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Spelling Out the Success of the Chef’s Shift

The Chef’s Shift by Panitia GameDev is a typing game where you’ll cook fun foods and serve them to customers, also there’s mention of the mafia. It was previously a game jam game, and it’s being expanded into a full project. On top of that, the Chef’s Shift is the latest recipient of the Toge Game Fund Initiative by Toge Productions.

We had the opportunity to sit with the Indonesia-based team and find out more about their upcoming release, and what it was like to go from strangers to teammates. Find out more below!


Tell us about The Chef’s Shift!

The Chef’s Shift is a chaotically fun typing game in a restaurant setting, where you’ll both cook & serve food to hungry customers, all done by TYPING.

It could not be more simple than that!


How did each of you get into game development?

Ah, we are a team of 6 consisting of 3 programmers and 3 artists. We met on GameJam+, so yes we are strangers to each other at first. But this occasion makes us a team. So because of that, the reason why we get into game development is different. 


Ali Jaya Meilio Lie (Project Manager, Lead Programmer, Lead Narrative): I’ve known the gamedev community since I was in junior high school (15 years ago). I started pretty early, I stumbled upon this community because I found a book on how to make a game with Flash in a bookstore.

Then it fades after high school, then I revisited the idea of making a game again 2 years ago. Firstly helping my friends completing their game and of course joining a game jam for fun!


Roni Setiyawan (Gameplay Programmer): It started long ago when I was still a teenager, always having thought to myself:

“Why didn’t this game have this feature?”

“It would be great if this feature was in the game”

And then I realized I could make those features myself and put them in the game by using mods. And then my mind got blown: “Why not create the whole game?”

Ever since then, I’ve taught myself how to program using free resources from the Internet. After a while, I got an opportunity to get into the industry by joining a game academy to train myself on how to make a video game. It’s all because I love creating. Especially something that I enjoy, and hopefully others enjoy it too.


Jonathan Franzeli (Programmer, Storywriter, Audio Engineer):

My gamedev journey started from my love of gaming since childhood. Since I was young, it was my dream to make a game that creates an everlasting experience and impression to people all over the world. To achieve that, I’ve been training my skills and applying it to private projects, internships, and my current gamedev team projects. Hopefully one day I can contribute to making a game that achieves my goal.


Muhammad Fajar Rafif (Lead Artist, UI Artist, Storywriter): I developed an interest in gaming at a young age and subscribed to a magazine that, at one point, featured a make-your-own-game tutorial. From there, it created a butterfly effect, so to speak.

As I realized how “simple” it was, of course, from that point on, I was dead set on making AAA title, which, obviously didn’t happen (yet!) – long story short, years come by and I decided to set my idealism aside & rekindled my interest in game development, and game jams sound like a good remedy: a hobby to do in my spare time while I’m not working my day job as a video editor.

It’s a nice thing to add to my portfolio!  But the goal has always been there, and my next quest would be: to release a commercial title.


Mega Putri Anjani (2D Environment Artist, Social Media Manager): I was studying Film Animation and since I love video games, I joined a Game Incubation programme called “Indigo Game Start-up Incubation” or IGSI on batch 2 as a solo beginner artist.

They matched me up with a game company and that’s how I got into game development. I left the company after 1 year and 7 months to continue my studies abroad, and learn more about Animation. I just got back to game development in 2022 with another random Match up from Game Jam Plus 2022. Fortunately, we were very lucky and won the competition, and got the funding from TGFI… So here we are now 6 passionate people pursuing our Dream.

Oh, my Instagram is @Yellow_hhn, just in case! Haha.


Elvira Ayuniar (2D Character & Food Artist): I’m a freelance illustrator that mostly does poster illustrations, fanart, or pet illustrations, but I do have an interest in game concept art and the game illustration industry in general.

Unfortunately, my skill is still way behind what is required to be in the Blizzard or Riot illustrator line. Then GameJam+ Indonesia was held, and one of my teammates in Panitia asked me if I wanted to participate. This jam was my first game development experience ever, despite being a gamer myself, and I feel so lucky to be part of this awesome team and be able to create an absolutely cool game that brought us this far.


