Klang Games Talk About The Mind-Boggling Depth and Complexity of Seed

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Despite not having a playable demo, one of the most interesting games at PC Gamer Weekender was Seed. This simulation MMO aims to give players the tools to do, pretty much whatever they want. Utilising the power of SpatialOS, this game is far from its release, nonetheless, Klang Games have some ambitious goals that are definitely worth reading about.

I had the opportunity to chat with Mundi Vondi, the CEO and Co-Founder of Klang Games. Read on to find out exactly what Seed is, how Klang Games are planning to support a large number of players online and what kinds of interactions we can expect in the game.

Can I get you to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your game, please?

I’m Mundi Vondi and I’m the CEO/Co-Founder of Klang Games.

What is Seed? I can see it and it looks cool, but like, what is it?

It’s an MMO. That’s a really weird area we are working on, a simulation-based MMO. Simulation games aren’t usually MMOs, there haven’t been any so far. Basically, each player controls like a family, they collaborate to build these communities. Each member of your family has an AI that tries to drive them towards their needs, for example: sleeping, eating, socializing, comfort and those sorts of things. It’s based on the Improbable backend, SpatialOS. That OS allows us to have it on the same planet. Until then you can use those characters to wage war, trade or go gather resources out in the wilderness and such.

Seed looks more like The Sims than an MMO. How many players will it be able to support?

We are still testing the scalability but we’ve been quite successful in running hundreds of characters in a very small area. In theory, we can take everyone into the same world because it’s basically a patchwork of servers, instead of your traditional single server, shared MMO, where everyone connects to the same server. These have a very obvious limit because a server can only handle so many players, but when you patch them together you can pretty much go as far as the cloud. In theory, we could have everyone on the same server, but we are yet to test that!

This seems like the next generation of games. Is that what you are going for?

Yeah. We started imagining this game probably ten years ago. That was when Oddur Magnússon, the co-founder was at CCP, and for us, the kind of the emergent MMO space is the future of games. We started thinking, what would be the truly ultimate form of that? There’s a number of issues with MMOs that keep popping up, the classic veteran versus newcomers, trying to build an online community where 90% players are offline most of the time where the server becomes a ghost town. These kinds of problems are somewhat how we started to look at how you make a full-on MMO, which is lively and fun at any given time of the day. We are reducing the logistical error of having to call up your friends and say “let’s play now”. Instead of doing that, we actually keep your characters simulated 24/7 in the game. There’s no way of pausing or quitting, the game is always running. You can jump in and adjust things because you want to optimize the life of your character by telling him to work more or less, or building a new room in your house so you can encumber more characters in your family. This means that when you come in, let’s say we are ten friends building a town together, they are all going to be there, whether or not they are actually sitting at the computer. We plan on doing a mobile app as well which allows you to chat to your friends on the go so even though they aren’t actually playing, you can still communicate with them through the game and warn them about someone attacking or stuff like that.

What kind of price point are you considering for Seed? Surely it cannot be free?

We are definitely trying to find ways to monetize Seed that won’t affect the economy, at least at the front end. What’s tricky is that we are running simulated characters 24/7 which means we have to somehow pay for it. Initially, we thought maybe we could charge per character, so you actually pay for a new character. That could be a bit brutal because they could get killed when you aren’t even there, but we are still trying to come up with ways to monetize softly in a way that doesn’t allow for the biggest wallet to ruin the fun for everyone else. Maybe there’s a way of community-driven monetization which kind of relies on somebody supporting the entire community, but yeah, it’s very early on when it comes to monetization!

How early on is “early on”? What kind of timeframe are we looking at for release here, like, 2020?

No comment!

This looks really high-tech, the concept hasn’t been done before. Is it somewhat worrying to be the pioneer of that?

Not at all, man… *laughs* Yeah, of course. That’s why we give ourselves a lot of leverage when it comes the time it takes to develop this beast. We don’t think this is going to be an easy task, there’s going to be a lot of challenges ahead, but that’s in our nature. Like I said earlier, our two co-founders are from EVE Online which is a unique game as well.

