Who's this Klanger? An interview with Ragnar Lárusson

For the sixth instalment of our Who's this Klanger? Series, I sat down with Klang's Level Designer and resident Snapchat King, Raggi, to find out more about his graphic design background, his pro-gaming days, and what his favourite level in ReRunners is...

Raggi, tell the readers about your gaming and art background.

“Around the age of thirteen, I started playing Unreal Tournament competitively; I was attending a bunch of local LAN parties and was part of a few clans in Iceland. During my time in these clans, I started designing websites for them; this was way before my interest in graphic design. Actually, I even competed with the National team of Iceland, but we lost all of our games because our ping (in-game latency) was way higher than the ping for the other teams, since we were competing in Iceland...it was almost impossible to play.

After that, I almost stopped playing games completely when I was in Menntaskóli, Iceland's equivalent to sixth form college. At that time, I started working on designs for the student council; then I dropped out of school to join an Art Foundation course to prepare for art university. But, I soon realised that making my portfolio was more important, so I focused on that. This payed off as I qualified for a Graphic Design degree based on my portfolio alone – I then studied that for four years.

Meanwhile, Mundi (Klang Co-Founder and Art General) and I were working as part of the art collective, MoMS, with Friðrik Svanur Sigurðsson, and one other guy from the US. When he returned to the States, I replaced him in the group. We had a bunch of exhibitions in and outside of Iceland – most notably in London, and Kling og Bang in Reykjavík.”

So, how did you get hooked up working with Klang?

“I have known Mundi since I was fourteen, and Ívar (Co-Founder and gaming overlord) since I was twenty; we are old friends and have been playing games a lot together. Then, six months into the inception of Klang, they returned to Iceland for Christmas; we were talking about this game that they were working on, which is now ReRunners, and we decided that I should move over to Berlin and start working for Klang – this whole process, from them asking me, to me moving over, took about three weeks. At the time, I was working as a freelance Graphic Designer, so the move was a no-brainer for me.”

What would you say is your favourite level in ReRunners?

“That's a tough question to answer, but one level that holds a special place in my heart is Outskirt number four, Level three. I can't remember its name right now, haha, but it was the first level I made in the game...but we have changed it a lot since then.”

What's your favourite game or favourite games ever?

“Well, the games that I've spent a lot of time playing, those are my favourites. I'd have to say probably Unreal Tournament, DotA, and an Arma 2 mod called Wasteland – you'd always be experiencing a new adventure every time you played.

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger?

Mobcrushing to the future!

I'm not going to lie to you; I'm in two minds about publishing this post, as I feel like I'm giving out some top secret info. Like I've found a gold mine and posting its coordinates. It's the same feeling I had as a kid when my favourite band starting gaining popularity – it's precious, and you want to hold on to it dearly...

...wow, where am I going with this? Oh, yeah, MOBCRUSH!


I've made it my mission to absorb myself in everything Mobcrush and Mobcrush-related. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but, the main of the bunch being:

1. Its Surefire Streaming

This is an obvious one; Mobcrush is a live-streaming service for mobile. That's what it is. But, what sets it apart is its ease-of-use and simple interface that allows even the most amateur streamers to get their content out (I'm referring to myself here, by the way).

On a serious note, though, we're having great success streaming ReRunners on Mobcrush. To date, we have 18 streams, reaching over 900+ views. It's amazing to show off ReRunners to so many mobile gaming-lovers...which brings me on to my next point.

2. It Has a Great Community

None of this could happen without the Mobcrush community. Honestly, though, I'm blown away by how welcoming and passionate the community is. Ever since I started streaming and becoming an active member of the community, I've met a bunch of great, positive people and influencers (shout out to Fishdix Gaming for reaching out to me), as well as seeing a huge influx of sign-ups to the Beta.

Mobcrush is perfect for receiving constructive feedback for both the game itself and also how to improve the game from a streamer's perspective – what creates great content for broadcasting.

3. Mobcrush is On the Come-Up

Mobcrush is still only in Beta, but it's gaining popularity fast. We had the privilege of having Greg Essig, Mobcrush's Head of Business Development, visit us, so we have some insight into the future of the channel, and it'll be game-changing.

Moreover, we were able to discuss with Greg our plans to build our relationship with Mobcrush, its community, and its streamers. I can't go into this at the moment, but it's very, very exciting! ReRunners loves Mobcrush. 

Plug -> mobcrush.com/KlangGames

KLANG PARTY!! 20th April! Berlin!! Come!!

We're super happy to announce that we'll be hosting a party in our new office in Berlin on Wednesday 20th April to coincide with A MAZE and Quo Vadis.

If you'll be in the area and want to meet and schmooze with some gaming industry pros, cool people, and of course us, it'll be great to see you! Oh, and there will be free alcohol! 

The party is at 8 PM and we're located at Oranienstrasse 164, near Moritzplatz. 

