The significant testimony of Stefano Guglielmana, the author of Cookie Cutter, brought to life by the content creator Emalloru, in a captivating video that serves as a great source of inspiration.
“Everyone wants heaven, but no one wants to die.”
This is the title of the intriguing and instructive content on Emanuele Malloru’s YouTube channel, known as Emalloru, which we discuss today. In this video, the theme of the hard work hidden behind the creation of an independent video game is expressed in a precise and profound manner.
However, in particular, this video talks about art, passion, real commitment, and determination. What are you willing to do, but above all, what are you willing to lose, to achieve your goal or pursue a dream? Are you even willing to… die?
In this documentary filmed in Brighton, Emanuele impeccably and deeply narrates the story of Stefano Guglielmana and the birth of his splendid creation, Cookie Cutter, a complex, demanding, slightly insolent daughter who, with her punk soul, is bringing great satisfaction to her family, Subcult Joint LTD, but above all, to her daddy Stefano.
Let’s talk a bit about Emalloru
Who is Emalloru?
Emanuele is a young influencer who has quickly gained popularity. His YouTube channel boasts nearly 300,000 subscribers, quite a significant number considering he opened it in 2019.
His origins are a mix of the two great Italian islands, Sicily and Sardinia, and as a child, he had already developed a passion for videomaking. However, he faced several challenges due to economic problems.
Nevertheless, with the emotional support of his family, his charisma, and determination, he managed to engage the audience and quickly become beloved. Initially through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and later focusing more on his YouTube channel. There, through the docu-reality format, he combines his life experiences with those of the characters he talks about.
When Emanuele introduces a character in his video, he does it with passion and, above all, empathy, which is what makes his content so special.
Thanks to Emalloru, and, let’s admit it, also thanks to our fabulous interview, we had the opportunity to get to know Stefano Guglielmana better, another crucial witness who has told us very well what it means to develop a video game, especially when starting from scratch and without a budget.
Stefano Guglielmana Tells Us How a Video Game Is Born
Stefano shares with us the birth of Cookie Cutter, at times with a bit of suffering but also with strong pride. It’s as if he has just emerged, not entirely unscathed, from a tornado, and maybe that’s exactly what happened. A tornado that swept him away, turned everything upside down, but undoubtedly made him stronger because he wasn’t afraid to face it, wasn’t afraid to take risks.
Stefano Guglielmana has a strong punk soul; he’s a rebel, but when there’s work to be done, he doesn’t shy away. He’s creative, unconventional, a bit cheeky, but in an absolutely positive sense.
Thanks to his strong personality, he landed a job at Unity in Brighton through a fun and crazy presentation video, where, with a song in his heart and a guitar in hand, he rightfully secured his place.
This was a starting point to concretely dive into his project. As a skilled comic artist and animator, Stefano brought iconic characters and animations to life, which needed a real team to flourish in the magnificent way we can see today in Cookie Cutter.
More than six years have passed since then, the same amount of time it took Tom Ostafin to create another masterpiece, Papetura, and before securing funding to set up the Subcult Joint LTD team with which he completed the adventure, there were truly many challenges, including a lack of time and rest—something that happened even afterward and, as we well know, is never in short supply—and abandonments along the way.
I can only imagine how challenging it must be to collaborate with someone on such an ambitious project for two years, for example, and then be left alone. It’s hard to pick oneself up, have the courage and strength to continue, despite everything.
But Stefano did it, and his commitment was particularly evident in steering the project, where he proved himself on both the practical and emotional fronts. It’s quite significant when he says that it’s so easy, when heading a project, to make the experience miserable for others, and thanks to his experience in large entities like Unity, he understands that someone in a leadership position should never put their ego ahead of the people they are collaborating with.
It seems easier said than done.
The Punk Soul of the Indie World
Personally, I believe what Stefano expressed in this video captures the true essence of the independent world, not only in games, although it is particularly evident in this sector at the moment.
“This is an era where the big guys start to do stupid things because they want a safe investment and make a cookie-cutter game. Instead, indies come out with absurd gems. Indies are becoming the real rockstars of the gaming world.”
Truer words were never spoken, bro.
The indie landscape allows developers to fully express their creativity, their unconventional nature, utilizing other means when money isn’t readily available, such as a compelling storyline, but above all, an original and personal artistic style.
Cookie Cutter embodies all of this. The title itself clearly and provocatively tells us what the intent of these fierce and young developers is: to break the mold. To step out of the assembly line and thrust their roar into the world, like at a concert, when a true frontman drives the crowd wild with energy and passion.
Punk, rock, techno, with the addition of subtle but crucial kawaii notes, paying homage to Japanese style yet surpassing it, showcasing a blend of strong inspirations and diverse cultures that give rise to vibrant works of life and power, just like Cookie Cutter.
This is one of the titles with which Emalloru punctuated his video, and I find it emblematic once again to delve into one of the most important themes I like to address when talking about video games, namely that of health and, in particular, mental health.
During the development period of Cookie Cutter, when the money finally arrived but barely covered the team’s expenses, Stefano, in addition to keeping his job, had to coordinate fourteen people from different parts of the world, with different time zones, leading him to work up to fifteen hours a day.
Working fifteen hours a day on a video game is no joke. Sitting in front of a screen, giving your all in terms of creativity and emotion, leads to a high level of stress. As much as one may love their creation like a child, one should never reach burnout, as Wlad Marhulets teaches us in his essential essay “GAMEDEV: 10 Steps to Making Your First Game Successful.”
Unfortunately, Stefano pushed himself to the limit, experiencing anxiety and depression. Fortunately, however, he didn’t give up and managed to be strong enough to take care of himself, eventually resorting to the use of psychotropic drugs.
The level of sacrifice demanded by art is very high, but art is just that, and it is life and death and everything.
But above all, it is love, a message that is perfectly evident in Cookie Cutter and that Stefano highlighted with these beautiful words when we asked him if the game can be considered inclusive:
“Love is always inclusive. We might seem like a group of weirdos, but we love love and operate on the principle of love and inclusion. The love we put into our work, the love for the industry and the media, the love for our passions, and the love for the mother art. Love is the engine that drives our video game, a product for anyone who wants it, to have fun and experiment. No barriers, no limits.”
No limits in every sense, and this is exactly what I, at least, want to see in a video game, where we can step out of our reality and dream.
No limits except physical ones, though.
I will never stop thanking for the existence of artists of such caliber who fill our lives with something that is sometimes more important than food, and thanks also to those who, like Emalloru, talk about them and give them the credit they deserve.
That’s all for today, but I want to conclude with: give us emotions, make us dream, but never forget to take care of yourselves because what is in your minds and souls must see the light, and only by preserving your body and mind can you achieve that.