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Interview with Joel Staaf Hästö, from Clifftop Games

Clifftop Games is a gamedev studio, consisting of Joel Staaf Hästö, creator of the famous videogame Kathy Rain, a Point & Click adventure.

Kathy Rain was one of our top-rated games and one of my personal favorites.

It's a Point & Click adventure that presents a fantastic experience for both classic fans of the genre, as well as new ones.

We reviewed it, and love it of course.

Although Kathy Rain is Joel Staaf Hästö latest work, his resume is quite important. He worked as Gameplay Programmer for Syndicate (2012), Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, Magicka: Wizard Wars and Magicka 2. Plus a couple of cancelled projects from top names in the industry!

Recently I had the opportunity of asking a few questions to Joel Staaf Hästö, the creator of Kathy Rain and responsible for the Clifftop Games!

This is the interview conducted between 14th-15th of June, and it’s a direct transcription of the conversation between myself representing Sinical Anime Network (SAN) and Joel Staaf Hästö. (Joel).

SAN: First of all, I would like to thank you for your time in the name of our community for your availability, and granting us the pleasure of this interview.

I personally, already know you used some names such as Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books as inspiration for the game itself. But what about the character Katherine Rain? Was there any influence from the above references?

Joel: Veronica Mars had a solid influence on Kathy, probably more so than any other character (the stun gun is a direct reference), but Kathy was influenced by plenty of other strong but flawed female characters too, like Lisbeth Salander, Buffy, Ellen Ripley etc.

SAN: This one is a funny question, but I have to ask anyway... What's with the bum brutality? Heheh

Joel: Goober is clearly paying badly for bad deeds in a past life.

SAN: Let's just jump to the end part of the game, I felt some Silent Hill vibes there... Could I be mistaken?

Joel: You're not mistaken, the Silent Hill series of games (especially #2) have been an inspiration to Kathy Rain.

SAN: Being a one-man studio must be somehow tough. As a single developer, what do you find more difficult; Creating games or the publishing process?

Joel: As for being a one-man studio, that's a truth with modification - I'm the only full time permanent team member at Clifftop Games, responsible for all writing, game design, code and project management in the studio, but I've hired freelancers for a number of tasks, such as art and audio.

The publishing process was handled by a publisher (Raw Fury) for Kathy Rain and now also for Whispers of a Machine, so thankfully I don't have to worry about that aspect!

SAN: On a more personal side, you have a deep understanding of how games work, so I take you're a huge video-game fan. Can you tell us what your all time favorite games are?

Joel: I'm not sure if I have such a deep understanding of games, but in the classic category, some of my favorites are System Shock 2, Silent Hill 2, Outcast, Fallout 1/2 and Gabriel Knight. As for contemporary games, I'm a big fan of the roguelike/lite subgenre with games like Don't Starve, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and FTL.

SAN: Kathy Rain was and still is a huge success. Do you feel you should do a sequel? Or you think it's a closed chapter?

Joel: A sequel is likely to happen after Whispers of a Machine, but we'll see!

SAN: Your next game is called Whispers of a Machine, and by the looks of it, seems a pretty fantastic concept. I know you can't really tell us much, but how is the development going?

Joel: Going well! So far, we're on schedule and hopefully we'll be able to share some more information about the game later this year and get it a proper page on Steam so people can wishlist.

SAN: I noticed you're going for a more HD approach with this new title, and what else can you tell us about the game mechanics? A traditional Point & Click?

Joe: Yeah, we've bumped the resolution a bit and moved away from the clunky 4:3 aspect ratio. WOAM is indeed a traditional point and click, but with some unusual mechanics to spice things up. One of our goals is to provide more replayability and variety than Kathy Rain, with different ways of solving problems and shaping the story.

SAN: When can we expect Whispers of a Machine to hit the stores? Later this year, or maybe 2019? Maybe no date so far?

Joel: 2019 for sure, but no exact date at the moment.

SAN: Are you considering the same platforms for Whispers of a Machine as Kathy Rain? Steam and Mobile devices?

Joel: The only confirmed platforms are Windows and Mac. We'll see about the rest!

Sinical Anime Network would like to thank Joel Staaf Hästö for his time and availability, providing us with details and extra info on both his previous title, and upcoming work.

We recommend our readers to visit Whispers of a Machine website, and learn more about the concept, and take a sneak peak at the available images.

Wondering about Kahty Rain? Check out our Review, Official Website and Steam Store to purchase the game.

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