Articles Tagged with: gamescope

Anybody still playing Yu-Gi-Oh? No… what about, Soapra!

“Soapra”

Mind Bulb Games (Instagram)

This entry is a bit different, maybe even a forgotten phenomenon to newer generations. Mind Bulb Games are like other like-minded card/ and board game lovers fighting a battle to not erase, essentially, the origin of video games from pop culture media.

To put it bluntly, card/ and board games, to some, are a thing of the past, not considered pop culture anymore, and generally dismissed at a party. But, to others, board games are still one of the best Friday nights you can ever have, whether it’s D&D, Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Pokémon, it doesn’t matter as long as there are people, laughter, and games.

For Mind Bulb Games, it’s probably the latter. We’ll talk about their game, Soapra: Flights of Fancington and the thing that makes it stand out from amongst a crowd, but firstly, I’m dying to know, what was your first experience with board games?

As with many others, our first introduction into board games was playing ludo with the family. However, our interest in tactile gaming arose when introduced to more complex and story- or socially driven games like Pandemic and Munchkin. Though learning from different games we both found that the possibilities of story-telling and game mechanic design were a wide and wondrous world waiting to be expanded and explored.

Although this isn’t a war on ‘what medium of entertainment is the best’, board games have been overlooked more in the past years then they were in the 90s and early 2000s. Could you tell me three reasons why board games still matter and what they do better than any other medium of entertainment?

#1 Unlike most video games, board games have a type of immediate presence that cannot be quickly recreated like, say, a counter-strike match. Playing a game of Call of Cathulu or Risk can take hours in which the tension slowly rises. There is no reloading or saving. Once things go down, they go down for all parties involved.

#2 Board games will always be the better social game, no matter how much voice- or video chat you implement. Simply sitting in a room with another player, be they, teammates or opponents, seeing the fear or joy in their eyes, hearing their cheers or wails of torment will always be more real when you’re sharing the same room.

#3 Another thing board games have over computer games is their element of the ‘real’. You can touch them, feel them. When you score points or kill enemies, you get to move meeples around on a board. Drawing cards will always be a much more engaging result than having a computer generate something at random.

Luckily for board games enthusiast, it seems like they are making somewhat of a return in the later years with more people playing them and albeit fewer making them — original ideas are on the rise!

So, why don’t we talk about Mind Bulb Games’ original idea? I’ve asked Mads Reedtz about his and his team’s game, Flights of Fancington. Specifically, if he could describe the game using only one sentence:

Soapra is a media-culture based card game involving social manipulation, keeping secrets, telling stories, but most importantly it is about being the fanciest in Fancington.

However, to focus in on his game, in particular, I’ve asked him to specify the traits of Flights of Fancington, which makes the game stand out from the rest.

What makes our game stand out, at least to some extent, is that the game is really just a medium for interpersonal relations. Granted, Soapra is all the mechanics and rules, but the real game takes place amongst the players and how they negotiate with and manipulate each other. Other games do this as well, sure, but none of them is nowhere near as fancy.

Adding:

Also, Soapra uses a cultural jumping-off point that everybody can relate to Soap operas. Be it Days of our Lives, Soap, Star Wars or any other drama-related media, we’ve all watched a soap opera in one form or another.

Now. We’ve talked board games in general. We’ve talked Mind Bulb’s game. Let’s talk about making card/ and board games.

Designing card/ board games and designing video games are a bit like each other — although there are differences, there something to learn from both mediums. What are your top five tips to aspiring board game developers?

Game Scope presents: Mind Bulb Games’

Quick-y Guide to Getting Your Game On!

#1 Start small.

#2 Get to play it quick.

#3 Get fresh eyes.

#4 Be careful with your manual.

#5 Be prepared to kill your darlings (over and over and over and over and over again) and remember, this is supposed to be fun.

The Weird Baby of LIMBO and Portal

Lightmatter

Tunnel Vision Games have created a beautiful puzzle game, featuring a unique game mechanic, where “the floor is lava”, except there isn’t any lava, but shadow instead.

The name of the game is Lightmatter. I haven’t any release date yet, but it’s set somewhere in 2019. However, even though the game isn’t finished, it already has accumulated four nominations/awards.

To supply some text with the images you’re seeing, the game is described on their website as:

If LIMBO and Portal had a weird baby…

Tunnel Vision Games

Tunnel Vision (site)

Tunnel Vision (Facebook)

Tunnel Vision (Twitter)

And it that isn’t an interesting enough combination, it’s actually pretty accurate too. However, I’ve chatted with Gustav Dahl, producer and programmer at Tunnel Vision Games. The team at Tunnel Vision was founded by five guys from the same study at Aalborg University, but the team, as of present date, consist of eight members in total.

But let’s talk Lightmatter and puzzle games! Puzzle games can be some of the most rewarding games you’ll ever play, but on the other side of that coin is frustration, blatantly teasing you for walking in a circle when the right path was straight ahead.

Metaphor aside, I’ve always wondered if puzzle games are as frustrating to make as they can be to play?

Good question! In the beginning of the project, making puzzles was really difficult. It took us a long time to figure out the process, which was a bit frustrating. Initially, we wanted to base the puzzles around cool environments, but we learned that this approach did not suit our skill sets.

