IGDA Finland Oulu hub: Polar Bear Pitching – pre party!

People attended:170Sponsors: Fingersoft, IBM, LudoCraft, PAVA Ry. Place: Gloria Nightclub Time: 24.2.2015 klo 20:00-01:00 (Afterparty @ Fingersoft jacuzzi)

IGDA Finland Oulu hub combined their forces with Oulu Pitch fest to warm up the people heading for the icy waters. This turned out to be the biggest event by Oulu hub so far with 170 people. We had a lively demo corner, snacks and drinks. We even had a polar bear visiting us!


Demo Corner presented: Icesolation (Oulu Gamelab), Gerty, Gobblin’ Goblinz (Frozen Vision), Happy Circus racing ( Meizi Games),  End State (Henry Vuontisjärvi), Fast and Futurous (Viima games), 5 seconds to kill, Disposables (Teemu Väisänen & Jonne Väisänen), Renegade Rockets (Naapukka productions)

Related links

Fingersoft (http://www.fingersoft.net/)
IBM (http://www.ibm.com/fi/fi/)
Ludocraft (http://www.ludocraft.com/)
PAVA Ry. (http://www.pava.fi/)
Polar Bear Pitch (http://www.pitchfestoulu.com/polarbear/)

Game Spring Oulu 2014 & IGDA Finland Oulu Hub After Party

On the 1st of April 2014 the Game Spring Oulu game development seminar was held for the third time at the campus of the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. This time the seminar was divided into two tracks, dev and biz, which attracted roughly 200 visitors from near and far. The main theme of this year was the future of gaming, especially in indie games. The speakers included people like Jay Ranki (Next Games), Fredrik Wester (Paradox Interactive), Andrew Walker (GameFounders) and many others.

After the official seminar programme it was time for the After Party, which was held at the Business Kitchen premises and was sponsored by Playraven and Fingersoft. The evening was all about mingling, networking and just having fun with fellow developers. The place was literally packed to the max with developers!

As a surprise program number a game related quiz was arranged. The battle was fierce, but luckily only egos were harmed during the competition.

photo 2 Teams pondering the correct answer for a question during the quiz


Hamsterscape developers enjoying the evening.

A big thanks for all the participants, partners and sponsors of both the Game Spring seminar and the After Party. See you again next year!

Cheers, IGDA Finland Oulu Hub

IGDA Finland Oulu Hub November Gathering

After a hugely successful October gathering we decided to play it a bit more conservative in November and arranged a classic pub night. This time we chose to occupy the restaurant Otto K instead of our usual place, just to explore possible future establishments for our gatherings. The place felt good and the staff was very supportive, so maybe we’ll give Otto K another chance some time during 2014.

The house was filled with around 20 local game developers who gathered around the tables to have more or less meaningful discussions with each other. The ice hockey game shown on the screen sparked some discussion about violence in games vs. violence in sports, but in general the tone of the conversations were quite casual.

At the moment we are working hard on planning and arranging the gatherings of 2014, so stay tuned and remember to play games!

- Antti Wilenius & the IGDA Finland Oulu Hub volunteers

IGDA Finland Oulu Hub Gathering

On the 17th of October IGDA Finland Oulu Hub arranged a gathering at the Business Kitchen premises, targeted primarily for students and game development hobbyists interested in getting a job or an internship position in a game development studio. The evening featured an array of speakers and presentations for those who arrived.

Tony Manninen (Ludocraft) took the floor first and provided the attendees with an inspiring presentation about the most important skills and traits required from a game developer

Second on the stage was Tero Takalo (Studio Outo) who shared his views on developing game graphics and what aspiring graphic artists should focus their skills on.

After the graphics presentation it was time to focus on programming, naturally. Niina Tampio (Ludocraft) told the audience what are the most important skills of a game programmer and how one should approach this highly demanding profession.

