Who's this Klanger? An interview with Rachel Little

static1.squarespace.jpg

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?

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