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Team Spotlight: Kei Yanagida, Unity Engineer

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Well met traveler,

I am the Forage Friends Unity Engineer at Pie Trap Studios!

Where It All Started

Growing up in a single-parent household, we didn't have money for costly hobbies. I think this led me to a very scrappy mindset. Meaning if I wanted something, I better make it myself. I created CBA (Card Based Adventure) using a deck of playing cards to emulate my expectations of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), having never read the source material. Same for Magic The Gathering, I created a game in High School on index cards. Ledula's Divide, as it's called now, is a free mod for TableTop Simulator. I believe this mindset will also help Forage Friends in a make-it-happen way. I firmly believe in being the change you want to see, and I think the core values of Pie Trap Studios and those that make up Pie Trap studios are here to see it through.

Working on Forage Friends means a lot to me. When I turned 30, my trajectory in life did not align with my passions or values. I was depressed. But I made a concerted effort to make a change. Through Habit RPG (Now Habitica), I started solidifying schedules and seeing just how powerful and freeing it can be. It allowed me to self-publish my first novel Corvidae: Suppression, and my short collection of scary stories, Accounts of Ephemeral Oddities.

Spending a set amount of time each day learning something new is both exciting and rewarding. It led me to be competent enough in Unity to solo my game-jam entry, Trash Tower, where I received 10th place, launching a tutorial demo for Not Spooky: But Good Enough for Me, to working on Forage Friends.

Joining the Forage Friends team!

What drew me to the project was the vested interest that Chris and Priscilla have in positively impacting the world. We aren't trying to force ads into the player's face. We aren't trying to nickel and dime players with content. We are trying to motivate players to become the best versions of themselves while hopefully in an entertaining way.

Coming from the Higher Education industry, the commitment and passion displayed by those working on Forage Friends outclass any assignment I have worked on before. Watching the project come together and the in-progress work of our outstanding artists and narrative writers has been captivating! Yes, we are working as an indie studio, but not one of us wants to settle for anything other than the best experience for the players, and we can't wait to show you what's in the works.

Interview Questions

Where are you from?

I was born in Tokyo, Japan, and lived there for seven years before moving to America. Japanese was my first language, and I struggled a lot in the American school system because I couldn't understand the directions from teachers. Nowadays, I essentially traded out Japanese for English and don't remember much!

What is the best part of working as a Unity Engineer?

Previously, I worked in a very limiting outdated Enterprise Resource Planning software. I often had to devise creative solutions to keep a semi-updated user experience. Though I enjoy solving complex issues, it's fantastic to program using modern methodologies natively in C# and save the problem-solving for expanding the user experience rather than just coming short of the status quo. Rapid prototyping has never been easier with Unity, and I can't stress how much better working in Visual Studio has been for me.

What other games have you worked on?

To see how fast I could get a vertical slice working, I entered one of ScoreSpace's game jams, creating Trash Tower in three days. I did the programming, U.I., character art, and voice acting for Deeto the raccoon, a heavily Danny Devito-inspired character. I still laugh when I hear my terrible impression.

I am also a horror fan, but I can't handle jump scares. Thus birthing, Not Spooky: But Good Enough for me. Devoid of all jump scares, it relies on ambiance and dialogue to provide the goose pimples.

What's your favorite part of working in the gaming industry?

There are all levels of complexity when it comes to games. Efficiency on the backend with easy-to-understand front-ends is the front-runner of concerns.

Many of the most progressive, trendsetting, and innovative user experiences and backend technology stem from the need to see a vision through.

Being able to design and implement ideas in new creative ways is a blast!

What was something you're really proud of when working on Forage Friends?

The backend systems are some of the best work I have ever done! Having the time to go back and clean up code has also been enlightening and, in the long run, has been saving me tons of time for when we rework changes.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am working on the first chapter of Not Spooky when I have a chance. When done for the day, I am currently reading Batman: Death of The Family, watching Chainsaw Man, and playing Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Gundam Evolution.

What is an interesting fact about you?

As a kid, we couldn't afford martial arts lessons. As an adult, I have been learning Shaolin Kung Fu since 2016. I received my black belt in April 2021.

Follow Kei at:

Personal Twitter: @kanashika

K.P. Hallow Twitter: @KP_Hallow

K.P. Hallow Website:

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