Who's this Klanger? An interview with Otto Bruno Rivera

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For the first instalment of our Who's this Klanger? Series for 2018, I sat down with QA Manager, Otto, to discuss his background, favourite games, Star Wars, and blends of tea...

Otto, tell our readers about your working background and experience.

“My introducing into the gaming industry was quite random! Back in 2007, my Aunt found a job ad in a local newspaper that was searching for multilingual people who were interested in video games...it turned out that the ad came from EA Madrid! I initially took it on as a summer job and it ended up turning into a full-blown career.

From then on, I've worked for a bunch of gaming studios, especially for Ubisoft in Germany, outsourcing localization QA for Skyrim. But, originally, I studied history, which is totally unrelated.”

With that in mind, how'd you end up working at Klang?

“It's partly by chance, partly by luck. A while back, I left my previous company to seek out new working experiences, but I really wanted to stay in Berlin; I ended up turning down a bunch of offers that were not Berlin-based.

I sent a speculative application to Klang and when I finally got the answer, Seed had gained a bunch of exposure online, and I was like, 'wow, that sounds interesting!'”

So, what excites you most about Seed?

“What sold me was the political system. During my second or third interview, Mundi showed me a mock-up of the political framework. The possibilities of creating a 'fill-in-the-blanks' political system, allowing players to create a system that works for them, just blew my mind. I knew I wanted to play this game. Now, I'm in-charge of QA for it.”

Are there any games that have inspired you?

“I'm a big fan of all kinds of management and strategy games. To be honest, I'm a huge fanboy of Alisdair's work, Klang's new Game Designer. He played an integral part in the development of Total War: WARHAMMER II, which I just love playing - from the gameplay to the lore.

I'd say that my all-time favourite games are Masters of Orion II and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. I've spent countless hours playing both games...I just can't get enough of them!

I loved working on Skyrim, that's for sure. Working on an AAA game, on that size, was great. Seeing the game being produced, even from the perspective of the fringes of development, was an incredible experience.”

Speaking of being a fanboy, you're also a bit of a Star Wars fanatic. What's your favourite film in the franchise and why?

“Do you have several hours to spare? Because that's not an easy answer! But, I'd say, from over the past 10 years, my favourite Star Wars film is Rogue One. It's set in the same universe but doesn't have the same, traditional heroes. It's a movie about terrorism...in space! How gritty is that!

Of course, The Empire Strikes Back cannot be beaten. The Empire can be beaten (with a bit of luck), but the film, nope, that can't be beaten.

You're known for your love of tea. What's your favourite blend for a good cuppa?

“This is a very funny question to ask a Spaniard! Since I was a kid, tea has always been around my house. Out of my friends and family, it was only me and my parents who enjoyed a good brew.

I would say definitely a dark blend. Something that hits hard. Either Yorkshire Tea or Barry's Tea, an Irish tea that's like a punch to the face.”

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger? coming to you in a galaxy far, far away!

Happy New Year from the Klang Gang!

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A huge thank you from us Klangers for supporting us throughout 2017! It's been a wild ride, filled with tears, fears, cheers, and plenty of beers!

But, seriously, thanks for your love and interest in what we're doing. We've had some brilliant achievements this year and couldn't have done it without you.

I'm not going to bore you any further, so instead, here are some embarrassing photos from the Klang Xmas party:

 The Klang Gang!

The Klang Gang!

 Still (relativity) civilised.

Still (relativity) civilised.

 Getting merrier!

Getting merrier!

 Then...it..went...downhill...

Then...it..went...downhill...

 Drunken santa - aka. Poop Self - and his merry elf.

Drunken santa - aka. Poop Self - and his merry elf.

 But, there's still love!

But, there's still love!

See you all in 2018!

- The Klang Gang

What the heck is happening with ReRunners?

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Remember ReRunners? That game we launched back in 2016? The one with the weird and wacky graphics for mobile? Well, it's about time we give you a status update on what's going on with it.

In July 2016, we launched ReRunners to a dedicated community of mobile gamers and avid retro-gaming lovers. After a brilliant Beta and a super successful launch, we’ve decided to take the game down to focus 100 percent on the development of Seed. We just can’t dedicate enough time to it, which it needs (and deserves).

ReRunners is a game that we're extremely proud of, a game that we put countless hours in to create, and grew an amazing, supportive community. So, it's was a tough decision to put ReRunners on hold.

So, what next?

We don't want this crazy game to die! Hell no!

We really want to get the game back into a state that's playable, so ya'll can keep on running! And, eventually, raise the ReRunners phoenix from the fire.

Now, we're looking into various scenarios for ReRunners, and, as of yet, none of these scenarios have actually been put into motion. But, we'll let you know as soon as we're at a stage to continue.