What do you expect people to do in Seed? Do you expect people to foster communities or do you expect warfare all the time?

I’ve thought about that a lot. My theory is that players will start very brutally, it’ll be a slaughterhouse. They will try to conquer quickly and rapidly in the beginning. Out of that chaos, more sophistication will arrive. Someone will build a really sophisticated society which has better defenses, more people apart of it and starts to show everybody that’s actually how you really win. You then create kind of a utopian scenario where players actually don’t have to gnaw their nails 24/7 because the nature of the game is running all the time, but rather you can relax and come back to it knowing you are going to be safe. At that point, people should see those as guiding lights towards building more and more sophisticated societies, ultimately collaborating between those societies.

Seems like the biggest social experiment as opposed to a game… It seems mad!

We definitely hope to go very far in the scientific approach. That’s why we’ve been very fortunate to work with people like Lawrence Lessig who’s an amazing political scientist. He’s a Harvard Law Professor who was actually one of the presidential candidates for the US last election. Sadly he didn’t win of course… I was actually at a dinner with him and I was sitting, talking about this game that we were about to build and he started asking about how we would run the governments and I was like, “well, we will have chat…”. He became fascinated with the idea of, like, could this be a platform for testing out governmental structures because there isn’t really a place where you can do that in any stable form? It’s very hard to simulate the effects of governmental choices, it’s obviously very hard to see it in real life because it is actually real life. Hopefully, at some point, we are going to be able to test out all kinds of variations of governmental structures in the game which will maybe give us insights into what it’s like to government this way or that way in the real world.

The scope of this game is insane. At what point do you put a limit on it?

We look at the three core loops as the citizens, the business owners and the government. These are kind of like part of the same core loop in a pyramid. At the top, you have the 10% of the players who are in the government, you have then 30% of players who are business owners, then the 60% who are citizens. We will develop the game continuously, even after it launches. That’s a model we are very familiar with – like EVE is still in development even though it is more than fifteen years old. Our approach to this is to try to get those three core loops working at somewhat of a primitive state but really plant them down in a way that we can see them growing over the course of multiple years. Reaching the full scope is not going to be the day we launch the game, but years away.

Could this come to consoles?

Traditionally RTS-style games are difficult on a console. The console is pretty much the only platform we look at and think maybe we can do something? We’ll see in the future.

Is there anything else you might want to tell us about Seed that I haven’t asked about?

We are really using the technology to its fullest extent. It is really good at simulating large quantities of entities that can actually have a real ripple effect on one another. We can simulate millions of characters, and each one of them can bounce off of one another. We can’t do it now, but we will hopefully be able to do it at some point. Imagine a butterfly effect where one character is kind of at the brink of his mood, he’s growing frustrated. There’s a pothole in the road which just triggers him. The pothole is there because the government aren’t taking care of the infrastructure of the town. Now, this guy is angry because he steps in this pothole. He goes to work and he insults somebody at work. Now that character is also frustrated, so he starts drinking more than normal. He goes to the bar and is becoming an alcoholic. This is happening on a scale of every single entity bouncing. We approached it with this anger, trigger, moods, needs and stuff like that but the real true complexity will come from the emergence of these real behavior patterns which are way greater than what we can imagine. It will go much further than what we actually will even have ideas about. Both by simulating that kind of true emergence at the same time throwing thousands of players into it, we hope to do the most emergent game ever created with Seed.

It’s starting to sound like that!

We totally know how nuts we are, but that’s what makes us excited about coming to work every morning.

Is Seed actually… fun?

It’s funny you say that because it is a slow game. Normally simulation games have that fast forward button where you can spin over to the next day so that you can then deal with an immediate problem. You can’t fast forward in an MMO because then you would be fast forwarding for everyone else. We do think it’s going to be fun in a unique way. It’s not going to be drop in, shoot’em up kind of fun, it’s going to be that slow, progressing, sense of accomplishment. A lot of details, a lot of little stories that you are witnessing happen. You are going to be able to follow your character around as he goes about his day. It might not sound fun but it is already, even in these primitive days. We did a playtest last week and it was just the little details that started spawning. One of my characters – Zoey – we were building this town together and she went to Oddur’s house and was sleeping in his bed. I’m like, “what are you doing?” I was trying to send her back home! I ordered her to go back to my house and go to sleep there, and she was walking back and had this thought, “what is freedom?” and I’m like, “it’s not that!”. We’ve now thrown in a bunch of these random thoughts that they get, but just that simple scenario or that simple gesture over that thought created this whole elaborate story for me. I knew that it wasn’t actually true to the game, it was just simple things coming together like that but you are going to have so many hundreds or even thousands of alignments which should give you a very interesting experience.

