62: Computer Games – Interview with Joel Staaf Hästö from Clifftop Games

This week we’ve interviewed Joel from Stockholm-based company Clifftop Games. I found his company when someone recommended his computer game Kathy Rain on an adventure subreddit.

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it and where is it based?

An indie game development company called Clifftop Games, specialized in point and click adventures. Started in 2015, based near Stockholm, Sweden.

What inspired you to start this business?

I’ve had a lifelong obsession with computer games, so making my own has always been a childhood dream. I was sick of working as a programmer at various game companies and started building a game of my own, Kathy Rain, in 2012. When a publisher expressed interest in the game I decided to make the leap!

Joel Staaf Hästö

What is your favourite adventure game you played?

Probably the original Gabriel Knight, it’s the only adventure I’ve replayed more than once.

Do you still remember what the first game you played was?

I believe it was the original Sim City, for DOS, ca 1990~. I was four or five at the time.

How do you get ideas for your adventure games?

Oh, from a variety of places. For me, usually an idea don’t just pop into my head all of a sudden, it’s something that grows and evolves organically based on different influences from games, movies, books and so on.

What is your average day and how many hours do you work each day?

My average day is spent doing a variety of tasks, from coding to scripting, writing dialogue, communicating with team members, our publisher and so on. Since I work from home and control my own work hours they tend to vary greatly, but I try to work at least eight hours a day for five days a week, with ~8-12 hours or so on top of that, spread out through the entire week. In the final stages of critical work, such as preparing for gaming conventions or game releases I tend to work practically all the time.

Any books you recommend for new entrepreneurs?

None that come to mind! I do most of my learning on the internet. Stack Overflow and Gamasutra are good resources to me, as are lectures from industry events such as GDC.

Which computer game company you admired most?

Probably the now defunct LucasArts. They produced a ton of quality adventure games over the years!

To learn more about Joel’s company please visit Clifftopgames.com.

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