Until then, thank you so much for the good times. Please feel free to leave us your scrutiny in the comments below.

Love,
- The Klang Gang

Time to Get Slushed with Klang

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Once again, it's that special annual occasion where Helsinki pauses from being the sauna capital of the world to become the global hub of entrepreneurship, as it's Slush time again! And of course, Klang will be bringing the heat to Slush.

Just in case you've been living under a rock, Slush is the place to be if you're a techie, business-person, nerd, and really into Start-Up stuff. Seeing as we're all of the aforementioned, we'll be there again.

But, what for? Well, Oddur and Mundi will be at this year's event - between 29th Nov and 2nd Dec - to show off Seed, hang out with friends, meet with journalists, and experience local Finnish culture, i.e. lots and lots of drinking.

Will you be there? We're offering an exclusive, press-only look at how the game is shaping up. If you're interested, be sure to reach out to me, jonathan@klang-games.com, to arrange meeting times.

Is Gaming Good for You?

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There's a familiar narrative that divides public opinion, whether video games, as a whole, have a positive or negative effect on society. And when it comes to mental health, video games are, the majority of the time, mentioned as either potential causes or cures for health-related issues. But, for the sake of this post, let's instead talk about the idea of using games for good.

In a recent article published in The Big Issue, Lead Content Editor at Improbable, Dan Griliopoulos, looks into just that; how games have been made for good.

First, let's mention the adaptation of games for the educational environment. Dan notes that, despite the skepticism of using games within the classroom, it was found that 71 percent of teachers in the U.S. stated that digital games had been effective in improving their students’ mathematics learning, according to a nationwide survey.

For example, Minecraft, the hugely popular sandbox game, released an Educational Edition, which can be used as an immersive platform to develop new skills in geometry and learn more about the environment and climate change, among a bunch of other really great things.

Testing the Millennial Moral Code

Dan comments that, “games are a form of media that have become a moral guide to the millennial generation,” and I couldn't agree more. It's certainly become a more prolific gameplay mechanic in recent years. And for me, I personally love my morals being challenged as part of my playing experience.

Of course, I'm not the only one. Dan points out that video games have even provided Edward Snowden with a moral structure that informed his actions: “they taught him that anyone, no matter how weak, is capable of confronting huge injustice,” which is more profound than my own actions. Never harm animals. That's my rule.

Now, with all of this in mind, the idea of testing one's moral code is something that'll become apparent in Seed, especially as the player becomes more committed. Although, I can't say much more at the moment...

As somewhat of a conclusion, I do believe that developers have a great social responsibility to create games that can challenge the player's morals or ethics as a virtual test or trial for real life. But, after this is said and done, if you act like a tool, then you're just a tool.

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Rachel Little

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For this instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series, I sat down with 3D Animator, Rachel, to discuss her obsession with Sonic the Hedgehog, what games have influenced her, and her opinions on the gaming industry.

Rachel, tell our readers about your background in animation...

To be honest, I'd never even opened up animation software until two years ago. One day, I made the decision to change my path in life and become an animator. I signed up for the online school, Animation Mentor, and within a year and a half, I'd gone from having literally no knowledge of animation to being a pretty competent animator.

What led you down the proverbial path of the gaming industry?

When I was a kid, I was totally obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog. I used to spend a good amount of time doodling Sonic in my notebooks, designing my own levels. So, I guess that was somewhat me venturing down the path, even if I didn't know it at the time.

While we're talking about the gaming industry, it would be great to get your opinion on the industry, one that is known as being mostly male-dominated.

Luckily at Klang, I’m shielded somewhat from the issues non-males face elsewhere in the industry. But in general, it feels like there's a shift going on. Especially in recent fields, like AR and VR. It's almost like there's more of a level playing field, which is great to see!

So, how'd you first meet the Klang Gang?

I first got to know about Klang during the super early stages of the studio, as my boyfriend was part of the team back then. But, I finally met Mundi face-to-face at a party in Reykjavík, and we've been buds ever since.

You were part of the team during the launch of ReRunners, and now, you've returned for Seed. How does it feel to be back?

It's great to be back! I first joined Klang right at the point ReRunners launched, in the middle of all the mania that came with it. But now, it's incredible to be at the very beginning of the Seed journey, and be a part of the development process. It's really interesting for me, especially as this is my first ever video game job.

What excites you most about Seed?

I was a massive Sims fan growing up. I always saw the game as more of a deep social experiment; I feel exactly the same way about Seed.

It's a really exciting concept to think about what player-driven stories will be created, as we have no idea of how far we can go at this point.