After our main presentations the floor was given for the representatives of Business Oulu, Business Kitchen, OuluSES, Oulu Game Lab and Stage, who all introduced their organizations and enlightened the attendees about how they can be of help for those interested in getting into the game industry.

The rest of the evening was dedicated for networking and socializing while having some drinks and snacks provided to us by our generous sponsors Ludocraft and OSAKO.

All in all the evening was a huge success in terms of both the number of attendees who participated and in the amount of positive feedback collected. In fact, we were so overwhelmed by the success, that we are most definitely looking into arranging a similar kind of evening during next year!

Stay gamified!

- Antti Wilenius & the IGDA Finland Oulu Hub volunteers

IGDA Finland Oulu Hub September Gathering

On 19th of September the local game developers of Oulu gathered once again for a relaxed night out at the restaurant 45 Special to embrace (or ward off) the closing autumn. This time there were no presentations or other official programme, but rather some laid-back socializing and casual conversation. Amongst the discussion one could hear longing for the “good old” games, listen to new game ideas being tossed around and participate in general game or game development related chat. All in all, a very warm and easy-going evening.

In October IGDA Finland Oulu Hub will arrange a “Interested in game industry” evening, targeted especially for students interested in applying for a job or an internship in a game development company. We will have a couple of presentations from professional game developers and after that we’ll spend the rest of the evening networking and having fun. And of course, you don’t have to be a student to join in; all are welcome!

For more information about our events and news concerning the Oulu game development scene, follow https://www.facebook.com/IGDA.Finland.Oulu.Hub

Antti Wilenius & IGDA Finland Oulu Hub coordinators

Spotlight story: Oulu

Spotlight story continues with the latest news from Oulu. Oulu game development scene has a fine long history. After a couple of a bit quieter years Oulu is back! Image: Wizardris (Playsign)

Oulu game development scene -- Facts & figures

There are 22 game companies and the number is increasing. Most likely before summer there will be over 25 companies. A lot of things are happening and publications come out almost every month. Oulu-based developers have relatively strong cross media know-how which I'd say is only beaten by Rovio. In the region there are already companies with games, tv shows, theme park, board games, toys etc. on the same IP, or a lot of projects that get support from other IPs. And one of our game companies even has a tv show in China.

IGDA: As an editor's note, I wonder why Oulu developers do not keep bigger noise about themselves. You guys should not overlook marketing! :)

Oulu game development scene has long traditions

Early in 2000s everything started in Oulu University when research project called Ludocraft was established. Back then there were only few things going on related to games. Our VTT unit would've had Nintendo Wii's technology available already in 1999 and GameLion's founder tried to start things in Oulu, but in vain. First wave of game companies got established middle of the decade thanks to Elvi project at the University which brought consultants from all over the world to Oulu. In 2007 there were about a dozen game companies in Oulu region. Then it was a bit silent, half of the companies established their position nicely, some went down under and some changed to ICT industry.

After a couple of years of hardship, things started to get a lot better for our companies at the turn of the decade. Knowhow on the area had developed a lot, and public sector woke up again. POEM, Business Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences started to focus more on games. Another boost came in 2012 as Nokia's layoffs created a clear boost to the scene which is still visible. Companies with financing secured appeared and are appearing and Oulu Game Lab is doing its best to help them get started. One interesting trait is that few large software companies are also expanding their scope to games and focusing on recruiting new talents and networking to existing companies. This is beyond those 22 mentioned at the beginning of the article.


Ludocraft, Playsign, Alpakka Media and Fingersoft. Spinfy could also be listed even though they are more into interactive entertainment.

Strong knowhow drives regional growth

Oulu region has two very multidisciplinary universities. Oulu University and Oulu University of Applied Sciences were a long time ago "Aalto Universities" in the north when Aalto itself was just a twinkle in politicians eyes. We get new knowhow to every aspect of game development and thus fresh skills to the industry and not just some of the required skills.

