IGDA Finland Nordic Game Official Party

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Eventbrite registration required! Sign up here.

IGDA Finland has teamed up with the folks at Nordic Game to organize the official Nordic Game Day 1 evening party!

After the first day of the Nordic Game, we'll gather to bar Skeppsbron 2 at 6 PM to enjoy drinks and networking. If you're attending the event, join us for international fun times – Nordic style!

The event has been brought to life by our wonderful sponsors Epic and Fingersoft.

IGDA Finland Nordic Game Official Party
Time: Wednesday 18.5.2016 at 6 PM
Venue: bar Skeppsbron 2 (Malmö)

You need your conference pass or a business card to check in at the event.

IGDA Finland Seminars + May Gathering with Yousician

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Spring is in the air, and summer is around the corner. You know what that means: it´s time for the May gathering!

To wrap up the spring season, there´s something very special coming up. Sponsoring the gathering we have Yousician, a music education company with a relentless drive to make the world a more musical place by changing the way people learn to play musical instruments.

Yousician is the fastest growing music education company in the world with over 25 million users across their apps. They develop high-tech piano, guitar, bass and ukulele learning software that gives users real-time feedback on how they play. Yousician’s cutting edge audio technology can listen to any instrument without the use of additional equipment. Yousician combines the addictive features of computer games with music exercises to make the learning process easy, fun and motivating.

Yousician is providing us with with all the tools for an absolutely epic night: guitar and ukulele workshops, competitions with great prizes, a live rock show and an arcade cabinet - and a costume competition! So grab your swag, bring the bling, this is the time to shine: dress up as your favourite, or least favourite, or the coolest or the grooviest musician for a chance to win a guitar or a ukulele!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30 (Doors at 17.00)
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

IGDA Finland May Gathering with Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Seminar agenda

Ari Pulkkinen

CEO and founder of AriTunes, Ari Pulkkinen is an award-winning composer and sound designer. With over 13 years of professional experience, his works include original music and audio for games such as Angry Birds, Resogun, Alienation, Super Stardust HD and Trine series. His record includes Hall of Fame in Pocket Gamer, Finnish Game Developer of the Year 2011 and Best PS4 Audio Award 2013 from Resogun by IGN and many others.

How to achieve the best audio design in video games

Audio and music branding is an important thing for any respectable project from mobile to console games. Audio can be neglected and hurried quite easily and it always affects the end result. Ari's speech will shed light on how to achieve the best results by designing and planning the project well before the actual work begins. How to create proper asset lists, reference and mood lists, and how to fit audio design to the overall game development cycle.

Ilmari Hakkola

Ilmari Hakkola is a game and media industry veteran, having started in mobile games back in 2000 as a graphic artist. Hakkola joined Rovio for the first time in 2005, expanding his area of work into music composing and video compositing. Hakkola is also the founder of Kombo, one of the biggest production companies in Finland, which was acquired by Rovio in 2011. After uniting with Rovio again, Hakkola has acted as Rovio's Head of Audio, leading a team of eight audio professionals creating unique audio content for Rovio's games and animations.

Audio's role in F2P

Free-to-play games are all about the service mentality. Games are constantly updated with new content and events, but audio is often built around old conventions. Sounds and music are one of the strongest tools of creating emotional engagement - can this property be used to boost the games performance?

IGDA Finland Turku Hub May Gathering Demo Corner

We are organizing demo corner at the Turku Hub May gathering. The demo corner is a place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to ten spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. If you need to plug more than one device to a power outlet, require a lot of space or need anything else we might have not thought about, let us know here. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

Introducing IGDA Finland Vaasa Hub

Vaasa game development scene is ready to take the next step. There has been a lot bubbling under in Ostrobothnia in recent years. One of the most visible parts being Vaasa Game Days, an annual event combining both consumer and professional sides in one enthralling game fair. And of course: there are plenty of people developing games!

ID@XBOX with IGDA Finland

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ID@XBOX with IGDA Finland – Special Event

Please note there´s a limited amount of tickets available – get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/idxbox-with-igda-finland-tickets-24511932851

IGDA Finland and the Microsoft Flux Team are joining their ranks for a very special evening dedicated to the ID@Xbox program.

The ID@Xbox program enables qualified game developers of all sizes to unleash their creativity by self-publishing digital games on Xbox One, giving studios the tools and support needed to maximize their success.

Agostino Simonetta, who manages the ID@Xbox program in Europe, will be there to talk more about the program and answer your questions. We will also have a couple of ID@Xbox indie-stories presented – so you´ll get to hear all about it straight from the developers. This is an excellent opportunity for everyone interested or wanting to know more about developing for Xbox to come and learn more: the facts, the experiences – and chat and network with like-minded people at the brand-new Microsoft Flux community space.

Drinks and snacks are on the house.

Program

  • 18:00 Doors open
  • Welcome to Flux
  • Introduction to ID@Xbox
  • Technical talk
  • ID@Xbox indie-stories
  • Networking, fun and good times – Party á la Flux!