I don’t even know where to begin…

We are often boggled by where Seed will go and what it will end up like. It’s a big question to us on what to focus on, how to arrange the features and what to develop next. We are always challenging ourselves in a way. We can’t focus in on the game being a single thing. One thing can’t outweigh the other so we kind of develop it in a really horizontal, layering somehow, improving the depth of the features across the entire scope instead of honing in on a single thing. That’s really when it comes together, when all these multiple systems start to work together. Every single one of the systems is easy to dive into and we could spend lots of time working on a small aspect of the entire concept. However, that’s not going to work because we have to build it up across the entire thing, that’s when all these systems start to work together. It is a bit like fumbling in the dark sometimes. We are like, what is the true value we will get out of this feature right here, right now? We are very lucky to have this grand vision. We actually attract good, talented people who want to see this game become a reality. Working with people that can understand and see the vision is going to help us get there.

Let’s say a community of farmers just wanted to make a tonne of food. Then you’ve got a community of trolls who want to kill everybody. Are you preventing people from purely destroying the work of others?

We do not want to prevent this. We might be wrong, and we might have to come up with mechanics to protect the farmers, but what we want to see is that those farmers must build sophisticated fences and communities that can defend them from the griefers. If we were to nerf the trolls, we would never see the same level of dedication and sophistication when it comes to building up those communities. That’s what I mentioned earlier, it’s going to be a bloody mess at first. Food is going to get eaten over dead bodies, but hopefully, that will teach them to come back and stand up for that and think “how can we do this now without failure”? Seed is not a game where you just jump around the globe and attack whomever you like. It’s a vast landscape so it takes you a long time to travel and traverse the landscape. This, we hope, is another layer of a buffer which can inform you there is somebody approaching and give you a headstart. You will have to think about whether you should run away with your food because you know the trolls are all in that forest over there, or should you stand up and fight them with your pitchforks?

I can imagine even just one troll in a community will take all this food when no one is online.

I think it’s also so fascinating to think about the problems internally in the community. There might be one guy in your utopian community who, in the night, goes around and breaks into somebody’s house and steals or murders somebody. For me, that’s another challenge to add that layer of sophistication to the community. Say, within communities there is no combat then players wouldn’t have to come up with ways of defending themselves against that. Maybe they could have guards patrolling the community within its own walls, much like the police does in our community, and maybe the reason we are we aren’t so barbaric is because, in reality, we do come up with systems to defend ourselves against the ill-intended. We want to give players the tools to build those kinds of systems. If we nerf the bad, we also nerf the reason for good. It’s all about allowing for maximum brutality and evil because then we also give a reason for the answer to that. That should be a very interesting result!

Law professor Lawrence Lessig: Vast online games need a political structure

If you create an online world, would it turn into some kind of utopia or a hate-filled reality like The Lord of the Flies? And can game developers do anything about which way it goes?

Lawrence Lessig thinks so. A law professor at Harvard University and a constitutional law expert, he has been helping new democracies form legal frameworks for new constitutions, and now he is participating in an interesting test by helping Berlin-based independent game developer Klang build the political framework for the upcoming massively multiplayer online game Seed.

Lessig doesn’t want to dictate some ideal form of governance like a model United Nations. He thinks that players should have a choice about how they govern themselves in an online world, and he also believes that players shouldn’t be burdened with political structure until they need it.

Most games pay heed to their economic structures so that the game can generate revenue for the developer. But Lessig believes a political system is also necessary for players to believe that they should invest their time in the game.