So far our growth has been organic. To my knowledge only a couple of our current companies has some investment money in them and one of them is technology company. Any big investment done to companies in our region waits in the future. The growth comes from increased knowledge from games which has been supported by regions public sector. Nowadays Business Oulu is the key player as they try to educate our companies how to attract private investments and among others of course supports our companies in other ways as well. But lack of investment money is the biggest obstacle along with not-good-enough marketing skills.

Our first wave of companies also had the setback that they all focused on totally different platforms, different business segments and different target audiences and thus could not be helpful to one another. Thanks to more accessible engines and lessons learned, cooperation between companies are now starting to flourish. Not only among game companies, but good example is the Cooperative Cult in the region where film, animation and game studios went under the same roof to create a creative hub which could be the best place to create strong IPs.

Oulu is large enough city to support a creation of wide range of creative content and products. We get new talents in all the time, and we have the public sector's support in place at the moment. Thus the goodwill in the region is very strong and now that good results are starting to come in, it only encourages other companies, media, public sector and hopefully investors as well.

Community is everything

Pava ry is association for game and film industry companies and it does the lobbying work in the region. It represent the voice of the industry.

We have Starttaamo that organizes Mobile Monday's and other community events. We have Business Kitchen, the Oulu University's and Oulu University of Applied Sciences' mutual business incubator that also organizes events. Then seminars and other bigger events are usually done in cooperation between the above and POEM Foundation, Business Oulu, OUAS, Starttaamo and Pava. Seminars like Game Spring Oulu in 21st of March. Of course important creation is also Oulu Game Lab, game education programme and preincubator which is the only public sector's place where people get paid full time to focus solely on games. We also have Stage, a student's game development club.

However there's no IGDA style association that would focus solely on game community activities. Thus we want to create IGDA Oulu which would be an easy route for Southern companies to network with our companies and people. It would work under Pava as there's no need to create a wheel from scratch and Pava already gathers the active's working for the benefit of game industry. IGDA Oulu would be the face for IGDA evenings and towards rest of the Finland and we suspect Pava is unheard of outside Northern Finland.

IGDA: In 2013 IGDA Finland focuses actively on supporting local game development hubs across Finland. We want to support your efforts on building local game dev community. I want to stress the word support as the initiative _needs to be_ driven locally. IGDA Finland will do road show this spring across Finland. We want to better understand how to support local game dev communities.

Also with 22 companies creating games or games related products, there's a need to have publication parties. IGDA evenings would be a nice way for teams to ease off once they've finished a project and are starting next.

Future visions are soon reality We have been surpassing the national growth figures for almost a decade now. Of course it's easy to do that when you start from zero. But the scope of our industry and new people entering the field has kept us pretty much on the scale with national figures even with Rovio's and Supercell's success taken into consideration. That was of course helped by Nokia, but there's no reason to believe why we couldn't keep up with the national estimations on the growth of the business.

In mid-2000s the core skills were not systematically high enough and growth was in too few hands to say it would've been on a stable ground. A closure of one big studio was a big setback for the whole scene and there were too few companies around to keep all of their staff still in Oulu. Now we have that thing fixed and there are now plenty of companies with high quality stuff being produced. Our biggest obstacles are in lack of marketing and financing/investment know-how and that's on the focus by most public sector players. This, along with first big publications (Air Buccaneers PC MMO, Hill Climb Racing with 40M downloads and Wizardris dominating Pelit magazines game art competition before it is even published (!) leads us to believe that even if some established companies would fail, we'd still continue our growth.

Uutiskirje 10/2011: Risteilyllä zombi-invaasion keskellä

Oululainen Tuonela Productions johdattaa pelaajat nauttimaan aurinkoisesta Karibian-risteilystä. Alus tosin joutuu zombihyökkäyksen kohteeksi – mutta onko ero känniääliöiden ja zombien välillä lopulta kovinkaan suuri?

