Interviews & Opinion

"VR has the ability to immerse players more than any other medium": Jante Interactive discuss creating Tea is Served

"VR has the ability to immerse players more than any other medium": Jante Interactive discuss creating Tea is Served

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 Jante Interactive (Michelle Brøndum, Lina Kalcheva, Casey Lodge and Alastair McNamara), who submitted Tea Is Served to The Very Big Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2024 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?

Jante Interactive: Jante Interactive is an independent games company, specialising in narrative games and VR experiences for players who are looking for immersion and meaningful choices.

Our first game, Tea is Served, came about after a team discussion of what we felt was missing in the VR market, and what we’d like to play ourselves. We were inspired to create a game with distinct characters, engaging dialogue and high stakes in a rich storyworld, and believe that Tea is Served, fills a gap in the market that is highly dominated by shooters and puzzle games. We also thought cryptids would make for terrible tea party hosts.

The team behind Tea is Served is Michelle Brøndum, Producer and Founder of Jante Interactive, Lina Kalcheva, Art Director, Casey Blakeston Lodge, Game Designer, and Alastair McNamara, Audio Director.

Tell us about Tea Is Served that you pitched at the competition.

Tea is Served is a VR game for Meta Quest 2, developed with support from StoryFutures Academy and the National Film and Television School.

In the game, you find yourself at the annual tea party of the world’s most feared cryptids - and you are their entertainment. Nessie, the Chupacabra, the Mothman, the Wendigo, and one ordinary guy called Brian - have all come from across the globe to enjoy an afternoon of tea and mayhem with this year's host, Dracula. As they shout at you from all sides, you must do everything you can to meet their demands, because if you fail, you’re in the desert.

Tea is Served, came about after a team discussion of what we felt was missing in the VR market, and what we’d like to play ourselves
Jante Interactive

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of Tea Is Served that gamers may never have seen before?

The cryptid characters in Tea is Served are by far the most fun and unique aspect of the game. We loved designing characters with big and demanding personalities based on their specific lore and had a lot of fun with voice acting too, which really brought the characters to life. We are obviously big fans of cryptids ourselves, but we had no idea that there was a whole fanbase out there until we exhibited the game at EGX in 2023 and were met by so many lovely and excited cryptid fans, who knew and loved the characters in our game before they’d even played it.

Tea Is Served is a VR comedy-horror game. What made you choose to make this type of game, and what do you think you bring that may not have been seen before?

VR has the ability to immerse players more than any other medium by quite literally putting the player right in the middle of the action. With Tea is Served we were quite keen to create a game which took full advantage of this, and make something that was both funnier and scarier for being in the headset.

We thought the spatial aspect allowed brilliantly for physical comedy and funny dialogue coming from all around you, and the limited field of view and spatial audio could also be used to scare the player in equal measure.

We enjoyed playing with a feeling of claustrophobia, as you are literally trapped with no way out of this weird tea party, and have no idea if something sinister is happening right behind you unless you dare turn around. We then used funnier, more playful interactions with objects and dialogue to provide comic relief from this unnerving atmosphere.

Comedy and horror have always been a classic combination in other mediums, but we hadn’t seen it being done much in VR and were excited to see how far we could push it.

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop Tea Is Served for?

We developed Tea Is Served for Meta Quest 2. Out of the available VR platforms and hardware, Meta Quest 2 has many advantages. Price is currently the main barrier to entry when it comes to VR experiences, but the Meta Quest 2 exists on the cheaper side of this scale, so we could realistically reach a far greater pool of players by going with this headset.

The same logic also applies to the development process; by choosing the Meta Quest 2 we were able to work with capable hardware to make something special that didn’t strain our budget. Many other developers have also gone the same route, meaning there is a greater range of indie games available on the Quest store, which in turn makes the headset more appealing to consumers.

When it came to technical challenges and limitations of Meta Quest 2, we were able to scale the project accordingly, ensuring it ran optimally and displayed graphically what we wanted. Going forward we would potentially scale up to other platforms and the updated Meta Quest 3 would be the logical next step.

Reducing as many barriers to entry for developers and players is very important for the future of VR, and we as an industry should keep pushing against these barriers.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and fail, and find out which ideas are worth pursuing further.
Jante Interactive

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

The current landscape of the industry as a whole coming into 2024 has been rather tumultuous, which is especially visible with the amount of layoffs in larger game studios. When it comes to being an indie developer or studio, it’s always been a risky and uncertain road, but having a unique concept and design for your game that draws from your personal joys and passions, as well as keeping up to date with market trends, will help when trying to find a publisher and connecting with your audiences - not to mention keeping your motivation with your work.

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

Just make lots of little things; try things out; figure out what kind of stuff you enjoy making and what you’re good at. Don’t be afraid to experiment and fail, and find out which ideas are worth pursuing further. We find the most exciting indie games are the ones where the design, story and gameplay all contribute to the same theme, and are all working towards getting you to the same destination - just through different means. The simplicity of indie games means this could be done very elegantly, so even a game that just lasts half an hour can feel like a really immersive and complete experience.

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

Pitching as part of the Big Indie Pitch was really lovely; the panellists were all really engaged and asked us some great questions. The feedback we got was super helpful, and it was also really good practice as we head out in search of funding to take the game further.

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

The main thing we learned was to start small and leave lots of room for expansion. It’s really easy to get excited about a super elaborate idea, but you can easily lose the core of what makes it engaging along the way. Focusing on making one really strong concept, which is cohesive, consistent and fun to play, gives you a way stronger foundation for expanding creatively afterwards. We feel like we’re in that place currently with Tea is Served, and we can’t wait to continue working on it.

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

We hope to make Tea is Served into a full-length game, adding more levels of increasing difficulty. We hope to use the demo that we’ve made as the base for level one, and then expand with new locations and cryptids, as well as expand on the player story - why are you there? Who are you? Why did you choose such a perilous job?
We also think the game is an obvious candidate for DLC and would love to do seasonal expansions. After all, nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit like being eaten by the Krampus.

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.