A Coffee Break with: Goloso Games, Inspector Waffles

In Italian, Goloso means “someone who enjoys food”, and by extension, an epicurian.
It’s no surprise Yann chose this name for his one-man studio: his passion and curiosity are insatiable! Since his young age, he’s been trying every medium he could — drawing, short movies, music, 3D, he’s just never shy of discovering something new to express himself.
But his real love lies in the video games, a love at first sight that happened when, as a child, his parents brought him a NES to comfort him from flu.

His first commercialized game, Inspector Waffles, takes from his favorite genre: the point&clicks, and is available in early access.

Hi Yann, and welcome to our Coffee Break!
Inspector Waffles has a lot of cultural references sprinkled here and there (pop culture, classical ones, video games…).
What were your sources of inspiration when creating this world?

Hi ! Inspector Waffles’ inspiration comes from different places : I’m, without any shame, a true lover of TV investigation shows. That’s how I discovered the Snowball’s case, which is a real –interesting- case where no dead cat where involved, fortunately. (Inspector Waffles’ first case is inspired from it — Ed.)
It’s hard to not tell about L.A Noire, which is obviously an inspiration, even if the game mechanics are quite different (motion capture is a bit expensive for my budget ;)). The mechanics of a list of questions, a witness to interrogate with your notepad, are quite look alike. But, there is a very big difference : my interrogation is linear, you need to find the good item/clue to show and go forward in the story. It fits quite well with a point&click game, I think.

I’m not too inspired by other point&clicks for Inspector Waffles to be honest, I sometimes look how they handle some mechanics, like the inventory, but making my own universe is something very important for me, and I don’t want to have too many similarities with others from the same genre.

During my youth, I read a lot of Belgium/French comics, grew up with Astérix, Spirou and so on. I’m not directly inspired by some of them, but the way Franquin and Larcenet told their stories had quite a big influence on the way I tell my stories!
Humor has also an important part into my games : I really love the deadpan humor from The Office serie or Kaamelott (French comical tv show –Ed.).

Waffles got this attitude from the classic noir movies: a bit depressed, tongue-in-cheek, smart but misunderstood.
He’s the main character, yes, and also the complete opposite of the cast of characters we meet throughout the game, making them stand out even more.
Is Waffles the perfect excuse for creating hilarious, larger than life characters?

There was not a lot of originality when I created Waffles : he is the good but depressive detective we expect to meet. It was definitely made on purpose that the main character would be smart and not particularly funny because he is surrounded by stupid/weird/amusing characters : it creates a comedy atmosphere to the game, even if it’s all about a barbaric murder.
For example, Spotty, the dog sniffer, is a very nice but limited cop Waffles tried to avoid. He is a “good boy” with a good heart : the two of them may become a good duo, in a “buddy movie” kinda way.

This comedic aspect was also inspired by the French serie Kaamelott, a parodic version of the legend of Arthur from Alexandre Astier (french director, writer, composer and actor — Ed.). In most of the episodes, Arthur is present but he mainly serves as a pivot for others’ comedic narratives, be it with their behavior or dialogs. This is something I’m really trying to do with Inspector Waffles.

As a point&click, Inspector Waffles uses logical puzzles: there’s no crazy mix of items or situations –no turning off a water pump with a monkey, for example ;)
It’s almost a comical version of L.A. Noire.
How does one create such intricate narrative? Do you first write the whole story before thinking of how to lay out the cues?

L.A Noire again, thanks for the comparison :)

My process to create the story is a bit chaotic, to be honest.
Inspector Waffles was made during a 15 days game jam and I just wanted to do a detective/point&click game. Making one from scratch in 15 days is impossible, especially when you have no idea what the story will be!

I started with some ideas from pop-culture and wrote quickly some main points of the story: the Schrödinger cat for example (the first chapter is called “the dead and alive cat”). So, even if I had a short period of time to make the game, I knew what will be the “next stops”. I planned quite a lot!
For example, I’ve added a shopping list and a polaroid since the first version of the game, but there are still useless in the last build, one year and the half later !

