In Last Meal at Cafe Mori, you play as a bartender working at a cafe at the end of the world. Both playful and thoughtful, the game was well-received and placed second in the Spooktober Jam. A notable feature of the game is the voice-acted cast for the patrons of the cafe, whose personalities are charming, wacky, and at points, bittersweet. Katy, the creator, is now hosting the Winter VN Jam.
I caught up with Katy to look back on her creative process in making Last Meal for Cafe Mori.
How did you get involved with the Spooktober VN jam?
I'm active in the DevTalk server, which announced the jam, so that's how I discovered it.
How did you meet the other members of your team, and how did you choose them for this project?
Tavian and I met through a VN webinar. I worked with him before on a cover song and he voiced that he'd enjoy collaborating with me again.
Coda is a friend I met through DevTalk. We're already collaborating on another project (which meant I knew I enjoy working with her), so I really hoped that she would be available during September to voice the witch.
Cody I met when he was hosting several Jackbox games. His voice has a strong energy and I wrote Jack with Cody in mind.
Emma posted in DevTalk saying that she was looking to collaborate. I listened to her demo reel and saw that she would be a good fit with the Gargoyle.
How did you come up with the concept for Last Meal at Cafe Mori?
I think Cafe Mori came from a bunch of inspirations. Discworld's characterization of Death, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a visual novel I played from NaNoRenO 2020 called Cafe in the Clouds, and various "bartender sim" games.
But I think the biggest influence was a 1998 film called After Life, a very quiet, thoughtful film, which posed the question, what memory would you want to keep forever?
How did the final version of Last Meal at Cafe Mori differ from your original concept?
In the original concept, I had an idea for a wererat character, but ended up cutting them and combining them with the Gargoyle to scale down the game.
The artwork also ended up less thickpaint-y than I had pictured it in my head. I wish I had had more time to practice the art style, but my laptop's drive broke a week or so before Spooktober, leaving me to use pen and paper concept art while looking for a replacement and trying to recover backups of my projects, including concept stuff I had done for Spooktober.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project for you?
I think the most challenging part for me would be audio editing. It's a task that I can't do while listening to a podcast or video, which I enjoy doing.
What takeaways or insights can you share from your experience making Last Meal at Cafe Mori?
It's okay to make a story that is bittersweet and has problems the main character can't fix.
What can you tell us about your future projects?
Currently, I'm working on collaborative visual novel projects. One is Winning Hearts, an otome game about professional wrestling. Kristi is the writer.
Another is MaFAEa, a supernatural story about a villainous protagonist who tries to make deals with the fae in Ireland and meets the Dullahan. Coda and NiA are the character and background artist, respectively.
And the third is a Frankenstein adventure game that's set in an alternate timeline from the original book. I've never made an adventure game before and would love to, as they're very nostalgic to me.
In the further future, I'd really love to make The Butler Detective, an episodic detective game where you solve different cases with each episode.