Seed is an online multiplayer world that will also have a lot of artificial intelligence, and it uses Improbable’s SpatialOS platform for cloud games. Improbable is an online games infrastructure company that recently raised $502 million from Japan’s SoftBank. Klang itself has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Greylock Partners, MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, and Unity founder David Helgason.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: We don’t see a name like Lawrence Lessig on many games we cover. How did this come to be?

Lawrence Lessig: I met Mundi in Iceland by accident, at somebody’s house. He described this game, this universe they were building. We had a long conversation about the theory, the ideas behind games. I’ve taught a course at Stanford with Julian Dibbell, who wrote about games for Wired for a long time, about virtual worlds and gaming. It’s always interested me.

After talking for a while, we moved on to how they were going to govern these places, the structure for governing. It was clear that no one had really thought through that much. That’s what began our conversation about whether there was something fun to experiment with here.

GamesBeat: Covering online worlds, people always use the terminology of the in-game economy. But they don’t always add the notion of an in-game political system. Is that something new here?

Lessig: Most people don’t add it because it’s such a boring problem. [Laughs] Most people don’t think about anything interesting when they think about governance. Obviously the game they’re building isn’t a governance game, but what everyone realizes is that, especially when you invest such an incredible amount of your time and energy into building places for playing a game like this, you need some confidence about how the place will evolve.

What we’ve been talking about are ways to give people in the game options for how they’d like that governance to happen. The options range from the simplest, most minimal—basically, from as little government as possible, to things like monarchy or different forms of democracy. You can randomly select people for office. We want to enable, in the lowest-cost way possible, the lowest number of cycles, to enable these different options, and see how these worlds evolve. Which ones work well? Which ones cohere with the kind of gaming that’s happening?

I obviously start with no clear intuition. Just an eagerness to see how this might evolve.

GamesBeat: Why do you think it’s also in some ways necessary? When I think of some of the politics that happens inside games, I think of player revolts that occasionally happen when developers change the rules or do something users don’t like. Usually they have no form of representation to communicate back to the developer. In some ways, I can see why some kind of system could be important.

Lessig: That’s the exact kind of case that motivates the desire to think about a structure of governance that gives people confidence they need to invest the time the game wants them to invest. But on the other hand, we don’t want to set up a model United Nations and expect everybody to hang out and debate the topics of the day. The way I’m thinking of it, it’s quite functional. The question is, “How can we structure it to allow it to serve its function of providing security and confidence for people playing the game, so they’re more willing to play the game?”

What I hope to see from it is that we can learn something about which of these structures works most easily, is most coherent with the spirit of people playing the game. I want to structure it in a way that allows us to observe, across a wide of range of worlds, exactly what seems to work and what doesn’t. It’s a wonderful environment to both serve the function of building confidence inside the game, but also let us learn an enormous amount about what types of rules structures and templates for governance tend to work better than others.

GamesBeat: One of the particular real-world problems I’ve seen is a company changing the pricing on virtual items. They got more expensive to buy with your time relative to buying them with money. That caused a big ruckus among the different clans and groups of people in the game. The clans held a boycott. But there were different competing interests. Some of them publicly supported the boycott, but then played the game anyway to try to get an edge on people who’d stopped playing. Another group offered to leave the boycott if the developer would favor them specifically.

Lessig: One of the interesting trade-offs here—my original work in the area of the law of cyberspace was to try to emphasize the way in which technology itself can be a kind of law. Code is law. When you imagine something like what you’re talking about – a set of players in a game wanting to effect a boycott – that boycott could be effected through an agreement. Everybody all says they want to boycott. Or in principle you could imagine a boycott being effected through code. We’re going to lock ourselves into a boycotting behavior.

It’s not clear which is more conducive to building strong communities. Many people think that the more you embed in code, the weaker the community that you develop becomes. People need to learn how to do things for the right reasons, as opposed to being forced to do them by technology. That’s one of the complicated trade-offs. There’s no way to answer that question in theory. You have to play it out and see what works and what doesn’t. This might be a context where we can do that kind of experimentation and see.

GamesBeat: Are there some things you’ve studied outside of games that can apply here, figuring out this game’s political system?