My point is : I’m still making a game with ideas I put at the very beginning. 
I had a clear idea of what the whole story will be, but I wrote the detailed version of the first chapter only a couple of months ago. Now I’m already writing the chapter 2‘s beginning; again, I know the main points, but I need to create and imagine all of the little details around them.

Waffles is your first game to be commercialized.
A few years ago you had no prior experience in game design, and while you’re a dev at day, you didn’t know how to do the graphic part.
Kuddos for not being afraid to learn something entirely new!
So, how did you do it, and what’s so far the most complicated part you’ve encountered as a game designer?

Thanks ! I’m truly an autodidact in pixel art, I know I’ll never be brilliant at it, but I’m trying my best to improve my drawings. When I see what I did 4 years ago, when I had just started, I can tell you can improve if you train often ;)

As a game designer, the most complicated for me is not art or dev actually. When you do games mostly alone, the hardest part is to stay focused on a couple of projects, and not starting a prototype for every idea which comes in mind. Staying motivated is also difficult, when you spend months on one thing: it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, there are good days and bad days.
If you enjoy a game made by small teams, don’t hesitate to tell them, a simple message could change a bad day into a really good day !

There are many engines you could have used to develop a point&click. What led you to Unity Engine?

I’m a C# developer at day, and I didn’t want to learn a new language to make a game : I wanted to focus on making the games. Unity was a perfect match for me at first. I stuck with it because for every thing I want to do, Unity can help me doing it.

I also wanted to make games from scratch, not using any dialog/inventory/p&c assets. 
It’s a choice I’ve made since the beginning, I did it only for the challenge to make 100% of the code.

What does the future hold for Inspector Waffles? Do you already have plans to turn it into a serie?

I want to release the chapter 1 on all the platforms for the end 2018/beginning 2019. Like I previously said, I started to write the second chapter so my goal is to make it a serie, yes.
If I see that the first episode don’t sell well at all, maybe I will stop it. It will depend of how the players will welcome it. But that’d be a heartache, because I have a lot of ideas for the next episodes and I love this whole universe I’m creating!

Let’s talk a bit about your other project: Antenna Dilemma, born out of a gamejam.
Alike Waffles, there’s a comedic side to it, but the tone is entirely different. It’s nearly a dystopia analogy to our own society, and it does hit close to home.
Where did that idea come from?

The idea came from far far ago, more than ten years ago. I had an idea to make a story with shapes, I wrote some story concepts : the cubes were watching TV while their neighbours, the balls, were playing football. I remembered this idea just before the jam and I started to make a story in a square-shaped universe. And to be honest, making cubic characters were a good way to stay in the deadline. In a game jam, you have to use tricks to save time ;)

It’s clearly a different tone from Inspector Waffles, and that’s why I like both of them, they are not competitors : there are no detective aspect in Antenna Dilemma for example. I’d say there is the same humor sometimes, also the same “buddy movie” duo idea as in Inspector Waffles, but you‘ll feel a deeper message underlying in Antenna Dilemma.

You’re not only a game designer, you’re also an avid player at heart.
If someone with no prior experience to point&clicks asked you which game(s) would be the best to dive into the genre, which one(s) would you advise (apart from yours ;))?

The first point&click I bought was Broken Sword 1, and I was lucky to start with this masterpiece. The story is fantastic, you feel like a true adventurer searching for Templars’ secrets. The Day of the Tentacle time travel mechanics are one of the most brilliant mechanic I’ve played. And the game is so funny, dialogs are perfectly written. The Amanita Design games are masterpieces too, Machinarium and Samarost 3 are must plays. Recently, I enjoyed a lot Hiveswap Act 1, and I’m really hyped about the next episodes!

Bonus question: coffee, tea or beer? ☕🍵🍺?

Beer when I’m with friends or stuck finding the next parts of my story.
Exception made of those moments, I’m an active member of the tea team!

Inspector Waffles has no release date of yet, but is available in early access and with a demo:

Antenna Dilemma can be downloaded for free here: https://www.golosogames.com/index.php/antenna-dilemma/

For news and updates, follow Yann on his twitter account: @golosogames

For all Goloso Games content: https://www.golosogames.com/

And finally, follow us on @GOFIG_news for more indie games news ;)