Introducing IGDA Finland Satakunta Hub

In Satakunta there is plenty of know-­how in game development, gamification and related fields, but for a long time the companies and schools have worked mainly on their own. Well, that’s about to change right now: We are proud to introduce the brand new member of IGDA family – ­IGDA Finland Satakunta Hub! The first gathering for the students, professionals and enthusiasts was held in Pori in October 2015 under the name “Peliala Satakunta”. The organizers were expecting from 10­ to 20 people to participate, but the total number was almost 40! Lots of contacts and plans were made, and from the start it was clear that the gaming community in Satakunta wants to be part of a larger network: ­ IGDA.

Since then there has been a gathering every month and the network has expanded even more. Over 80 people have attended to the gatherings and other events and the hub´s Facebook group has well over 100 members. In the process of gathering the network, a local audiovisual development and production facility Villilä Studios has been a big help with the project “Cogas – ­Concepting Gaming Seriously”. The aim of the project is to gather a network in Game Development and Gamification and search for joint development ideas and new areas for business. Cogas is financed by The Regional Council of Satakunta.

But so far the enthusiasm of the game developers in the area has been in the biggest role in networking and boosting up the game industry in Satakunta; local game companies, education providers, development companies and all the great people sharing the passion for making games.

IGDA Finland Satakunta Hub warmly welcomes everybody to the gatherings and events in Satakunta. The first official gathering as IGDA Finland Satakunta Hub will be held in April. Join the group and find out about the upcoming events on Facebook: facebook.com/groups/igdasatakunta

Recruiting volunteers!

IGDA Finland is looking for more volunteers! Are you crafty with words and love social media? Or do you have some graphic design expertise? Our wonderful Media Team wants you!

We are currently looking for Social Media Managers and an Art Director in Helsinki area.

Social Media Managers - produce quality content on our social media channels (Twitter + Facebook), including live coverage of our monthly gatherings

We appreciate solid skills on Twitter and Facebook, understanding on the principles of different social media channels, excellent English skills. A more technical background will be considered a plus.

Sounds like you? Super! Contact our Social Media Coordinator Noemi Cugudda: noemi.cugudda@igda.fi

As an Art Director you will - take care of the look and feel of our visual content - oversee and organise the work of our photographers and graphic designers - plan and coordinate various graphics projects

We appreciate experience in project management, diverse graphic design skills, photography skills and a sharp visual eye.

Interested? Great! Drop an email to our Media Team Lead Niina Pesonen: niina.pesonen@igda.fi

As well as a fun team with fantastic people we offer exclusive studio visits and the chance to meet all the cool people in the industry – not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling inside you when you get to make the world a better place.

Not from the Helsinki area? Contact your local hub to volunteer! Everyone is welcome to contribute, no matter their skills and background.http://igda.fi/hubs/

IGDA Finland April Demo Corner Sign-up

We're organizing another demo corner at the April gathering. The demo corner is place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to eight spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

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Goodbye winter, hello spring!

Yep, you guessed right: It sure is time for another amazing night with IGDA! And we have with us no other than Electronic Arts and their mobile development studio tracktwenty.

Tracktwenty is EA’s mobile development studio based in Helsinki. The studio’s first title, SimCity BuildIt, has seen tens of millions of downloads since its December 2014 release and received multiple awards like the Best of Apple 2015. As well as continuing to develop and support SimCity BuildIt, tracktwenty’s experienced team of programmers, artists, designers and analysts are also working on new projects.

Come join us and let the good times roll!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

Time: 05.04.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland goes Game Dev Days

It’s almost April, and that means Game Dev Days are here again. The Estonian game conference is held now for the fourth time and it brings together game development professionals from all over the world to the lovely city of Tallinn. This year IGDA Finland will be there to attend the event in full force: we are working on bus rides from several hubs bringing people all over the country to Helsinki, where we’ll board a ferry to our southern neighbor. The participating hubs for this event are Oulu, Jyväskylä, Turku, and Kotka.

The buses are not the only thing we have in store for participants. IGDA members can get 20% off of Standard conference tickets with the code "IGDAFIN542”. There are also special discounts for both ferry trips as well as hotel accommodation. Note that some of the hotel discounts are only available until 25.3.2016, so make your reservations on the double!

The conference is held on 8.-9.4.2016 at Original Sokos Hotel Viru.

Our ferry of choice (Tallink) leaves on Friday, 8th of April at 10:30 AM. Join us for some international good times!

Discounts

Remember to use your IGDA discount for conference tickets: you’ll get 20% off of Standard conference tickets with the code "IGDAFIN542”.

We have plenty of partners to help you get there and rest well. To travel cheaper, use the promo code GAMEDEV to get 30% off of Tallink Silja ferry trips to Tallinn from Helsinki and Stockholm. Offer is valid for travel between 06.04.2016 - 11.04.2016.

Those traveling from farther away can also get discount tickets from OnniBus. If you prefer flying to the conference, airBaltic also offers discounts. Both of these partners use the code GAMEDEV as well.

Discount prices for accommodation are available at the following hotels:

Original Sokos Hotel Viru

Standard Single room 81€/night Standard Double room 86€/night

To book your room send an email including your personal details and promo code GAMEDEV to viru.reservation@sok.fi or book by phone +3726809300

Estoria Solo by Sokos

Solo King Single room 85€/night Solo King Double room 95€/night

To book your room send an email including your personal details and promo code GAMEDEV to viru.reservation@sok.fi or book by phone +3726809300

Tallink City Hotel

Standard SINGLE room 65€/night Standard TWIN/DOUBLE room 75€/night

To book your room send an email including your personal details and promo code GAMEDEV to hotelbooking@tallink.ee

Additionally, those who favor even cheaper options, we have a pre-booking for 12 beds at  Center Hotel at very low price.