Lessig: In my day job I’m a constitutional law professor. I’ve done a lot of work in developing and building constitutions in developing nations. I did some work in Georgia in the post-communist period. I study and teach comparative constitutional law. When I was originally talking to Mundi about this, it was recognizing that in some sense, this is a problem I live with in my ordinary work as a law professor. We don’t ever really have an effective context in which to build and test these different structures.

There are lots of different kinds of democracy. The ability to imagine how you can structure the tradeoffs among them—this is a way to bring to life the kind of work I do in comparative constitutional law. That’s what made it exciting and interesting for me. We obviously are just beginning to map out how it can work. It’s an overriding objective that the work that we’re thinking about through governance structures not interfere, but just enable activities inside these worlds. I want to see this develop very slowly. It’s important that it’s developing at the ground level so we can do it the right way.

GamesBeat: I’ve seen a couple of clear tribes of people in different online games. There are the people who spend very little money but a lot of time to earn their status, and then there are people who spend a lot of money, which makes the world profitable for developers. They both seem like necessary groups, but they have different interests. I wonder how, when a game developer has millions of players—you can’t talk to everyone. Do they set up some kind of structure to communicate with the wealthiest players, or the players who spend the most time?

Lessig: Part of the question here is who should be deciding that. For the same reason you had this insight now, about this symbiotic relationship where both are necessary, you can imagine the community itself enabling some kind of preference or special connection for some, because they’re seen to be more valuable inside the community. From my perspective, we need to come in without any biases about that. We need to think, in a very efficient way, how to enable the community to make those kinds of decisions and implement them. And when they implement them, do they implement them technically, or do they implement them through understandings that are enforced by norms?

I think what we’ll see is that these different communities will have different objectives. Those objectives might fit with different forms of governance. One thing that’s argued about in the real world is that it might be better to have a democracy where, instead of having elections for people who want to represent others, you just randomly select 500 people to be the legislature. It’s a pretty low-cost way to govern, because if they’re really representative, those 500 people can speak for the group, and nobody has to worry about campaigning or anything like that.

You can imagine that becomes an attractive way for certain communities to govern themselves, where the people in those communities have no desire to engage much in politics. They just want to make sure that somebody is in place assuring that the system continues to work in a way appropriate for the community. But that could be very different in another community where people feel committed to developing a robust public recognition, and as they do that they want to be more engaged and participating in it. If we can enable these communities to make choices about the appropriate form they want, then I think much of the energy involved can take care itself. We can learn a lot from what’s working and not working.

GamesBeat: I’ve heard before that some game companies also have a sort of VIP concierge for their most active or richest players. That seems to have a parallel in our government, where lobbyists draw the attention of lawmakers.

Lessig: The lobbying system–nobody ever planned it like that. The frequent flyer system at airlines is kind of the same thing, except people did plan it like that. Obviously frequent flyers are valuable to airlines. At this stage it’s impossible to look inside the worlds of the game we’ll develop to have a sense of what will make sense there. But from my perspective, the objective is just to make sure that whatever does make sense can be developed collectively in the easiest way possible.

GamesBeat: It’s almost like you’re trying to create the structure, but not dictating the details.

Lessig: It’s important to make two qualifications about it. Yes, we want to enable the structure. We don’t want to dictate the substance of what the structure decides. I think we also don’t want to dictate that people spend much time worrying about the structure. Everybody expects these worlds will develop in incredibly rich ways and there will be all sorts of activity happening long before anybody worries about the question of how they’ll be governing themselves. The governance questions will emerge. Problems will come up and the communities of these worlds will have to work out how they deal with those problems. That’s when the taste for making these kinds of governance choices will emerge, the way it should naturally emerge.

Again, the objective is not to attract a whole bunch of people who want to debate the issues of the world. It’s just that people need the trains to run on time, which means you need governance that works, so let’s figure out the best way to make governance happen.

GamesBeat: It’s interesting to me that in-game economics have been studied and theorized and talked about a lot in the games business, but politics haven’t so much. And yet when you think about it, this is probably the precursor to the Metaverse. If we’ll eventually all live in this kind of virtual world, it really does matter.

Lessig: It does. But what’s so exciting about this to me is that—in other online contexts, when governance questions come up, the infrastructure or the context in which those questions can be answered is really underdeveloped. Nobody thinks about that up front. You can have a conflict over changes in pricing or whether things can be traded or not, and then at that stage you have to have a way of resolving that conflict. Bulletin boards or other messaging systems become the infrastructure for that kind of resolution.

Obviously that’s incredibly inefficient. It’s all ad hoc. It’s conceived and implemented way too late in the game. What’s exciting about this is that the commitment is to try to think through these questions up front. Again, not to insist that anybody confront them or deal with them. We’re not saying the first 10 preference settings you have to make are governance settings. But at least to have it so that when these questions emerge – and they will emerge, given the economies of these places – there’s an obvious and efficient way to deal with them.

And not just one way to deal with them. It’s both the idea that we’re talking about how to deal with this up front and the idea that we’re not dictating one particular system over another. If a particular world wants to have a dictator who gets to exercise to arbitrary power however they want, have at it. That’s the choice of the world. But if we can enable these choices in a simple, efficient way, then I think we’ll see much more innovation around making governance work than when it’s an incredible hassle to imagine gathering everybody into a forum and having an argument about something.

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2017/05/31/law-professor-lawrence-lessig-vast-online-games-need-a-political-structure/

Kleine, geile Firmen #29 – SPIELENTWICKLER KLANG GAMES

Die Isländer Oddur, Ivar und Mundi sind vor zwei Jahren nach Berlin gekommen, um ihre Spielentwickler-Firma KLANG GAMES zu gründen. Gerade haben sie ihr erstes Spiel “ReRunners” fertiggestellt, das in 2D und im Retro-Look daherkommt. Wir finden das Design super und den Ansatz der Jungs spannend, sich erstmal auf Smartphone- und Tabletspiele zu konzentrieren. Grund genug, KLANG GAMES zu einer “kleinen, geilen Firma” zu küren und sie mal in ihrem Büro am Oranienplatz zu besuchen. Dieser Beitrag ist in Kooperation mit Vodafone entstanden.

Was macht ihr bei KLANG GAMES ganz genau?
Kurz gesagt, machen wir mobile Spiele, die spannend und unterhaltsam sind und gleichzeitig die soziale Interaktion und das “Community Building” fördern.

Was macht ihr bei KLANG GAMES ganz genau nicht?
Wir machen keine Spiele, die Leute ausschließen. Wir wollen, dass Spieler aller Altersstufen Spaß an unseren Spielen haben.

Was habt ihr davor gemacht?
Wir kommen ursprünglich aus Reykjavík, Oddur und Ivar haben schon bei einer Spielentwicklerfirma in Island zusammengearbeitet. Mundi hat alles Mögliche gemacht. Angefangen mit Modedesign, Grafikdesign, Kurzfilmregie, Malen, Performance-Kunst.

Warum seid ihr ausgerechnet nach Berlin gekommen, um KLANG GAMES zu gründen?
Wir hatten alle das Bedürfnis, etwas Neues zu sehen und zu erleben, – und genug von Island. Ivar hatte deshalb schon einige Zeit in Shanghai gearbeitet, aber trotzdem das Gefühl gehabt, doch woanders hin zu müssen. Also haben wir uns zu dritt hingesetzt und schlichtweg die Vor- und Nachteile verschiedener Städte angeguckt. Am Ende haben wir uns für Berlin entschieden, weil uns die Stadt allgemein gefällt, aber auch weil sie ein guter Ausgangspunkt für Start-ups ist. Zudem liegt Berlin relativ “zentral” auf der Welt. Als wir 2013 hierher gekommen sind, war das ein kompletter Neustart für uns. Wir hatten nichts dabei, außer unserer Idee für ein bestimmtes Videospiel.

