Who's this Klanger? An interview with David Magnusson

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We're catching up with the man, the myth and the gosh-darn legend that is David Magnusson, Klang's Sound Designer and Media Producer, for this edition of Who's this Klanger?

WOW, it's been almost three years since we last spoke (for the blog, not in real life). What have you been up to?

"A lot of really great stuff has happened over the past three years! Once we were done working on ReRunners, I took a couple of years out to study Digital Management at Hyper Island in Stockholm. I was really inspired by what I'd learned during the ReRunners period and wanted to broaden my skill set. Last August, I started back full time at Klang to work on the sound design for Seed and a bunch of other cool Klang-related things, as well as finishing my Master's thesis, just before the end of 2018."

Not only are you Klang's Sound Designer, but you're also Klang's Media Producer. Can you give us an insight into what Klang is working on?

"Because of the vast scope of Seed, we have a lot of content to work with; we want to create a whole universe for our players to explore and to let people into what we're doing and how we're doing it. We're working on a lot of exciting things – videos, websites, and other top secret projects."

What excites you the most about creating the sound for Seed?

"As we're creating a whole new world, there is so much to explore when it comes to sound. There's no right or wrong, only experimentation. It's super exciting helping to complement and bring this awesome project to life through sound. We also have very interesting ideas to how we're going to present the music in Seed, but we can talk more about that in the future."

Do you have any tips for budding sound designers on how to get into an industry, be it film, games, advertising?

"When I finished Audio Engineering back in '98 at SAE Glasgow, I knew that I didn't want to work with recording musicians as I'd played in bands during my youth and I always felt sorry for the engineers that had to work with us. I made the conscious decision to go into post-production for TV and commercials as there was steady work with a steady income. I'd recommend for budding sound designers to go straight into studying sound for games as this industry is growing-and-growing. There's always a need for sound designers for gaming projects. In my opinion, it’s the most exciting field in the world of audio today!"

As a long-standing member of the Klang Gang, why would you recommend Klang as the best studio to work for?

"We have a very talented team, from a variety of backgrounds from all around the world. And, by starting to work for Klang now, you can become a part of actually molding the culture that we're in because every voice is heard. We want everyone to make their mark and be a part of creating the company culture. We're all on the same mission. It's awesome!"

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 Matt Weichselbaum

Not sponsored by Nike

Not sponsored by Nike

It's time! Time for another episode of Who's this Klanger? for your eyeballs. This time around, Game Engineer, Matt Weichselbaum, is in the hot seat to talk about his background, Klang, and cowboys...

Matt, why don’t you start by telling our readers a little about your working background and experience.

I graduated with a BA in Computer Science doing front-end architecture and website stuff, but I was always coding games throughout college, especially around the end of my sophomore year. The first thing that I ever built was a Galaga clone, naturally. For one semester project, I built a Pokemon-esque game with a world editor feature, which was pretty intense. I loved the whole experience! I've always been a huge gaming nerd but I never thought game development was a realistic career path...until now!

My career after college began as a Software Engineer for an education company, then as a Software Engineer for a healthcare company back in the US. In 2017, I moved to Berlin to work for a startup accelerator as a Technical Advisor, then as a Senior Software Engineer at BCG Digital Ventures. After some needed self reflection, I knew I had to pursue game development, stuff that I've been passionately creating in my spare time for over six years - building space shooters and AI simulations.

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

I'd known about Klang for probably around four years now, when the studio was still developing ReRunners. I thought about applying to Klang while I was still in the States, but never hit the submit button. But I knew that Klang was the only studio I wanted to pursue.

When I started to look for new job opportunities in Berlin, I went into full stalker mode, befriending everyone that I could on LinkedIn, trying to find a good connection to Mundi or Oddur. A friend of mine is an Icelander, so I reached out to them if they knew any of the Klang founders. She responded with, 'yeah, I'm sitting across from Oddur right now. I'll let him know.' Not too long after this, it was my first day as a Klanger.

What excites you most about Seed?

That the scale and the ambition of this project is enormous! It was always a dream to work on a huge project; I'm someone who likes tackling big problems. The scale of the tech is the most interesting thing ever for me. I'm also a big sci-fi fan, so that's an extra bonus.

Are there any games that have inspired you?

I've always loved space shooters. I played the Star Wars TIE Fighter and X-Wing games growing up in the mid-nineties, back when Windows 95 and joysticks were a thing. Those are still great games! Also Freelancer and Independence War 2 are my old favorites from around that time.

Born in Boston and raised in Texas, would you describe yourself as a Boston Terrier or a Texan Cowboy?