Tuonela Productions sai alkunsa Oulussa vuonna 2006 toimineen ELVI-projektin tiimoilta. Projektilla pyrittiin lisäämään yritystoimintaa digitaalisen viihteen saralla, ja toimitusjohtaja Jussi Aution mukaan sen tärkein anti olikin kasvanut into yrittäjyyttä kohtaan. Neljä työntekijää ja muutaman harjoittelijan työllistävä Tuonela eroaa muista pelistudioista, sillä se kehittää sekä video- että lautapelejä. Vaikka toiminnan pääpaino on digitaalisissa peleissä, ovat juuri The Clubin kaltaiset lautapelit saaneet enemmän julkisuutta. Median toimintatavat ovatkin tulleet tutuksi ja kokonaisnäkemys pelikulttuurista vahvistunut.

Aiempiin videopeleihinsä Tuonela sai rahoitusta AVEKin Digidemo-hankkeesta, mutta uusimpaan projektiin rahoitusta tuli myös Interactive Worksilta, joka myönsi viimeisimmällä rahoituskierroksella tukea vain kahdelle suomalaispelille. Toinen näistä oli Tuonelan Zombie Cruise, jota tehdään yhteistyössä parhaillaan Iron Sky -elokuvaa työstävän Blind Spot Pictures -elokuvayhtiön kanssa.

Yhteistyö sai alkunsa, kun Tuonelalla kuultiin Blind Spot Picturesin tulevista projekteista. Zombie Cruise kiinnosti Tuonelan väkeä, joka ideoi aiheesta kolme erilaista peliluonnosta. Yhteisymmärrys löytyi nopeasti, ja yksi konsepteista otettiin jatkokehitykseen. Peli suunnataan 15–35-vuotiaille kokeneille pelaajille, jotka haluavat peleiltä muutakin kuin ajanvietettä. Tuonela ei halua pelin paljastavan elokuvasta liikaa, vaan toimivan pikemminkin esimakuna elokuvalle – toivon mukaan elokuva puolestaan nostaa pelin myyntiä. "Harvasta iPhone -pelistä voi sanoa, että tästä on hei muuten tekeillä myös elokuva", Autio naurahtaa.

Pelissä ja elokuvassa käsitellään tietenkin samoja teemoja: miten zombit ja humalaiset erottaa toisistaan ja miten vaikeaa tosirakkauden löytäminen voikaan olla. Kyseessä on silti kaksi itsenäistä teosta, joilla on omat tapahtumapaikkansa ja päähenkilönsä. Pelin päähenkilö on naisten perässä juokseva kolmekymppinen DJ, joka voi harhauttaa zombeja pussailemalla tyttöjä – tämä saa zombit luulemaan pelaajaa uhrilla syöpötteleväksi zombiksi.

Peliin haluttiin huumorin lisäksi myös romantiikkaa, ja päähenkilö joutuu myös kasvamaan ihmisenä. Peli aiotaan julkaista episodeina, jolloin kokonaisuudesta voidaan kehittää laaja niin, ettei kertaostoksesta kuitenkaan tule liian kallis. Pelin tarinan ja tunnelmankin luvataan kehittyvän osasta toiseen. "Kyseessä on pikemminkin kunnon toiminnalla höystetty puzzle-peli kuin tyypillinen zombimättöhöttö", Autio toteaa. "Tarinan ja tematiikan vahvistamiseksi dialogi ja tehtävien alustukset toteutetaan sarjakuvina."

Zombie Cruisen ensimmäinen osa julkaistaan näillä näkymin helmikuussa 2012. Myös lautapelirintamalla on tulossa uutuuksia: Autio paljastaa, että luvassa on klassisen MULE-tietokonepelin lautapeliversio. Tulevaisuudelta on voi siis odottaa paljon.

Riikka Karhila

Summary in English

Oulu-based Tuonela Productions is developing an interesting iOS game Zombie Cruise, a license-game based on the upcoming film by the Blind Spot Pictures. A pleasant cruise in the Caribbean is disturbed by a devastating zombie invasion – but is there really any difference between zombies and the drunken passengers?