Dissecting a studio identity – Coffee Stain Studios

Armin_the gOAT

Goats might not have the pull of cats and dogs when it comes to the adorable factor, but thanks to a combination of ingenuity, timing and an understanding of their fanbase, Coffee Stain studios has helped cement the goat as an animal of insane distinction which has sipped into pop culture. How does such a concept come about and where does the Skövde based studio go from here. I put a few questions to Armin Ibrisagic, game designer and PR manager at the studio.

What would you describe as Coffee Stain’s pillars?
I think the fact that Coffee Stain has never reached out to publishers for funding is one of the major reasons for our studios’ success. The studios’ first PC game Sanctum was a total labor of love from its developers. We never had the resources to compete with big studios, but I think the fact that everyone at Coffee Stain really, really wanted Sanctum to see the light of the day made us work harder than we would if we had done contract work for someone else’s IP. Finally, our most successful game, Goat Simulator would never have received funding from a big publisher. Who would fund a game called “Goat Simulator” where the main character is a goat? I think the fact that we’re willing to take risks that AAA studios aren’t makes our games stand out.

Was a game like Goat Simulator always on the cards as the studios second major IP?
Haha, never! Even when the game went viral, we expected the hype to die down right after release. We thought it would be one of those games that would be popular for a week and then be completely forgotten right after. But what’s made Goat Simulator so successful wasn’t the one-week hype around it right after release – in fact, it’s our most steadily selling game. I think we stayed on the top 100 list on Steam for months after release, and our daily mobile sales are still going very strong. Even a couple of months after release, we updated the game a little bit with new a new level and some extra content as a thank-you to our fans that made the game so successful. But now, with the success of our new MMO expansion, it looks like Goat Simulator will survive far longer than we ever expected. We even have a pipeline of future DLCs planned for this whole year – something we never expected we’d do on launch.

What does a game like Goat Simulator say about Coffee Stain and how does that translate to the games you subsequently publish?
A lot of people have asked us if we’re going to keep making quirky farm animal simulator, since Goat Simulator is doing so well. We don’t like to plan too far into the future though, as one of the main reasons Goat Simulator was successful was because everyone at the studio was really hyped about the game and really loved creating it. Right now, we finally have the budget to make a serious high-quality game, which I’m sure we’ll do. But I’m also sure that we’ll keep making crazy stuff in the future too. We have a lot of cool ideas, but nothing is ever written in stone at Coffee Stain. We like working reactively instead of proactively.

How important is a studios voice and sense of self and how does that impact the games you develop?
Like I mentioned earlier, we don’t plan ahead too much at Coffee Stain. There are definitely setbacks to that, but the pros are that if someone gets a good idea our schedule is usually clear enough so we can just go for it right away. It can be everything from a whole game idea, (like Goat Simulator), or it could be just a cool thing to add to an existing project. It might not be the most efficient way to go, but it helps us stand out in the industry and hopefully it helps show our love for what we do.

The Goat train shows no signs of abating with Goat Simulator: GoatZ, an open world horror themed expansion of the game doing well since its release some weeks ago. The game can be bought from Steam and was developed by Gone North Games, which is part of the Coffee Stains publishing arm.

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