Adding:

It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation: do you design the puzzle or environment first? After much experimentation, we found that we are best at designing the puzzles first and then later decorate it with nice environmental art. Our process now is to design on paper or with physical LEGO bricks first, then implement a rough prototype in Unity. We then test it internally to assess whether or not we should continue with a given puzzle. If we find it good enough, we proceed and test it externally, tweaking it until it works as we want. If a puzzle gets the green-light throughout all of these steps, we then sit down and talk about how the level should actually look like and what we want it to convey art- and story-wise.

Making games is generally a difficult and strenuous process, and I’d bet that developing a puzzle game is equally difficult, if not more, but I really want to know, what has been the best moment or moments when working on Lightmatter (was called “See You On The Other Side)?

Playtesting is one of the highlights for us since this is where we can validate whether a puzzle works or not. Seeing a playtester struggle for some time but then realize the solution is always fun. These “aha moments” are what motivate us to continue working on the game.

For full transparency’s sake… I don’t play a lot of puzzle games myself — and to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the genre. Sadly never been. Not that I can’t see the appeal, I just don’t get “it”. I’d reckon most puzzle game fanatics would already be all over your game, but how you would you sell it to people like myself — what makes your game stand out or do differently?

I get where you are coming from. Some of the team members didn’t even like puzzle games that much when we began this project! To us, puzzle games are about lateral thinking, or in other words, thinking outside the box. This experience is super satisfying as a player.

What we want to achieve with See You On The Other Side [Lightmatter] is to let as many people as possible to experience this. That’s why we are working hard to strike a fine balance with the difficulty. Also, keep in mind that there are many different types of puzzles. Sudoku and Bejeweled are puzzle games, but so are Portal, LIMBO and Antichamber.

What makes our game unique? We believe our core game mechanic about shadows is quite different from other games. Traditionally, lights and shadows are only used as aesthetic elements, whereas in our game they are an integral part of the gameplay. One way to pitch the concept is to describe it as “the floor is lava … but with shadows”.

Well, as we’ve established, puzzle games and me, we don’t really get along unless I have close to an eternity to finish it. However, that’s not even the hard part, which essentially makes we feel even smaller. But, the hard part about puzzles isn’t solving them, but rather making them. Or so I believe.

I truly believe that in order to make a puzzle game, you’ll have to rewire your brain a tad bit just to survive the madness of figuring out your own puzzle. But since I’m no developer, could you share your top five tips and tricks when making a puzzle game?

So without further ado, here is…

Gustav Dahl’s and Tunnel Vision Games’

How-to: Puzzles Games

#1 Experiment a lot and be ready to fail. We’ve made hundreds and hundreds of puzzle prototypes, but many of them will never get into the game.

#2 Playtesting is super important. You as the designer cannot judge the quality and difficulty of your own puzzle. Having other team members definitely help, since you can playtest each other’s puzzles quickly.

#3 Try different methods and modalities when designing puzzles. Some like to sketch out on paper, whereas others need to build them physically or digitally. Most good puzzles are made in collaboration with other people.

#4 Iterate, iterate, iterate! Maybe the first version of your puzzle isn’t good, but keep testing and tweaking and it might turn out to be something great.

#5 Have an idea of the scope and what you want to achieve with the puzzles. It has taken us a long time to find our “voice” when it comes to puzzle design since we didn’t really know in the beginning what type of game we wanted to make. It’s a tough process, but you will get there eventually.

From Hitman to LIMBO to Mechanic Miner

Mechanic Miner

Just a short disclaimer, with stillplay Games’ response to my questions, there is nothing really I can add to it.

I think this is best read raw and uncut — with zero ‘funny’ remarks from my side. Enjoy!

Just one thing before we move on to Kristoffer’s response, I’ll just go over the team behind Mechanic Miner.

  • As game director, we have Finn Nielsen.
  • Doing the maths and coding, we have Daniel Carlsson.
  • Making things say stuff, we have Josef Aarskov.
  • Managing how pretty the game is, we have Tore Poulsen.
  • Network engineering… eh… we have Alexander Taylor (sorry, but I don’t really know what “Network Engineering” entails, but I’m guessing math and programming).
  • Lastly, as CM or community manager, we have Kristoffer Rasmussen.

Mechanic Miner (site)

Mechanic Miner (Facebook)

Mechanic Miner (Twitter)

Now, without ado nor funny remarks, the article.

The Inspiration

From watching a few videos about Mechanic Miner, I’m getting a Minecraft and Terraria- vibe off of them. Is Mechanic Miner inspired by the likes of those games?

Yes and no. Let me try to explain this through a “quick” resume of Mechanic Miners history. Mechanic Miner was an idea born in the mind of our game director Finn Nielsen almost 7 years ago.

(Finn Nielsen is a veteran within the game development industry and has among other things worked as a technical director on the original “Hitman” and have most recently worked on the indie hit “Limbo”).

The original idea behind Mechanic Miner was to create a game where everything was centered around building steam-powered machines (and getting them to work). Together with our Art Director Tore Poulsen, Finn and Tore created a prototype of Mechanic Miner focusing on the visual style and atmosphere inspired by the old pixel-style games combined with the styles, the machines and the science from the steam-engine era. If anything, this would be the “true” inspiration of Mechanic Miner.

Fast-forwarding a few years, Mechanic Miner started being a rather serious project and more people was hired. Now we’re a total of 6 people with a combined broad interest in different game genres, and of course among these different games we find inspiration.