Well, I guess I'd have to say the Cowboy, although I don't really feel like I'm from Texas anymore; I haven't lived there in over 20 years. I do like the mystique of being a lone ranger. Maybe I also like wearing the leather chaps. Who knows?!

Stay tuned, readers, for the next part of Who's this Klanger? coming to you soon!

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.

- The Klang Gang

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Rachel Little


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?

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Rainer Bernhardt

For the eighth instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series I sat down with Klang's Game Engineer, frozen pizza connoisseur, and native Berliner, Rainer, to talk about his experience and what it's like working with Icelanders...

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

My first Developer job was as an intern at Spellborn International in the Netherlands - the studio behind The Chronicles of Spellborn - where I was in charge of rewriting the text rendering system in Unreal 2.5, among other cool things.

At the same time, I was working on several game projects for the University of Applied Science in Berlin, including building and maintaining a motion capture studio.

Then, sometime in 2011, I joined the digital agency, Exozet. I was working as a Lead Developer on the digital versions of Catan, the board game, for both mobile and desktop. After that, I joined Klang in 2015 to work on ReRunners.

You were at Klang for ReRunners and now for Seed. What's the transition like moving from a casual mobile game to a large-scale project?

I've spent the majority of my career working on large-scale projects, so I don't find it daunting. Actually, I prefer it!

Having said that, it's still a challenge, especially the technical aspects. It's opened up a lot of territory for me, which I've previously unexplored; I find it super exciting!

For Seed, Klang is using SpatialOS. How are you finding the software?

We want to create a game, and at the same time, not have to worry about creating the tech to get it running. That's why SpatialOS is extremely valuable for us.

We're working closely with Improbable to get the most out of the software, which is a great process. For us, SpatialOS is another piece that fits into the overall puzzle that is Seed.

What excites you the most about Seed?

The amount of potential Seed holds! It's huge! Plus, I personally really like these types of games.

What I really like about the project, from a developer point-of-view, is that the game is being shaped by the whole team. I mean, we're not 100% sure how the game will look, in say, two years time, but being able to shape it is really important to me.

Being German, what's it like working with mainly Icelanders? They're an unruly bunch, no?

Well, it's way easier now, since my German friend [Martin] is now working here. Haha!

But, in all seriousness, I feel it makes no difference. I've heard various rumours about the Icelandic way of working, but, I've not noticed any difference. We're just like any start up company.

The three founders have known each other for years and have a strong bond. I think that it's super important!

When it comes to language, I like that it's an English-speaking environment. In fact, it was one of the many reasons why I took the position...seriously!

What was your favourite thing about ReRunners?

That fact that we did it! We finished a game, launched it, and people played it! It was really interesting technically; I had to do all the optimizations to get the game running on older iPhones, which was very interesting as the game is very texture heavy.

What are your favourite games ever?

To be honest, it really changes. Right now, I'm playing Master of Orion like crazy because I really like 4x strategy games. I used to play Dota a lot, but this was before I had kids, haha. With Master of Orion, I can save the game then go and do something else.

There was no specific game or games that influenced me to go into game development specifically, but my older brothers were always playing games, so I grew up with having games around me. But, mainly I enjoy programming, it just so happens that I love playing games too!

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

We Won!! Klang does Casual Connect Tel Aviv

Last week, Mundi and I got back from our trip, after the most insane airport security checks, to cold and gloomy Berlin. But, we're still walking on Tel Aviv's sunshine as we won not one, but two awards for ReRunners at this year's Indie Prize Awards ceremony, as part of Casual Connect Tel Aviv!

I'm not going to lie, we were both pretty, pretty hungover during the awards ceremony, which amplified the shock of being awarded the trophy for 'Best Game Design'. It's incredible to be nominated for an award, let alone win won! There were so many great games nominated (I've listed some of my favourites below); it was really inspiring to see them all on a big screen during the nominations.

As our disbelieve was wearing off, ReRunners won its second award, this time for 'Best Multiplayer Game'. At this point, our acceptance speeches were rather brain-dead, borderline absurd – blame the three nights of partying. But, we're super grateful for winning a second award, repeat, second award. In fact, we won so many goodies that the staff at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport weren't too happy about it.

Casual Connect was a blast! Three days of indie showcases, partying, exciting new games to play, good people to meet, nice food, and a free bar (which was too good). If you've never been before, or want an event to make connections and expand your gaming business, I really recommend Casual Connect. The next event will be taking place in February 2016 in our neck of the woods, Berlin, so don't miss out.

I also want to mention how beautiful Tel Aviv is! It would have been wonderful to have stayed longer and seen more of the sights, but unfortunately, we had to get back to the office. I'd also like to give a shout out to the best falafel and hummus sandwich ever! I can't remember the name of the street food stall, but, I really do miss you.