You can RVSP to Jonathan here.

Who's this Klanger? An interview with David Magnússon

For the fifth instalment of our Who's this Klanger? Series, I sat down with Klang's Sonic Supervisor/Audio Admin/Sound Specialist, David, to discuss his favourite music in ReRunners, as well as his previous audio work. He also is a huge Oasis fan, but for your sake, we didn't go into that...

So, David, tell the readers about your audio background.


“I have been into music and involved in audio work since an early age; my father is a musician, so I was raised in the studio. I've also played in a few bands back in the early nineties and released two albums. In 1997, I completed my degree in Audio Engineering at SAE, the School of Audio Engineering in Glasgow, Scotland. I have been working in post-production for TV, Film, and Radio since then, up until in started working with the Klang Gang.”

What made you want to work with Klang?

“After 16 years doing Sound Design and Audio Post-Production in the broadcast medium, I wanted to try something new. I have always been very interested in Sound Design for Video Games, and the opportunity came when Klang contacted me, asking me to come to Berlin - I was living in Toronto, Canada, at the time – and create the audio and SFX for ReRunners, in collaboration with Gunni Tynes from Múm.

How does creating audio for mobile games differ from your previous work?

“It offers you more freedom to create. You're not tied up to restrictions; you can create something more surreal and let your imagination run wild! There are no rules. After having worked in realism for a very long time, it's nice for me to create something more abstract.”

What's your favourite piece of music or SFX in ReRunners?

“I'm really happy with the audio I created for the Skill Tree, as it has so much depth to it. But regarding the music, my favourite piece came from Kolli Kvlt, who had created some audio before I joined the team. It's the music in Nubee Temple, which comes directly after completing the Trials. Also, I must mention how great the ReRunners theme tune is; that was done by Gunni.”

Moving out of gaming territory. What's your favourite band or musician ever?

“Because now I'm living in Berlin, I'd have to say David Bowie.”

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger?

 

Post-Launch Prospects: Learning from Firewatch

Software company and publisher Panic has recently posted an insightful retrospective via its blog regarding the post-launch of its first-person adventure video game Firewatch, co-published and developed by Campo Santo. These insights are extremely valuable for a Dev team like us; what we could expect and possible post-launch scenarios.

Reviews/write-ups/streaming

There's no getting away from the fact that your stomach will be in a wreck on launch day. ReRunners is already gaining lots of nice, positive reviews during its Soft Launch, but it's still nerve-racking logging in to check new reviews. Firewatch has also had a lot of high-profile influencers stream the game, but it's still unclear whether they were paid for or were organic streams.

Sales

Recouping investment is also a talking point, with Firewatch making its investment back in roughly 24 hours. 500,000 copies sold in one month is incredible for an indie game.

Improvements

Here at Klang, we're in a similar position as Campo Santo although we're still in Soft Launch. We read Tweets, communicate on our Forum, reach out to our audience, and work 24/7 to find bugs and other points of frustration for our players. This will never stop. But, constant improvement is necessary to make a quality product.

When a game meets real life

At one point during Firewatch, you'll find a disposable camera, and at the end of the game, you can choose to upload the photos you took to Panic's server. Then, you can order physical copies of these images. This, alongside encouraging fan art, are both really cool ways to bring the game and brand into real life, rather than only through a monitor or mobile/tablet. We have a lot of crazy ideas for merging ReRunners with real life and other forms of multimedia, but we'll see what happens with them.

One final interesting point was that a lot of Panic's marketing budget went into last year's GDC Firewatch preview centre experience.

For us, reading about the success and post-launch insights of a booming indie game is very inspiring! Here's to the future!

Image: nasa.gov

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Jonathan Baker

For the fourth instalment of our Who's this Klanger? Series, I sat down with myself, Jonathan, Klang's Community and Communications guy. I'm the person who talks to the ReRunners Community, answers emails, and streams the game in my horrible Birmingham accent. Like a madman, I'll be throwing questions at myself and answering them...

So, Jonathan, tell the readers about your working background.

“My working background has been a slight mixture of sorts but has always focused on writing in some form. Funnily enough, I graduated from University in Music, Technology and Innovation, but I realised that it wasn't the career path for me. So, I did a bunch of journalism internships, which lead me to move to Reykjavík, Iceland, to intern for an English-speaking newspaper. Then, I started working for an Internet Marketing agency, which lead me to focus on advertising/marketing writing/copywriting/social media/PR. But, six years of that was a bit too much...”

Now you're working for the Klang Gang. How's that working out for ya?

“Without sounding like I've been paid to say this, it's basically the perfect job for me. In fact, it's not even a job. It's doing what I love and getting a cheque for it. Haha. Since as far as I can remember, Video Games have been a huge part of my life. It's great that now at the age of 30, I can still play games and learn from this ever-growing industry.”

How do you feel about the state of mobile gaming?