Why a typing game?

Short answer: We want to cheat the game jam (laughs).

Long answer: Basically, the game jam is only 48 hours long. We want to start before the theme is revealed, so in theory we will have more time to develop it.

We kinda thought about what kind of mechanic that would fit any theme that will pop up later. We already know that we want to make a 2D game, but not a platformer or hack and slash type. Then, we brainstormed on simple mechanics that are interesting but easy to make in 48 hours.

We stumbled upon the typing game “Z-Type”; it’s kinda like space invaders where you need to type to shoot the enemy. Then, we started to make the typing mechanic without any theme yet.

After the theme is revealed, it’s fortunate that the theme is really broad, so we thought that any mechanic would fit the theme. We had two possible themes to make; “A Restaurant Management like Diner Dash”, or “Spaceship Simulation like Faster Than Light”.

Both have resonance with the typing game, which is hectic and need to focus on management and the ability to prioritize. We then decided on the restaurant management theme, because we feel it has strong appeal to everyone. We could create cute art – and who doesn’t love food!


The game started as a game jam game, yes? How did you decide to escalate development beyond the game jam prototype?

Yes, initially The Chef’s Shift starts as a submission to GameJam+. It’s an international game jam that has multiple sites. At first we competed in the Indonesia region, organized by Indie Games Group Indonesia. It’s a 48-hours game jam and we won “Best Pitch” for our game, and got a nomination on “Best Design”, “Best Visual”, and honourable mention on “Best Game”. 

We continued to the incubation phase for about 2.5 months. Before this, we hadn’t had plans to do the game for the long run, but this incubation process was a perfect excuse to continue our game. Our team also has full-time things to do; three of them work full-time, and the other three are still in university, so we need to pay attention to the scope of the game because we can’t work on it full-time.

After the incubation period came to an end, our game competed with another game in Asia Region. Surprisingly our game got the “Best Game” for Asia Region, and we got a free flight ticket to attend the Final Ceremony in Brazil!

And now, we continue again to the project acceleration phase. Here, we slow down the development process and focus our attention on getting a publisher and funding for this game. This part is especially crucial because until this stage, we haven’t received any kind of funding. And if we want to be serious about this game, getting the funding is fundamental for survival. 

We reached out to many publishers and grants, and also started to market our game so everyone knows about us! Now we have a grant from TGFI and our game is competing in GameJam+ Grand Final. We hope this game wins!

Congratulations on being recipients of TGFI! Tell us about your experience applying and how it felt to get it!

Thanks! We are pretty glad to be accepted in TGFI program! Now we have funding to go on for several months.

Toge Game Fund Initiative is a grant where Toge Productions will give $10,000 to indie game developers to create their vertical slice of the game. Toge wants to help small indie in Southeast Asian countries to kick start their game, and we are one of them.

Basically, they will ask for the pitch deck and optionally the demo of the game. Fortunately, we already have both. So we just needed to submit it.

We submitted our form in mid-February 2023, and got replied at the end of April 2023. It takes a pretty long time for them to reply because we submitted it when Toge Productions is still busy with their current game launch, Coffee Talk 2.

After they replied to us and said they are interested in our game, we were in a dilemma because there is another publisher that was also interested in our game. But after discussing it with the team, we decided to take the TGFI grant. Let’s hope this grant will continue a long-term partnership with Toge publishing our game! 


What should we expect from the final release of The Chef’s Shift?

The most exciting part for us in developing this game is we will show many foods from different cultures!

We plan to have 6 different restaurants, each representing a different food culture.

The first one is an Italian Restaurant, where you could try it on our demo on Steam

Next, we will have Chinese, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian Restaurants. The majority will be Asian foods, because we want to start from the most familiar to us.

And of course, there will be more fun (or annoying) customers to serve! We plan also to add a mini-game when preparing foods, and the player could upgrade the restaurant to make life easier. And finally, we will discover what will happen to Lorenzo and co.


Any final words?

Yes! Please try our demo and wishlist our game on Steam. It will help us to have a successful launch at a later date!

Follow Panatia GameDev on Twitter, and download The Chef’s Shift demo on Steam!

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