Who's this Klanger? An interview with John Holten

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Next up is Seed's narrative writer and editor, John Holten, in the spotlight for this edition of Who's this Klanger? Keep reading to find out more about his own novels, sci-fi, and a little insight into an upcoming podcast project...

How on Earth did an Irish novelist start working for a Berlin-based gaming studio?

Well, I've been living in Berlin for around ten years and have known Klang for five of those years, since ReRunners times. So when Seed started to go into production, I pitched a brief for the backstory and the guys loved it. Since then, I started to work on text-related endeavors and slowly the tasks have accumulated. Now things are getting hot and heavy!

You were doing lots of cool stuff before joining Klang full time. Tell our readers more about yourself!

After studying philosophy and literature, I moved around a little bit before settling in Berlin to write what would become my first novel The Readymades. Whilst I was deep in the writing process, I got a tad bored and isolated - as one tends to do when writing a novel - and so I started distracting myself and started to edit and curate what became an anthology of other people's art and writing, and that in turn gave rise to a publishing endeavor, which is called Broken Dimanche Press (BDP). It was a success. So we made some more books and a couple of years later I found myself then self-publishing my first novel The Readymades through BDP.

That was back in 2009, and since then, we've published over 50 titles. We've done a lot of projects including exhibitions, workshops and readings, both in Berlin and across Europe. It's an independent art press that allows us to do pretty cool things. So along with that, I've worked a lot with visual artists, often collaborating on text-related aspects to their work.

What is it you're currently working on at Klang?

I'm working closely with the Game Designers and developing all narrative aspects of the game from backstory and lore to world-building. There is a lot there to be fleshed out, researched and rounded out, so to speak. It's super exciting because it's world-building in its purest form.

On top of that, we're very deep in making a podcast, which is super cool because it's a whole production that we've built from the ground up. It's been a wild journey! Not only learning about all the subjects that we're looking at, which is, broadly speaking, the future of humanity (no less!), but it's also exciting to work as a writer and storyteller in a whole new medium - sound - and explore the potentials of podcasting.

What excites you most about Seed?

Seed is set in the future, but it has all the premises of sci-fi that I love the most: it can teach us something about and reflect on the present. It does so by starting its backstory in the past, and we've got a fascinating 'temporal arc'. So Seed, while set on an exoplanet, is going to be able to teach us a lot about our planet in the here and now.

One thing that I'm doing is to try and work the backstory so that it covers a large span of time into the game and make it relevant and enjoyable for the in-game experience. Seed will be a chance to explore the future, but in a way that's very recognizable, touching on present concerns.

I get to think about things like the Anthropocene, climate change, Transhumanism, Big Data, the Internet and AI. All these aspects that are happening quite quickly and the rate of change is accelerating all the time. Seed is an imaginative world that blends all these things, so it makes it really enjoyable to work on. Also the team at Klang is incredible, it’s really been a pleasure to be around so many smart and talented people and teams all working toward a shared goal.

Any books or sources of information that you'd recommend reading or find very inspiring in relation to Seed?

The cool thing about working on Seed is that because the story is so big, it's allowed my research and reading to go really far. So everything from the Holy Bible to The Three-Body Problem is relevant. What I've realized while working on Seed is that the Transhumanist movement can really be seen in a lot of popular culture. So the Blade Runner movies are of relevance for the way they tell their stories but also for the philosophical issues they touch upon. But then so is Leibniz, a philosopher from the 18th Century, who was a polymath and could straddle the scientific and philosophical disciplines.

In terms of book suggestions, I recommend: To Be a Machine by Mark McConnell, Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, and New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle. But also anything you can get your hands on related to Russian Cosmism, a whole movement dating from as far as 19th century Russia that has a lot to teach us about life, death, the planet and outer space...

Now, time to plug! Where can we read or buy your own work?

Well, I've just had an essay published in a UK-based journal called Hotel, issue number five. A massive thing for me recently was having an excerpt of my work in The Other Irish Tradition, published by Dalkey Archive Press. I joke that it's is my retirement card because I'm included with all my heroes. It was a big honor!

My first book, The Readymades, is sold out but will be published by gorse editions later this year while my second book, Oslo, Norway, is still available to purchase via Broken Dimanche Press.

Come and Unite at Klang's Unite Berlin Party!

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As Klang is known for its raging parties (trust me, it's true), we're throwing a party to coincide with Unite Berlin to celebrate the event, and well, any excuse for a party.

After an action-packed day of workshops, presentations, and networking, come and let your hair down with Klang, including free drinks and music all night long (well, until 1 am).

The party will be located a stone's throw from the main Unite Berlin venue, STATION-BERLIN, which means you can easily pop over for a drink, or two, or three.

So, here are the details:

When? Tuesday 19th June

Time? 7 pm, straight after the Keynote session, until 1 am

Where? Tor Eins, Möckernstraße 26, a 5-minute walk from STATION-BERLIN and U-Bahn Gleisdreieck

Let's Unite! Let's Klang! Let's Party!

Be sure to RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/klangs-unite-berlin-party-2018-tickets-46970941350

Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/241384383300331/

See ya there!

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?

Wham Bam, join this Berlin VR Game Jam

Attention, Berlin-based VR fans! Long time Klang-affiliate Joe Virskus, and Klanger Rachel Little, are holding this radical VR Game Jam between 11th and 13th August at Colonia Nova in Neukölln. And, we'll be there for sure!

Interested in finding out more? Keep on reading...


