Bossa Studios discusses I Am Bread, Steam Early Access, the VR trend, and more

Bossa Studios is nearly finished with its bread simulator, I Am Bread. Shacknews recently had a chance to talk to studio co-founder Henrique Olifiers and game designer Luke Williams about the bread game, while also discussing Steam Early Access development, the success of Surgeon Simulator 2013, the latter's jump to VR, and reminiscing about Meet the Medic.


Creating delicious bread is a practice in patience. The truly best bread is created with fresh ingredients that are mixed together carefully. Rushing the process can lead to bread coming out squishy and doughy. Anyone that wants good bread is advised to take their time, which is exactly what Bossa Studios has been doing with I Am Bread. The bread simulator has spent the past couple of months in the Steam Early Access oven, but the timer is nearly up and the bread is nearly ready to come out.

With I Am Bread expected to come out of its Early Access state soon, Shacknews recently visited with a pair of Bossa Studios developers to break some bread. Co-founder Henrique Olifiers and game designer Luke Williams spoke to Shacknews about the origins of I Am Bread, how to go about controlling a piece of bread, and some of the other bread types that hungry players can expect to see. Along the way, we go off on a few tangents regarding Bossa's previous success, Surgeon Simulator 2013, and a certain Valve-related piece of content.

Shacknews: As someone with little or no familiarity with I Am Bread, how do the controls work for a game like this? How do you control bread?

Luke Williams: Basically, you have a trigger assigned to each corner of the bread and then if you're holding down the trigger, it'll grip at those points and you can use the controls to then flop around the axes. So if you're climbing up a wall, you have to latch onto those corners and flop yourself up.

Henrique Olifiers: We have seen people doing some crazy stuff. We've seen people rolling the bread sideways very fast. We have seen them swinging with just one pivot. So people have found different ways to control it, but all the control is based on just getting the hang of the game.

Williams: When you first play it, it's kind of like Surgeon Simulator. You're kind of rubbish at it. But control just stays consistent and you slowly get better at them. You find there are methods of moving around, because just using the triggers and the control stick, you miss some combinations. It's physics-driven. People can develop their own kind of means of moving across the level.

Shacknews: This is the kind of game that has something of a wider appeal, because when you tell people that aren't necessarily into games about a game where you control bread, they get kind of curious. Did you expect the game to have something of a wider appeal?

Williams: We haven't really considered that. We wanted to have a charming game and kind of hoped people were on board with the idea.

Olifiers: We knew it would be more accessible than 'Surgeon,' because some people find 'Surgeon' a little bit… gory. We always used humor, but some people that would get a little bit squeamish. We knew about that. And we knew there was a curiosity, because people get interested in knowing how bread goes about its business.

Williams: There's something quite mesmerizing about watching it flop around. It's a curious character to look at. We're used to seeing a human move around in a video game, but when they kind of see this footage of this bread flopping around a kitchen, it's like, "How does that play?" It piqued interest, as well as the absurdity of it. But then, people also think we went in with "Oh, let's be as absurd as possible." We had a nice little clear goal for the player. We just hope people weren't too weirded out by it.

Olifiers: 'Bread,' just like 'Surgeon,' came out of one of our game jams. 'Surgeon' came out of a global game jam and 'Bread' came out of our internal one. We had just 48 hours to make a game, so we don't have those kinds of considerations when we think about it. We are trying to create core gameplay, controls, and hopefully, in 48 hours, we get something that is playable. If we start throwing those kinds of things into consideration, you get something very broad…

Williams: You start coming up with themes and all that stuff.

Olifiers: ...and you end up not finishing the game, because it's too complicated.

Williams: Basically, we have time to establish a gameplay mechanic and how it controls and if we can have fun with that, we can take it further. It's all about having fun with the game. It's about finding the fun and just playing with the game.

Shacknews: Is that part of the reason you brought the game to Steam Early Access? To help refine a game jam concept into more of a finished product?

Williams: There's a degree of that. We have a lot of community involvement, like when doing all the 'Surgeon' updates. I Am Bread is definitely that; just seeing what people like and what they want to see in the game. And if it was up to me, I'd just throw it in there. Like when we had people asking for more explorable space with no limitations, asking for free roam. We never really planned to have it in there, but with our update last week, we pushed in free roam, where you can just choose any bread you want and, to your heart's content, climb around the levels without any worry of dying or falling.

Olifiers: Open development is such a rewarding experience, not just because we know that what we are doing what people want and need (because they tell us), but it also feeds back into the team. And it infuses the team with the energy to keep on going. They see good reviews, Let's Plays, and people talking about the game, it re-energizes everybody who's working on the project. And that's important, because this is a game that has humor in it. You've got to keep loving it, as you do. It cannot be a game that you're dying to see done so you can move on to something else. It has to be something that you're always keen to keep on working on and that feedback from the players is helpful.

