Who's this Klanger? An interview with Ljubica Jovanovic

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Serbian native and radiating force majeure Ljubica Jovanovic lights up the Icelandic lava fields during a holiday break from her day-to-day as Technical Artist at Klang Games. Here, on the blackened shore of Dimmuborgir, Jovanovic finds inspiration for imagined exoplanets and her own personal new world order.

Are you planning any trips this summer?

Yes, I have the privilege to once again visit the most miraculous place in the world, Iceland, with the charming company of my boyfriend.

What inspired you to work in the gaming industry?

I come from a family of architects. At a very young age, I was introduced to both Andrea Palladio and Mies van der Rohe, and I was fascinated by the wonders of the ancient world. It was almost logical that I would become an architect as well. But architecture was missing a plot: You’re supposed to make buildings without any traps or danger inside! Archaeology will only get you so far. You can only recreate a building the same way it was built thousands of years ago. Even if I could have designed it better, no creative additions were allowed.

Discovering the Tomb Raider games set my imagination on fire. I realized there are actual people who do this for a living, who modify archaeological locations into fantastic places of danger and beauty, in which a brave and brilliant woman solves riddles, kills monsters, and finds treasures. I wanted to do that!

Did you?

No, it never happened. I graduated in 2008, “the year of the crisis.” Due to a general lack of work in Serbia, where I’m from, I worked as an architect on various buildings as well as with historians and archaeologists on reconstructing ancient Roman castra and medieval and Neolithic cities. I was very good at it, and my work was sincerely respected by senior polymaths. I loved it, and I was learning a lot, but a part of me knew I that something was missing: video games.

When I finally got my first video game job, as a 3D generalist, it was … quite different from what I expected. Although I was doing very similar things – creating 3D models and putting them into Unity – suddenly, I felt like a worthless nobody. I was being told that anyone could do what I was doing. Later, I realized that these naysayers were guys who had heard that video games make more money than Hollywood movies, and they wanted some of that money. It was difficult, but somehow I endured. I was constantly learning on my own. But I was never happy, never felt respected as a person, and my work was usually evaluated by my looks.

How do you feel about working in an industry that is still very male-dominated?

Berlin is way better than the Balkans, but still, it isn’t perfect. Sometimes, I like to compare it to an RPG setting from one of my favorite games: In the beginning, you are a low-level nobody and you walk into the majestic scene where a giant is fighting a dragon on a shore while thunders break the sky. But you don’t retreat, you continue playing the game. You level up so much that you end up not just killing the giant, but also slaying the dragon.

To quote my favorite architect, Zaha Hadid: “Men don’t listen to me, so I have to give them hell!”

How did you end up at Klang?

After working in a few horror-story gaming studios and even being a co-founder of my own studio, I decided I had had enough of video games and wanted to go back to architecture. I visited my sister, who is an architect here in Berlin, and I ended up presenting a game I was secretly working on alone at Femisphere, an event organized by Berlin’s wonderful indie game developers. There, I felt like I really belonged, and like I wanted to give video games another chance. One of the participants showed me an enchanting poster of a game by “a bunch of Icelanders who worked on Eve Online, who now have a studio in Berlin and are working on some space-colonizing game.” That poster was love at first sight! And now I’m here.

Tell me a bit about your role and responsibilities at Klang.

I’m a technical artist: a bridge between the artists and the engineers. It’s a two-faced role.

One part of it consists of being responsible for the assets coming from the Art Team that go into the game, which means that I annoy the artists with limitations and optimizations.

My other responsibility is prototyping all sorts of game-related objects, from how characters will look while crying rivers of tears to how to make machines look dirty or broken.

What excites you most about Seed?

I can’t say because it would be a spoiler. Apart from the secret stuff, I’m really hyped about our rich industry, machinery, and building systems, and the way it will influence politics. I really can’t say more!

What are your favorite games of all-time?

My first love was Lara Croft. All-time favorites are Mass Effect, Dragon Age, The Witcher, GTA, Saints Row, and Postal 2.

If the world were to end, would you want to migrate to a new planet?

I think Alpha Centauri would be a nice choice to start off with. Having two suns would heavily influence culture and mythology.

What would you want to change in the new world?

So many things. For starters, the hunters and warriors should not ask for taxes from the farmers. I would like to go for a Star-Trek-esque utopian model, but a bit more technocratic: with more social democracy and human rights, a strong emphasis on education, craftmanship, engineering, arts and culture, and no military.

I guess architecture would change completely. Our current layouts are mostly based on ancient Roman military camps. Depending on the degree of individuality, if every house would have its own power generator and water purifying systems, cities would look entirely different.