1 Family room (4 beds) - 48 EUR/night

3 Twin rooms - 30 EUR/night

2 Single rooms - 25 EUR/night

We need to confirm this reservation by 25.03.2016 or the reserved rooms are freed up. Contact your hub representative if you are interested in taking part in this deal.

Contact information

Each hub will inform their members on bus schedules in their own channels. To find out more, contact the representative of your local hub.

Jyväskylä

Tuomas Roininen – tuomas.roininen@igda.fi Sasu Louke – sasu.louke@expa.fi

Oulu

Anna Salomaa – anna.salomaa@igda.fi

Turku

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/221379864882537/ Natasha Trygg – arsparietis@gmail.com

Kotka

Mika Turkia – Mika.Turkia@student.kyamk.fi

For those departing from Helsinki area, your contact person is Katri Laine katrilaine147@gmail.com. Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/838553366255862/

IGDA Finland Turku Hub gathering with Rival Games and Shark Punch

The March gathering was back in Hunter’s Inn, and this time with presentations by Rival Games and Shark Punch. Also in the demo corner: BitByByte’s first game Planet Shock.

Romanced by Rival Games

The future is looking good for Rival Games. After a hard year 2015 they have received funding and are soon ready to publish the third and last episode of their game The Detail. The Detail has a very decent metacritic score and has been received with much delight by both players and critics. The company is one of the more successful ones in the Turku game development scene. And more success is sure to come for this hard working studio. Rival Games currently employs 16 people, and they will be hiring more people this year.

On Wednesday the audience had the pleasure of hearing CEO Jukka Laakso talk about sales figures for The Detail on Steam, and lead writer JD Sorvari gave us insight into the process of writing the game.

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The Detail is a graphic novel style game reminiscent of Frank Miller. It was initially planned to be five episodes long, but now the story is going to have its closure in the third episode. Sorvari told us about the shock that he as a writer had, realizing that his story would be cut shorter. First he had thought he had plenty of space to develop the plot and “romance” the players – but it was not to be. However, being forced to compress and reduce can often lead to better storytelling, which Sorvari hopes to have succeeded with in the third episode.

Releasing a game in episodes gives the business model an interesting flair. Laakso was able to visualize this by showing us graphs from Steam sales. Firstly, Steam is the number one sales platform for Rival Games, and stands for 63-70 % of their sales revenue. Other distribution channels are nowhere near as fruitful, for example iOS sales is only at 14 %, and others (like humble bundles and such) stay at 24 % of total sales revenue. For every episode and sale period the sales spike increased, while almost flat-lining in between. We wish Rival Games good luck with their third episode release!

Playfield taking a punch at Steam

The company Shark Punch was presented by Tero Tapio and Peter-Erik Kiis. They told about the origins, team and philosophy of the company. Shark Punch employs 13 people and their HQ is in Helsinki. The founders managed to sell their previous company to Disney, and then they went indie.

They initially released a game called The Masterplan – a 70s style heist game. After this first release they have focused on another type of development project: a distribution platform for other game developers, www.playfield.io.

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There are thousands of games being released every year, and a new game very easily drowns in the static. How can developers get visibility and find the right type of player? The focus in Playfield is on helping game developers get discovered by players. Shark Punch wants to achieve this by personalizing recommendations and having a great storefront. They also have partnerships with Twitch and YouTube users.

Currently Playfield has 2000 games, and 1000 developers on board. The community is mostly between 25 and 34 years of age, and also mostly male. Half are from English speaking countries.

Playfield will be coming out of beta in Spring 2016. The point is: they don’t want players to miss “gems” in the game avalanche. They urge game developers to bravely contact them and try out Playfield.

BitByByte and Planet Shock

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In the demo corner we got some space ship shooting and cosmic eye candy. BitByByte Creations is a new game development team based in Turku, and the game “Planet Shock” is in Steam Greenlight at the moment, go check this link and give support!

Text: Jenny Wiik

Photos: Natasha Trygg & Toni Heinonen

IGDA Finland Turku Hub

IGDA Finland March Gathering wth Reaktor Ventures: The Aftermath

Hello hello! Time to recap the Helsinki March gathering with Reaktor Ventures. This time there was no seminar so we got started a little later. The evening was more of a hands-on experience with a number of exciting Virtual Reality demos available. We also cheered and toasted Vesa Raudasoja for his success in the Board of Directors election! Vesa is the first Finn and only second European member of the Board, and his goal is to bring the “international” back to IGDA. To illustrate some of his ideas, Mr. Raudasoja described a collaboration between sites in different countries during the 2016 Global Game Jam. During the jam, the different locations posted progress updates, made video calls and cheered each other on over the weekend. What’s up for you in the next three years, Mr. Raudasoja? “I want to connect the dots in a large scale. The time is ripe for the European and International game developing communities to start working together more closely, in a natural way. I think all it needs is a little push in the right direction, and I wish to be there to put things in motion.” “Over the ten years I’ve been involved in building this community, I’ve made a lot of friends and connections, but it doesn’t end here. We are going to do this as a community, I couldn’t have made this alone.” Mr. Raudasoja also hopes that everyone would would offer him any insights or ideas about how to improve the international community and collaboration between the game developers of the world. You may contact him at vesa.raudasoja@igda.fi.  

