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Post news RSS Why ninja rabbits?

This is the number one question we get, so we thought we'd answer once and for all.

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John reports that "Why did you pick ninja rabbits?" is one of the most commonly asked questions from interviewers and fans on our live chat. For Lugaru, the answer is simple -- back in high school, I thought it would be fun to make a game about my dog Wolfie. This idea evolved into a game about wolves fighting rabbits. A more interesting question is: "Why did you keep the idea of ninja rabbits in Overgrowth?"


Unique setting

Most games featuring melee combat take place in an anime-inspired world of ninjas and robots, or a dungeons-and-dragons-inspired world of barbarians and wizards. It would be very difficult to make another game in these worlds that would explore new territory and provide a new experience. Our setting of animal warriors and ancient monoliths really helps us stand out from other fighting games -- and can make gamers stop and check us out when they first see movies and pictures of rabbit ninjas doing crazy acrobatics.

Another advantage of this setting is that it allows us to avoid showing violence against humans, while using human-like martial arts. If we want to make a very violent game without trivializing human violence, using non-human characters is a good first step.


Distinct character classes

Using animal warriors allows us to tap into our knowledge of real-world animals to create distinct character classes. We all know that rabbits jump high and wolves have big teeth. We can use this basic knowledge to establish complex relationships between the different species' abilities in a way that is intuitive to players. Whenever we have a setting with clear rules, we can reverse them to create interesting exceptions, such as a courageous rabbit who fights back against bigger and fiercer creatures.


Technological feasibility

It is a lot more feasible for us to render animal characters than to render human characters, since we can sidestep the uncanny valley. We spend a lot of time looking at other humans in our day to day life, so we can easily spot tiny errors in a computer-generated human face. However, we spend very little time looking at anthropomorphic animals. This gives us a much larger margin of error to work with before the characters start to look 'wrong'.

Animals also have physical differences that are easier to convey quickly to players from a distance. The different species all have different sizes and silhouettes, and different characters within each species have different fur colors and patterns. This is very useful in a third-person fighting game, because enemy characters are often very small on the screen, and would be hard to identify with more subtle distinctions.

Is it the right decision?

The big game companies tend to stick with tried-and-true characters like gangsters, space marines, world war two soldiers, ninjas, and barbarian heroes. These characters have proven very popular in the past, so they are re-used over and over. Maybe this is just inertia, or maybe those are really the only reasonable choices. What do you think? Should we keep using animal characters in Overgrowth, or switch to something else?

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Lt.SnoWolf - - 1,035 comments

Animals needs more Frogs tho

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PierreOfTheFrench - - 320 comments

I think they look awesome, keep it as is. This games going to rock.

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awesomepossum - - 997 comments

rabbits ftw!

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BRKNnode - - 92 comments

Love animals.. my only request is to see more wolves... and maybe a preliminary skin for rabbot

and a wolfbot(?)

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Sketch23 - - 26 comments

otters and badgers! can imagine a badger being a great brawler!

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chris_sloany - - 2,830 comments

i did always wonder.... cool!

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MacAttack412 - - 2 comments

Definitely stick with animals. So much cooler than people.

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Rhinoshock - - 15 comments

The real question is: Why not?

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Otreum - - 767 comments

That's what I reckon :D

Rabbits are also known for their speed and agility, so they are pretty suitable for the role.

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Insipidus7 - - 3 comments

I really like this idea here. The concept art is awesome, and if the game portrays this, I think it will really go far. The only thing I would recommend is to not include any green reptiles with shells on their backs :/ Still, really interesting idea. Definitely tracking.

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Samuk - - 690 comments

Panda or turtle, they could look awesome !

Keep the animals, but you might want to explore what a human would be like in overgrowths world. Seeing as the animals have evolved tons, it'd be interesting what a human has evolved into.

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calmflow - - 113 comments

Maybe Humans just didn't evolve at all, that's why the animals have become bipedal, no Humans hunting them so natural selection brought about larger, more advanced upright creatures.

Maybe these are Human precursors?

Keep the Animals guys, more fun that way, more feasible with the acrobatics, when was the last time you saw a Human that could jump 3 times its' own height? (that wasn't anime, mutant or space marine in a special suit)

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Ryswick17 - - 416 comments


i would like humans acctualy.

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Atlasfield - - 1,116 comments

Jackalopes rulz! Deers rulz! Bambi rulz! XD

I like the concept art, what envy, I wish draw like this, who is the artist? I wish learn more about it, contact me please... ja,ja, I cannot imagine what others animals you will add, I want this game run by play with the rabbits again.

