Archive for July, 2009

31
Jul
09

Trine

trine_screenshot_2009_03_wizard_liftTrine

31
Jul
09

13 questions: Eskil Steenberg

GMZzz: Some of your blog posts refer to your previous work job. I’m just curious: where did you work before going independent?
Eskil Steenberg: I have worked mostly in research and development around computer graphics.
GMZzz: How did you end up making the decision of going at it alone?
Eskil Steenberg: I didn’t have much of a choice. I had no one to help me and no funding so i had to do it all by my self.
GMZzz: I keep asking this because I know a lot of talented people out there are scared of leaving the comfort of a job and start something on their own. Valuable people, with valuable ideas that might never get realized because, let’s face it, the risk is enormous. Given your experience so far, would you recommend this to anyone?
Eskil Steenberg: I would recommend it to everyone, I think people can do amazing things if they just set their minds to it. If you just manage to take the decision to really go for it you have come along way.
GMZzz: How do you manage to fund your work? Do you also work on something else besides LOVE, something that can generate they funds you need?
Eskil Steenberg: I don’t really, I have done some short term work, and I’m always looking for consultancy  work, but the workload of Love have kept me dirt poor.
GMZzz: Most of the independent developers focus on small applications or games, they do Flash based games or try to get rich on the Apple Store. You are developing an MMO and you do that all alone. Why on Earth would you want to tackle a genre that most development studios seem to fail at? (how crazy are you?)
Eskil Steenberg: Well first of all i would say that Love is not comparable to most of the games you would call MMOs. It is very different, in some ways smaller, but in many ways harder. It is a fairly crazy thing to do, but the most important thing is that you can keep yourself motivated, and making something you really enjoy making is more important then doing what is easy.
GMZzz: LOVE has gotten a lot of press love lately, and surely the people “in the know” are really excited about it; the buzz is there but this is still an indie MMO title. How do you think it will fare up against the bigger boys? Do you think you’re going to compete against titles like WoW or you want to target a different (smaller) market?
Eskil Steenberg: I think it will be very much a different thing from “the big boys”. Other then that i don’t really dare hope any one will like it.
GMZzz: How did the concept for Love change over time?
Eskil Steenberg: A lot of things has changed, but i would say that in many ways it is very similar. All major tech has been the same and so has the basic gameplay. the parts that has been most trial and error is the procedural content generation.
GMZzz: Let’s say you woke up one morning and you are the CEO of Blizzard. After the regular dip in your private Olympic-sized pool full of money, you get to work using your nifty personal teleporting device. Your meeting for the day concerns the next Blizzard project and you have to decide what the studio will work on next. What would you like to focus on?
Eskil Steenberg: First of all, I would probably not do what ever i wanted, sure they have huge resources, but if you work for a company like blizzard, you need to think a lot about who you are and what is right for the company you are working for, even if you are the CEO. Similarly Love is very much a game designed to fit what i can do and the resources and tech that i have like my tools. I can say this, I do have list of things i want to do in the future. There are some new tools I would like to develop and i think i have solved how to do an RTS on console. What project i will end up doing will very much depend on where i am and what resources and opportunities I will have then.
GMZzz: Unlike many other independent games studios, you are just one guy. You work on everything from tools to game design. Did you ever consider getting somebody else on board?
Eskil Steenberg: Well, again i cant afford to do it, and also the entire thing is by now so complex it is going to require substantial effort until someone else can come in and help.
GMZzz: Does this mean that, after LOVE, you might consider starting a development studio with more than one employee?
Eskil Steenberg: I hope so.
GMZzz: You’ve developed some extraordinarily versatile tools, that encompass your philosophy about how the production workflow of a game should look like. Do you plan on going commercial with these tools as well?
Eskil Steenberg: Right now all my tools are available for download on my site. In the future I may make some new tools that could become commercial.
GMZzz: A few very interesting things have happened this past year. For example, the indie scene has seen a creative (and, sometimes, commercial) boom and we’re now seeing the re-emergence of the Adventure genre, long thought dead. Both of these events were unthinkable a couple of years ago. Do you think that the games industry/market is finally starting to mature? How would you like it to evolve next?
Eskil Steenberg: I think it is expanding, “maturing” sounds as if it will stop evolving, in some ways it already have, but i hope we will see some new developments that will shake things up a bit. I’m hoping the procedural tech in love can be a part of that.
GMZzz: We’re always on the look-out for interesting projects that relate to the games industry. Are there any such projects that have piqued your interest?
Eskil Steenberg: No, right now there are basically no games that push the envelope. Right now we are moving towards games with more scripted sequences, set peaces, cut scenes, and recorded dialog. In general more “production values” and less dynamic content.
love

