Sally Face – My Journey as a Solo Game Developer

Sally Face – My Journey as a Solo Game Developer
Sally Face - My Journey as a Solo Game Developer 1

Once the dream of becoming a game developer formed in my head, I didn’t let go until I reached it. The road that leads to Sally Face was long and challenging, but it changed my life forever. This is a personal story of how I got to where I am today.

The origin and inspiration

I grew up loving 90s metal, video games and cartoons. These things were big artistic influences on me. I started drawing at a young age, with a strong interest in characters and storytelling. I also taught myself guitar when I was 16. Living in a haunted house was another important element that shaped me. Plagued by terrible nightmares and strange encounters during my childhood, I have always been drawn to dark subjects and the paranormal.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all those interests of mine, and game development wasn’t an option until after high school. It was a spark almost immediately – making games was perfect for me. It included everything I love: storytelling, art, music, creativity, interactive worlds…

Around 2007, during my college days, I had a strange dream that inspired me to create a scary sketch. This drawing was the origin of Sally Face† Shortly after, I had several rough sketches and ideas for a cartoon around this character. I tried to get some friends together to animate it, but it soon fell apart. So the concept stuck in my head for years to come.

early sketches

After college, I formed a small indie team with some friends called Wither Studios. We worked on projects in our spare time, after work. A few years after releasing our first game and still struggling to monetize, the team was going through a rough patch. Due to an argument, two of our members left. With an uncertain fate, I decided to start my own side project. I had enough experience then and needed the creative outlet.

In 2015 the concept is for Sally Face came back to me and I thought it would work well as an adventure game instead of a cartoon. It was also important to keep the gameplay simple as I am not a programmer. Because of this I had to learn new tools. And that was the starting point of my solo efforts as Portable Moose.

Sally Face, Episode One: Strange Neighbors was almost done, but the next two years would be the hardest of my life. I was suddenly fired from my day job and struggled to find good work. Then a divorce with my ex-wife started, which led to moving back and forth and eventually divorce. In the midst of this, a close loved one made multiple suicide attempts, which was traumatizing. I fell into a deep depression and couldn’t leave my apartment or even get out of bed. This stopped production of the game for a few months. But in the end, working on the game again really helped me pull myself out of the dark hole I was living in. It gave me something to throw myself into. It gave me something to hope for.

Realize the dream

Sally face characters

I originally released the game on PC occasionally while I was making them. Episode one came out in 2016 and people liked it. The game was now attracting enough income for me to continue working on it full time. Sally Face continuously grew a large cult following and is still going strong. The fifth and final episode came out in late 2019 and then I started working on the console ports. I ended up hiring outside help for the ports; which, aside from translations, was the first time other people besides myself have worked on the game. I made the story, the design, the characters, the artwork, the music, everything. This made it even more rewarding as the fan base grew and the level of admiration they showed for my creation.

collage image

Keep fighting the darkness

Dive into the unusual mystery today with Sally Face on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S!

Xbox Live

Sally Face

portable moose


34

$14.99

DISCOVER A DARK MYSTERY… Dive into a disturbing adventure following a boy with a prosthetic face as he uses his portable video game system to talk to the dead and learn their stories. After a series of mysterious murders, Sal and his three friends discover something very sinister that casts shadows over their small town.

Sally Face - My Journey as a Solo Game Developer 1

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