Since Mechanic Miner shares a lot of similarities with games like “Minecraft”, “Terraria”, “Starbound”, “Space Engineers” (and so on) we often turn to these games for gameplay/mechanical inspiration and solutions (since these games already overcame many of the same challenges we meet in our development progress as well). E.g. during the development of Survival Mode in Mechanic Miner, we had to decide how to procedurally generate the game world and found a lot of inspiration in the way “Terraria” semi-randomly generated a world with specific content spread in a world with a specific size.

In the end, the inspiration behind Mechanic Miner derives from hundreds of different games from many different genres, and during almost any part of the development, we often bring other games into the discussion. This could be anything from “Path of Exile” to “Factoria”. The other day we even brought “Overwatch” into the discussion – a game that you wouldn’t normally compare with a game like Mechanic Miner.

It is not only in games we find inspiration, but also from books, movies and history. E.g. the log-ish past tense narration you’ll find in Mechanic Miners’ Story Mode was inspired by The Time Travelers lectures to his weekly dinner guests in the H.G.Wells Science fiction classic: “The Time Machine” from 1895. And The Dweller (a giant worm boss in Mechanic Miner) was inspired by the graboids in the cult-movie “Tremors”. And the Aeolipile Engine (an in-game machine), which is an invention made by the Roman mathematician and engineer Heron of Alexandria around 50 A.D. The Rail-gun (an in-game machine) was inspired by Winans Steam Gun (a centrifugal gun from the American Civil war). We also love doing references like the main characters name – John Smith – is a reference to Matthew Smith a somewhat renown game programmer that made Manic Miner in 1983. I mean, even this tweet is a reference to the “Hello John” scene from “Jurassic Park”.

A Unique New Game

If yes, what makes your game stand out?

Talking about similarities, obviously Mechanic Miner looks a lot like games like Minecraft and Terraria at first glance, maybe especially Terraria as they share the 2D sidescroller look. And Mechanic Miner surely shares a lot of similarities but differs in many ways – especially in the constructing part:

In Mechanic Miner the player can construct any kind of machine by their own design and test them in a environment with physics – like true physics (not like “Minecraft” and “Terraria”). Constructing is really the main mantra of Mechanic Miner. E.g. In Terraria you must find stronger armor and weapons to defeat the next boss, and in “Minecraft” you’ll need a full set of diamond armor and a bow to go kill the dragon in The End. But in Mechanic Miner, you’ll need to construct your own contraption to defeat the Roach Boss or survive the Aether Storm (A storm that turns all monsters aggressive). No matter what challenge you may encounter, there’s never only one solution, it’s up to each player to use their creativity and wit to design and build their own unique contraptions to conquer whatever lies ahead.

In the end I would say that Mechanic Miner is both recognizable and unique at the same time as it shares a lot of similarity with other games like “Minecraft” and “Terraria”, but also offers a particularly remarkable visual style, with a unique gameplay focused on building and constructing in an RPG-like setting with physics. I believe that this combination makes Mechanic Miner a one-of-a-kind experience.

Overwatch and Minecraft

Let’s get a bit personal: what game genres and specific games do you and your team hold dear? (Could be both old and new games).

As I mentioned before, our combined interest and preferences in game genres is broad – this means everything from “CS:GO” to “Factoria”, from “PUBG” to “Path of Exile”, from “Overwatch” to “Skyrim”, from “Warframe” to “Eve”, and so on… It’s hard to say which genres we enjoy the most as most of us enjoys a broad variety of games and genres. One thing we all have in common is the enormous interest in games, which really can’t be confined to a few genres, but one game that we – of course – all have invested a lot of time in, is Minecraft.

Player Feedback

What has been the best moments when working on Mechanic Miner — are there some that stand out?

There have been so many great moments during the development of Mechanic Miner, and many of those moments have had something to do with our community. We have a great community including over 800 alpha testers, actively discussing and sharing creations on our Discord Community. Seeing how they respond to the different content we’re continuously adding or seeing how they’re working together through Discord trying to reproduce or create some crazy contraptions from their own imagination or even from real life engineering blueprints, is just an absolute pleasure. We love our community and they have been a big part of the creation of Mechanic Miner – everything surrounding them, is just the ‘best’.

Also, around half a year ago we started getting YouTubers doing “Lets Play” of Mechanic Miner. Seeing how these YouTube videos allowed us to actually hear and see the players reactions to the game. Like the screenshot I’ve attached here: it’s from one of our first YouTubers – Gaming Faster Than Light (also called Josh) – who just, as this screenshot was taken, managed to build an Airpump-system. Just look at the pure joy in his face expression! Knowing that we created that joy, is just an amazing feeling!

If we ever feel demotivated, we’ll just go to YouTube and look at the many hours of footage of people playing Mechanic Miner or people expressing their excitement in the comment sections. On a side note: There are over 1.5 million views on Mechanic Miner content on YouTube, so we’re not the only ones who enjoy watching.

As a game developer, what has been some of the toughest creative decisions that you and your team had to make concerning Mechanic Miner?

Actually, we haven’t really had any tough decisions during the development of Mechanic Miner. Even though we’ve removed a lot of features and abandoned a lot of stuff that we wanted to implement in the game, it’s always been for the best. Maybe we’re just too optimistically minded, but every time we want to add a new feature that requires us to remove old features, or abandon planned features, we only focus on how freaking cool the new features are going to be.