LOVE

Eskil Steenberg is a one man army. Not only does he work on one of the most promising MMO’s out there (LOVE), but he’s crazy enough to do it all alone.

One of the most fascinating figures in the games industry, Eskil is on a mission to change the way we look at (and work on) games. We could’t miss the chance to ask him a few questions!

We strongly suggest you take a peek at his work (be it tools, game projects or just his day to day ramblings) and then enjoy the interview.

GMZzz: Some of your blog posts refer to your previous work job. I’m just curious: where did you work before going independent?

Eskil Steenberg: I have worked mostly in research and development around computer graphics.

GMZzz: How did you end up making the decision of going at it alone?

Eskil Steenberg: I didn’t have much of a choice. I had no one to help me and no funding so i had to do it all by myself.

GMZzz: I keep asking this because I know a lot of talented people out there are scared of leaving the comfort of a job and start something on their own. Valuable people, with valuable ideas that might never get realized because, let’s face it, the risk is enormous. Given your experience so far, would you recommend this to anyone?

Eskil Steenberg: I would recommend it to everyone; I think people can do amazing things if they just set their minds to it. If you just manage to take the decision to really go for it you have come a long way.

GMZzz: How do you manage to fund your work? Do you also work on something else besides LOVE, something that can generate the funds you need?

Eskil Steenberg: I don’t really, I have done some short term work, and I’m always looking for consultancy work, but the workload of Love has kept me dirt poor.

GMZzz: Most of the independent developers focus on small applications or games, they do Flash based games or try to get rich on the Apple Store. You are developing an MMO and you do that all alone. Why on Earth would you want to tackle a genre that most development studios seem to fail at? (how crazy are you?)

Eskil Steenberg:  Well first of all i would say that Love is not comparable to most of the games you would call MMOs. It is very different, in some ways smaller, but in many ways harder. It is a fairly crazy thing to do, but the most important thing is that you can keep yourself motivated, and making something you really enjoy making is more important than doing what is easy.

GMZzz: LOVE has gotten a lot of press love lately, and surely the people “in the know” are really excited about it; the buzz is there but this is still an indie MMO title. How do you think it will fare up against the bigger boys? Do you think you’re going to compete against titles like WoW or you want to target a different (smaller) market?

Eskil Steenberg: I think it will be very much a different thing from “the big boys”. Other then that i don’t really dare hope any one will like it.

GMZzz: How did the concept for Love change over time?

Eskil Steenberg: A lot of things has changed, but i would say that in many ways it is very similar. All major tech has been the same and so has the basic gameplay. the parts that has been most trial and error is the procedural content generation.

GMZzz: Let’s say you woke up one morning and you are the CEO of Blizzard. After the regular dip in your private Olympic-sized pool full of money, you get to work using your nifty personal teleporting device. Your meeting for the day concerns the next Blizzard project and you have to decide what the studio will work on next. What would you like to focus on?

Eskil Steenberg: First of all, I would probably not do whatever I wanted, sure they have huge resources, but if you work for a company like blizzard, you need to think a lot about who you are and what is right for the company you are working for, even if you are the CEO. Similarly Love is very much a game designed to fit what i can do and the resources and tech that I have like my tools. I can say this, I do have list of things i want to do in the future. There are some new tools I would like to develop and i think i have solved how to do an RTS on console. What project I will end up doing will very much depend on where i am and what resources and opportunities I will have then.

