Nominee | Best Student Game

Gabriel Sarnikov is a game and level designer, and Florian Coudray is a game artist.

Each year at GDC, MFA students from the NYU Game Center interview the Independent Games Festival nominees, asking them three questions about their development process. In addition to this interview, you can read all the insightful interviews from 2017 here. These conversations, and much more, will happen when the Game Center returns to GDC in 2018. Learn more about the Game Center at GDC 2017.

Mary Kenney: What main concept, image or question began this project?

Gabriel Sarnikov: We drew from ideas in Buddhism, and the idea of minimalism. The game is a father with his daughter, and they’re trying to escape from a city. The movie Life is Beautiful was a big influence. We wanted to create a game where you protect your daughter from sights, sounds, and emotions, as much as physical danger. Your actions don’t always affect her physically, but she remembers what you do.

Kenney: How is the player able to receive that feedback, her memories?

Sarnikov: She writes in a diary, which she will re-read and reflect on. She writes down the choices you make and how they affect her. You can see how she remembered those events, and how she felt about them.

Kenney: Describe a specific experience with another game or media that influenced you as you worked on Lily, Colors of Santa Cruz.

Florian Coudray: I was inspired by comics, and the idea of a diary. Pixar movies, and shorts like Paperman, inspired me on the art side. We established the emotional space of the game in the mood and tone of the art. We had to do that for the characters, as well.

Kenney: Is there a specific tool or methodology that you feel was important in shaping a unique characteristic of your game?

Sarnikov: The diary as a way to track choices and outcomes was a unique tool. The camera doesn’t stay in a fixed position; we used a free camera, and had to place every single one.


Mary Kenney used to be a journalist, but decided she was better at writing games. Ask her about gamedev, tabletop and owning a dog in New York.