Williams: And it's always nice when you fulfill a community desire, like we had people wanting to play as a baguette. Rather than just throw a baguette in there, we wanted to make it a little bit different and unique. So for Baguette Mode, you're not trying to toast the baguette, you're just trying to trash the house. Because the baguette gotta be big and strong, so you can spin stuff around and smash everything. It was fun to see everyone go, "Yeah, finally! We got the baguette!" It's strange, but uniquely satisfying.

Shacknews: What's been the feature that the community has requested the most?

Olifiers: Free roam.

Williams: Yes, we saw free roam quite a bit. And just all sorts of numerous bread types. Everybody wants everything, like bagels, crackers, baguettes…

Shacknews: My girlfriend requested a croissant.

Williams: Exactly! So we're here thinking like, "How can we establish a game mode?" It just looks more for the player, rather than just going "Here's a model swap." The baguette, for example, only has two control points to move around with, so it automatically plays differently than the other breads.

Olifiers: Same with the cracker. The cracker doesn't get dirty, but it starts to break apart if it falls from high places.

Williams: So as you're going, you're just throwing this cracker around and it keeps getting cracks until eventually it will shatter.

Olifiers: The cracker is a new game mode, as well. It's hunting for cheese.

Williams: Flop around and slap yourself against the cheese and it'll stick to you.

Olifiers: That's kind of the mindset of the community. They go "We want a baguette." And we say, "Ok, you'll get a baguette, but we're also going to give you something you didn't ask for," which is the extra mode that you get with the baguette. So it's not just something that's a throwaway kind of gimmick, but we also extend the game. Everybody that bought that game is getting more than what they pay for and that's important, especially with Early Access, right? Because people have that concern of, "Is this game ready? Is it worth my money?" We want people to understand that we always give more than what they expected and I think they appreciate that.

Williams: And also, we're also clear on when we want to aim to get out of Early Access. It's not like we're in Early Access for the foreseeable future. We definitely want to hit that mid-March point. We want to have this finished game, all our levels, our Story Mode with a storyline that we want to finish, we'll have all our game modes and bread types. It'll feel like a complete game that has been influenced by the people that were in Early Access. We're kind of seeing where things go from there, really.

Shacknews: You're a studio that's issued a lot of regular updates to games like Surgeon Simulator. How often do you hope to add updates to I Am Bread after it's released?

Williams: As long as people are excited about it! For 'Surgeon,' we did way more than we expected. Up until a year and a half, we even had that big A&E Edition, which has got everything that we've done to that point with a little bit of polish on it, polish up the visuals and fix up a few weird balancing issues. And that was just because the Sony people wanted to play it.

Olifiers: We did about six or seven big updates for 'Surgeon,' with new achievements and Team Fortress 2…

Shacknews: YES! Valve gave you the assets to Meet the Medic! How did that come about?

Olifiers: I went to see them, I think it was during GDC…

Williams: Initially, the inspiration for the game was that we watched the Meet the Medic video. It has that slapstick, where his rib breaks, and that's the kind of look, that kind of visual thing we want to go for, where it's really gory, but it's not grotesque, and it worked pretty well. Our kind of visual style was taken from Team Fortress and it all went full circle when Valve were excited about it and said, "Yeah, we want you to re-create that Meet the Medic video."

Shacknews: Did you ever expect people that own Oculus Rift headsets to go, "I need Surgeon Simulator with this!"

Olifiers: We are VR enthusiasts! We have headsets dating back to '94. We backed the Oculus in the first week on Kickstarter. So we got one of the originals and we said, "Yeah, let's put it in 'Surgeon'!"

Williams: Obviously, we didn't get the full extent of it until there was actually a VR headset out there, because there's also a lot of enthusiasts who have the development kits. And they've got 'Surgeon,' one of the few kits that supports Oculus Rift at the moment. But it'll be very interesting to see the commercial releases arrive and… "Is Surgeon Simulator one of those games that I definitely need to get?"

Olifiers: It lends itself well, but it was never designed to work with VR. There's no walking around or other problems with VR, like strafing or walking backwards that made people sick… we had to make some adjustments, like the scale of the room was wrong… but yeah, it works well, because it's stationary. You're just moving your hands. But zero-G is amazing, though, because of all the objects coming your way.

Williams: We had to make it so you could put your two hands into the game, but it's so strange. You can feel your hand, but in the game, there's also the hand there. Watching people just pick up a hammer and start slashing the guy is just…**shrugs**

Shacknews: You close your eyes as you reach for the guy's stomach and then someone decides to put a plate of Jell-O in front of them.

All: **laughs**

I Am Bread is currently now on Steam Early Access with the final version expected to release in March.

However, this isn't the end of our conversation with Williams and Olifiers. Come back tomorrow as Shacknews and Bossa Studios talk about one of the developer's biggest challenges to date: Worlds Adrift.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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