GMZzz: Unlike many other independent games studios, you are just one guy. You work on everything from tools to game design. Did you ever consider getting somebody else on board?

Eskil Steenberg: Well, again I can’t afford to do it, and also the entire thing is by now so complex it is going to require substantial effort until someone else can come in and help.

GMZzz: Does this mean that, after LOVE, you might consider starting a development studio with more than one employee?

Eskil Steenberg: I hope so.

GMZzz: You’ve developed some extraordinarily versatile tools, that encompass your philosophy about how the production workflow of a game should look like. Do you plan on going commercial with these tools as well?

Eskil Steenberg: Right now all my tools are available for download on my site. In the future I may make some new tools that could become commercial.

GMZzz: A few very interesting things have happened this past year. For example, the indie scene has seen a creative (and, sometimes, commercial) boom and we’re now seeing the re-emergence of the Adventure genre, long thought dead. Both of these events were unthinkable a couple of years ago. Do you think that the games industry/market is finally starting to mature? How would you like it to evolve next?

Eskil Steenberg: I think it is expanding, “maturing” sounds as if it will stop evolving, in some ways it already have, but i hope we will see some new developments that will shake things up a bit. I’m hoping the procedural tech in love can be a part of that.

GMZzz: We’re always on the look-out for interesting projects that relate to the games industry. Are there any such projects that have piqued your interest?

Eskil Steenberg: No, right now there are basically no games that push the envelope. Right now we are moving towards games with more scripted sequences, set pieces, cut scenes, and recorded dialog. In general, more “production values” and less dynamic content.

30
Jul
09

The Beggar

thebeggarThe  Beggar

29
Jul
09

Fig. 8

Fig. 8

“… a game where you control a bicycle through technical diagram suburbia.” – now that’s awesome!

29
Jul
09

Hammerfight

Hammerfight

29
Jul
09

Boss Badie showreel

Lunnye Devitsy / Tormishire / Satan Sam

Check the Boss Baddie website to try / buy these games.

28
Jul
09

Space Invaders Infinity Gene

spaceinvadersiphoneSpace Invaders Inifity Gene (iPhone)

28
Jul
09

6 questions: Alex Austin

No Quarter

No Quarter

Cryptic Sea is a fictitious name for a person or persons who develop computer games”. That’s what the About page of their site says 🙂 We say that Cryptic Sea is one of the most promising indie teams in the game industry. You’ve surely heard of Gish, Somnia or No Quarter. Well, the guys at Cryptic Sea are responsible for these games.

Alex Austin was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. We asked him about Cryptic Sea, about their games and their future plans.

GMZzz: Each of your games are different as genre, gameplay and visual style. Do you guys like to experiment or you just like to have a wide range of game genres?

Alex Austin: I like to experiment with different ideas, it makes you think about things from other perspectives. The best designers (like Sid Meier) have made games in a lot of genres and I think that’s important to always be experimenting and learning.

GMZzz: What type of game genres (from the ones you haven’t tried yet) you would like to approach in the future?

Alex Austin: I definitely want to do more multiplayer games, I think there’s tons of potential there. Also an RTS game might be fun.

GMZzz: Somnia’s world is a very interesting one and it really creates a certain feeling when playing the game. Do you think it would’ve been possible for the game to have a different type of gameplay?

Alex Austin: I’m not sure, the gameplay came first and we designed the world around that. Aimee did an amazing job of creating all the art in a really short amount of time, and she also did most of the level design.

GMZzz: And another one about Somnia: does it relate in any way (other than having the same name) to Aki Ville Yrjana’s poem?

Alex Austin: I’ve never heard of that.

GMZzz: What’s happening to Gish 2 and No Quarter? Why aren’t we playing them yet? Is there something that keeps from working at these games? (you’re not allowed to say you’re lazy, sorry)

Alex Austin: No Quarter should be out soon, it’s definitely not been an issue of laziness, I’ve been working 70-80 hours a week for the last couple months. Gish 2 won’t be out until next year.

GMZzz: Do you plan to release any of your games for iPhone too?

