Developer Interview with Guga

We did an interview with Guga, the creator of the recently released comedy game The Will of Arthur Flabbington; about his game, game development and games in general. Here's what he said:

1. Tell us a bit about you:

My name's Fabio - even though I prefer to be called Guga - born and raised in Sardinia (Italy) and living in Switzerland since 2011. I'm 38 years old, father of two lovely girls. I'm a C++ software developer by day, and making adventure games is my main hobby.

2. What were you favorite game or games when growing up?

I played all sorts of games back in the day. Adventure games had the top spot for sure, but I also loved to play sports games, platformers and sometimes even FPS... but I was never good at it. If I had to choose my favorite title of all time, apart from Monkey Island 2, I'd say the original Prince of Persia.

3. When did you start making games?

I've always been trying to make games one way or another. I remember trying to code a quiz game on the C64 when my father taught me how to read user input in BASIC. I was 6 years old. I made pen-and-paper adventure games for my classmates when in middle school, then tried The Games Factory and Adventure Game Studio around the year 2000, and published my first Android game in 2012, when the name Gugames was born. But if I had to choose a moment where my game making became a regular thing, then I'd say January 2020, when I decided to pick up AGS and remake an old Android point and click puzzle game I made in 2015.

4. What made you start developing games?

Games, and adventure games in particular, are the reason why I entered Computer Science at the University. So even if my professional career brought me away from them, it's always been a goal I had to tick off my list. Once I became a father and my daughters started to be more independent and left me a little bit of spare time, I decided it was finally time to do it. I wanted to show them that if you have a passion, it's never too late to follow it.

5. Why did you decide to make this particular game, what was your inspiration? How did you come up with the idea and story?

It's easy: AdvXJam2021. I had joined the adventure jam world in 2020 and I just adored it, so I wanted to participate in 2021 too. As soon as the theme was out ("contact"), my first idea was "let's make a game where you have to contact a spirit". It rapidly evolved into "you contact the wrong spirit and now you're in trouble" and I was happy, also because I only had two weeks for development, I couldn't put too much thought into it.

It was meant to be a 2-week project, but then my calendar got full with real life appointments, and it was clear I couldn't make it. That's when I decided to polish my entry as much as I could, give it voice acting, and turn it into a demo for a longer game I'd develop later. The response was very positive, so I kept developing the puzzle chains and the subplots, but the whole structure is still the same of the original adventure jam idea.

6. What are your characters based on in the game? For example real life experiences and people, movies etc. Who would you be in your game?

My favorite kinds of characters are usually either inept or jerks, or possibly a mix of the two. I relate with characters whose goals are doomed to fail - Donald Duck for example, especially in the Italian comic books where he's always extremely unlucky, or Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura - but also fish-out-of-water types like Guybrush Threepwood. Jack is the inept kind: his plan backfires and he finds himself trapped in an annoying situation. And Artie the Ghost is just a jerk. Writing his caustic remarks was very fun.

Who would I be in my game? There's a bald Italian pizza loving guy voiced by me in Act 2, I guess this answer the question.

7. How would you describe the style of your game?

It's a classic point and click adventure game, with a strong focus on comedy and puzzles. My two main goals are to make you laugh, and make you reason.

8. What was hardest in the development process of the game? (Warning: Spoiler Alert.)

Apart from finding the time to work on it? I'd say the possession mechanism. There's a section of the game where the ghost learns how to possess people, and you can move NPCs around. That was a nightmare to implement. I had to bend the engine capabilities to make it work properly, from plugging in the correct voice lines to ensuring that NPCs return to their intended place when not possessed. Making a multi-character game is hard in itself, making a multi-character game where they must also keep functioning as NPCs in order to advance in the plot is tragic.

9. What are you most proud of about your game/what do you like most about the game?

It's a complex game, and I still find stuff I didn't remember writing. The game makes me laugh even after two years of development. And the fact that while the game is hard, everyone keeps telling me that the puzzles make perfect sense once you solve them.

10. Is there anything you think could have been better?

One small regret I have is that the plot shows its "game jam" origins. It's functional to the game's spirit, but I'd like to tell a bigger story next time.

11. Are there any Easter eggs in the game?

There is one, in the traditional sense. But mostly there are many many "decorative" interactions that will surely reward those players who explore and try out stuff even beyond the mere puzzle solving.

12. Are you planning on making more games in the future? Do you know what your next game will be about in that case?

I'll never stop making games, that's for sure. I just have to understand where to go now. I always have three or four different ideas fighting for priority, but if I had to choose now I'd probably develop a prototype for a puzzle game I had in mind for a while. No plot, no writing, just plain puzzles. But in the end I'm a comedy writer at heart, and I know I'll miss writing jokes.

A big thank you to Guga, for taking the time to answer these questions. It was interesting to know more about him and his game. Looking forward to more games from him in the future!