This summer we’ve asked our VK subscribers to gather some questions they’d like to ask Sally Face’s developer, Steve Gabry. And we managed to arrange an online interview with him. After asking the “pre-made” questions we also took some from the viewer chat during the podcast. You can watch its recorded version right here.
For your convenience we also made a written version of the interview. Enjoy!
How did the gaming community accept the game? Have you ever felt like you woke up famous?
The community around Sally Face is full of really great people. Everyone has been amazingly supportive. It took a few months to catch on but once the bigger YouTubers starting playing it, then the audience started to grow. I never had the feeling of waking up famous, it’s been a long and difficult road to get to where I am now. And I would say I’m still pretty far from famous. That’s okay though, my goal is only to do what I love and share it with all of you. If I can keep doing that then I will be happy.
Which country has the biggest SF community? Which one is the most… exotic? Which country’s art and fanfiction surprised you most?
I think Russia has the biggest community right now but the US has the most game sales. I don’t think I could pick a most exotic country, there are too many places that are exotic to me. I love seeing the cool fan art from all over. I think what surprised me the most were the first few fan arts that started popping up. I wasn’t expecting it at first, so I was surprised and happy that people were connecting with Sally Face that much.
Do you plan to go along with the idea of making an animated film after you’re done with the game? If not, why?
I doubt that I would ever do an animated film. I just don’t have the resources to pull it off. If that changed in the future, I would be open to the idea if there was enough demand for it.
Do you plan to release any kind of sketchbook for your game, dedicated to character/locations creation?
I have been thinking about doing a sort of compendium book where I can add little details that don’t make it into the full game, along with sketches and artwork. I don’t know where that fits in yet. It would be cool to do a physical release but that can be expensive, so it would depend on how well the game does. Otherwise maybe I’ll add it to the game and release it along with episode 5.
Were there any instances when you felt like giving up on your work, like an artist’s block?
Yeah, there were times when I would feel like giving up. I think that’s normal while working on any project as long and demanding as building a game. But I also went through a lot of personal shit during the development of the first two episodes. I was hit with a lot of depression because of that. Despite those struggles, I never gave up. I’m too stubborn and too driven to give up. Actually working on the game helped pull me out of some of the harder moments.
Do you have any plans for future games besides Sally Face?
I have too many plans. Ideas come to me all the time but I only write them down if they really strike a chord with me. I probably won’t stop making games until I die.
Have you ever thought about coming to Russia to meet with your fans?
I would love to come visit Russia! I hope someday in the future I can make that happen.
Whom did you want to become as a child?
When I was young, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I think for a short time I wanted to work on cartoons. Then in high school, when I started playing guitar and got into bands, I wanted to be a rockstar. I always liked writing as well and had played with the idea of writing a novel.
Who’s your favourite character in the game? Which one do you consider most successful and interesting?
I’d have to say Sal is my favorite. I did write the whole story around him. I think he’s the most interesting because there’s a lot of mystery surrounding him but he’s also relatable and admirable. He’s been through so much pain in his life but still has a positive outlook and a kindness towards others.
You once said on Twitter whose voice you imagine Sal having. What about Larry and Chug?
If this is referring to when I said Sal would sound like Gilbert Gottfried, that was just a joke. I can imagine his voice in my head but I’m not sure I have a good person in mind. Sal has a calm, raspy voice that’s slightly muffled by the prosthetic. Larry would sound a little like Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted but not as ditzy. Chug would sound a little like Heffer from Rocko’s Modern Life.
Do any of the main characters have mental issues?
Sal struggles with depression and frequent night terrors. These are actually things I’ve struggled with in my life as well, which is part of the inspiration for his character. Sal’s dad, Henry, also struggles with severe depression and addiction.
What’s Sal gonna do if if his teeth start to hurt.? Meaning how he feels about having to remove his prosthesis (mask) in front of a stranger when the situation requires it.
He’s pretty self conscious about taking his mask off in front of others. It’s become his real face in a way, so taking it off in public would only happen if it were an emergency. His face is private and hidden, you can think of it like removing your pants in public. In most cases, Sal would just try to use the bathroom or just shove his hand under the mask. When he’s eating, he can unbuckle the bottom straps and bring food under it, without revealing anything.
How does Sal take ID photos? How do people ID him, in general?
So far he hasn’t had to take any photo IDs for anything. In the future he’ll have to remove his prosthetic to take ID photos. He would be ID’d like anyone else.
In which year does the game take place?
The main events take place in the mid 90’s. The future events are in the early 2000’s.
In which state are Addison Apartments located?
I do have an area in mind but I purposefully don’t name the state. I like the idea that players don’t really know where it is. It makes them use their imaginations a bit.
Which music besides metal does Sal like? Which bands does he listen or would’ve listened to?