Although there was one feature which seemed very hard to remove. In the earlier days of Mechanic Miner, you were able to mine/drill directly into the ground – removing pixel for pixel and creating your own tunnels and paths underground. We had to eventually remove this feature because of problems with small and almost invisible pixels left behind blocking the player and vehicles.

Removing this feature seemed like a set back at the time, but now we’re happy that we did as it paved the road for a new dungeon-crawl-like experience where the player must explore and find their way through procedurally generated mines and caves – a feature that wouldn’t have been added without removing the “pixel by pixel” digging.

A Multiplayer Experience?

Are there features that you’re still planning to implement to the game that fans can be excited about?

We’re working on so many things right now, and there’s so much more planned and even more that we want to add in the future. New machines, new blocks, new weapons, new monsters, new bosses, new acts and so on. Talking about major features in the game we’re still missing two important ones; Multiplayer and Mod-support.

In a game like this, multiplayer is a no-brainer and we’re really excited about adding this to Mechanic Miner. Our community is already actively sharing their creations over the Steam Workshop and discussing the game on our Discord, so I’m sure they’re going to have a blast when multiplayer is ready and they can actually play together. I can’t reveal to you when the multiplayer will be up and running, but I can assure you that we’re working extremely hard on getting it ready asap – we even have one dedicated programmer (Alexander Taylor) for only this task.

Another big thing is mod-support. We really want our community to be a big part of creating Mechanic Miner, and mod-support is one way of doing it. Talking about inspiration, we’ve been looking for inspiration about this in “Minecraft”, “Terraria” and “Rimworld” – games that have great mod-support and a very active community surrounding it. Mod-support in Mechanic Miner is something our community is constantly requesting, I mean sometimes we even see them on our Discord discussing and trying to re-program the game (which isn’t really possible, but they don’t care). Mod-support is something we’re not currently working on, but we want to add it shortly after Mechanic Miner goes into Early Access later this year.

Winter(path) is Coming!

Winterpath Games and their game, Atlaga, a narrative-focused, Viking survival game, started as most games start: as a hobby-project. For Valur Zophoníasson and Lukas Gnaur it began over a couple of drinks and the question of, “could we make a game?”

Winterpath (site)

w/ iOS and Windows download options.

[We] were having drinks and one suggested making a video game on the side of our studies (Digital Design). We wanted to put into practice, what we learned in our studies, and making a video game seemed the perfect way of doing this. It began as a discussion of making a tactical Viking game for mobile.

Slowly we assembled a team, but none of us had any experience with any real game development or the mobile platform. We found that learning how to make a video game, from scratch, is an extremely painful process and along the way, a lot of team members jumped off, which, of course, is always difficult (we were initially 6. Now we are 3).

We also found that learning how to make a video game, from scratch, is a thrilling, exciting and enjoyable experience. Having released something that you’ve been working on for more than 2 years and getting such a good reception after working so hard is a feeling worth the struggle.

Let’s talk about the game! The following is from Winterpath’s website, with the headliner reading, “Ready to Start Your Misadventure?” Continuing it explains the premise of its story.

You are stranded and alone. You were a passenger on your father’s vessel that now lies wrecked on the shores of a mysterious land. As a high-borne lady from the north, you must take matters into your own hands and endure the hazards of your new surroundings.

Adding about the game in general:

Atlaga is a story-driven survival game. To survive and grow, you must make challenging decisions in a harsh environment. Journey through hand-painted and atmospheric environments to unravel the mystery and discover the truth behind this unforgiving, brutal wilderness.

 

As always, I had a chance to talk with one of the developers on the project. This time, I had the pleasure of chatting with designer and co-creator, Lukas, who answered this… when I asked him about the inspiration to the game:

The original thought was to make a Viking game, where we try to go against the otherwise popular glorified Hollywood Viking and try, instead, to depict a more real, dark Viking story. A Viking story where a raid had gone horribly wrong. This idea became the inspiration for our concept in almost all the different stages of Atlaga. Although the game went through massive changes during development the thought of the real and de-glorified Viking tale persisted.

The game is, by the way, free through their site. You can download it for both iOS and Windows, meaning Atlaga is finished. To some dismay, when I asked Lukas if they’d planned to continue Atlaga, he said this:

For the time being, we are not doing an Atlaga sequel […]

However, adding:

[… ]it would be a shame to say that we will not revisit the Atlaga universe. We want to make sure that our next project incorporates what we have learned over the past 2 years.

We found some things that we believe we are good at, and some things we need to be stronger at.  Atlaga evolved naively from a part-time school project, but now with a bit more experience, we are a dedicated team that wants to develop more games. We want to create something new but we want to stay true to what we like – dark and serious.

So, although the dark, Viking survival game maybe a case closed, it’s not certain it won’t be reopened… someday. This news might be most devastating for the fans of Atlaga as the game has gotten quite a bit of following, praising the game for its story, art, and survival aspect.

A good community can be vital for an indie studio’s survival. Like Atlaga, the world of games is a pretty tough place where only an elite has the supremacy and although it is possible to rise in the ranks, the few who do so are far in-between the norm.

So I was curious to know how it’d felt, receiving such a backing for a project, which initially was a display of present skill:

Receiving all the great feedback that we have took us by surprise and having such backing has been crucial to our mental well-being. We had all heard, on numerous occasions, that the internet is a foul, nasty and unforgiving pit of hellish pus when it comes to feedback and criticism.

So far the internet people have been nice to us and that warms our hearts. We’ve actually gotten really good and kind feedback, which is part of the reason why we want to continue making stuff.

Drawn into Trouble – like the pen, not the action

Ringstone Games just by the looks of their website has this very clean and minimalistic look to it. Although the lines are “messy”, it’s subtly messy all-around, making it deliberately messy and therefore not messy at all, but rather clever.

Ringstone’s first game, Drawn into Trouble, follows the same style — or should I say the game’s style affected the studio’s appearance? Either way, it works. But what is Drawn into Trouble?

I’ve chatted a bit with the co-founder, Tommy Faldt, and here’s how he described Drawn into Trouble:

Tommy: Drawn into Trouble is about helping an old lady find her way back and solving puzzles by selecting the right tool and draw the right figures.

Adding:

Sometimes you need to combine the tools in the right order, other times you need to consider size and timing to make it work.

After seeing the art style, I became a bit curious about what inspired their game.

The inspiration for Drawn into Trouble is mainly based on two elements. The first is La Linea animation from the Italien animator, Osvaldo Cavandoli. The other element is The Incredible Machine, developed by Kevin Ryan.

Drawn into Trouble, helping an old lady, puzzles? Gotcha. The game is being developed for mobile only and as this is Ringstone’s first appearance on the indie game scene, they are planning to release the game first in Denmark and Sweden, but then also to the rest of the world.

According to Tommy, the game’s release date is late this year, 2018.

But, enough about the game! You can presumably play an alpha or beta version at Game Scope in Aalborg, but other than that, you’ve gotten all the information about the game that you’ll need.

It’s a puzzler. A simple game, utilizing the smartphone’s hands-on playability where your finger can draw the lines. The story, although we don’t have much information at this moment, could be something genuine and sweet with the plot focusing on an old lady. Could also be nothing, and the game would probably still work.

Now. Let’s talk about the people behind Ringstone Games and Drawn into Trouble. The team consists of three people, all co-founders with Tommy Axelgaard being the game engine architect, Tommy Faldt working as the level designer and PR. Lastly, we have Michael Lund who is the investor.

Ringstone Games (site)

Ringstone Games (Facebook)

Ringstone Games (Twitter)

We have played a lot of games in our youth and at some point, the thought came along, can we do that, can we make our own game. It would be pretty cool if we could.

Adding:

After years of education, software development, and life experience we now return to the thought, can we make our own game — maybe, we sure have more skills and experience now — let’s do it.

Knight…Out?

A co-op game for the family!

KnightOut is made by 2nd Studio, and like all other developers attending Game Scope this year, they are a Danish game development studio. They do client work as well as make their own games. To mention but a few clients: we have DisneyKiloo, Nordic Game, amongst others.

Showreel

Both of the two founders and the lead programmer have a lot of experience under their belts. Whether it’s co-creating a StarCraft Mod at the age of 15 or being a 3D trainee from Onyx Studio in Paris, or having worked for Blue Byte Ubisoft Studio, these guys are amazing at what they do.

A short introduction, I know, but I really wanted the question of what is KnightOut? to be answered by Dennis, a developer at 2nd Studio.

What’s “KnightOut”?

Dennis: KnightOut combines tactical building with real-time frantic brawling against your friends or hordes of enemies.

KnightOut hasn’t got a release day yet, but it’s coming to PC and Switch only at the moment. The guys behind it want to bring it to as many platforms as possible but:

[…] as indie developers it can be costly and time-consuming [to port the game to consoles] so for our launch, we are bringing it to PC and Switch. We can’t promise any other consoles, but if we get the opportunity we would like to port it […].

Sad news for me as I’m a diehard PlayStation fanboy. However, with the release of Pokémon: Let’s Go on the Switch this November, I might just go ahead and order me some KnightOut while I’m at it…

But, let’s get back on track. Succeeding as a game developer really depends on different factors. Luck, skill, original idea, execution of said idea, and more. However, indisputably, a community who supports you and your game can both give you financial aid as well as a morale boost.

Whether it’s nice comments or seeing someone play and love your game, it can be an emotional train leading you straight to Hogwarts. But let’s hear it from Dennis, as I asked him what some of the best moments he’d had while working on the game.

We had a lot of playtesting among friends and at game expos when people really get into it and do everything they can to win it warms our hearts to see that people can have so much fun with something we created.

Adding to that:

Last year at Game Scope a father and his son played the game, and they really had fun. I was so humbled by the experience because both ages had fun and I felt like we created a game that could bring people together.

Now… as I’ve mentioned, there isn’t a release date yet, but I wanted to know if 2nd Studio had anything planned, like updates, new features, or even some new projects they could tell us about.

The game is still in development […]. We have added a lot of new items to build, different traps and new weapons that we have not revealed yet.

KnightOut is, by the way, a Co-Op game in essence — I’d even dare say it’s more meant for couch play or local Co-Op more than online multiplayer. I played KnightOut, however, only a little, at last year’s Game Scope.

I generally liked the game, but local Co-Op games aren’t the type of games I usually buy. But what Dennis mentioned next got me really excited!

We are working on more content as well that will give you a great single player experience, but we can’t say too much about it yet.