“To be honest, I don't feel at liberty to comment on this too much as I don't want to pretend that I know what I'm talking about. But, I will say that among the drivel out there, there are some amazing games doing amazing things. Mobile gaming is still in its infancy, and we're here to change that [laughs like a Bond-villain].”

What's your favourite game ever and why?

“In general, I have always been a lover of the FPS genre, like Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Perfect Dark (N64) and the Call of Duty series. But, I defy anyone who can beat me at Goldeneye 64.

The Sonic games played a big part in my childhood; when Sonic 3 brought game-saving to the table on the Sega Mega Drive, that was mind blowing.

I think I've wasted the most hours playing Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Super Mario 64, Assassin's Creed 2, Alien Isolation, and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX."

Do you have any words for the ReRunners Community?

“It's incredible to see so much love for a game that's still in Beta. We already have a super strong group of people who help us with bug reporting and content ideas. I can't wait to see even more people join us once the game is out globally. I love you all.”

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger?

Under the Influence: Tips from the Pros

Meet-Two-Influencers.jpg

It's a struggle building a following or starting the hype train for an indie game, but it's a worthwhile one. Going full steam ahead on the tracks of Social Media can drive you very loco, unless you have methods in place to blow off some steam. Sorry, I'll stop with the train analogies now as they're terrible.

Tilting Point's Senior PR Manager Sam Dalsimer has comprised a nice list of the best practices to expand your audience reach through influencer marketing and working with popular content creators.

#1. Influencer Marketing

Start from the bottom and grow a small but steady presence on video content and streaming networks like YouTube, Twitch and Mobcrush. Showcase your game and show off its best qualities.

#2. Reach Out to Known Influencers

Content creators and streamers are the new celebrities; however, it's good to start with contacting lower tier streamers. With that in mind, Sam states that it's important to match your game to the right influencer by watching their videos and reading their viewer comments.

#3. Know when to pursue organic or paid for content

Sometimes it's helpful, if you have the budget that is, to spend a little to get a little influence over the influencer. But, like Sam states, it's a two way street; you’re giving them content they can monetize, and they’re giving you the exposure you need.

#4. Mixture of performance and brand

Think influencer marketing as way to generate downloads, as well as a way to create a visual and emotional connection to a potential new audience, especially if their favourite YouTube streamer has been covering your game.

Sam notes that using a unique tracking URL in the video description is a good way to get some analytics on how many clicks are being generated. Plus, it's good to remember that YouTube is the second largest search engine online.

#5. It's a marathon, not a sprint

Influencer marketing is all about building relationships, getting to know content creators, and dedicating time and effort to it. Remember, successful influencers and streamers take time to build up their brand, your strategy should also reflect this!

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Ívar Emilsson

For the third instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series, I sat down with Klang's Game Design Mastermind and Co-Founder Ívar Emilsson. He's the man of many roles - anything and everything from product to management. He's also a multiplayer game design veteran, which is why ReRunners is pretty, pretty, pretty awesome.

So,  Ívar, tell the readers about your gaming background.

“I've been a huge gamer ever since I can remember; it started off innocently, but gaming quickly became a bit of an obsession of mine. 

I always knew I wanted to create games when I grew up, that or become an astronaut, haha. My first opportunity into the industry came in 2005 when I saw an advert on an Icelandic forum where CCP was looking to hire, so I applied and got accepted. I was 21 at the time and the youngest employee at CCP. I then stayed there for almost eight years working on EVE Online, and then later DUST 514, watching the company grow from a few dozen to several hundred employees.”

During your time at CCP you worked on the MMO, EVE Online, then on to the MMOFPS, EVE: DUST 514. What was that shift like?

“I moved to CCP's office in Shanghai to introduce more MMO-focused mechanics into DUST 514, during the later phase of the game's production. It was great experience to take on the various challenges when catering towards a totally different type of gamer, on a totally different platform.

The DUST 514 vision was truly amazing and what we were trying to achieve both technologically and game design wise was really ambitious, that’s what made it a really exciting and fun project to work on… I’m still a bit bummed the vision was never fully realised.”

Why make the move to creating mobile games?

“I love multiplayer games, especially MMOs. Playing with or against someone creates this unique intense feeling, that you can’t really get from single player games. But, these games often have a really high barrier of entry, so most people don’t get to experience that feeling.

Our goal was to lower the barrier of entry into multiplayer games, and to bring that feeling to a larger audience, and we felt the best way to achieve that was through mobile.“

What's your favourite game ever and why?

“It’s impossible for me to choose a single favourite, there are so many great games that have influenced me in some way. Among my favourites are Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, Minecraft, Shadow of the Colossus, Super Mario World, Dark Souls, EVE Online, Grim Fandango, Final Fantasy VII, Dwarfs Fortress,  DOTA2, Half-Life, Fallout 2, and … yeah.”

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger?