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.
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…
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/
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