On the subject of a future “new” project, Dennis had this to say:

We want to give KnightOut everything we can, and keep updating it after it’s released if it sells well we would like to bring it to other platforms as well. With that said, we always have new ideas and are working on different projects but nothing we can reveal yet.

Want to see what 2nd Studio is up to?

2nd Studio (site)

2nd Studio (Facebook)

2nd Studio (Twitter)

Mutant Monkey’s Deadly Devices

A new classic?

Mutant Monkey Games is the classic reason why game studios are founded — whether it’s indie or AAA, it all starts with a love and passion for the medium.

Mutant Monkey Games (site)

Mutant Monkey Games (Facebook)

Mutant Monkey Games (Twitter)

For Bo Michelsen and Lars Tornbjerg it started with Mega Man 2  in 1991. To my own regret, I wasn’t able to experience the era of neither the NES, SNES, nor the Sega Mega Drive. However, I’ve read countless stories from ‘Back in the Day’ and I believe it’s near impossible to deny the deny the influence games like Mega Man and the likes of Zelda have had on games in this generation.

Quadruple D or De-de-de-de?

Nevertheless, Bo and Lars founded Mutant Monkey Games, and from their love of pixel art and puzzle platformers, sprung the game, which was talking about today, Dr Demitrium’s Deadly Devices, or shortened just DDDD.

But what is DDDD?

Dr Demitrium’s Deadly Devices is a grid-based puzzle-crawler for mobile set in a spacey, sci-fi universe. You take on the role of the brave Space Captain Jim, who must get back his girlfriend, Gertrud, and his beloved dog, Bingo, who both have been kidnapped by the evil Dr Demitrium. […].

Adding:

A must-play for people who miss epic space drama in their mobile games.

So if you love space drama, Mega Man-stylish pixel art, and possibly an old-school-like game, then Dr Demitrium’s Deadly Devices are out pretty soon.

We have a revised release date because we’ve embedded a bitter-sweet story element to the game, but the final release date is the 12TH OF AUGUST! Just in time for Game Scope!

Before we talk a bit more about the game itself, it’s core mechanics and such, I asked Bo to describe with one sentence why people should be excited about his game.

If you like to experience a challenging, story-driven puzzle game with a bizarre humour, set in space, then you should play Dr Demitrium’s Deadly Devices!

With that said, you can experience the game at Game Scope in Aalborg from the 17th to 19th of August — you can even share your love for old-school games with Bo, who’s attending.

But, let’s talk a bit about the game. With puzzle-crawlers, game mechanics are key to success. Fluid movement, fun controls, exciting actions, and head-scratching puzzles are all the recipe for a good game. However, let’s hear it from Bo himself.

In order to get them [Gertrud and Bingo] back you must survive a dungeon sprawling with deadly devices and traps, you can only get your loved ones back if you outsmart Demitrium, and figure out a route through each level in his lair!

And it’s these traps, which are part of the core mechanic.

The basic gameplay mechanic is that in order to traverse a level you must learn how each trap within the level behaves. Every trap has its own cycle, so, for instance, the spike traps have two “safe” states followed by a “deadly” state. Therefore in order to cross a level successfully, it is required that the player is mindful of nearly all of the tiles at once, to maintain safe cover and timing while avoiding getting shot by lasers.

A piece of cake! He lied. In all honesty, this sounds a lot like how you’d describe the old school games, DDDD takes inspiration from. And with its mobile release, you can experience the classic difficult games nearly everywhere you have your smartphone.

Plai-er of the Game!

A rival to Steam?

This article is split up into two sections with the first one being a look at Plai, while the other half of it is more business-centric.

So, if you’re a gamer, stick to the first part, but if you’re an entrepreneur or want to know more about being an entrepreneur than I’d suggest you scroll a bit further down.

A little update from the team behind Plai:

A little something-something for those interested in starting with Plai, you can use this coupon code “gamescope” in the Plai app and you’ll get €5 free game time on all your games!

Gamer-Centric

I’ve been so fortunate to chat with Frank Christensen, the CEO of Plai, both in person at last year’s Game Scope, but also by mail. It has resulted in this article, where we hope to uncover what Plai is exactly.

Plai (site)

From Frank himself:

First of all, I would like to thank you for giving us the chance to tell you about our service Plai. Plai is a service that enables more gamers to get more value for their money.

Right off the bat, I’m intrigued as like good value and I’m also a gamer. Joking aside, you’re probably wondering how Plai hopes to achieve this and what it will mean for you.

You might’ve guessed by now that Plai isn’t a game, but rather an online store and game library like Steam. But, let’s get the hows and whys out of the way:

We do this by removing the up-front payment for games and allows users to only pay for the time they play until the price of the game is reached. We call this Pay-as-you-Play.

To some it may sound a bit strange at first, while to others it might sound too good to be true — and it’s both and neither at the same time. By removing the up-front cost, Plai has created a ripple effect, affecting multiple aspects of digital stores and online game libraries.

Frank mentions some of them in his mail like:

[…] we would like to think that we are solving the discoverability and competition problem in the gaming industry.

But honestly, I believe Frank is being overly modest, as Plai’s innovative way of “selling” games is like no other. Steam is, of course, the most notable and most recognizable, however, it’s “just” a digital store with the greatest of sales.