Alex Austin: We might be porting the original Bridge Builder to the iPhone soon.

24
Jul
09

5 questions: Mikkel Fredborg

Youropa

Youropa

frecle is an independent team founded back in 2006 by Mikkel Fredborg and Lasse Cleveland. They are well known for creating the global illumination tool gile[s]. The guys at frecle are now working at Youropa, a platform game with interesting puzzle and adventure elements.

We haven’t heard any news about Youropa for quite a while, so we’ve decided to ask Mikkel Fredborg a few things about the game, about the team working at it and about his experience in the game industry.

GMZzz: We haven’t heard about Youropa for quite a while now. What’s happening to it? When can we play a demo version?

Mikkel Fredborg: It’s progressing as planned! We are a really small studio, two guys, and we are big believers of self-funding the development, therefore we are doing outsourcing and consulting jobs to make the wheels turn. It means that we cannot dedicate all our resources to the development of Youropa all the time, and thus progress is sometimes slowed down a little. But everything is moving along at a good pace, and we have recently hired a third guy, to help us complete the game in the best possible way. We expect to be in place to kick into full production during the next 3-4 months, and then complete the development, and ship it out the door. So as you may have gathered the final game and a real demo version is still some way off, so you’ll have to wait 🙂

GMZzz: Youropa’s graphic style looks very interesting and seems to fit very well with the game’s overall idea. Have you had any influences in particular for it?

Mikkel Fredborg: We wanted to do something a little different, so we have been looking for inspiration in different directions. In particular street art and designer toys have been big sources of inspiration. Also in general we have been looking at modern urban architecture (the game takes place above different European capitals), so we’ve been going to various cities to examine what defines them in terms of architecture, colors and materials. It’s a very nice source of inspiration and sets the game a little apart from the regular fairytale/adventure setting of most ‘cute’ platform/puzzle games. I’ve always been a big fan of surreal/abstract art, so that’s also been an inspiration on some level, although I think we’ve managed to make it digestible for most people.

GMZzz: Looking at Youropa, the first thing to notice, in my opinion, is that the game is a very ambitious one. Do you have another ambition planned for after you’ll finish with Youropa?

Mikkel Fredborg: Yes, it is quite ambitious, but then we have always thrived on challenge 🙂 Our primary focus is to complete Youropa, but we are of course discussing different ideas continuously. I guess they are all ambitious, but in different ways.

GMZzz: Can you tell us a little bit about the team working at Youropa?

Mikkel Fredborg: We are 3 guys right now. When we started a long time ago, it was just Lasse (Cleveland) and I. We both come from an art/design background, and started working together more than 10 years ago for a couple of different game companies. I’ve been Art Director, Design Studio Manager, Technical Art Director and a couple of other jobs in between. Lasse has held positions as Animator, Lead Artist, and Lead Concept Designer and probably some more… But after having been through a couple of annoying situations with studios going bankrupt, etc. we decided that it would be much nicer to set up our own studio, and then just do the things we wanted to. Luckily we’ve been able to do that for more than 3 years now, and so far it’s been so much better than working at a ‘real’ studio. Today, Lasse takes care of art/animation, and I handle coding and some of the more technical art. And just in is our third guy who is a very talented level designer straight out of university. So that’s the team in brief words.

GMZzz: After 10 years of experience in the video games industry, what would be the first thing you would tell to someone who wants to become an indie developer?

Mikkel Fredborg: Do it, but be realistic about it. If you’re green, make sure you keep your day job. If you’re experienced, make sure you have a way to finance at least one year ahead, either through savings or contract work. Don’t try to make a MMORPG (or whatever the abbreviation is), you are almost guaranteed to fail. Don’t do the same as everyone else, someone else has probably already done it better. Don’t spend ages on technology, use readily available tools/engines like Flash, Unity, Blitz3D or similar. A game is primarily about interaction and less about technology or shader model X. Prototype and fail, and continue until you’re onto something worth pursuing. When your idea is formed, write it down and exhaust it. Ask yourself: Is this fun because I made it or is it really fun? Make friends, know people who are also making games or love games, and discuss with them. Show your game, let people try it, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t finished, feedback is very important. Don’t fear criticism, embrace it. Believe in your idea. Work really hard. Finish it. Win!

