, who composed the game’s soundtrack?

Xavier: Thank you! The trailer soundtrack, and the upcoming game’s soundtrack are composed by Matthew Vaughn (Royal Ruto Studios).

I think he is extremely talented, easy to work with, and I really hope to get the chance to get him to make all the UI and sound effects of the final game also! You can check his website here: https://www.royalruto.com/

The Kind Camomille is coming to Kickstarter, do you have any information on when gamers can expect the Kickstarter campaign to begin, and what they can look forward to in the Kickstarter?

Xavier: The Kickstarter campaign will begin on Wednesday 5th August! I really want to involve potential backers in the rewards process.

Right now we’re planning (we, being me and @LaurenSMoses who’s giving me amazing help to get Camomille noticed) to involve them in the game in as many ways as possible – e.g. their pet in the game, name inscribed on the monument at the top of the island, and many other things.

So if you love the look of The Kind Camomille and know what you'd like as a reward, please tell us and I promise i will try to make it happen. :) I can tell you one very cool thing also: Camomille’s Playground.

A demo of the game that will be available for the Kickstarter launch. It's a yummy bite-sized Island specially made for players to experiment the essence of what the game is about – explore, glide around, have fun, and help some characters.

What platforms are you hoping to release The Kind Camomille on?

Xavier: The game will be available on Steam at first and I really really want to port it on the Nintendo Switch! Not only am I a fan who discovered video games on the NES and never stopped loving them since, but I strongly believe the game would look fantastic on that console!

© Xavier Moiny

How can gamers support the development of The Kind Camomille?

Xavier: Early Bird rewards are waiting for Camomille's first supporters. Please hit the 'Notify me' button on the Kickstarter pre-launch page to get an email when we launch and have the best chance at claiming an Early Bird reward. Thank you to everyone for spreading the word! :)

Thank you to Xavier Moiny for taking the time to answer our questions about his upcoming indie game, The Kind Chamomille. To support Xavier, be sure to visit the game’s Kickstarter page and hit the “notify me on launch” button to get pinged when the Kickstarter goes live.

You can also wishlist The Kind Chamomille on Steam, join the game's official Discord, and follow The Kind Chamomille and Xavier Moiny on Twitter for updates.

A free demo of The Kind Chamomille called Camomille’s Playground is coming soon to Steam. Keeping an eye on the aforementioned Twitter accounts will help you find out how you can jump into the demo when it goes live!