 

Reaktor Ventures

The evening was sponsored by Reaktor Ventures, the Finnish seed stage investor. Mr. Ville Vesterinen, EIR of the company, talked to us about how Reaktor Ventures works.

“We like to be the first investor in the company, to add the most value. We invest from tens of thousands up to one million euro, and also offer the services of Reaktor’s 350 designers, coders & growth engineers to our portfolio companies free of charge. We have a strong interest in the Finnish game industry and want to work hard to make it succeed just as we want to work hard for the Finnish startup space in general.“

“So far at Reaktor Ventures we have invested in two very promising companies in the VR space. We have invested in both VR content as well as VR enabling technology, and intend to continue doing so in the future! Games are the obvious choice but VR has promise in many different sectors and we’d love to see companies across the board.”

Sólfar studios is an Icelandic gaming studio working on two titles: Everest VR experience (more on that later) and a game called Godling. Univrses is an early stage Swedish company developing the hottest central technology for all VR hardware - positional tracking.

What do you feel the future is going to be for VR technologies, Mr. Vesterinen?

“We believe that VR, and in due course AR will be among the central new growth markets of the coming decade and beyond. We have exceptionally deep understanding and competence in VR related technologies here in the Nordic countries, and we believe that wider Scandinavia, and especially Finland, is going to be home to many world leading VR and AR companies.”

Everest

Sólfar and Reaktor Ventures had erected a black box in the middle of the venue. Inside awaited a thrilling virtual reality experience on Mt. Everest, using the new HTC Vive system. Created from over 300,000 hi-res images, the environment also in fact allows you to physically move around, thanks to the Vive’s motion tracking tech. Cleverly using virtual step marks on the floor and a barely visible grid inside the VR world to mark the walls of the room, you can move around fairly safely inside the virtual experience without the fear of walking into a wall.

An exhilarating additional experience came from the handheld controllers. The handle-shaped controllers had great and very responsive grip, and the feedback felt surprisingly realistic - as if you were really dragging a gloved hand along the rope handles of a bridge! Also, being able to see your hands in virtual reality really adds to the immersion.

All in all, despite the shortness of the actual demo, the experience was very engaging, and doing what every responsible person should do to overcome their fear of heights – step over the edge into a bottomless icy gully –  was surprisingly terrifying, in spite of knowing there was solid floor under my feet!

Finnish Virtual Reality Association, FIVR, had a successful day hosting the grand opening of the Finnish VR Hub at YLE Iso Paja in Pasila earlier on Tuesday. The hub offers space and hardware for devs working on VR and AR projects, and contains currently powerful PCs, HTC Vive and Oculus Rifts. FIVR aims to bring together Finns interested in VR development. They currently have some 400 members, professionals and hobbyists alike, and joining is free of charge.

Their big day was rounded up by some very nice demos by FIVR members. The demos included a fun platformer called Lollihop, a VR comic episode game demo called Since They Left (Riidenpolusta Lähtien), a Samsung Gear VR space flight demo and another Vive demo, an exciting VR space painter called Tiltbrush. We got to try a couple of these demos, but due to very long queues, we simply couldn’t get through to all of them. Joonas Häll tried Lollihop, a game where you control an adorable platypus in a platformer world: “The game was really cool - you can control the camera through the headset, so by leaning forwards you can see things up very close, or take a peek behind a wall and see where you’re going to jump to. Very enjoyable!” I had a peek at Since They Left. It is going to be a five-episode game, combining features of comics, visual novel and adventure games. According to the game’s developer and main artist Kriina Rytkönen, the demo was an “episode 0”, proof of concept and a prequel to the main story. The story itself is going to feature the demo’s youths ten years later, meeting up in a forest with some supernatural elements. Sounds like fun! Maxine was again full to bursting with people having fun, trying out the demos and enjoying themselves. Until next time!  

 

Photos by: Janne Karvinen

Vesa Raudasoja elected to the IGDA Board of Directors

Vesa Raudasoja, a long time active member of IGDA Finland,  has unlocked quite an achievement as he was elected to the IGDA Board of Directors. IGDA Finland warmly congratulates Vesa Raudasoja for his election and wishes him continued success in his future endeavors.

The results of the election came out on Thursday the 3rd of March and new board members will officially begin their terms on 1st of April 2016.

The final results are as follows:

  • Vesa Raudasoja - 473 votes
  • Lucy Morris - 318 votes
  • Melody Schaeffer - 241 votes
  • Cat Wendt - 213 votes

More information on the election and results can be found here: http://www.igda.org/news/278072/2016-IGDA-Board-of-Directors-Election-Results.htm

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures

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Guess what, folks! February is almost over and it´s time to get ready for the March gathering. And we´ve got plenty of awesomeness in store.

This time our event is sponsored by the fantastic Reaktor Ventures. They want to invest in the best seed stage companies and help them become global leaders in their industry. In addition to investing venture capital, the company makes their 300 professionals available for their portfolio companies for free. Since February 2013, Reaktor Ventures has invested in 27 seed stage companies, including 5 gaming startups.