No, we didn’t follow all those advice, but then we are idiots 🙂

GMZzz: We haven’t heard about Youropa for quite a while now. What’s happening to it? When can we play a demo version?

Mikkel Fredborg: It’s progressing as planned! We are a really small studio, two guys, and we are big believers of self-funding the development, therefore we are doing outsourcing and consulting jobs to make the wheels turn. It means that we cannot dedicate all our resources to the development of Youropa all the time, and thus progress is sometimes slowed down a little. But everything is moving along at a good pace, and we have recently hired a third guy, to help us complete the game in the best possible way. We expect to be in place to kick into full production during the next 3-4 months, and then complete the development, and ship it out the door. So as you may have gathered the final game and a real demo version is still some way off, so you’ll have to wait 🙂

GMZzz: Youropa’s graphic style looks very interesting and seems to fit very well with the game’s overall idea. Have you had any influences in particular for it?

Mikkel Fredborg: We wanted to do something a little different, so we have been looking for inspiration in different directions. In particular street art and designer toys have been big sources of inspiration. Also in general we have been looking at modern urban architecture (the game takes place above different European capitals), so we’ve been going to various cities to examine what defines them in terms of architecture, colors and materials. It’s a very nice source of inspiration and sets the game a little apart from the regular fairytale/adventure setting of most ‘cute’ platform/puzzle games. I’ve always been a big fan of surreal/abstract art, so that’s also been an inspiration on some level, although I think we’ve managed to make it digestible for most people.

GMZzz: Looking at Youropa, the first thing to notice, in my opinion, is that the game is a very ambitious one. Do you have another ambition planned for after you’ll finish with Youropa?

Mikkel Fredborg: Yes, it is quite ambitious, but then we have always thrived on challenge 🙂 Our primary focus is to complete Youropa, but we are of course discussing different ideas continuously. I guess they are all ambitious, but in different ways.

GMZzz: Can you tell us a little bit about the team working at Youropa?

Mikkel Fredborg: We are 3 guys right now. When we started a long time ago, it was just Lasse (Cleveland) and I. We both come from an art/design background, and started working together more than 10 years ago for a couple of different game companies. I’ve been Art Director, Design Studio Manager, Technical Art Director and a couple of other jobs in between. Lasse has held positions as Animator, Lead Artist, and Lead Concept Designer and probably some more… But after having been through a couple of annoying situations with studios going bankrupt, etc. we decided that it would be much nicer to set up our own studio, and then just do the things we wanted to. Luckily we’ve been able to do that for more than 3 years now, and so far it’s been so much better than working at a ‘real’ studio. Today, Lasse takes care of art/animation, and I handle coding and some of the more technical art. And just in is our third guy who is a very talented level designer straight out of university. So that’s the team in brief words.

GMZzz: After 10 years of experience in the video games industry, what would be the first thing you would tell to someone who wants to become an indie developer?

Mikkel Fredborg: Do it, but be realistic about it. If you’re green, make sure you keep your day job. If you’re experienced, make sure you have a way to finance at least one year ahead, either through savings or contract work. Don’t try to make a MMORPG (or whatever the abbreviation is), you are almost guaranteed to fail. Don’t do the same as everyone else, someone else has probably already done it better. Don’t spend ages on technology, use readily available tools/engines like Flash, Unity, Blitz3D or similar. A game is primarily about interaction and less about technology or shader model X. Prototype and fail, and continue until you’re onto something worth pursuing. When your idea is formed, write it down and exhaust it. Ask yourself: Is this fun because I made it or is it really fun? Make friends, know people who are also making games or love games, and discuss with them. Show your game, let people try it, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t finished, feedback is very important. Don’t fear criticism, embrace it. Believe in your idea. Work really hard. Finish it. Win!

No, we didn’t follow all those advice, but then we are idiots 🙂

22
Jul
09

feist

FEIST




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