Get in the Car, Loser! Interview
Get in the Car, Loser! is a bright, brash road trip that was one of RPGamer’s Most Anticipated Games of 2021. The story follows three attendees of the Academy of Order and one renegade angel on a mission of justice, rebellion, and heavy flirting. Christine Love, co-founder of Love Conquers All Games, graciously agreed to answer a few questions. As director, writer, and programmer, Love wears a hat in each of her three accessory slots. Get in the Car, Loser! is available for PC on Steam and itch.io
Zach Welhouse (RPGamer): How many people worked on Get in the Car, Loser!?
Christine Love: The core team has been about six people throughout development, and it simply could not have been made without every single one of them. I’ve been really humbled and awed to work with such an incredible team that all has such strong and distinct style—they really lit a fire under me to live up to the level of energy they were bringing to the game!
Isaac Safron Robin was the art director, and they’re responsible for the concept art, character designs, and basically every single bold colour you see in the game. August Cartland was the game’s main pixel artist, and she developed the visual style as it appears in the game itself. Christa Lee composed all the incredible jams on the soundtrack, in collaboration with Jami Lynne for our pop songs in battle. Tom Waterhouse and Mike Tona brought the pixel art to life with their stylish animations. Finally, I served as director, writer, and programmer. There’s a whole bunch of other people who have contributed to the game in other ways, too many to name individually, but suffice to say, it was a real collaborative effort!
CL: I mean, the short answer is simply that I’ve always loved RPGs… most of my favourite games are RPGs. I’m really proud of my VN work, but I’ve been really excited for a while about telling stories that have more action in them… GITCL is a story about standing up and fighting against evil, and it just wouldn’t work without that battle system tying Sam’s personal growth in with the same combat challenges that the player’s having.
We’ve definitely got the DNA of a TON of different influences here. I’ve you’ve ever played any of my previous games, I don’t think the cast of characters you’re riding with will come as any surprise—they’re all very rowdy, flirty, but also going through a lot of drama.
Past that, the biggest influences that I wear on my sleeve are definitely Final Fantasy XIII for its momentum-driven battle system, and Persona 5 for the bold visual UI style. It really is just that I played both of these games and they lived in my head afterwards SO vividly that I wanted to channel that energy into something of my own. We’ve also got some Valkyrie Profile in the way each character has their own button, Final Fantasy X-2 for the way you cycle through different ability sets in a specific order, Transistor and Nier/Drakengard for the way that abilities are linked to items that are linked to unique stories that you unlock, even some gacha games for the way the item upgrade system works, some Dark Half for the way you have to win fights in order to pay for gas to keep moving on the road… hopefully, though, the way all these ideas are recontextualized will make for its own unique experience.
ZW: On Twitter, you’ve shared a lot of insight into your goals with the battle system. What are some of your goals or inspirations for how battle interacts with some of the game’s other systems?
CL:Oh man, I could go on forever about this. I apparently already have gone on forever about some aspects of this. Okay, so for context, the short version is that Final Fantasy XIII was our big inspiration point for how battles work—each character performs different roles, and the goal is to stagger enemies so that you can then do massive damage to them in bursts. Instead of Paradigm Shifts, we have boards that you can swap between in battle, so you can use different ability loadouts at different times in battle, depending on what your strategic goals are. For example, if you’re trying to stagger the enemy, you might want to use a board that’s mostly Ravage (which boosts stagger) or Half-Attacks (which can boost your chain counter fast). But if you’re taking a lot of damage, you might want to swap to a board that has the Taunt and Life abilities on it, so you can recover your health, while slowly chipping away with the remaining characters.
One big thing that ties into all that, is that all your battle abilities come from the items you have equipped, which is also the progression system. Instead of leveling up, you just buy better items. That isn’t to say that each character isn’t distinct, because they all have different combinations of classes, which means that the abilities they get from each item are different, and attuned to whatever role they play in battle. For example, if you have an item that has a damage-dealing ability and a healing ability on it, only Sam gets to use the healing ability, whereas everyone else gets the damage-dealing ones. But this means that you can easily swap your loadouts between fights to try out new strategies—upgrades aren’t a big commitment.
Every item also has its own Road Story attached to it, which only gets unlocked as you upgrade and use them in battle, so there’s lots of encouragement to mix things up and try new things. If we’ve succeeded, then the game will make every character feel like they’re playing their own distinct role in battle, but with a lot of room for the player to have to figure out how they want to approach things and strategize on their own.
CL: Right now it’s still too early to tell, other than it was definitely a gamble—I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about this in a year. But so far, about half of everyone who’s downloaded the game has also bought the DLC, which is both shocking and makes me happy—it may be a beach episode, but I think some of the most fun writing in the game ended up in Battle on the Big Boardwalk. So I’m glad people are getting to see it!
ZW: In addition to sales, are there other ways you measure a game’s success?