Also, we´ll have some VR setups, including HTC Vive, for you to try out! Pretty cool, right.

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For a full day of VR, remember to check out the The Finnish Virtual Reality Association Grand Opening with seminars and demos held at YLE Iso Paja, in Pasila. More info and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fivr-hub-grand-opening-tickets

This will be a night to remember, so make sure to join us in March!

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures
Time: 08.03.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland Turku Hub February with King

In February IGDA Finland had the great pleasure of being visited by game developers from the Swedish company King. Benjamin Glaser, Mikael Säker and Robert Käck toured Finland and visited Kotka, Helsinki and last but not least, the Turku hub. Be sure to also check out the report of the Helsinki event. On Wednesday 10.2 they spoke both at the ICT-building in Turku, and at the IGDA evening gathering at Restaurant Mauno. The audience got an insight into King as a company and a brand, and a thorough and enthusiastic presentation of King’s game engine Defold, that is about to be publically launched very soon. The gathering also featured a demo corner.

From shooting bubbles to blasting blossoms

Robert and Benjamin gave us a short history of King, and some very helpful hints for students that are interested in breaking into the game industry.

The company was founded in 2003, and the first kinds of games produced were so called “skill games”. These are small puzzle type games with very quick rounds, and usually the theme was shooting bubbles. In the early business model there was also betting involved.

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Between 2003 and 2010 King created around 150 IP’s. The company became profitable in 2005 and partnered with Yahoo at this time. When Facebook entered the social media scene, King developed the “Saga”-format and targeted Facebook users. The Saga format includes the maps that the player progresses on, the star system and the progression of the puzzles. In 2012 mobile had also become an important frontier for King games to conquer. The core mechanic of the games stays the same. A distinct feature is the cross platform functionality. King’s four franchises are Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and Bubble Witch Saga.

King has 1700 employees in 13 studios around the world. The Shanghai office is the newest one. King games have a user base of 330 million, which is challenging to manage. The company has been awarded the title of Sweden’s best employer twice, and there is much effort put on nurturing a balanced company culture and clear values. Employees need to have a certain mindset to fit in, and aspirants for jobs go through a process of interviews to make sure that they are a fit.

Robert, who works with the King brand, gave the students at the ICT lecture some valuable hints on how to apply for internships and jobs in the game industry on a general level. Target fewer companies, rather than shooting with a shotgun and sending out masses of generic applications. Be sure to write applications that stand out in the competition. What kind of company do you want to work for, and what is the company that you are applying for actually like? Ask around and do research. Also networking is very important, as many recruitments are made via referrals, at least when it comes to King. Volunteering for IGDA is one way to network for example…

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Not for tech tinkerers

Benjamin and Mikael’s aim for doing this tour of Finland is also to spread the word on King’s game engine Defold. The engine has been in development for over six years, and is ready to be officially launched. Although it has been possible to get invites for quite a while already, so the engine is already functioning and in use. The latest game release from King – Blossom Blast – was made with Defold.

Although King is developing the engine, it is not only for internal use (and there are no King ads or anything like that in games made with it). One of the initial developers and founders of Defold, has said “we wanted to make something that was state of the art, not state of the industry”. The point being that Defold is not tech focused. It contains solutions for generic problems.

And it will be given out for free.

Benjamin mentioned several reasons for this: 1) To make sure King is relevant in the industry – that they are a tech savvy company; 2) Creating a larger user base leads to improved production quality and also benefits the internal users; 3) It’s nice, and they have the means to do it. Of course, showing good will to the game developer community is part of a branding strategy as well.

During the daytime lecture Mikael gave the audience a lot of insight into the game design process, and in the evening his presentation was more focused on showing how Defold works. One of his main messages was that when we are designing, we are not just having ideas and then implementing them, rather, design is about making ideas work, and “discovering the idea” as the design process moves forward.

The developers of Defold hope that their engine will make this process easier by making the engine and design process collaborative – “things communicate”. One effect of using Defold has been shortening the loading time for the games, which also makes the gaming experience much more pleasant for the player.

If you want to know more, check out the Defold webpage: http://www.defold.com/

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Democorner

The gathering also had a couple of demos to try out: Sauna Simulator by students at Turku UAS and Quadro Delta’s Ragnorium. The Sauna Simulator was made in 48 hours at the Global Game Jam, and became an instant hit on YouTube with 25000 views in less than a week.

For more about Quadro Delta, check out their website: http://www.quadrodelta.com/

Text: Jenny Wiik

Photos: Natasha Trygg & Toni Heinonen

IGDA Finland Turku Hub

IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering with King: The Aftermath

Hello again! Time to recap the Helsinki February gathering! The atmosphere was very warm, with an impressive number of people having showed up to hear the pre-gathering seminar. We had King representatives talking about the company's new game engine Defold, as well as New Dawn and Housemarque to show us a teaser trailer of their upcoming documentary feature film, Name of the Game. While waiting for the Candy Crush Royalty to show up, we had a chance to set up a Pulla Crush of our own - King, our sponsor this month, had provided some delicious Shrove buns for the Almond team and the Jam team to battle over. ;)

 

The Defold Saga

Robert Käck, Mikael Säker, and Benjamin Glaser from King introduced us to King's brand new game engine, Defold. King acquired Defold, now a six-year-old company,  two years ago. So far, Defold has been used for the King title Blossom Blast Saga, and a number of indie games.