Next, you have subscription-based services like Origin Access having you pay yearly to access a wide array of select games. Lastly, you have the console versions like the PS Store, which with its exclusivity comes higher pricing, but exclusive titles.

I guess, if I should describe Plai like I’ve described the other services, I would perhaps call it “reverse-renting”, where you choose a game to “rent”, while you have the game as long as you want to, but you pay for it, ie. rent it until you’ve paid the full price.

If you’ll excuse the confusing wording in the last paragraph, I’ll get to my point. Where my point being, Plai is highly innovative. To my mind being a more user-friendly and transparent business model, than the likes of its “rivals”.

Business-Centric

However, because I had the chance to chat with the CEO, I was a bit curious to know a bit about the business side of things. For example, what Plai’s first milestone was.

Plai took it’s first baby steps back in 2016 […] we only had a proof of concept on the business model and that was our first significant milestone.

Adding to that:

Our second milestone was making an MVP (Minimum Variable Product). That milestone was a huge one for Plai because we had to show Plai to the end-user for the first time and of course it went well thanks to Tobias (CTO) and Peter (COO/developer).

Now. I believe everyone who’s ever gambled on a dream has felt the sting of fear. Although I don’t know if Plai was the biggest gamble Frank has made as an entrepreneur, I was quite interested in hearing what his biggest fear was going into this.

[…] my biggest fear was and still is, people not telling us the truth when they are giving us feedback on Plai. Because if we can’t get honest feedback, we can’t develop Plai to be something people would love to use.

With Plai, Frank and I also talked a bit about what propelled Plai forward — or what spark that ignited the flames under the project. Frank mentioned two things in particular, with the first spark being winning the Danish Entrepreneur Championship in 2016. However, with the second spark being the biggest according to Frank.

[…] I would like to think that our first participation at Game Scope back in 2016 has been the biggest spark that ignited a flame. This is no bullsh*t […] this was the place we introduced Plai for the first time to the end user and the feedback we got from those three days was indispensable.

Entrepreneur Tips

But, what does Plai, or moreover, what are the key principles to being an entrepreneur?

(Here’s the list version):

#1 Our fundamental principles are to define your company’s goals clearly, so the team knows the direction the company is going.

#2 […] don’t be afraid to change those goals or direction as long as you communicate them to the team.

#3 […] adapt and persevere according to your customer’s needs. […] it’s better to develop a product people like to use instead of not using it.

#4 Create small milestones […] and don’t forget to celebrate the small success this milestone gives the team.

#5 […] see setbacks as new learnings and not as failures.

#6 […] don’t forget the individual on the journey in a startup, be sincere and honest to yourself and the team.

Plai, a new kind of Steam

Plai is an innovative new PC game platform, aimed at those who value their time and money when it comes to buying PC games.

The system is based on the “rent-to-own” idea and will offer you the possibility to avoid paying for games you rarely play or outright never see again after buying them. With the Plai platform you pay by the hour while playing, until you reach the retail price. At that point the game has been paid off.

The project is ambitious and enters a market with few but strong competitors, such as Steam, GoG and Origin, but the team is positive that industry is ready for a change for the better. Still in development, Plai participated at Game Scope 2016 as exhibitors all four days and got good feedback from our visitors, other exhibitors and the investors. We are now looking forward to welcoming Plai to Game Scope 2017 and prepared an interview with them for Expo visitors and developers.

Find even more information on their Website or Facebook page.

We had  Plai office visit together with PR crew volunteers to have a nice cup of coffee and talk a bit. 

Plai illustration

Tell us about yourself!

Frank: My name is Frank, and I am the CEO at Plai. I mainly play the business role, as I have lots of experience in entrepreneurship. I have been gaming for several years.

Tobias: My name is Tobias, and I have the CTO role in the company, which means I am the tech lead and also the person responsible for product development.

Peter: I am Peter, and my daily routine here is being a software developer. I am maintaining the product with Tobias, crunching code and being awesome.

Why did you decide to start Plai. You said you were frustrated with current situation with games?

Frank: Since I am older than these guys, I used to play totally different games than they do now. I didn’t play games for some years because I spent my time working and raising up my kids. They are a bit older now though, which means I have some spare time to get back to gaming.

For someone like me, there are clear issues with the gaming industry today, and that’s what we’re attempting to fix with Plai. I either had to spend my limited time reading reviews about a game, or take a gamble and buy a game without knowing if it was anything for me.

Tobias: There are so many games now. It can be difficult to navigate the marketplace and discover games that you’ll enjoy, if you don’t put in the time. Being able to spread out your gaming budget and try games for yourself without putting down lots money gives you more flexibility while still supporting all the game developers that provide you entertainment.

Peter: My angle on this is – I am a hardcore gamer. I have lot of games, but I hardly ever play like 90% of them. I don’t play these games, but I paid the full price for them. And it is frustrating, when you go and realize how much money you have thrown out.

What is the difference between Plai and Steam?

Tobias: Steam is a huge entity, and many see it as synonymous with PC gaming, us included. All of us at Plai have Steam accounts, and have had for a long time. Plai is our way of offering an alternative to what Steam does, for people who prefer to consume their games in another way than what the mainstream platforms offer.

Frank: The spirit of Plai is flexibility and simplicity. You can go directly into the shop, find the game you want, start playing it, and only pay for the time you have played. When you have played enough to reach the retail price of the game, you have paid it off. You can then play it freely, as you’re used to with other platforms.

