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.

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

Klang at PC Connects London '19: Next Generation of Multiplayer Games

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Klang bossman and bowling champion – his words not ours – will be talking about the Next Generation of Multiplayer Games at PC Connects London this coming Monday. We've already had a preview of the talk in the studio and it's pretty darn amazing.

As part of the talk, Mundi will be exploring the history of multiplayer games; how they began and where they're going. The session will also feature some info on Seed and how the game will be able to host hundreds of players at any given time.

The session, titled Next Generation of Multiplayer Games, will be taking place on Monday 21st January at 3:20pm (GMT) at PC Connects London, a part of PocketGamer Connects London. Find out more about the conference here: https://www.pgconnects.com/london/pc-connects/

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Matt Weichselbaum

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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!


Klang at Gamescom 2018

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Gamescom is taking place next week, which means we're looking forward to playing Switch for the whole duration of our four-hour train journey to Cologne. And secondly, we're excited to be meeting a bunch of great people and talking more about Seed, of course!

Unfortunately, we won't be talking or showing anything publicly about Seed this year. Instead, we're being low-key and have a schedule jam-packed with press, business-related ventures and doing our best to prevent hangovers. BUT, if you see us walking around, please say hi! We might even have some Seed merch for you...

Let's go, Gamescom!

Series A Funding Round for Seed is Signed, Sealed, Delivered

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We're extremely excited to announce that the Series A funding round for Seed has been secured! And what's more, the round was led by Northzone, with additional support from Makers Fund, Novator, and firstminute capital. What an honour!

Northzone has previously invested in, among others, Spotify, PlayRaven, iZettle, and Avito, so it's inspiring to be a part of this esteemed roster.

To quote Mundi: “We're truly humbled to have secured the Series A for the development of Seed, a project that we believe will play an integral role in the next generation of social simulations. We're honored to share our vision with Northzone, and are more excited than ever to tackle this very ambitious project.”

To quote Paul Murphy, Partner at Northzone: “Klang has everything you’d want as an early stage investor - massive vision, experienced team, and an incredible early version of the product. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the team to help bring Seed to market.”

More information about the round can be found over on VentureBeat here: https://venturebeat.com/2018/07/16/klang-games-raises-8-95-million-for-space-colony-online-simulation/

Thank you for the support!
- The Klang Gang

Who's this Klanger? An interview with Artem “Archie” Dyadichkin

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We're back with another episode of Who's this Klanger?! This time, I sat down with Engineer, Archie, to discuss his background, favourite games, and rock music...

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

“I recently graduated with a B.Sc. in Media and Computer Science from HTW Dresden and was lucky enough to find a position as a Game Engineer here at Klang. But, working on Seed isn't my first project, oh no! During my time at university, I was working as a freelancer for various projects as a gameplay-developer and programmer, most-notably the VR project, Cosmotic.”

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

“After graduating, I really wanted to realise my dream of becoming a game developer as I've been a huge gamer since I was a kid. I was looking online at game studios across Germany and Klang really stood out. In fact, Klang was the first studio to actually respond to my speculative application, so it was meant to be!”

So, what excites you most about Seed?

“It's funny because I originally thought that Seed was going to be a small, cute indie project. But now that I'm a part of the madness, the scope of the project is so much bigger than I was expecting...and way more ambitious.

There are so many cool concepts with interesting gameplay mechanics in Seed, it gets me super excited as a gamer.”

Are there any games that have inspired you?

“Well, this could be a long list, but it's probably best that I keep it short...

I love the games developed by Naughty Dog, such as the Uncharted series and The Last of Us. I'd say that my favourite game of the past few years is The Witcher 3. I love games that have an emphasis on player choice allowing you to feel like you're the character you're playing.”

You're a guitarist, right? Do you play in any bands or have any music projects that you'd like to plug?

“I'm still looking for other musicians in Berlin to play with, and I've posted in a few forums. Back in Dresden, I was in an instrumental progressive metal band called Devio Hail, but we never released a record. Those guys are still playing, though.

I'd love to have a band here in Berlin and be able to dust off the guitar!”

What are your favourite bands or musicians of all time?

“I'm really open to a lot of music, but I'm mostly into rock and metal. I like a lot of the music coming out of the 80s and 90s, especially grunge. I love a band called Failure, one of the more obscure bands coming out of the grunge scene. Their album Fantastic Planet is one that I'd totally recommend. It's iconic!

There's a band from back in Dresden called CEDRIC that I really like. They've just released a new album that is really killer!”

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

Rezzed 2018: Discussing Real-World Politics in Seed

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This Saturday, Klang will be at Rezzed 2018 over in London discussing how real-world politics are being implemented in Seed as part of the event's Rezzed Sessions. And, we'd love to see you there!

Klang's CEO and overlord, Mundi, will be introducing Seed and we're allowing players to build political structures based on real-world politics, as well as being able to customise your own system...and revolt against them.

The session, titled Implementing real-world politics in an MMO: Allowing for a ballot and a boycott in Seed, will be taking place on Saturday 14th April at 12:30pm (BST), and you can read more about this session (and all the other awesome sessions) right here: https://www.egx.net/rezzed/2018/rezzed-sessions-2018

Be sure to check out the session, give Mundi a hug, and say hi (if you're there)!