The core idea around Defold is to create a lightweight game engine that would cut down the time spent fiddling with tools, and help you spend more time actually creating awesome games. Since most of the Defold devs come from AAA backgrounds, they know the importance of performance and scale - not just that of the games, but of the tools as well. Moreover, they wanted a tool that the entire team can use, from programmers to artists.

The engine itself will be very customisable. Capable of 2D and some nice physics out of the box, at its core Defold is 3D. The main scripting language is Lua, and all the features support fast and easy workflow. When restructuring folders, for instance, the engine keeps track of references for you. You can even make changes in scripts while running the game in the editor and see them take effect immediately! This is really good news for testing small tweaks. The builds for different platforms are also very fast, thanks to Lua.

There are some limits, of course – 3D and requires a little bit more effort and tinkering, and Lua as scripting language means you basically need to go low-level to create AIs. Currently the devs are working on a new, better editor view and engine expandability.

 

Sharing is caring

King is releasing Defold to the open public for free. There will be no premium versions, the engine will be the same inside and outside the company. When asked why, the answer was "because we can". Openness also maintains positive pressure to keep up great quality and discourages trick solutions.

The engine is currently at invite phase, and there are invites available for IGDA people here. Defold will be officially published at around GDC this year.

 

Vote Finnish in IGDA elections!

Vesa Raudasoja was applauded to the stage to remind the audience of his nomination to IGDA Board of Directors. Mr. Raudasoja feels that while IGDA is the largest game developers' association in the world, it is very US-centric. Mr. Raudasoja would like to offer global perspective and unite the European game front. If you are a member of IGDA, exercise your right to vote!

 

Name of the Game

Last but not least, we got a teaser sample from Name of the Game. What started as a marketing video about Housemarque's still very hush-hush game project collaboration with the arcade game legend Eugene Jarvis has now turned into a full-length film production.

The New Dawn camera crew has been following the development process for 18 months now, and while Mikael Haveri, the Head of Self Publishing from Housemarque told us that at first they felt a bit shy and may have needed a beer to relax in front of the cameras, they have now become a natural part of the process. We can attest to that, having seen his butt in some epic ice swimming scenes!

The film will follow the key moments of the project, but it also dives into the lives of the devs outside the project. Release is expected after the game – still unnamed – is released, but we can't wait to see the result!

If you missed the presentation, you find the trailer and more info here.

Photos by Daniel Schildt

That's that for this time! Hope to see you in March!

 

White Nights Helsinki: Update

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It’s now official: the White Nights conference welcomes developers and publishers for all platforms!

On February, 11-12, 2016 the Wanha Satama exhibition centre will open its doors for the White Nights attendees!

The very first White Nights conference in 2012 was focused solely on mobile games. Last year 'social' was added to the event title. Although, the games market is constantly changing and the phenomenon of cross-platform has become a trend impossible to ignore. It was time to make the change and invite the entire gaming industry with PC, console, web, social and mobile projects!

Program

The final program is available on the conference website. Experts from leading companies will share their knowledge and secrets to success! Viber, Supercell, Rovio, Wooga, Playraven, Wargaming, Google, Amazon, YouTube, Sony Playstation, Facebook, VK.com, and many more will be attending!

Matchmaking

A list of already registered companies (http://wnconf.com/en/attendees/index) is now available on the conference website and is being updated on a regular basis!

Networking parties

It’s not a secret that the White Nights Conference is famous for its awesome networking parties (http://wnconf.com/en/parties)!

There will be two parties held at the conference in Helsinki. The pre-party will take place on February 10 in the Teatteri Restaurant. At the end of the first day of the conference, on February 11, there will be an official White Nights all-night party held at the lounge-restaurant Club Capital! Dinner buffet, drinks kindly sponsored by Supercell, DJ and great networking will be awaiting the conference attendees! This is the party nobody wants to miss.

Raffle

At the end of the second day of the conference, from 6:30pm till 7pm all attendees are invited to take their chances in the White Nights Super Raffle! You never know, it could be you leaving the conference with one of the prizes.

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There is still time to register: http://wnconf.com/en/#registration Use promo code IGDA-Finland to get 20% off the price.

See you in Helsinki!

Vesa Raudasoja nominated for IGDA Board of Directors / Vesa Raudasoja ehdolla IGDA:n hallitukseen

A long time active IGDA Finland member and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Vesa Raudasoja has been nominated for International Game Developer's Association's (IGDA) Board of Directors. Raudasoja has been involved with IGDA Finland since the beginning, and is the first Finnish person nominated for the Board. Previously the Board of Directors has mainly consisted of members from North America.

A game developer himself, and having closely followed the growth of Finnish game industry, Raudasoja finds IGDA's role very important for game developer communities and wants to get European and Scandinavian voices heard more in the community.

"I'm sure that many game studios in Finland and internationally have started because of IGDA's activities. Without an organization like this the game industry in Finland, for example, would probably be much smaller. Game developer communities are very important and IGDA has been creating these for years all around the world.”

All full members of IGDA are eligible to vote on the election until the end of February. There are four candidates in total of which two will be elected.