CL: The only metric of success I’m interested in is fanart of Sam getting teased. Please send it all to me, thanks!!!
ZW: Battle on the Big Boardwalk, which is labelled DLC1 in its promo graphic, takes Sam and the gang to the beach. Are there any plans for additional detours in the future
CL: It’s ultimately going to depend on the success of Battle on the Big Boardwalk, but I’d love to keep creating DLC episodes so long as there’s demand for them! Right now the big things we’d like to do is have the party visit an alternate universe in order to explore some more of the lore behind the Thousand Year Cycle, as well as have the party finally arrive in the City Under Heaven… and maybe if Sam’s lucky, she’ll even fall in love? That’s what I’d like to do, anyway! We’ll see how that ends up going, of course. For now, I hope everyone enjoys Get in the Car, Loser! and Battle on the Big Boardwalk!
ZW: It sounds like travel is important. Why tell a road trip story? Do you have a favorite road trip stop, real or fictional?
CL: Early on we decided that we wanted this to take place in a fantasy world that feels a lot like our own, and if we have a modern day setting… well, what is a modern day adventure story, if not a road trip?
Anyway, maybe saying something like this makes me corny as hell, but I think the real important part of a road trip is the company you spend it with. The best road trip I’ve ever been on in my life was visiting the west coast of the United States, and we stopped by some random tiny town on a whim just to visit the beach… but it was with a girl I love very dearly, so of course seeing that ocean was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life, how could it not be? When you’re spending hours on end on the road, you get to know people in a really intimate, less guarded way than normal, I feel like, because you’ve got a shared destination bringing you together, but the pressure is so low because you’ve got hours or even days to go.
So that’s the energy I tried to channel into GITCL, too: you spend a lot of time just shooting the shit about a lot of fun nonsense where Sam and the party get to know each other better simply because there’s nothing else better to do. The most important thing I wanted to convey in GITCL was the sort of shared banal intimacy that you can’t help but leave having been changed by. That’s what a real adventure is, to me.
ZW: Over the game’s development, you exhibited at PAX. Have you missed attending PAX over the last few years?
CL: As a terminally online nerd who already lived on the internet and spent way too much time on the social media service affectionately referred to by its users as a “hellsite” even before the pandemic hit, I cannot emphasize enough how dearly I miss showing the game at events like PAX. There’s just something deeply sane-making about watching people play your game and get excited about it in real-time… everyone I’ve met while showing the game at cons has just been so nice and so enthusiastic, often even the people I wouldn’t expect to be. It’s so refreshing and inspiring, and makes me want to live up to what those people are excited about!
People online talk about touching grass, but honestly, nothing has ever grounded me more than touching that expo hall floor… uh, well, metaphorically, anyway. I’ve tried to keep all those interactions in my heart while I’ve been working on it, it’s what’s been keeping me going!
CL: Thank you. Please protect Sam Anon at all costs. She’s going through a lot on this adventure, having to deal with being surrounded by hot babes, confronting the face of true evil, and confronting all her overwhelming deepest insecurities, so please, take good care of her. Maybe even by the end, if you see her adventure through, she’ll realize that being a healer is just as important to the party as holding a sword is, and that she’s got a lot that she should feel confident about… but it’s definitely going to take a whole lot to get there.
ZW: Why does your protagonist wear such a sexy outfit?
CL: IT’S FOR THE LESBIANS.
I think it’s really easy to get lost in narrative justifications for things like that, and making excuses like “well, in a world of magic, the best armour is a personal style that gives you the confidence to keep fighting,” or “when you understand the true reason for her nudity, you will be ashamed of your words and deeds,” or whatever. But the truth of the matter is that this is a work of fiction created by people who live in the real world, that reflects the real world. And in the real world, being sexy is great, showing off for girls is super fun, and seeing characters who embody those desires feels great to see because it’s relatable and inspiring! At least to me, personally, anyway.
It’s boring to me when sexiness is the default in games, when it’s completely unacknowledged, because that’s reductive and taking it for granted… and really, how dare anyone take something so powerful as that for granted?! A world where beauty ideals are enforced and unremarkable feels like just as much of a cage as one where there’s no room for beauty and style as a form of self-expression. It’s important to me that Sam gets to be sexy on her own terms, in a way that gets her exactly as much attention she wants and deserves for it. That’s just as much of a part of her journey as anything else I’ve been talking about, and I’m looking forward to everyone coming along with her for that ride too. Make no mistake: Sam Anon is here for the girls.
ZW: If Get in the Car, Loser! had a PS1-PS2-era deluxe physical release, what sort of pack-ins would it include? Car snacks? A Jerk Patrol air freshener? Punching puppet Valentin?
CL: Let’s dream even bigger. And by “bigger,” I mean “life-sized 9 foot tall Angela wallscroll”. Just imagine it. Aw man, now I actually do want that to exist, dammit.