Feb 20, 2023

Welcome to Cuppy’s:
How Nourish & Sow Developer Steven Virella Pursues Passion and Builds Skills Outside of Work

Image by pressfoto on Freepik

by Natalie Jones

For business owners, entrepreneurs, and just about everybody in between, these are certainly interesting, and at least to some degree, unpredictable times. Over the course of the last three years, we’ve witnessed a notable shift in workplace dynamics and expectations from both ends of the spectrum. 

Gone are the days of organizations demanding complete devotion and sacrifice with very little (or non-existent) interest in the satisfaction and wellness of their employees. Workers are increasingly prioritizing an overall sense of fulfillment and finding a connection between what they do professionally and personally. 

All signs indicate that this trend is here to stay. Employees will continue to change how they define their purpose within the workplace and seek more meaningful roles as well as pursuits outside of work. Many have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to the parts of their lives they are willing to give up or exchange to hold a position. Organizations that choose a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to employee engagement through building an internal community and supporting personal growth will reap the benefits of increased productivity, quality output, and loyalty – to name just a few. 

Here at Nourish & Sow, team members contribute at significantly high levels because they are encouraged to explore their interests outside of the office. During normal working hours, employees excel as thought leaders, project managers, and software developers who are committed to creating new systems and solutions for clients around the country. When they’re taking time away from enhancing processes and bridging technology gaps for the company’s partners, what they’re doing is just as extraordinary.

This month, we’re spotlighting one teammate in particular who has been up to an intriguing side project that has elevated his knowledge, skills, and abilities in his work at Nourish & Sow, while also attracting attention within the gaming community.

Cuppy’s: The Nostalgic, First Person, Horror Simulator

Steven Virella, who has been an asset to the Nourish & Sow technology team since the Fall of 2021, is credited with the creation and launch of Cuppy’s. The retro, 3-D simulator game takes place in an ice cream parlor, where players encounter strange events while working the closing shift. 

Since its release in November 2022 on the digital video game distribution website and marketplace for third-party publishers known as Steam, the game has garnered rave reviews from the platform’s community members and YouTube influencers, including the well-known LaurenZside. Below are highlights from our conversation with Steven about Cuppy’s and how the flexibility to pursue his passion outside of the office has positively impacted his work at Nourish & Sow. 

Q: What inspired the theme and plot of Cuppy’s?

Steven: I’ve always liked watching horror movies and stuff, but what really motivated me to do it was Markiplier. He has a series on YouTube called Three Scary Games. He plays three indie games and the more I started watching, I thought, I can do this

Q: LaurenZside’s YouTube video review of Cuppy’s received 1M views (and counting). Were you familiar with her channel prior to creating the game and what do you think about all the attention she has drawn to the game?

Steven: I honestly had no idea who she was. I checked Twitch and YouTube occasionally to see if anybody had played the game and I just saw her review randomly. It’s pretty cool to see all the comments and feedback on the game from her and other users across the internet.  

Q: What particular application did you use to create the game and how would you describe how some of those same skills relate to your work at Nourish & Sow? 

Steven: I used Unity to create the game, although there are other platforms. I was learning it before I started working at Nourish & Sow. There are absolutely crossovers. Things like making sure code works in certain stackable ways and enhancing the user experience. Also, making sure it’s fun to use the product or that it’s at least not too difficult. Those types of aspects also helped in my game… making sure that nothing was too cumbersome. 

At N&S, we want to make sure that most, if not all, of our systems allow someone to just get dropped in and can intuitively figure out what to do next, which was my vision for the game as well. We’re trying to save our clients as much money as possible while also trying to enhance their quality of life by making things as simple as possible. Recently, I worked on building an app for a client that streamlined a previously inefficient and cumbersome workflow. I believe the company is already enjoying the ease of its new workflow processes. 

Q: You’re self-motivated and mostly self-taught in development and coding. Would you agree that those traits help you to be well-rounded and more confident in your work at Nourish & Sow? 

Steven: I think no matter what you get into, whether it be tech or something else, there’s always going to be the people that are just so beyond the moon, ridiculously good at what they do and you kind of see those things and it’s intimidating. That’s what people automatically think –  that everyone in tech is better at something than them and it’s not the case. There are plenty of skills I have that make me an asset to any company that is looking for these skillsets. A lot of people get intimidated by the process because they think coding is too difficult. But personally, I was doing sales before this and then I decided one day that I wanted to do something more tangible and impactful. I wanted to learn how to build websites and that’s where I kind of started. So I just started the process and learned. 

Q: Are there plans for a Cuppy’s 2? 

Steven: Yes, but right now I’m just taking time to learn different things when it comes to game development, including different techniques, and how to make it better. I don’t know how to do 3-D modeling. If I can find someone who would possibly be looking to do some work in that, that would be great. I’m trying to just learn and then I want to try to make something similar. Not exactly like a direct sequel to Cuppy’s, but very similar to that process because it would be familiar. I’d like to have it ready for release this coming Halloween. 

Q: What types of things were you interested in growing up that led you to your interest in creating games and acquiring development skills that you use now? 

Steven: Years ago, I was always into video games and computers. Then I went through a phase when I didn’t play them at all. Then I migrated back to them. My oldest brother was a huge video game fan. When we were younger, he would do voices and stuff for the characters when they didn’t have voices. He always kept it entertaining for me. 

Q: I appreciate the fact that Cuppy’s is pretty nostalgic. It resembles some of the games from previous generations in its simplicity. Was that intentional? 

Steven: When I made Cuppy’s, I really just wanted it to have no instructions. There’s no big hoopla. The thing about games nowadays is that they’ve become not only NOT simple, but they have a sharp learning curve even when they try to make it easy to learn. The tutorial process is so boring to have to get through and you have to sludge your way through everything… press this button to do this and then swing it that way, and so on. But even worse, in my opinion, is when you load a game up and you’re blasted constantly with, “You got this product! Claim this now! You won 500 coins!” It’s like flashing lights and winning things, but you’re not actually doing anything. I wanted to create a game that would allow players to just hop on and play and I believe that’s refreshing. 

– – – – – – – – 

For more on Cuppy’s, visit the game’s page on Steam.