Interview with Andrew Lum, Fugazo

By Erin Bell |

Gamezebo recently had a chat with Andrew Lum, CEO of Fugazo, to learn more about the studio that made Fashion Fits, Cooking Academy, Fishco and Kitchen Brigade.

Tell us about yourself and what you do at Fugazo.

My official title is CEO but if you asked me three weeks ago I would have told you that what mostly did was game design. I was the game designer for our first eight games: Fashion Fits, Cooking Academy, World Mosaics, Fishco, Cooking Academy 2, Flower Paradise, World Mosaics 2, and Kitchen Brigade.

However, as we’ve grown my management responsibilities have grown so I’m now acting as a Producer on all our titles at Fugazo. I’m still involved with all our games but day to day design work is now being handled by our two game designers.

Give us a brief history of your studio.

We actually just celebrated our two-year anniversary. In 2007, three of us started the company: Andrew Lum (myself), Jonah Cohen, and Matt Hayhurst.  Matt and I worked out of my living room while Jonah worked at coffee shops. He refused to work in my cramped living room. I don’t really blame him either. In November we launched our first game Fashion Fits. We were fortunate that the game sold pretty well. When our first checks came in January 2008 I was finally able to start drawing a salary.

In April 2008, we launched Cooking Academy, which was a surprise hit for us! The game did well enough that we were able to move out of my living room and in July 2008 we moved into our own offices. Since then we’ve been slowing expanding and tackling larger and more complex titles. Currently we have 10 employees and we’re working on two games at once.

Where does the name Fugazo come from?

The name Fugazo is actually three words smashed together: Fun Game Zone. The idea was that our studio would be a zone where our sole objective was to build fun games. So far I think we’re on the right track.

Your last couple of games (Cooking Academy 2 and most recently Kitchen Brigade) have focused on food. Why the culinary themes?

I’m a big fan of Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo Game Designer) and was influenced by his design by hobby method he has used over his last few games. Nintendogs came about as a result of Miyamoto getting a puppy. And Wii Fit was born of Miyamoto watching his weight. For myself, over the last two years I’ve had an increasing interest in cooking and it’s been reflected in Cooking Academy and Kitchen Brigade. Fishco, was another hobby game. I started a Freshwater Tank at home a few months before we started development on Fishco.

Have you tried to make any of the dishes from your games in real-life? If so, how did they turn out?

Most definitely! In fact I just made Coconut Macaroons and Crème Brulee last weekend.

Coconut Macaroons are fairly simple to make, the toughest part is separating the egg whites from the yolk. I recommend that people wash their eggs before doing this. In Cooking Academy we didn’t add chocolate to the Coconut Macaroons because we couldn’t come up with a compelling mini-game but in reality chocolate is a must for Coconut Macaroons. One of Crème Brulee’s primary ingredients is egg yolks so it was a no brainer to make these at the same time as the Coconut Macaroons. Also, it’s a lot of fun to use a Kitchen Torch to caramelize the sugar on top.

According to my guests, the Coconut Macaroons and Crème Brulee were a huge success! In fact, I don’t order Crème Brulee at restaurants anymore as I’ve found that it’s quite easy to match restaurant quality Crème Brulee at home.

Are there any funny or interesting stories about Kitchen Brigade’s development that you can share?

For a long time there were no customers in Kitchen Brigade. Instead the player’s goal was to serve tables. A table would order three or four meals and the goal would be to finish all meals at the same time so none of the dishes were cold. Once all the dishes were done, the player would click a bell and a waiter would come and pick up all the dishes. We found that while some people loved the unique concept, others really had a hard time multi-tasking so many items at once and got frustrated. 

What games are you playing and enjoying right now? (Other than your own, of course!)

I just recently finished Princess Isabella and I have to say that I really loved it. In fact, that game convinced me to start development on a hidden object adventure game. On WiiWare, my wife and I recently started playing Dr. Mario and Tetris again which are great classics.

Can you give us any hints about Fugazo’s upcoming games?

Sure! Over the last year we’ve been hard at work at a WiiWare title called Frobot. It’s not really a casual game but we wanted to make a traditional core game for our first WiiWare title. Also, after two years of being stubborn we’re finally making a hidden object adventure game. It’s a little too early to say any more but we’ll let you know when we’re ready to make an announcement!

Any last words for your fans?

Thanks for all your support! We appreciate the feedback you give us on each title. Also special thanks to Lynn Oliver and Don Keizer for being very vocal in your support of us!

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