Text by Giorgos Riskas and Roope Sorvo, photos by Casimir Kuusela
It’s that time of the year again, when developers congregate to bid their farewells to the departing year in good old IGDA fashion. The final Helsinki Gathering of 2018 was sponsored by Veikkaus and in addition to the usual free drinks this event included physical loot boxes and a fun non-traditional Christmas feast where the main ingredient was hot dogs. Their new, pirate-themed game Kultaranta occupied the demo corner, and featured as the common center point for the presentations.
The seminars were opened by Veikkaus studio head and a game development veteran Henri Lindgren, whose presentation Veikkaus Game Studio in a Nutshell went into detail about their development cycles, team structures and company philosophy. The focal point of the presentation was the shift from slot machines towards the mobile-first game design Veikkaus has been doing for the past year.
Lindgren’s previous experience in mobile F2P games has proven to be a powerful tool in leading his current studio to success. When asked to share a few hints on how to inspire teams instead of simply managing them, Lindgren used safety, freedom and responsibility as the key to success.
Following Lindgren was Sakari Tiikkaja, lead game artist at Veikkaus. In his presentation, Our Approach to Game Design and Creative Design, he went through the journey of a Veikkaus game, from raw concept to finalized, concrete assets. A key component on this journey is a 5-Step Design process influenced by Tim Brown and Roger Martin and further based on the work of designer Feng Zhu.
Tiikkaja believes that the aforementioned process could definitely be applied to games outside the field of gambling as well. When asked to name the biggest benefit of their workflow, Tiikkaja answered: “It is important to crystallize the concepts and find the boundaries of an IP early on in the development. This way, the developers don’t need to blindly grasp in the darkness.”
After Tiikkaja the stage was given to lead game artist Senja Heikkinen and senior game artist Henrik Hackenberg, whose presentation Case Study: Kultaranta delved into various trials and tribulations the game had during its development. While primarily a recitation of the art design for Kultaranta, going from early sketches and mood boards to the finished product, the presentation also explored topics such as designing a game simultaneously for three different types of slot machines and working with the ever-changing, yet endlessly strict Finnish gambling laws. However, at least when it comes to the latter, Hackenberg thinks that the situation has improved. “Instead of handing each gambling company an unique monopoly, the Finnish law has recently been unified so that there’s less fear of stepping on one another’s toes”, he says.
Happy holidays and joyous new year. See you in 2019!