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Assaultman67 - - 848 comments

oh you are soo tracked ... ^^

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INtense! Staff
INtense! - - 4,104 comments

ok i've been waiting for a post that convinces me to pre-order this game (I was always planning on buying it) and well this pushed me over the edge. You finally managed to get the "cute lil bunnies" stereotype out of my head. BROUGHT.

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Otreum - - 767 comments

Bahahah, yep, it's getting my mulah as well :)
You know what this reminds me of?
Jazz Jackrabbit...oh what a classic :D

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jeffr Author
jeffr - - 383 comments


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doublethink - - 148 comments

Don't sacrifice your art direction or compromise your vision.

Doubt is the path to failure.

This game will speak for itself even if you had pink elephants fighting giant cockroaches.

Actually, that would be kind of cool... but you get the idea C:

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FullMetalFox - - 199 comments

Im very interessted in this game, but i still would like to know if youll include stuff like foxes or steampunk.. yeah, sry, im a total fox fanatic, i just love those animals. hmm, most people say foxes would be smart, maybe they would mix up with steampunk X)

Anyway, keep up the great work, ill contiue to watch!

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SinKing - - 3,119 comments

Yeh, humans recognise thing by shape (animals too, btw), so we'll probably never think: this is a rabbit. But we'll think this is a human with a rabbit head. It's convenient nothing besides birds and us walks on two legs.
I think it would be funny, if he would just slip out of the "suit" in the end and be a full man. Also this could be a curse brought upon him from an evil witch. You have excellent possibilities to create a brutally new fairy tale, there. And if you weren't already in full production, I'd say I write you a kick-*** story to it.

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Eagle0600 - - 17 comments

The whole "curse" idea isn't really feasible unless it's a REALLY old curse put on all humans everywhere. The reason is simple. ALL characters are anthropomorphic animals and have been for at least a generation.

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Shoelip - - 463 comments

I remember going "WTF" The first time I saw Lugaru, but then I took a look at a few more screenshots and though it looked cool, and tried it out, and my suspicions were confirmed. You'll definitely lose some customers due to the unorthodox characters, but you likely lost quite a few of those already for being small indie developers, so it doesn't matter!

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Torabi - - 376 comments

Well this post certainly clears up a lot for me, never been a fan of the whole rabbit thing, but now that you put it this way it looks quite good. Keep going!

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SlyFlySpyGuy - - 548 comments

Giant bananas should be introduced.

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Carcass26 - - 8 comments

Personally, I don't see why you should have to justify the decision, but I'm glad you have shared a bit more of your vision with us.

It is refreshing to have a team capable of critically evaluating the importance of their decisions, as well as demonstrate a broad understanding of how certain design aspects can effect even the fundamental features of their project.

With each update you release I have a growing confidence of the abilities of your team, and the success that you are sure to achieve.

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masternave - - 7 comments

Animals. It's like Redwall, or Watership Downs, which were both huge parts of my childhood.

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Lord_Mordja - - 457 comments

Haha, Hi5 man! Read both those books too. Ah nostalgia...

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MiniHendrix - - 111 comments

Yeah, Redwall was awesome back in the day. I even met Brian Jacques at a book signing.

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NightSage - - 644 comments

Needs more Ninja turtles. lol j/k

Why ninja rabbits and not rabbit samurai?


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Darkbladecr - - 1,039 comments

I think the idea of ninja rabbits is pretty awesome, gives some abstractness to the game, and uniqueness :D

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Fddlrnthrf - - 12 comments

Are you kidding me? Don't even think about dropping the animals! That's what makes this game awesome.

...I have fond memories of the Redwall books.

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Shralla - - 10 comments

I'm not convinced you guys aren't just furries, but the game is interesting enough to hold my attention.

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Eagle0600 - - 17 comments

And would it be bad if they WERE just furries?

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TRL - - 148 comments

I suggest you create more variation in these animal species. I would like there to still be four legged creatures. Like land whales resembling elephants. I mean if the animals are "humans", are there no animals anymore then?

But why just stick to mammals? From the top of my head, I can think of huge insect-like cave dwelling species, who rival with the reptile faction. Species of the sea and majestic gryphons and garudas of the sky which live on floating islands. It would really help the longevity of the game to have these really different domains in the game with all different surroundings and creatures. So the rabbit hero really gets the sense he travelled to a different place making him feel out of place. Traditionally in mythological games, this would translate to the snowy regions of the nordic people, the desert areas of the egyptians and even the far east asian cultures. Why limit the imagination? You really have the chance to create a real breathing world which looks and feels natural not only because of the graphics.

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