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Clam Man 2: Headliner’s Creator On Stand-Up Comedy & Standing Out

Clam Man 2: Headliner, is an upcoming narrative RPG where a clam man quits his job to become a standup comedian. That’s basically it, but also it’s basically so much more.

From starting out as a joke, to becoming a fully fleshed-out world to explore, Clam Man is out to steal your heart, and make you laugh while it happens. We had the opportunity to speak with Canada- based solo developer Martin Hanses, on his design philosophy, and Clam Man’s funny origins. 

Who are you?

Hello there! My name’s Martin Hanses, and I’m a writer, narrative designer, and game developer! I’m originally Finnish, but moved to Canada a few years ago and am currently based in Vancouver.

Huge fan of games in general, even bigger fan of making games, and other than that I enjoy playing the banjo, playing tabletop RPGs, and making/solving puzzles and crosswords. Big nerd, and I’m currently working on Clam Man 2: Headliner, a narrative RPG where you quit your job because you hate it.

Tell us a bit about the titular Clam Man.

The original Clam Man was a joke – my brother was making a platforming game and asked me to draw some sprites for him, and I sent him back a picture of a clam in an astronaut suit. We ended up really liking that drawing, so a while later we worked together to make Clam Man, which is a comedy point-and-click adventure game. 

In Clam 1, he plays the role of the straight man in a funny world – he’s an everyman who can never really catch a break, and for some reason, I always imagined his voice to sound like Jason Bateman. Clam 2 is a different story, and since it’s an RPG, it’s really up to the player to define who he is in that game!

(the original, low-quality Clam Man)


What can players expect in Clam Man 2?

The short answer is jokes, choices, and spectacular failures. That might just sound like life in general, though, so I’ll try to be more specific.

Firstly, a weirdly huge hand-drawn world full of strange characters to explore and interact with! The game takes place in Snacky Bay, an underwater city (SpongeBob rules!) and your only real main quest at the beginning is to escape your boring office job as a mayonnaise salesman. You end up becoming a stand-up comedian, and everything you do in the game results in gaining a joke, which you can then tell on stage during live shows!

Mechanically, the game is all about choices – even more so since the game has an RPG stat system, which lets you customize your own personal clam man. Every interaction and every quest can change wildly depending on what kind of character you’re playing; tons of dialogue and quest options only appear if you have high (or low) enough stats, and there are also dice rolls that decide the outcome of a conversation or a quest, to make sure the game is extra replayable! The game isn’t nearly done yet, but is already the length of two full-size novels. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be reading all of it – due to how many variations there are in each conversation, you’ll probably end up seeing about 25% of everything in the game on a single playthrough. 

Finally, one thing I’m having a great time with is making sure that failure never locks you out of content – in fact, there are a bunch of quests you can only get if you fail a dice roll! One of my favourites is a quest you can get between in-game days, if you attempt to dream: if you roll a natural 1 (A critical failure), you end up having a nightmare that urges you to test your mettle in mortal combat against a creature called the dream snail. An incredibly small percentage of players will ever get that quest, but I think that’s what’s so appealing to me – if even one person plays Clam 2 twice and ends up being shocked at the amount of new things they saw in the second playthrough, I’ll be very happy.


The game features no combat (save for when you slap a guy in the face), and bombing a joke leads to other people perceiving you differently. Where did the ideas for these design decisions come from?

The design philosophy behind the first Clam Man was to make a point-and-click without any tedious moon logic puzzles, so it was all about narrative; if I were to remake it today, I’d probably add in a bunch of new ones! 

In a very similar way, the design philosophy behind Clam 2 was to make an RPG where choices and roleplaying matters, but without any combat whatsoever! It mostly doesn’t make much sense with the style of art and writing in my games, but it’s also a really fun exercise in designing an RPG system where every stat correlates to a social skill, rather than a martial one.

A lot of RPGs tend to have only one or two stats that affect social encounters, with the other ones being more combat-focused, so I think there’s plenty of room for an RPG that does things a little differently, and a little weirder. I think the clear sign of this being possible was Disco Elysium coming out, which sort of showed that there’s an audience for people that don’t really care all that much about combat in role-playing games!


How long has Clam Man 2 been in development so far, and with how big of a team?

I started work on Clam 2 back in January 2019, with Open Mic coming out a few months later – after that, I started pitching the game to publishers in order to fund the full development. There was certainly some interest, but the timing was never right and I kept working on other projects as a writer or freelancer for a while.

I eventually ended up joining Eggnut, writing and directing Tails: The Backbone Preludes, which took almost two years to make. During that time I barely had time to work on Clam 2, so saying it’s been in development since 2019 is only technically true!

Once Tails was done, I got introduced to Fig, who were interested in funding the development of the game, and since early 2023 the game’s been back in full-time development!

I’m solo developing Clam 2, which is both really fun and really challenging, but I luckily have been able to work with some amazing people that have helped elevating the game – voice actors, composers, and UI artists have all lent their touch to the project to make it so much better.


The art style has a certain style of warmth to it; it feels very friendly, but also very nostalgic. What were your inspirations for it?

Thank you! This is pretty much just how I have drawn things for the longest time, so I suppose it’s a very childish style that’s become very polished over the years. There’s definitely influences, though – “scott c” (Scott Campbell) is one of my favourite artists of all time, and I think his influence is very obvious once you start seeing it. Graham Annable is another, and I bet there’s a hundred other cartoon artists that over time have shaped how I draw things.

Additionally, the map and world design is heavily inspired by CRPGs of the 90s and early 00s – especially since the game is in an isometric perspective. I regularly play CRPGs for map design inspiration, and I particularly like the circular and asymmetrical worlds of Planescape: Torment. Fingers crossed people will enjoy the worlds they get to explore in Clam 2!


Any final words?

If any of this sounded interesting, the free prologue to Clam Man 2 is out on Steam right now, with an updated demo coming later this year to show the updates and changes that’ll be in the final game! I’m always checking reviews for feedback, and doing my best to polish and implement everything to make sure Clam 2 ends up being as good and weird as I want it to be.

Finally, thanks so much for reaching out to me! This is a weird game and most people don’t even know how to start unpacking it, so getting to talk about it with you has been great!

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