Is it both benefitial to customers and the developers, that people just don’t refund them on instant?

Tobias: Refunds are obviously an essential part of taking care of your customers. We feel, however, that Pay-as-you-Play is a much more sustainable way of doing “try-before-you-buy” than doing full refunds. The game developers will get paid, and you didn’t spend all your money on a game that wasn’t your cup of tea.

When we attended E3 in Los Angeles this year, we had the opportunity to talk to lots of publishers and game developers who were on board with Pay-as-you-Play. They’ll be able to expose their games to a whole new group of gamers who would love to play them, but aren’t willing to buy them at retail price.

We were following your journey to E3. What was your general impression of E3?

Peter: It was huge for us to go to E3. We talked to lots of people, and were amazed at the size and spectacle of the show. Although the “old timers” told us that compared to previous years, this show wasn’t that big. But for us it was.

I can magine the lines to try out the games and products…

Frank: Yes, we would have loved to try some of the games, but we had meetings, so we weren’t prepared to spend 3 hours in the queue to play for 20 minutes. Also, this was the first year when the show was totally open to the public, so the lines were even longer than previous years.

Have you got any interesting deals or insights on E3?

Frank: We went there with no expectations. We had some meetings with publishers, and they were actually pretty excited about Plai. We got some pretty neat deals with some medium to large sized publishers. Nothing is signed yet, but they were all happy to do business with us. We were really surprised at how little effort it took to get the publishers on board.

Have you met some people who are there purely for business, that don’t make games, but just sell them?

Peter: All the people we met at E3 are very passionate about gaming, and that’s what makes this industry so awesome! We didn’t meet anybody that didn’t seem interested in gaming and only interested in doing business.

You were at Game Scope last year, was it to try out the waters?

Peter: We went there with a proof-of-concept version of the platform, so we could ask people for feedback, and gauge the interest level. We got a lot of valuable honest feedback. We learned a lot about who would benefit from using Plai, and how we can make improve their gaming experience.

Are you excited to visit GameScope once again?

Frank: Of course we are excited to go to Game Scope again! It was the first event we ever attended with Plai, and from what I can see, you have expanded the show a lot! We are looking forward to meeting people from the Danish gaming industry.

One of PR Crew volunteers, Pavel, had very good questions to Plai so we decided to include them in this post.

I am one of the guys whose budget is usually somewhere around 0. So imagine I am playing a game, and I defeated a difficult boss, and my credit on Plai reached 0, and my last save was half an hour ago. What happens?

Tobias: You keep going. Right now we are experimenting with different approaches, but at the moment, your credit balance will just go negative, and then you will have to top it up.

Peter: If your credit goes negative, you’ll have to top it up to start the game again once you close it, but we never take control away from the player.

What stops me from having the PC just being on all the time?

Peter: Your balance will keep going negative. As it is now, when you sign up, you pair your account with your credit card, same as if you would pay your phone bill.

How is it pricing model is going to be? Some games take long time to finish, but they aren’t more enjoyable than other – shorter games?

Peter: For now, it is up to the publishers and developers to decide what the hourly rate for each game should be, but the more information we get about how people use the system, the better guidelines we can set, and help developers decide an optimal price point.

So for now you are letting the free market to decide?

Tobias: For now – yes. We want game prices that are good for both consumers and the publishers alike.

Thank you for your answers! Be sure to check out Plai booth at Game Scope 2017!

Photos made by Ervins Trans

Intro text and questions prepared for interview by Gergana Dimitrova

Interviewer Valerija Trane

Illustration by Slavomir Baca

eSports – a growing entertainment channel

Young people at the age of 12-35, men and women, boys and girls, are becoming more and more interested in eSports and gaming.

With more than 600,000 Danes watching eSports, the platform has grown to become one of the main channels for entertainment today.

In the digital world that we live in, and with the new ways of being social, it is only natural that a platform such as eSports has taken a hold amongst young men and women.

Since it offers the opportunity for people to combine their interests in games with the social interaction among a large group of people with shared interests, eSports has created an enormous and global community.

The trend started back in the 90’s where the offline events and LAN parties was where they met to form a social bond. But with today’s technology, the world has become smaller as people are defying the geographical boundaries and are increasingly finding their social group online.

This evolution of gaming has led to a serious growth in the number of gamers, viewers and investments from companies especially.

Just like one former generation idolized Rock & Roll and Elvis and the next one loved football and Messi, this generation has grown up in a digital world where they can even interact with the role models that they have in eSports.

Sponsoring eSports is therefore a way for companies to not merely have people see their logo, but to become supporters of an idol or an experience that their target group is extremely passionate about.

With opportunities both offline and online, eSport marketing provides a non-invasive yet direct channel to a target group that is extremely loyal to the companies who succeed in branding themselves in eSports.

This young target group has a filter that detects and eliminates the noise from any traditional marketing such as TV-ads, pop-ups etc.

Through the interactive marketing in eSports the younger generations barrier to advertising is broken through and companies can create relations with their target group.

At Saturday 19th of August in Skråen foyer Go Esport is holding a talk about how to earn money in eSport 

Learn More

Written by Mikkel Golding Faaborg from Go-eSport

Photo with controller by Olichel Adamovich

Photo with crowd by Jakob Wells