The main theme of the Game Jam is “Genesis", not the prog-rock band from the eighties, but “creation”. To quote the organisers:

The idea is to explore VR experiences that encapsulate the idea of creation, emergence, birth, and invention. Please feel free to interpret the theme as loosely or as literally as you like! It's meant to be a jumping off point, a little speck of dust to form your mental rain drops around, not a hard constraint.”

Klang team members will be there on Friday and during the weekend, so make sure to say hi!

If you're up for the challenge, join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1959326410980229/

And, make sure to sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSePvnXhwi2Pq-i9J6oeynL9tuVQH7AKXz5RS7UHKP5qivy5bQ/viewform

The timetable is as follows...

Thursday 10th August

6 PM: Registration and project brainstorming. This event is optional, but is a great way to hangout and meet fellow VR-loving people!

Friday 11th August

6 PM: The official kick-off!
7 PM – 8 PM: Project pitches!
8 PM and beyond: Join a group and commence jamming!

Sunday 13th August

8 PM – 12 AM: Game Jam showcase and party!

Note that from 11th 6 PM to 13th 8 PM, the event space will be open 24 hours, so there's enough time to complete projects and have a blast!

Hopefully see you there!

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Martin Maczkowski

For the latest instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series I sat down with Martin, Game Engineer, and mountain biker to talk about his experience and what he finds exciting about Seed...

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

Like most of us Klangers, I've always been interested in making computer games. I started programming early in high school, creating a bunch of prototypes. One thing lead to another and I enrolled at the University of Applied Science in Berlin where I studied International Media and Computing, and eventually, a Masters in Game Development.

During my studies, I was working at Neutron Games as a freelancer doing UI stuff and general gameplay programming for Handball Challenge. From then on, I've been working on numerous projects with companies across Berlin and Hamburg, most notably at InnoGames on Forge of Empires; porting it over to mobile, which was a very interesting project.

Actually, I previously worked at Exozet on the digital versions of Catan, alongside Rainer. Although, I'd also worked with him before at the University.

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

I remember Rainer telling me about this cool new project that he was working on, and he asked me if I wanted to join, so I said why not! That project is of course Seed...

Cool! So, what excites you most about Seed?

Well, Seed is the first MMO that I have ever worked on, so from a technical level, that's really exciting. It's a super complex project, with a lot to learn and discover.

From a game design level, I envision Seed as more of a social experiment. What excites me is, once we have players, how they will interact with one another. Will players in different colonies collaborate, or will there be a constant state of war?

Are there any games that have inspired you?

As a kid, I always played a lot of adventure games with my Dad, like Space Quest and King's Quest. That got me into games and problem-solving.

Also, Double Fine's Psychonauts is a game that has really stuck with me. I love the game's style and sense of humour.

So, in your personal time, you're quite the adrenaline junkie. What's your favourite way for getting your adrenaline fix?

I'm really into mountain biking and skateboarding, both I guess are adrenaline inducing sports. But, the thing I love more about mountain biking is being out in nature by myself. I do sometimes head down to Southern Germany to check out bike parks if I really need something more extreme than the Berlin surroundings have to offer.

But, if I'm honest, just cycling through Berlin is extreme enough and I do that every day. That keeps me awake!

I also have just rediscovered skateboarding, which I loved when I was a teenager. It's nice to go out after work for a little session and think of something else other than computer games.

What's your favourite thing to do in Berlin?

Hmmm... I'm not much of a party guy, but I do love to visit flea markets, which Berlin has a lot of. You always find a lot of cool stuff and meet interesting people. The best thing about Berlin is that it's a very green city, there are many parks and lakes to visit. There's always something interesting to do or see!

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

Party Time at Casual Connect Berlin

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Casual Connect Berlin will be taking place next week, and seeing as we had such a great time at Casual Connect Tel Aviv, we thought we should give a little bit back and hold the best party that the event has ever had.

So, here are the details:

The party will be taking place at our office, which is at Oranienstraße 164 near U-Bahn Moritzplatz, on Thursday 9th February and will be starting at 8PM until late...or until you're too drunk and should get some rest.

There will be free booze and live DJs because we're really cool, but no food because we're too cool for food.

You'll need a pass for Casual Connect to get in, but if you want to hang out, email jonathan@klang-games.com and we'll sort something out.

Be sure to RSVP here → http://bit.ly/klangparty

Be sure to join the Facebook event here → https://www.facebook.com/events/1633309910019447/

The Gaming Industry’s Money-Maker

Industry Guru and General Partner of London Venture Partners (LVP) Paul Heydon has recently published an interesting blog post about how Europe is the best place to invest in games, and holds the most valuable developers over the past three years. While we object to being bias (Paul is a good friend and LVP is an investor of ours), we have to agree with him.

Paul claims that there has been $33.8 billion of value created globally over the past three years across the game sector from Acquisitions or Initial Public Offerings. A whopping 50 percent (or close to) of this value was created by games companies in Europe, notably from Softbank's acquisition of Supercell, Zynga's acquisition of NaturalMotion, and Microsoft's purchase of Mojang.

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Money and statistics aside, we couldn’t be happier being based in Europe, Berlin specifically. Not that we’re against living somewhere else, in fact, a bunch of the Klang Gang have lived and worked outside of Europe. We can’t speak for the whole continent of Europe; it’s a bold move to do so! But Berlin is great for us. It has a thriving game scene, a reasonable cost of living, and a network of inspiring people.