Sal likes a little bit of everything really. Though his favorites are rock and metal. Some bands he would have listened too would be stuff like Nirvana, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Tool, Rage Against the Machine…
Do you plan to include any kind of romance in the future?
I don’t want to say much about future story elements. Though if there is any romance, it will be more in the background.
Sally and Larry’s favourite fruit?
I think Sally would like apple sauce because it’s easy for him to eat with his mask on. Larry is more picky but he would probably like watermelon the most.
What are Sal and Larry’s zodiacal signs?
Sal is a Sagittarius and Larry is a Leo.
What do Sal and Larry dream of?
Larry doesn’t focus so much on the future as much as he just enjoys the present. Though sometimes he dreams of being a rockstar or a famous artist. Sal is filled with aspirations but I he doesn’t have a specific plan yet. Mainly he wants to be happy and wants others to be happy, especially the people he loves.
Has Larry ever been in love?
Will we ever get to see Chug’s parents?
Maybe. It is possible, though they aren’t very important to the story.
We know Larry draws, does Sal have any hobbies?
Sal plays guitar and is also a big fan of movies and video games.
By the end of the second episode, has Larry ever seen Sal without his prosthetic? Does he know how Sal got injured?
Yes, Larry has seen Sal’s face and he knows what happened.
Does Ashley have any bad habits?
She bites her nails when she’s nervous or bored.
Who served as a priest on David and the mannequin’s wedding?
David is an interesting character. His marriage isn’t exactly legitimate or legal. So there wasn’t an actual ceremony, he just took the pictures with a photographer.
Does Larry ever feel insecure about his nose?
No, Larry is pretty confident in himself as a whole.
Will the snack guy ever come?
I actually had a side quest planned out where you had to help the snack guy so that he could fill the machine. It ended up not really fitting into the episode or being worth the time, so I cut it. So I guess he is never coming now, sorry Chug.
And here are some questions asked by viewers in chat during the podcast.
Can you please tell us a little bit about the new game you’re making with Wither Studios, IMMURE? (a/n – you can watch the alpha gameplay trailer here)
Sure! Wither Studios is a group I’ve been working with for 7 years. I actually co-founded the group. We still work part-time, everybody has day jobs, and Sally Face is my main focus. We’ve been working on a demo for IMMURE for about 2 years now. It started off as a prototype and we’ve made a lot of alterations on that. Essentially, IMMURE is a horror game and it’s mystery-based, not as much as SF is, but essentially the main character is trapped in this mansion and he has no memory of how he got there and there’s no exit doors. Every door that he goes through leads to another dimension and there’s this wraith trapped inside and he has to decide whether to free it or not.
Are you satisfied with how your characters are drawn? Do you plan to improve them? How long does it take you to draw one character?
So… I have a different sort of approach to how I do Sally Face. I kinda told myself in the beginning that I wanted to keep it rough around the edges and not sit there and spend like a week on a character and make it really really polished. Just tried to give that sort of grungy feel to it. So I think I’m happy with the outcome and the characters themselves… How much time it takes depends on the character. Sometimes I’ll draw a character and that will be the final version the first time I do it. Other times… you know, if it’s a more important character I’ll go through many iterations and do sketches and sit on the idea for a few days and then look over the sketches and decide how I really want it to look – then do the animation. So for a more important character it could be spending a week or more through that whole process for just one character. But for the less important characters it takes maybe a day or two.
How much time passed between you coming up with the idea for Sally Face and actually releasing it? Have you experienced any technical difficulties along the way?
Actually, it was quite a long time. I came up with the idea back when I was in college, it was about 2007. It was a very similar, but different idea. It was gonna be a cartoon, like a web-series, and I’ve had a couple of guys that were gonna help, but that kinda fell apart ‘cause nobody had time. The idea just kinda sat for awhile until I got back around to it in 2015, when I started working on Sally Face. And as far as technical issues go… Nothing really big, but there were some limitations ‘cause I’m not a programmer. Actually, the hardest thing was getting it onto Steam and making the achievements work. For someone who knows programming well it’s probably easy, but for me it was not.
Could you tell us any fact about any of the game characters, that you’ve initially thought about, but haven’t included in the game?
Yes, there’s been quite a lot of that. It’s more of a back story and me thinking of events that have happened to them and specifically Sally Face and his past. There may be things that I might include in future episodes but I think a lot of it just remains in my head as part of his character and sorta helps to flash him out.
So, I guess for specific examples… After dealing with his mother’s death his relationship with his father sorta took a hit and… it’s sorta hinted out in the first episode. His dad went down a harsh path and was abusing alcohol and that was really hard on Sally. I don’t know how much of that will be revealed but it’s just part of his character.
Will we ever get to see Sanitys Fall band members?