Mundi and I would like to thank all the awesome people we met during the event and those we had drinks with. Especially, the following people: Alexander and Marek at Gamajun Games, Daniel at Craneballs Studio, Marat at Wargaming, and Anders at Priori Data. A huge thank you goes out to Yulia and Sasha at Casual Connect; thanks so much for inviting us and for your hospitality.

Be sure to check out the following games, too: Take Cover (iOS and Android), Disco Dave (iOS and Android), Heroes Rage (iOS and Android), Planet Nomads (Windows, Mac, Linux), and Notes of Obsession (Windows).

See you in Berlin!

Klang's Tales from San Francisco

A week ago, Mundi and I finally got back from San Francisco after 14-hours of travelling. I'm not complaining, though, it was an awesome trip; I just hate flying. Watching The Martian during an 11-hour flight and being 33,000ft in the air isn't a good idea, trust me. Anyway, I digress...

We travelled to the good ol' US of A for business and pleasure. And lucky for us, business was also pleasure. Some things I can talk about, others I can't. But, here's a short tour diary of what Mundi and I got up to.

Day One:

We landed in San Francisco a bit blurry-eyed, greeted by a welcoming video from Obama himself, and a TSA agent who loved, yet hated his job very much. After jumping on the BART, we managed to find our hotel and dropped off our luggage. Then, STRAIGHT TO A BAR we went. I ate tater tots for the first time. I felt like Napoleon Dynamite. Mundi ate pizza. He felt like trash.

Day Two:

Tuesday morning we woke up at about 6 AM, and stupidly watched the horrors of Fox News. We made our way to Mel's Drive-In to console ourselves with bottomless coffee, eggs, and FREEDOM. 

Mundi and I were invited to the Zynga headquarters in the SoMA district to check out the building and say hi to the fam. All I can say is "CHRIST ON A BIKE" that building is insane; is like the UN. They had a huge TV, made up of about twenty TVs. I mean, that was not the only impressive thing about our visit, but it was certainly up there. We then went to drink a few beers and get out of the SF sun. This was around noon.

That evening, we met up with friends for beer and tacos...or should I say tacos, beer, then multiple gin and tonics. However, the switch in time zones was getting the better of me, so I had to flee back to the hotel. 

Day Three:

Wednesday started with omelettes and hash browns, with Mundi going for the all-American pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I realise that I've spoken a bunch about food, but, so what; if you want the good stuff, read some Shakespeare.

We spent the majority of the day doing business-type stuff, spreading the good word of ReRunners and Klang, until we had to check in to our second hotel of the trip.

Shout out to the Handlery Union Square Hotel for having the most beautiful hotel rooms. This is not a sponsored post, by the way.

In the evening, we met up with friends for more drinks and Mexican food (surprise, surprise). We were graced with the presence of Maria Essig, Google's Indie Dev guardian angel, and all-around wonderful person. It was great to meet up with her, discuss ReRunners, music, Belarus, and VR. Admittedly, I don't know jack about VR, I just watched Mundi and Maria get deep about it and I nodded occasionally.

I blame you for my blinding hangover, Maria.

Day Four:

Okay, so Thursday was TOP SECRET. I wish I could tell ya'll more, but I don't want to get into trouble. Thursday was make it or break it day. All I can say is that it was a great day, with some great people...and I was a bit too hungover. 

Day Five:

Friday was flight home day, but before that, we visited the Double Fine studio, hosted by the fabulous Anna Kipnis. Double Fine's studio was such an inspiration; we desperately need to upgrade the Klang studio and give it some more flair, Office Space-style.

We had the amazing opportunity to check out the post-E3 build of Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, which looks incredible. Plus, it was inspiring to watch the Double Fine guys and gals work, as well as see all the behind-the-scenes action. Oh, and thanks for the swag!

On that note, big thanks to Anna Kipnis, Maria Essig, Greg Essig, Flour + Water, Drew Smith, and the Tilting Point crew: David Hague, Jerome Sudan, Samir El Agili, Dan Sherman.

It was a mind-blowing trip, let's do it again sometime! 





Klang Gang Does San Fran

Great news, everybody! Well, it's great news for us anyhow. Next week, Mundi and I will be travelling to San Francisco to do some TOP SECRET, HIGHLY IMPORTANT OPS in the West Coast of the good ol' U S OF A.

During the trip, we'll be meeting a bunch of cool people and hanging out with some good friends (who are also cool, obviously). But, we also have time in our schedule to meet up with ya'll!

So, if you're interested in hanging out and seeing a demo of the latest build of ReRunners, maybe conducting an interview with us, and just saying hi, then drop me an email: jonathan@klang-games.com – we'll be free between 20th and 23rd June!

See you in SF!