I found A Tavern for Tea so intriguing that I had to reach out to developer npckc to learn more about it. Our discussion is below and I hope you enjoy it!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
I’m a mostly solo dev who makes story games. Most of them are short visual novels that I make for game jams, but I’ve also made physical games as well as RPGs.
Your body of work is very diverse; you’ve got many PC games, in addition to a tabletop game, and you offer translation services. How did you end up producing A Tavern for Tea when you have so much else going on?
Since most of my games aren’t that long, I generally focus on one project at a time and finish one thing before moving on to the other. A TAVERN FOR TEA was made for a two-month-long game jam, so I was pretty much only working on that for two months!
The aesthetic of Tavern for Tea is very pleasant and comfortable. Is there any element in particular that you find important for creating a cozy tavern feeling?
I like visiting cafes and bars (or at least I did before COVID made it difficult to!) so I tried to incorporate elements I enjoyed from the places I’ve been to. I think the owner and the clientele are the two main factors in deciding the feel of a place – a place with a chatty owner is going to be very different from one with an owner who is more reticent. A shop with a rowdier crowd will also feel more like a bustling inn than a laidback tavern. On top of that, warm drinks automatically make any place feel cosier.
Speaking of which, the enigmatic tavernier who runs the shop strictly brews tea. Was there any specific reason why you felt the tavern was the right setting, rather than some kind of tea shop?
I think taverns are better places for conversing with strangers than tea shops – you don’t usually get counter seats at tea shops, so people visit them either alone or with people they already know. I think the draw of a tavern is being able to head in by yourself and strike up a conversation with the owner and other customers who already there, so even though the owner in A TAVERN FOR TEA serves tea, the place is still strictly a tavern.
By the same token, what was the inspiration to include the tea game mechanic in what is, effectively, a visual novel?
The direct inspiration was from a minigame in one of the Professor Layton games where you make tea for various people. The tea game mechanic is essentially the same as making choices in a visual novel, but I think that seeing the ingredients laid out and the little teapot graphic makes it more of a personal experience, like you’re really brewing the tea yourself.
Was there anything you thought to add to the game but did not, or was conversations over tea always the idea?t
The idea was always conversations over tea, but originally I had planned on explaining more of the customers’ backstories. I cut this out of the script though, since the point of the game was that the customers aren’t supposed to let their histories distract them while they were in the tavern, so I felt like the player shouldn’t have this knowledge either.
Finally, is there any other fictional tavern or inn you find inspiring?
Not quite a tavern, but the cosy feel of the cafe in Animal Crossing is the atmosphere I wanted to capture in A TAVERN FOR TEA. A moody space hidden away from the rest of the town, with a slightly mysterious owner who knows exactly how best to serve you your drink.
Here are some link for you to learn more about npckc!