Articles Tagged with: dkgames
Bedtime Digital games: amazing office with amazing minds

Bedtime Digital Games are one of the most known and respected game developers in Denmark. Their student project grew into well-known game Back to Bed 3 years ago, was translated into 9 languages, was top downloaded game amongst different platforms and has unique art style reminiscent of paintings of Dali.

Now the studio is at the stage of finalizing production on their game Figment – a beautiful surrealistic experience with music and game sounds that are an essential part of the gameplay. Visitors of Game Scope Expo 2017 will be able to experience it themselves before the game goes out on Steam and other platforms.

To accommodate all staff Bedtime Digital Games switched locations a few times in the last few years, though all offices were located in Aalborg.

Bedtime Digital Games gave a fair share of interviews and got asked all sorts of questions so instead of asking more questions we decided on an office tour and just to have a chit chat with lovely Emelie Mavel and later on Jonas Byrresen.

Right now they are located in one of the old houses at Ved Stranden where they are renting a quite charming loft space. To get there you will have to take stairs up and that is a quite a workout already. At the entrance to the office, before opening the door, there are a lot of shoes and coat stand for visitors and members of the studio which already gave an impression like we were entering flat rather than the office. Inside we were greeted by producer of Bedtime Digital Games Emilie and she showed us around.

The office is right under the roof and has two levels of open working space. Later on, we were told that currently there are two teams working on two projects, one of which is Figment and another one will be announced quite soon. Each team occupies their own level and then if a person is transferred to another team, they move to the level their team is on. Entrance is located on the second level and right next to it is small and cozy meeting room where Bedtime Digital Games has meetings with visitors. Behind the open working space, there is a small project meeting room with the impressive white board covered in colorful sticky notes that seem to be easiest and most useful way of buzzing ideas and plans.

Stairs to the first level have some Back to Bed artwork on the walls, as a reminder of the first successful project. Figment level has more people than the other projects and people are working hard on polishing the game. At this point, the game is at bug tracking and fixing stage, so everyone is focused and very busy. Some desks on both floors are empty, but not as much as you would expect during Danish vacation season. No one is held there against their will, studio members are very against people overworking themselves because that not only negatively influences studio culture, but in the end, there is very little gain from it.

Here is where we met lead Game Designer & Co-Founder Jonas Byrrensen who joined us on our little office tour and was a very engaging in conversation. While having a nice chit chat we were shown a big blue sofa with consoles where on Fridays studio members play games not only for entertainment but also for research purposes. It does look like once a game developer – always a game developer.

Another notable part of this level is the dining area which is a big long table for all members to sit together at and enjoy a meal. A little fireplace close to has trophies and awards for Figment and Back to Bed on it. There is no wall of fame or place dedicated to trophies. Some awards are on the fireplace mentioned before, some on the window behind Jonas desk.

I couldn’t help but still ask Jonas few questions by the end of the visit before letting him and Emilie get back to work on their projects.

Do you have design manual or document for your games with unique style?

Jonas: We have a game design manual. But it is not as extended as it could be, I have all games details and development details in my head, so it is easy for me from the get go to give the reasoning behind some decisions or tell why a thing was done in that particular way. New interns and people who join project later seem to pick up the overall game direction by themselves. We are going to make extended design manual, it just seems there no need for it now.

A studio like yours are invited to different conventions, why did you decide to go to the yet not so well known Game Scope last year?

Jonas: I really like the idea of the convention that is about gaming culture in general. We already have big conventions like E3 that are about games only. Actually, me and Thomas ( editor’s note: Thomas Lykke Larsen – Game Scope project manager ) were the ones who came up with Game Scope festival idea. When he decided to go with this idea to Business Aalborg he invited me to the meeting as a game developer who would be pretty much interested in a festival like Game Scope.

You’ve been at different conventions around the world and I bet you answered this question many times, but let me ask again. What advice do you give to young game devs?

Jonas: Don’t work too much on your project. I mean Back to Bed was our student project. I would go back to change a lot of things and rework it. Situations like these are tricky, you can end up working on your game so long that instead of improving it, you are going to make something that is completely different from what you intended in the beginning.

I better let you back to work work. Thank you for your time, Emilie and Jonas!

We spent some time taking photos and talking a bit more before leaving, which was quite hard since the place and people were very hyggelige and seeing their work was quite mesmerizing.

Figment is going to be available at Game Scope 2017 expo grounds, the development team will be busy improving the game before release on Steam and Nintendo Switch, but they will find a time to attend our festival, which we do appreciate a lot!

