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.

Meet with Klang at GDC 18 and talk Seed!

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It's eleven days until GDC, which means there are only eleven days left to get your GDC schedule together – depending on when you read this, of course. This is hereby eleven days notice that Klang will be holding a “Meet the Devs” session at GDC, and, if you want to know more about Seed, you should probably be there!

We'll be holding a special "Meet The Devs" session on Wednesday 21st March from 3PM – 4PM at the Improbable Booth, 1031- South Hall. Here, you'll be able to meet the Klang founders, discuss everything and anything about Seed, and even pick up FREE, super-exclusive Seed goodies!

If you're press and you want an exclusive, hands-off look at Seed, we can sort that out, too. Visit our GDC page here and book an appointment with us.

See you in San Francisco!

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?

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?

It's official! Prof. Lawrence Lessig is working on Seed!

As you may or may not have heard, Harvard Law Professor and activist Prof. Lawrence Lessig has joined us to work on Seed...and we're super honoured / excited / overwhelmed to have him on board!

Prof. Lessig has spent his career studying constitutional law, and he has been helping new democracies to form the legal frameworks for governance. Now, he's working with us!

Saying it's an honour barely scrapes the surface of how we're feeling right now. But, before I get too melodramatic, here's a very brief overview of what will make this collaboration interesting:

In 1999, Prof. Lawrence Lessig published CODE and Other Laws of Cyberspace, the first comprehensive book about "cyberlaw". The book also works as a blueprint for the main framework of Seed's political structure.

In brief, the idea is that CODE functions as a law in "cyberspace", with the hard questions for the future of digital technology dependent on the tradeoffs between LAW and CODE; CODE being the architecture of "cyberspace" or a regulator.

You can learn more about CODE and Other Laws of Cyberspace here: http://www.code-is-law.org/

VentureBeat also published an in-depth interview about our collaboration with Prof. Lessig, which is extremely interesting to read. I very much recommend checking it out: https://venturebeat.com/2017/05/31/law-professor-lawrence-lessig-vast-online-games-need-a-political-structure/

Oh, and here's a quick overview of his background:

Prof. Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.

We're extremely excited for this collaboration and for the future of Seed. Just watch this space!

Dave Ranyard: Immersive Interaction with AI through Virtual Reality

At this week's Nordic Game Conference in Malmö, Sweden, Virtual Reality Developer and CEO at Dream Reality Interactive, Dave Ranyard spoke on the importance of ensuring that players feel like they have a presence in a VR story. This thought-provoking opinion brings up the topic of immersion and the value it brings to the player's experience.

In an article recently published by gamesindustry.biz, Ranyard stated that he believes both VR and AR are going to be important for interacting with artificial intelligence and immersing the player within the storyline of a game. “Instead of having a cutscene, imagine having a conversation with a character. I think that's where games are going, and that's really fascinating,” comments Ranyard.

Moreover, Ranyard states that persistent worlds will also be vital in expanding how the player immerses themselves in the gaming experience, with non-linear gameplay and player-driven storylines. 

It was really gratifying to see him name-drop our partners in crime, Improbable, citing that SpatialOS is a promising start for this concept...if you've not heard us mention SpatialOS before, where have you been? 

At Klang, we certainly agree that immersive gameplay is important! With our latest project, Seed, we're creating a persistent virtual world, filled with vast, player-created colonies. Our aim is to create an AI world driven completely by the players, resulting in a truly immersive experience.

Image: develop-online.net

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Svenni Davíðsson

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After a long break, we're back with the seventh instalment of our Who's this Klanger? series! This time, I sat down with Klang's Lead Designer for Seed, Svenni, about QuizUp, typography, and how he joined the Klang Gang...

Svenni, tell our readers about your background in graphic design and your affection for typography.

“During my time studying at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, I got really into typography. In fact, my graduation project was a typeface.

There's something about only using text that I find fascinating; it's the restrictions that it brings to design, I think. Plus, it's also about the hierarchy of the information. How will other people read it? Will the placement of the text affect the message? It's really interesting stuff!

But, to be honest, I enjoy exploring the whole scope of graphic design. There's always something new that takes my interest.”

Before Klang, you were the CDO for QuizUp. How did you end up working at Plain Vanilla?

“During the early stages of QuizUp, when Plain Vanilla was still operating out of San Francisco, I was working as a designer for the advertising agency, Jónsson and Le'Macks. At the time, Plain Vanilla was a client of ours and, seeing as I was really interested in the digital side of design rather than print, I took the lead on the QuizUp project. I eventually ended up joining Plain Vanilla not that long after.”

How did you end up working with Klang?

“I've known Mundi and Ívar for a looonnngg time; they've been nagging me to join Klang ever since they relocated to Berlin, but, the QuizUp project was too good of an opportunity to give up at the time. Once the QuizUp team disbanded, the Klang guys snapped me up! Plus, I've previously lived in Berlin, so it was an easy move.

I remember them spending endless hours throwing ideas around for a concept that could be game-changing, if you pardon the pun. It seemed like a cool idea at the time – this was about 10 years ago – and now it's becoming a reality as Seed!”

So, you've had your ears chewed off about Seed for a while. What's it like to now be a part of the project since you've known of it for about a decade?

“Well, previously, the project was very complex, with lots of different UI ideas and references. But, at some point, everything just clicked and seemed very doable, although I had no clue how to realise some of their ideas.

It wasn't until I delved into colonization simulation games like RimWorld and Prison Architect that I could envision the concepts laid out by Mundi and Ívar.”

Who or what would you say is your biggest design inspiration?

“I'd say, Paul Rand, because he's such a bad ass. Take the story behind the NeXT logo, for example. His confidence in and the passion behind his work is super admirable.”

What's your favourite game ever?

It's a hard choice between Super Mario World for the SNES or Quake 3. Both are quite different, but I certainly spent many hours playing both!”

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