Lil Gator Game Interview: Director Connor Patrick Quinn Discusses Unique Characters and World Design


The end of 2022 has seen many giant game releases. From God of War Ragnarok to The Callisto Protocol, fans of the medium may feel like they need a palate cleanser away from the all-encompassing AAA space. This is where Lil Gator Game comes in. When the indie game launches on December 14, players will control Lil Gator through a vibrant world filled with colorful characters on a journey to meet other animals and discover their identity.

Game Rant spoke with artist and director Connor Patrick Quinn about the process of making Lil Gator Game, and how the team at MegaWobble managed to achieve the feeling of casual, childlike wonder. Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background and how did you get to being Artist/Director of Lil Gator Game?

A: My name is Connor Patrick Quinn. I’ve known I wanted to make video games since before I knew that was a thing you were allowed to do. I’ve been telling guidance counselors this same thing since I was in middle school, but there didn’t used to really be a system for pushing you in that direction.

I ended up taking classes in computer science, graphic design, fine art. I started and stopped work on webcomics, server moderation, and other pet projects. But nothing was getting me closer to what I actually wanted to be doing.

Meanwhile, Scott Slucher, our lead dev, was just graduating from miniature tech demos on to making actual complete video games. He was the one that got started on Gator. I joined down the line to help with social media and email correspondence. I kept trying to find ways to be useful, which one by one lead me to working on the UI, character models, animation, and writing. Scott and Robin had all but resigned themselves until we all collectively remembered that I’m an artist.

Q: Can you tell me more about your team? Who works alongside you and how do we see them reflected in Lil Gator Game?

A: We have 3 team members: Scott, Robin Burgess, and myself. Robin composed the score, with contributions by Alex, and did a lot of the game’s prop and architectural models. Scott does programming, technical art, sfx, and more! This game was his vision, so he had a hand in more or less every part of development.

Q: Okay, so tell me how did Lil Gator Game start?

A: Three years ago Scott whipped up a silly little proof of concept called Playground Hero. It was always going to be more than just a tech demo, but things really took off when he posted a silly gif of Gator running in a circle on Twitter.

Q: How did it get from that to where it is now?

A: It got retweeted all over the place, started attracting the attention of publishers, and even ended up being the reason I joined the team–to keep up with all the messages and emails. When how much people wanted it met how excited we were to make it happen, that, I think, is the moment it became a game on the scale it is now.

Q: I love the way Lil Gator and other characters talk. How did you capture the essence of their personalities in their dialogue and interactions with other characters?

A: I have a background in musical theatre and running tabletop games like D&D, so presenting characters that feel like they have a lot going on in a short period of time is second nature to me. It was very important to me that every character maintain a sense of who they are and what they want–which isn’t always easy when there are plot points you need to hit. But by holding myself to that standard, and occasionally rewriting scenes entirely, a lot of natural dialogue evolved.

Also, characters act differently depending on who’s around–just like in real life! Some of those dynamics are more obvious than others. They’re like little extra secrets that I hope improves everyone’s experience whether or not they notice.

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Lil Gator flying among tress

Q: In terms of character identity, I see in a screenshot on Steam’s Dev Diary, Lil Gator has “they/them” pronouns listed in their stats. What is your team’s stance on diversity and inclusion and how is it reflected in the design of the game?

A: Yes, Lil Gator is non-binary. Their story is all about experimenting with their identity, so it seemed obvious. There are a handful of other non-binary characters and differently-abled characters in the cast, as well.

Q: Are you hoping to impact players with this design choice in any way?

A: Not everything exists to make an impact. Some things are just true.

Q: Something else that caught my eye first were the characters’ animations. How did you achieve the cute and casual tone of Lil Gator Game through designing these characters and their movements?

A: Animating in 3D is tough without a lot of high-tech motion capture stuff, but I approached it the same way I draw or animate in 2D. You practice the action in a mirror, sketch out some basic keyframes, push them until they look cartoony, and then add some extra flourishes and secondary movement. It’s not Pixar, but I think it has a nice identity.

Also, if you want something to look good, go find other stuff that looks good and find out why it looks good to you. Try those shapes on for size. There’s plenty of games that do cute, stocky characters like the ones in gator game: A Short Hike, Animal Crossing, Phantom Hourglass, Hat in Time. We had a lot of great inspiration to work with.

Q: You mentioned you have theatre experience. I imagine that might also influence the way you animate their movements. Do you feel that your background also helped you actualize animations that are in line with the characters self-expression?

A: I don’t think an acting background really influenced the animation, no. We didn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on “performance” the way you would in a live-action-style game that has actors or VOs to coordinate. The animations are like flourishes that enhance the writing and make the game fun to look at. We took much more inspiration from cartoons and animated movies.

There are a handful of what you might call “acted” scenes with character focus and stage directions, but even then theatre experience only gets you so far when what you’re actually trying to do is cinematography. Once you can control where the audience is in the space, it’s a wildly different medium.

Q: Okay so beyond the characters themselves, the world design really seems to make gameplay feel like an adventure. What elements of the world design were essential in crafting this feeling?

A: Scott was very passionate about shaping the terrain to suit the game’s mechanics, and I made sure all the points of interest had just the right amount of wandering-room between them. No matter where you’ve been or where you end up, we made sure that there’s a path forward and fun stuff to find on it. That’s what a fantasy adventure is all about.

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Lil Gator with sword and shied at waterfall

Q: I see you recently participated in IndieLand. How did you come to be involved in Jirard’s event?

A: He invited us last year and then again this year. Both times were amazing. Jirard is a beautiful person and The Completionist team all kill it at their jobs. Did you know they raised 80 THOUSAND dollars for dementia research this year? I think we were on the stage for the 70k milestone. What an amazing experience.

Q: That’s awesome! Have you been able to show off your game at any other events?

A: I had a lovely time presenting the game at a Portuguese award show called “Indie X Online” this year with my cohost Patricia Casaca! Gator was also a part of the Wholesome Direct, Steam Next Fest, and they received a Tiny Teams official selection!

Q: Before we wrap up, what are you most excited for players to experience in Lil Gator Game?

A: I pushed really hard for Gator being able to equip 2 special items at once because I thought it would be cool to see how different tools complement each other. Later we discovered that you can also chain some special item stuff into goofy combos with your other movement abilities. I’m really psyched to see what crazy stunts people come up with and what their favorite special item combos are.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on yet?

A: We have Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Patreon, and a community Discord server that’s open for everyone.


Lil Gator Game releases December 14, 2022, on PC and Switch.

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Sources: Steam, Discord


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