Photos made by Ervins Trans

Text and interview by Valerija Trane

2nd studio: behind the scenes of KnightOut

2nd Studio is the Danish game development studio consisting of two core members: Nikki Starostka and  Dennis Jensen. They have worked on feature films as well as mass market games, crafted innovative visual experiences for games and films for clients like Disney, Logic Artists, Kiloo etc. At the moment they are crowdfunding their latest project KnightOut.

Will get you on the edge of the couch as you battle your best friend. How will you bring your soon to be ex friend to his knees? Use your strategic overview as you build your castle which defines half of the battlefield, a good defense is all you need, or master the sword and take him out in close combat.

We went to visit 2nd studio in the house to many Danish game startups Arsenalet, where we were welcomed by Nikki who was very kind and found a time to answer our questions.

Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your role in the company?

I am the Creative Director and co-owner, so I have to wear a lot of hats and manage the company together with Dennis, but I try to focus most of my work on the creative vision of our projects.

So you are the guy who decides on the art direction of the game?

Yes, I come up with some ideas or suggestions about how something should look, not only art style, but also story wise. Actually, the roles  are really vague because we can overlap in many places. Dennis, for example, got the same education as me, so he knows how to make graphics and does it sometimes.

Where did you meet each other?

We met some time ago in Odense, Fyn. We only took the first part of our education, and after haven’t seen each other again for a couple of years, and then we met up here at The Animation Workshop and ended up in the same class!

Why you called your company “2nd Studio”?

There are lots of answers on that one. First of all – it sort of looks cool. Second – when we were discussing and defining all what company should stand for we visited a lot of workshops and courses. At one of them there was a talk with an artist, who was talking about the first Zelda game, and how upon completion of the game, you can do certain things to get to this whole other world, called “the 2nd quest”. It spoke to me and Dennis and we implemented that into our name. Also the N and D in “2nd ”  stand for Nikki and Dennis.

How do you feel about all the support you’ve got? Did you expect people to help you reach the goal and even go beyond?

We’ve put the goal pretty low at that point because we were a long way in already and would be able to finish the game. We’ve made it with the intention that we should have a certain chance to reach it. It was expected to reach it, but we were surprised it happened that early.

Did you have any sort of art inspiration during the development of the KnighOut?

It was very spontaneous, the whole process, actually. But I’ve had a lot of video games, a lot of fantasy games, so of course, it got inspired by them, unconsciously. In terms of an official main inspiration – there was none.

Can you say your love for LEGO inspired the way game looks?

Yes, not so much in the visuals, but more in the gameplay.

How you came up with the idea to develop for Nintendo Switch?

We had the concept, that it should be very simple, it should not be too crowded on the screen, as well, when you are playing together, you don’t have to have the split screen or anything. It made sense to put it on the SWITCH, and we could keep the specific ideas or ideals of the game.

Why did you decide to go for crowdfunding in general?

Actually we weren’t considering crowdfunding. After our last campaign with Jazon and the Dead concluded, we thought ” the next thing we are making, we are not going to depend on funding “. The whole idea was that it should be something that we can make ourselves, without being dependant on anything from the outside. But then, we’ve made a prototype,polished it, and made an update on our previous campaign, so people could sign up for the newsletter and so on… And the guys from FIG, the crowdfunding platform contacted us and said asked if we would like to put KnightOut on the platform.

So you were actually contacted by the crowdfunding platform?

Yes, they were the ones, they came out with this idea of having us on their platform again! And that made us think this might just speed up the whole process, otherwise we would have to make a lot of small jobs to get the money, and this way – we could just complete it faster!

I can see you have a lot of Star Wars things here, but who is your favorite, the most liked character?

Aaaahh. I Think… I think… Maybe… yes, it probably carried along from when I was the little child, but since back then I was always thinking that Yoda was really cool.

Do you have a lightsaber?

No, but I was actually looking into buying one, but I haven’t had the money to do it because I want a really nice one, the one you can actually practice with. There is a site, ultra sabers, where they make really cool ones, with the sound effects as well, but you also can clash on them without breaking them.

Can you give an advice, for new developers, or for people who want to start developing games?

Keep it simple! It is better to do something simple, and you can always build on top of that.

Thanks for all the answers!
KnighOut crowdfunding campaign is up until 28th of July 2017. Please consider to support them!
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Text and interview by Valerija Trane

Photos made by Ervins Trans

Pictures and illustrations taken from KnightOut Fig campaign