Interview: Cozy Caravan Is Heavily Inspired From Developers Own Interests In Daily Life

Featured Image
Cozy Caravan - via 5 Lives Studios

Cozy Caravan is a top-down exploration-focused video game featuring cute characters and beautiful gameplay. While most focus of the game is on crafting and exploration, the game features a very comfortable and wholesome-themed world, allowing players to engage with a variety of elements it has to offer. From a variety of characters to gathering resources from the world, Cozy Caravan stands out from the traditional game model and pursues a creative setting with lo-fi soundtracks. 

Not only that, but the game also allows players to create their unique character to embark on the journey with an in-game companion known as Bubba. There is a lot to explore and craft to solve the problems of the cute town members in Cozy Caravan. Dean Ferguson, Co-Founder of 5 Lives Studios of Cozy Caravan, has joined us today to share more details on the design inspiration and future of the game. 

Cozy Caravan - via 5 Lives Studios
Cozy Caravan – via 5 Lives Studios

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role on Cozy Caravan.

Dean: Hi, I’m Dean Ferguson, one of the Co-Founders at 5 Lives Studios and the Game Runner on Cozy Caravan.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Cozy Caravan and what sets it apart from other games in the genre?

Dean: The very initial inspiration was a simple thought I had:
What if we could make a game geared around all the staff’s favorite things to do at work, as well as the favorite things they enjoy outside of work?

So I went about collating everything I knew they enjoyed, both in their work and in what they loved to talk about.
Bubba was spawned from our character artist’s absolute love of frogs, and Rigby the Bee is from a whole bunch of the team obsessing over bumble bees, for example.

Ultimately something where they felt they had some sense of ownership and just enjoyed coming to work each day to craft the world. A collaborative title which allowed them to be creative and joyful.”

I truly believe if you enjoy making it, the passion shows, and there’s a better chance people who play it will feel it in the final product.

In terms of what sets us apart, the Cozy genre is vast and varied, and it’s difficult to find a unique spot amongst all that creativity.
For Cozy Caravan, part of the premise I wanted to explore was that of a mobile home. I love the aspect of nesting in many cozy titles, but I have always wished I could pick it all up and take it with me on an adventure; a Caravan seemed the perfect solution.

Another major part I feel sets us apart is how we define the ‘currency’ or ‘resources’ in the game. We had a lightbulb moment when we were struggling to gel the very transactional process of selling items as a merchant, with the core pillar of spreading kindness and growing a connection to the world around you.

But by simply turning the focus away from the player striving to gain/hoard money to grow their bottom line, the player is simply trying to bring more and more happiness to the townsfolk of the world.

The commerce is still there, but this simple shift of focus did so much for the feel. We see a transaction, yet we never see any indication of cost, nor do we ever know how well you are doing financially. You are instead focusing on the reaction to the transaction. Did they love it?

How much? Can I bring them something they’d love even more? This aspect suddenly felt right with our other systems of small acts of kindness.

Cozy Caravan - via 5 Lives Studios
Cozy Caravan – via 5 Lives Studios

The relationship between the player and their companion, Bubba, seems pivotal to the game's experience. Could you elaborate on how this companionship influences gameplay and narrative?

Dean: Bubba and the player have been friends since they were tiny, always inseparable. Bubba is very much the humor in your double act. He’s more gregarious, mysterious, and unserious, a bit of a grump, but has a heart of gold. We were very much inspired by the juxtaposition between duos such as C3PO and R2D2, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, to name a few.

Bubba is the driver, and he’ll also be there to offer you advice and clues as to what to do next. As well as debriefs of the day’s activities. But more than anything, we just wanted you to share your adventure with a friend.

You also mentioned the emphasis on forming bonds with the world and different characters. How does the game achieve this sense of connection between the player character and the various characters encountered throughout the adventure?

Dean: The acts of kindness you do along your journey are pivotal to your growth. The town folks’ happiness is your primary concern, finding ways to help them with a task, bring them to a destination, find their lost flock, or simply play a quick game with them or even give them a friendly wave all promote this.

Also, your guild advances and caravan upgrades are solely based on how happy you have shown to be making the folks around you.

Cozy Caravan - via 5 Lives Studios
Cozy Caravan – via 5 Lives Studios

Customization is mentioned as a feature that allows players to create their own persona. How extensive are the customization options, and do these choices impact gameplay or interactions within the game world?

Dean: The character customization is purely cosmetic, but who doesn’t love a dress-up? And we have been able to make a vast number of species, and outfits, with a great number of variations of both.

For development, we intend to create even more as well, as we all love the feature.

In what ways does Cozy Caravan encourage players to take breaks and engage with the world outside of the main quest line? Can you provide examples of optional activities or side quests players might encounter during their travels?

Dean: There are many smaller activities in the game for early access, with others to be developed as we go. From something as simple as playing games such as hide and seek or hopscotch with some of the local kids to scouring the region and chatting with locals to recreate the recipe for a famous lost stew recipe.

Cozy Caravan - via 5 Lives Studios
Cozy Caravan – via 5 Lives Studios

Could you share insights into the development team behind Cozy Caravan? How many developers have been involved, and how long has it been under development?

Dean: The development of Cozy Caravan has been quite short. I think it will be under 9 months by the time we get to early access, but it has been a very productive time. My previous comment about making something you are passionate about rings true for me here; everyone on the team has been so invested in this title, and it has really been heartwarming.

We are also a small studio, with around 17 people having worked on the game. Our core staff is only 7 people at this time. The games industry is going through such a rough time atm, and we sadly felt this pain over the past year.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Cozy Caravan that we haven't discussed yet?

Dean: Honestly, it’s just been a labor of love for us. And I hope those who play it feel it in the game. And more than anything, I hope playing our game provides some sense of respite from what can be a pretty tiring and dark world at times.

Cozy Caravan is a single-player exploration game, developed and published by 5 Lives Studios. The game was released on May 16, 2024 for PC. 

Was this helpful? 🕹️

Good job! Please give your positive feedback 😏

How could we improve this post? Please Help us. 💡