Raudasoja will be saying a few words on his nomination at the February gathering on 9.2.

More information on the election: http://www.igda.org/?page=elections2016

Vesa's Campaign Page: https://www.facebook.com/voteforvesa

IGDA Finlandin pitkäaikainen aktiivi, Lifetime Achievement Awardilla palkittu Vesa Raudasoja on ehdolla International Game Developer's Association (IGDA):n hallitukseen. Raudasoja on ollut mukana IGDA Finlandin toiminnassa sen perustamisesta lähtien ja on ensimmäisenä suomalaisena ehdolla hallitukseen, jonka paikat ovat aiemmin jakautuneet enimmäkseen pohjois-amerikkalaisten toimijoiden kesken.

Raudasoja on itsekin pelinkehittäjä, ja on ollut seuraamassa Suomen peliteollisuuden kasvua pienistä indie-studioista satojen pelialan yritysten maaksi. Hän pitää IGDA:n roolia erittäin tärkeänä peliteollisuudelle, ja haluaa saada yhteisössä kuuluviin erityisesti pohjoismaista ja eurooppalaista ääntä.

“Olen varma, että monikin pelialan yritys niin Suomessa kuin ulkomaillakin on saanut alkunsa IGDA:n ansiosta. Ilman tällaista toimijaa peliteollisuus etenkin Suomessa olisi varmasti pienempi. Yhteisöt ovat erittäin tärkeitä ja IGDA on luonut näitä vuosien ajan ympäri maailman.”

Kaikki IGDA:n täysivaltaiset jäsenet voivat äänestää vaaleissa aina helmikuun loppuun asti. Neljästä nimetystä ehdokkaasta kaksi valitaan hallitukseen.

Raudasoja on paikalla helmikuun tapaamisessa 9.2. ja pitää puheenvuoron ehdokkuudestaan.

More information on the election: http://www.igda.org/?page=elections2016

Vesa's Campaign Page: https://www.facebook.com/voteforvesa

IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering With King

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After a great start for the new year it's time to get ready for the February gathering!

The gathering will be sponsored by King, best known for launching several hugely popular titles like Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Bubble Witch Saga. To get the evening started we'll have a seminar with presentations from three amazing gentlemen: Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser.

Robert's main claim to fame was winning both gold and silver at the Swedish championships in NHLPA Hockey '93 and NHL '94 on Sega Mega Drive back in the day. Nowadays he makes sure that King is a great place to work and create games at, heading up the employer brand team. Mikael Säker has been working professionally in the videogames industry since 2002; as a writer, narrative designer, game designer and game director. He is currently working in King's Defold team as a technical writer, designer and developer and for DICE as a narrative director. Benjamin Glaser started out as a game artist in 2001. He has been responsible for a number of original titles from, among others, King and has worked both as artist and game designer, mainly in the mobile space. Lately he has focused on bringing digital products to market, working with companies such as Spotify and is currently responsible for the public launch of King's game engine Defold.

Also, a long time active IGDA Finland member and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Vesa Raudasoja, who was recently nominated for IGDA Board of Directors, will say a few words about his nomination.

And that's not all! On top of all that we'll be showing a clip of the upcoming documentary film The Name of the Game. The film covers the adventures and collaboration of the legendary game designer, Eugene Jarvis, and the Finnish game developer, Housemarque.

So come and escape the snow and cold for an evening of fun and friends!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by King
Time:
09.02.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser

IGDA Finland February Gathering with King
Time:
09.02.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland seminars + January Gathering with Metropolia: The Aftermath

Happy New Year, folks! Time for the recap of the year’s first gathering, sponsored by Metropolia. Held in Maxine for the second time, the event was kicked off with a seminar on storytelling. A respectable number of people had braved the weather and knee-deep snow to tap into the knowledge of Mika JD Sorvari of Rival Games and Adam Mayes, Game Designer and subject responsible for the Uppsala University Game Design programme in Visby. The Devil in The Detail

Mr. Sorvari talked about the practical side of publishing their neo-noir crime adventure The Detail. The team’s goal was to create a five-episode season, and they decided to focus on the story instead of gameplay and puzzles. Their format, inspired by Telltale games and Dontnod’s Life is Strange, hasn’t really been overdone in the market, so they wanted to join the race and even do better! The game has been quite successful with 80/100 average rating on Steam, selling over 100,000 copies.

The presentation provided delightful insight into a game writer’s job and some of the choices they face when writing a modular story. Mr. Sorvari described to us several ways to structure such writing, from the relatively simple “String of pearls”, where storylines come together every so often in the same place, through the “Diverging Paths”, which can be more fun for the player with its multiple independent story streaks, to the “Full Octopus”, which appeared to be a mix of both. Some choices may skip some parts of the plot entirely, for instance, but there would still be an abundance of possible outcomes. All structures need to balance meaningful choices with available resources.

Mr. Sorvari emphasised the importance of “mid-level choices”. Often you may be faced with the fact that your choices are often either completely trivial or absolutely life and death. Giving the player choices from the middle ground can be very satisfying, especially if they lead to concrete outcomes – possibly even later in the game.

