Interviews & Opinion

"We're driven by the love for games that make you feel nice and cozy": Housefolk discuss creating endearing and lighthearted games

"We're driven by the love for games that make you feel nice and cozy": Housefolk discuss creating endearing and lighthearted games

The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of Pocket Gamer and PC Games Insider. It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-styled pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies five minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers and industry pundits. The judges then pick three winners and everybody gets valuable feedback.

The indie view

The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it to events all across the world. To give you an idea of what the event is like, who attends the events and the games on show, we've sat down with several past Big Indie Pitch contestants to offer their views.

Today, we're speaking to Nick Sukharichev from Housefolk, who submitted MonsterCare to The Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2023 and walked away as the runner-up.

All the pitching madness

Sophia Aubrey Drake: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?

Nick Sukharichev: Hey there. We're Housefolk, a small indie studio hailing from Helsinki. It's just two of us for now, myself and Tania, and we've been around in games for the better part of the decade. We're driven by the love for games that make you feel nice and cosy. Like a warm cup of cocoa in game form. Currently, we're in a very early stage in our journey, but we have a whole bunch of ideas that we feel super excited about, so keep an eye out.

Tell us about MonsterCare that you pitched at the competition.

MonsterCare is a management-simulation game, where you run a wellness resort for adorable but stressed-out monsters. Picture Two Point Hospital meets Spirited Away. You construct and manage your resort, offering monsters a break from their chaotic lives while turning a profit to grow and expand. Building and supporting the resort is about balance, and we want to tell a story that might help players find a balance of their own.

Our plan is to fill MonsterCare with empathy, personalization, and nuanced management decisions
Nick Sukharichev

What made you choose to make this type of game, and what do you think you bring that may not have been seen before?

One of MonsterCare's key features is the focus on 'Dimensions of Wellness'. A holistic well-being theory that fits very well in the management gameplay context. You won't be able to just blindly place a bunch of one-size-fits-all amenities; you have to cater to individual monster needs. For instance, one monster might be super low on physical wellness, while another might need emotional support, so you either set them up for the gym or the meditation classes. Also, we want to get the actual hotel management experience down to a fairly deep level, it's going to be like running a real business, but with fur and fangs.

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop MonsterCare for?

We always felt that the management-sim genre could use more endearing and lighthearted games. Our plan is to fill MonsterCare with empathy, personalization, and nuanced management decisions. We want players to form a genuine attachment to their monster guests, to care about them, which is an angle that we feel hasn’t been deeply explored in management sims.

Looking at the studio a little more now. How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

Our platform choices were driven by our target audience. We know cosy game fans are very well represented on the Switch, and management-style games favour PC, so we're going for those platforms initially, but our ultimate lofty goal is to get the game on all consoles.

Are there any tips and advice you would give to independent developers out there who are just starting out?

Ask us in a year. We're just starting out with the actual business side of things, like searching for funding, setting up a company, and all the fun stuff, which is probably the hardest part of it for many a developer, and like many, we've been bootstrapping for the longest time, but the "missing money problem" is really starting to become apparent. But hey, that's indie life, and we've heard it gets better.

How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

Start very small, like tiny, and finish it. I know you want to create that deckbuilding rougelite MMO with time travel mechanics, and you will. But only after several smaller projects, where you build your skill and understanding of the process. And keep that passion, it's a must in this industry.

Start very small, like tiny, and finish it
Nick Sukharichev

What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?

It was absolutely nerve-wracking but also exhilarating. It really is like speed dating, and we learned a lot in a short span of time. And you're pitching to industry experts, so it feels like every comment, every glance, teaches you something. We got a bunch of fantastic connections, and it was really lovely to get to know our fellow pitchers, there was some great camaraderie in the face of the challenge.

What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?

A lot of hopes in the short term, mainly to get the game off the ground, and find someone who would be interested in partnering with us to do so. As for future projects, we aren’t thinking so far ahead, but we might be telling stories in the monster world for some time. 

Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you, or even our new Digital pitches.

All our upcoming pitches including how to enter can be found over on our upcoming events page on

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Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.