Who's this Klanger? An interview with Sigurdur Gunnarsson
September 27, 2019
Aside from operating as Klang’s Game Engineer and AI programmer, Sigurdur “Siggi” Gunnarsson is also the office’s prime tea connoisseur and hummus taste tester. Here, Siggi is pictured at the root of the Snæfellsjökull glacier in his native Iceland while fantasizing about a new utopia governed by a neutral AI.
If the world were to end, would you want to migrate to a new planet?
If I knew that the Earth was about to become uninhabitable, then of course I would want to migrate. It also sounds like a crazy cool adventure!
What would be your hope for this new world?
I hope the human race would use it as a "reset button" to shed some of the limitations keeping us back, like politics, greed, and religion. I am 100% behind a society governed by a neutral AI that tries to make decisions that benefit everyone, not just its inner circle of influence.
How would you imagine your own life as a pioneer?
I think there's something appealing and romantic about the life of a frontier pioneer, but I would prefer to be a bit higher on the pyramid of basic needs. I would love to live in a society where everyone can pursue their own interests without having to worry about monetary values or where to find lunch. I would probably end up as the village scientist or mad inventor coming up with crazy contraptions to make everyone's life better.
How did you end up working for Klang?
I was one of the people who lost their jobs when CCP downsized in 2017 and stopped their VR game development. At the time, I was already interested in Spatial OS – the server tech we use for Seed. Online simulation games were also a concept that fascinated me. Having worked with two of our founders, Oddur and Ívar, at CCP, I had some previous MMO experience, and I knew a little about what they were up to. After I visited the Klang office and checked out Berlin, it was pretty much a done deal!
Tell me a bit about your role and responsibilities at Klang.
I'm a programmer on the AI team, which is where we work on the systems that make the world of Seed come alive. Most of our work focuses on building and maintaining systems like decision-making – what should the character do? – and how those tasks are executed. Ultimately, my overarching goal is to not make our Seedlings, and other creatures, make "bad decisions."
AI isn’t something I've done a lot of in the past, but I'm enjoying it so much more than I expected. There's something very satisfying about making things in a game look alive.
What excites you most about Seed?
It's a persistently simulated online world: What's not to be excited about? In other words, the game never stops running, even if there aren’t any players online. This has the potential to create very interesting scenarios that result from multiple complex systems interacting together in often unexpected ways.
When did you start playing computer games yourself?
I've been a gamer ever since I discovered this thing called a computer back in 1984. My first memory of gaming is on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, playing games like Cookie and Manic Miner. Back then, you almost had to learn a programming language in order to play games!
What kind of games are you into?
My favorite genre is roleplaying games, and I dabble in MMOs from time to time. Currently, I'm hooked on Satisfactory and grinding through Final Fantasy XIV to scratch that MMO itch, and trying my best to patiently wait for Cyberpunk 2077.
What’s your favorite place in Berlin?
Tough question, there is so much to love about Berlin! I would probably pick a park, like Tiergarten. It's so refreshing to be in nature and break from the busy city life. I also recently discovered Grunewald, which I really loved! Basically, any place you could find a squirrel is a place I like.
Are you reading a book at the moment?
Like all book lovers I have a stack of other books queued up! I tend to read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. I'm currently reading an excellent book called Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, which is a collection of stories about the development of a few high profile games. I'm also slowly making my way through Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI which has become my bible on "Utility AI" systems.
If you want to make your mark on Klang, visit our Careers page and see if there's a position for you: www.klang-games.com/careers