I’ve actually had ideas for that. I might include something, although it would be small, maybe a poster. It really depends if there’s time and space for it, but that’s something I’d like to do.
Was the cat (Gizmo) taken into the family because of the death of Sally’s mother or not and what breed is Gizmo?
He wasn’t brought into the family because of what happened to the mom but he was definitely brought into the family afterwards. And I imagine that Sal sort of adopted him and maybe his dad wasn’t happy about it but he learnt to live with it.
As far as the breed, it’s probably like a Maine Coon.
What’s the weirdest Sally Face related question you’ve ever been asked?
Speaking of questions in general, I’m surprised by just how specific some of them are, what people come up with. One thing that comes to mind is somebody on Twitter once asked me who would like ferrets more – Sally or Larry. That strikes me as oddly specific. I would say they both love animals, but I would picture Larry as more likely to own a ferret.
What country or continent would Sally and Larry like to visit and what are their favourite food or sweets?
I think Larry would wanna go to Spain, because he has family over there and he’s probably heard stories from his mother who has visited over there. His favourite sweets… or maybe food in general… I think Larry is a pizza guy, pepperoni – simple classic.
So Sal… I think Sal is the kind of guy that wants to go everywhere and see everything. He doesn’t have any specific favourite, but he would wanna just kinda see everything. And Sal has kinda grown to eating whatever is just convenient, but I think maybe I will say pizza as well. I think he’d like the moments when he’s in private and can enjoy food with his mask off and don’t have to worry about other people looking at him.
Would you ever consider voice acting for Sally Face?
Yeah, I would consider it. I’ve actually been approached by a few people who wanted to volunteer voice acting. But the problem is that right now I’m working on a game that takes awhile for each episode and I wouldn’t want to have a situation where I have voice acting for the first episodes, but then people drop out because of the time and I have to change the voices. So if I ever did it, it would be towards the end, so it’s all consistent. I don’t know if it’ll happen or not, but that’s definitely something I’m considering.
Was Sally ever bullied at his old school? Has anyone tried to rip off his mask?
Yes, he was definitely bullied a lot. There is sort of a node to that in the first episode, when he first meets Larry he briefly mentions being teased about his mask. I think at first it was really hard on him and then he just grew a thick skin to it. Once he was over the initial depression with his mother and everything… dealing with all that was really hard for him. I feel like he is stronger because of it.
As far as taking the mask off, I would imagine that some bullies probably did try that but I don’t think he would’ve let anyone.
Just how ready the third episode is?
It’s going along really well. It’s about 50% done. But I’ll probably add that the workloads of certain things take different amounts of time so even if it’s 50% done it doesn’t mean that the second half will take me exactly the same amount of time as the first one.
Do Sally or Larry believe in God?
You could consider Sal agnostic. He doesn’t follow any particular religion but he thinks that there’s something bigger than what we essentially know, not that he subscribes to any particular god. He thinks that there’s something more. And I think that’s because just the amount of strange things he experienced, he’s kinda seen behind the curtains of supernatural a bit.
And Larry, I think, is more skeptical, as you can see by him denying the ghosts even though he’s witnessed something strange. He’s sort of on the fence, he doesn’t really know what he believes, but what he puts out to the world is that he’s skeptical. And events of the game raise some questions for him.
Will we eventually know exactly what happened to Sal’s mother?
I’ll say that by the end of the whole thing it’ll be pretty clear.
What inspired you to create Sally Face?
There’s a few things. So, the original idea was very much inspired by 90’s cartoons like Hey, Arnold!, Doug, Ren&Stimpy, Invader Zim, things like that. And I wanted to kinda take that aesthetic. They always tell those really cool stories and I feel like a lot of newer kids cartoons don’t have that quality. And also nostalgia probably played its role. So Nicktoons were a big inspiration but I wanted to make it darker and more mature. As far as the story goes, a lot of life experiences kinda went into it. I take little pieces of my own life and kinda extrapolate on that, that helps bring characters to life more.
So, can you tell us if you have any plans of making a second season of the game after you release five episodes of the first one?
I don’t have any specific plans right now but there are ideas I have floating around in my head that I could do more with Sally Face but I think that once the story finishes it’s gonna be very much contained into this season. So if I do something else it’s gonna be its own thing. But yeah, there’s ideas, but I don’t wanna say that I’ll definitely do it. It kinda depends on how well this season does. I probably won’t go into more Sally Face just so that I don’t spend years on one thing.
Has Larry or Sally ever felt any urges to change their appearances in any way, like maybe dye or cut their hair?
Yeah, I think the obvious one is that Sal wears pigtails and he didn’t always do that, that was one instance where he wanted to change his appearance and went through with it. And as he gets older he’d like to change his appearance because he wants to do different things just like everyone else. And Larry used to have short hair and then grew it out longer. And as he did that he liked it so he kept it this way.