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

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Samet Kuru

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Samet Kuru, Klang's multifaceted visual designer and video editor, is here to talk about his background, Seed and Max Payne in the latest episode of Who's this Klanger?

So Samet, why don’t you start by telling our readers a little about your working background and experience?

Before moving to Berlin, I was living in Istanbul, Turkey, and working for several digital agencies on a variety of design projects. I actually don't have any educational background in design, I'm all self-taught and focused on learning as many design tools as I can. What I love is being curious about all aspects of design! I never really wanted to be a specialist in only one thing, say just web design or video production, because I love doing all of it! I just try to learn as much as I can and have fun with it. And what’s more, it’s helping me to make money!

So, how'd you end up becoming a member of the Klang Gang?

My girlfriend has been living in Berlin for a while, and I decided to join her. After a relatively long period of job searching, I found an ad on Glassdoor for a designer position at Klang. I checked out more about Klang and Seed and loved everything I saw, so I applied right away. And now, here I am!

What excites you most about Seed?

Everything about Seed is cool, from its premise to its design. I love the idea of being able to shape a new planet from scratch – providing players with a way to restart civilization and seeing how they affect this world, both the good and the bad. It's very exciting; there will be so many things to explore.

Which designers or games have inspired you throughout the years?

As a designer, I always try to get inspired by everything - from stuff I see on the Internet to found, real-life objects and nature. But, if I had to name one designer, I'd say Dieter Rams is a big inspiration. He believes in simplicity and ergonomic design, which I really identify with.

When it comes to games, I wouldn't say I'm much of a gamer. But, throughout my gaming years, I've been inspired by a lot of strategy games, like Starcraft and Age of Empires. Actually, Max Payne is one of my favourites. I've forgotten how many times I've played it through from start to finish.

What's your favourite thing about living in Berlin?

Berlin is a way greener city than Istanbul. I know that Berlin is very urban, but there are trees everywhere, beautiful parks and lakes to visit just outside of the city. There's so much to see and do. Visually, it's very dynamic. There's always something new to explore. Oh, and Berlin has cheap beer. Cheap, tasty beer!

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

New COO Alert! Ryan DeSanto becomes a Klanger

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We're incredibility happy to announce that Ryan DeSanto, business-master and bass player, has joined the Klang Gang as Chief Operating Officer.

Ryan will be steering the Klang train down the proverbial track to world domination. Or virtual world domination, depending on how you look at it. Basically, he'll be overseeing Klang's business procedures.

Ryan's experience is second to none and was previously the Head of Games at Improbable, as well as the Director of Business Development for North America at NetEase. Not only that, Ryan was the Founder of TinySpark and the Founder of Playhem. He also likes to slap the bass.

In his own words, “During my time at Improbable, I was fortunate to work with many amazing teams producing the next generation of multiplayer game content on SpatialOS. Out of them all, I was blown away by Klang's team and vision for Seed and am extremely proud to be a part of the gang.”

Welcome to the Gang, Ryan.

Happy Holidays & Thanks for 2018!

I know it's not nice to brag about your achievements, but it's our blog, so we'll do what we want!

We've put together a short video with a rundown of Klang's milestones throughout 2018 as a self-reminder of how far we've come, and that we couldn't have done it without your support!
Thank you so much!

See you in 2019!

- The Klang Gang

Announcement: Peter Holzapfel has joined the Klang Gang!

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We're extremely excited to announce that the man, the myth, the legend, Peter Holzapfel, has joined Klang as the Executive Producer of Seed.

Peter will be overseeing all areas of production and development, maintaining the core vision of the project. He's also to expand our structure, which is no easy task.

Mundi explains in his own words, “We're very excited to have Peter on board as an Executive Producer. Not only does Peter bring with him experience, but also a focused approach towards production, which is extremely vital to us as a team. Our goal is to create an MMO simulation which has never been done before in this shape or form, so focus and prioritization are of utmost importance. Peter's 15 years of experience in game development will help us to realize this ambitious goal.”

Prior to joining the Klang Gang, Peter was working in various creative production roles for companies like YAGER and Crytek, as well as his own company. His most recent role was as the Game Director for YAGER's combat flight simulator, Dreadnought.

Seed is one of those rare opportunities that is so good that you have to drop your own plans and just roll with it and see where it takes you. A project so full of passion, enthusiasm and ambition that it reminds you again why we all joined this industry in the first place. I am proud to be a part of this project and will do whatever I can to help make this dream become a reality,” explained Peter.

You're making us blush, Peter.
Welcome to the team.

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

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?