For keeping all of this together, Mr. Sorvari introduced us briefly to his most important tool, articy:draft. It’s a professional game design software, especially powerful in organising modular writing. Beat the dead horse until it stops spitting out money, or, You’re doing stories wrong Mr. Mayes took us on a (at times absolutely hilarious) whirlwind tour of good storytelling principles. He started with “cussing out lazy, feckless narratives and the people who buy them” (his words, not ours!). But there was more to it. According to Mr. Mayes, since we have this massive new storytelling media with millions of consumers, we should make something other than Michael Bay movies with it. So how? Taking storytelling apart, we have the narrative: a simple telling of events. ”The floating hands and gun flew into a room. The floating hands and gun killed some people.”

A plot then, is a sequence of events with a causal link. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief.” And then, of course, you have your characters. Mr. Mayes showed us a quote from Matt Burnett, the creator of the Steven Universe cartoon; he was asked whether his show was a character driven or a plot driven story or a bit of both. His answer: “Character driven. Plot means nothing without characters.” Alright, so what makes a good character? In short, Desire, and goals. What do they want? Why do they want it? Plot can’t be isolated from characters, because they are the ones creating the causal links that make up the plot! And if you link your player’s goals with your character’s goals, you’ll not only be telling a story through an interactive medium, but you actually engage the player and make them drive their own interactive story.

It doesn’t even need to be tedious. The adorable Steven Universe video (available in the slides) showed us that you can introduce characters and their motivation, lay down the backstory and push them towards the future in only a few minutes if you’re clever about it.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we already doing this? According to Mr. Mayes, the industry consensus seems to be that an interesting lead would make it harder for people to relate to the protagonist. Or that the players need to be able to see themselves as the protagonist, which clearly, as you can see, is usually the case.

Sure, the protagonist might be a supersoldier. And a cyborg. You’re also assassins. From the future. But it’s a blank character, immediately relatable to anyone!

And here came perhaps the most poignant words of the evening: since games are an interactive medium that can be the complex bearers of ideas, designers should not only be capable as designers. They should also be competent and responsible authors, who can express meaningfully through interactive systems.

One thing that games are brilliant at, according to Mr. Mayes, is character development: levelling up, getting more powers, getting more powerful equipment and so on. If you tie this mechanic to the player’s progression in the story, you let the player truly play through the story and not just sit back and watch the it unfold. All in all, these two very inspiring and educating presentations launched an excellent evening with many excited groups of people teaming up to discuss the themes among themselves and the speakers.

 

  • Mr. Mayes’ presentation slides are available here!

 

Demo Corner Report

This month’s demo corner hosted games made by students and affiliates of Metropolia. By the time I got there, there were still six games to try out! Ilkka Räsänen from Mubik Entertainment was there to show off their company’s and Metropolia students’ collaboration, a musical snake game based on Mubik’s original musical quiz game. The goal of the game is to keep the snake alive by tapping on buttons, keeping to the rhythm of the song playing in the background. The company also make pure learning games with similar mechanics to be used in teaching children and treatment of memory patients. The game will be out for Android in February. Panu Siitonen, who currently works at the Metropolia Game studio, presented a 2D flying game called Al’s New Wings. Al is an albatross who has lost his wings, so he’s learned to fly a helicopter and found himself a new career saving people, animals, crates and ships that are in trouble at sea. Adorable! The game isn’t out yet, but iOS and Android releases are planned.

Trash Diver started out as a school project in Metropolia. It’s a post-apocalyptic underwater platformer inspired by the alarming trash situation of the Pacific Ocean. In a world where sea levels have risen critically, most resources are now trash in the bottom of the sea. The game features some puzzles and enemies, and the goal is to get resources to the surface. The demo version has three levels and is available on Playfield and IndieDB. Vulpine Games had brought their social space game, Last Planets. It’s a tactical mobile MMO in the spirit of Clash of Clans, set in space. Every player has their own planet, and you can team up with your friends. Rashad Hasanzade told us that they really aim to make it fun to play with friends, and that the social aspect comes first. There is an evil AI power called B.O.TS.  you’re meant to stop from invading the galaxy destroying your home planet. The game looks really colourful and delicious and will be released for iOS.

Next up was Taphold Games with two games. Lead designer Konsta Kesälä told us about the Metropolia game design project their company formed around, the as of yet unreleased Buglantic Football. Refreshingly, the game is in fact a two-player hotseat game for mobile platforms! The idea is to bring people together over mobile devices, in the manner of board games. The teams move on a hex grid and attempt to score goals kicking around a wilful little bug who also moves if it has the space to do so. I was pleasantly reminded of old Heroes of Might and Magic mechanics, but the game requires some chess-like tactical thinking as well.  The game will be published later for iOS, Android and PC, but the company is currently focusing on their recently published mobile puzzle game, SumTowerElias Rantanen was there to introduce us to SumTower. The game has some match-three qualities, but the guys at Taphold wanted to do something different. In a 6x4 grid, you start with a screen full of blocks. Removing blocks makes the blocks fall down and similar colours combine, but as an extra twist, the blocks have numbers on them! When the blocks combine, the numbers on them are summed together. The game combines the incredibly addictive features of Candy Crush and 2048 while being quite original. I was instantly hooked! SumTower is available on Android, iOS release is pending.

What a fantastic gathering once again!  See you all in February!

 

 

Photos by Daniel Schildt