It's going be a microcosm of ideas. What societies will be made? Will players be at constant war? Will players be collaborative? The game can even work as a soundboard for various political models and whether they could actually work in the real world.

Are there any games that have inspired you?

Ironically, I wasn’t really allowed to play video games when I was a kid! Eventually, my parents caved and bought us The Sims, so that was the first game that I really got into.

It wasn't until years later that I got myself a PS3 and aimed to play all the games that I could get my hands on. I'm really into sandbox RPG games that you can get lost in, like Fallout and Skyrim.

Visually, games like Journey, Limbo, and Firewatch have all been a big inspiration. I'm currently making my way through the whole Double Fine back catalog. 

Also, I'm super into games with strong female protagonists, for example, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

As you're Klang's reigning board gaming champion, what is your secret for success?!

Mind reading! Spooky.

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

EGX 17: Klang to discuss the Future of MMOs (with other awesome studios)

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Tomorrow, Klang will be heading to EGX 17 in Birmingham, UK, to join an awesome panel of studios to discuss the future of MMOs. And, if you're going to be at EGX, you should totally check it out!

Klang's Co-Founder, CTO, and coding champion, Oddur, will be joining Spilt Milk Studios, Bossa Studios, Automaton Games, and the Chief Creative Officer of Improbable, Bill Roper, to discuss the revolution going on in the MMO genre and the potential it holds.

Using their own experiences in helping mould the genre, these MMO big guns will be delving into their inspirations, how boundaries are being pushed, and how much further online worlds can transform the way gamers play games. It's going to be insightful as heck!

The panel, which is titled Breaking Rules and Making Worlds: the Future of the MMO, will be part of the event's Rezzed Sessions, and taking place on Thursday 21st September at 3:30 PM (GMT+1). I know for sure Oddur is excited to be there, so be sure to join and find out more about Seed!

Fun fact: Not only is Birmingham the home of Heavy Metal, it's also the home of Jonathan, which says a lot about him.

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Jakub Pułka

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For this instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series, I sat down with Junior 3D Artist and Intern, Jakub (AKA. Kuba), to discuss how he made the shift from architecture and design to gaming, how he met the Klang gang, and what lies ahead for him.

So, Kuba, tell our readers about your background in architecture and design...

Sure! In 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from the Wrocław University of Technology, the University in my home town. Then a year later, I graduated in Industrial Design from the Wrocław Academy of Art and Design. I've also worked professionally as an architect, specializing in the visualization of both residential and commercial buildings.”

What made you decide to shift from architecture to gaming?

“A few years ago, when I was studying Product Design in the UK, a friend of mine bought a PS4 as soon as it was released. At this point, I hadn't played games for quite a while as my studies became a priority. But, as soon as I picked up the controller again after this hiatus, I knew at that moment I needed to shift direction and pursue a career in gaming. There are a lot of technical similarities between architecture visualization and environment design in video games.”

So, how'd you end up interning at Klang?

“While back in Poland, I had planned on working abroad, but I had no specific idea of where. I'd always liked Berlin, so I checked out gamedevmap.com to see what studios are based there...and Klang popped up!

After visiting the Klang website, I knew this was the place I wanted to work at. And, it all happened from there. Now, I'm here having a great time!”

What's your favourite thing about Berlin?

“I spend the most of my time in Kreuzberg; it's a really artistic place. Berlin doesn't feel like a typical German city; it's really multicultural, and you can survive without speaking German. I'm always finding something new in this city, from graffiti to bars and clubs. There's always something different to discover.”

So, what is it that you do at Klang, and what are your main tasks?

"I'm a 3D tech artist, but I'm also taking care of publishing the assets from the studio's artists. Oh, and I dabble optimizations as well.”

How do you like working at Klang and working on Seed?

“As there is no hierarchy at Klang, the best part is that everyone is involved and all suggestions are valuable and taken seriously. As an artist, it's amazing to be able to have an input on everything during development. It's great to be here at the beginning of this journey and to delve into the unknown!”

What are your plans post-Klang, and how'd you see your future?

“Well, I still want to be in gaming. I've always had a dream to be a part of a triple-a company, but now I'm looking at other opportunities. I may try and approach other studios, but I'm not sure yet. So, if anyone out there has any suggestions, let me know!”

What are your favorite games ever?

I've always liked the games from Blizzard. The studio has developed a really unique art style, which I admire. Specific games that have influenced me include XCOM: Apocalypse and StarCraft. I also have a lot of love for the old Amiga games, especially Superfrog and Cannon Fodder. My older brother would play them when a was a child, and I would sit there all day watching in awe.”

Thanks, Kuba. It's been wonderful having you as part of the Klang Gang!

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