Mittlerweile habt ihr euer erstes Spiel ReRunners in einer Beta-Version herausgebraucht. Worum geht’s da?
Es ist im Grunde ein Jump-and-Run-Spiel in 2D, bei dem man versucht, besonders schnell zu sein. Jeder kann seinen eigenen Avatar erstellen. Es ist ein Multiplayer-Spiel, das heißt, man kann es allein oder mit Freunden spielen oder gegen Leute weltweit antreten. Dieser soziale Aspekt war uns sehr wichtig.

Warum ist das Spiel erstmal nur in der Beta-Version erschienen?
Die Beta-Version ermöglicht es uns, erstmal Feedback zu dem Spiel zu bekommen und Bugs zu entfernen. Wer es jetzt schon spielen möchte, kann sich dafür online anmelden. Sobald die Beta-Phase beendet ist, verbessern wir noch all das, was jetzt noch nicht so richtig läuft. Im Herbst kommt dann die richtige, finale Version von ReRunners für iOs und Android auf den Markt.

Wie viel wird das Spiel kosten?
Das Spiel an sich ist kostenlos. Da es ein Multiplayer-Spiel ist, wollten wir, dass jeder, der möchte, die Möglichkeit hat, es sofort zu spielen, ohne erst dafür zahlen zu müssen.

Wie verdient ihr dann daran?
Wir überlassen es den Spielern, für das Spiel zu zahlen, wenn sie möchten. Wenn jemand das Spiel richtig gut findet, wird er das wahrscheinlich auch tun.

Euer Spiel sieht ziemlich retro aus. Warum habt ihr euch dafür entschieden?
Zum einen gefällt uns der Look von alten Videospielen unglaublich gut, zum anderen ist es natürlich auch nochmal komplizierter, Spiele in 3D zu produzieren. Außerdem sehen 3D-Spiele von 2015 in ein paar Jahren schon wieder veraltet aus. Retro bleibt dagegen immer retro – und ist dadurch zeitlos.

Wenn ihr die ganze Zeit daran arbeitet, Spiele zu entwickeln: Spielt ihr in eurer Freizeit eigentlich auch immer noch Videospiele?
Ja, aber nicht unser eigenes Spiel, weil wir da einfach zu viel über den Entstehungsprozess wissen. Da kann man nicht wirklich abschalten und sieht die ganze Zeit, was noch verbessert werden könnte. Das ist wahrscheinlich ähnlich, wie wenn man in der Filmindustrie arbeitet. Da kann man sich keinen Film angucken, ohne sich zu fragen: Wie haben die das gemacht? Und wie haben die das hinbekommen?

Als ihr eure Firma gegründet habt: Was lief nicht so, wie erwartet?
Die Sprachbarriere war wohl unser größtes Problem. Es ist gar nicht so einfach, eine Firma in einem Land aufzubauen, in dem man die Landessprache nicht spricht und nur ein paar Wörter versteht. Unser Anwalt hat uns da ausgeholfen.

Wie habt ihr euch am Anfang finanziert?
Wir hatten Leute, die in uns investiert haben, Freunde, Familie. Und wir sind immer noch abhängig von Investoren. Jetzt hatten wir gerade das Glück, dass ein größeres Unternehmen in uns investiert hat, damit sind wir erstmal abgesichert.

Aber verdient ihr auch schon etwas an eurer Firma?
Noch nicht, aber sobald unser Spiel ReRunners auf dem Markt zu haben ist und Leute dafür zahlen.

Wenn ich mich so in eurem Büro umschaue, seid ihr schon ziemlich viele Leute, ihr habt sogar eine Praktikantin und seht eigentlich nicht mehr nach Start-up aus.
Ja, das stimmt. Aber als wir unsere Firma gegründet haben, haben wir noch in Airbnb-Wohnungen geschlafen und gearbeitet. Bis hierhin war es ein langer Prozess.

Wer ist euer Mitarbeiter des Monats?

Unsere Praktikantin Helga, auch Isländerin und die einzige Dame im Büro.

Wie fühlt es sich an, plötzlich nicht nur eine eigene Firma zu haben, sondern auch Mitarbeiter? Was musstet ihr da erst lernen?
Da wir vorher schon bei einer anderen Firma gearbeitet haben, die Spiele entwickelt, wussten wir in etwa, wie so ein Unternehmen läuft. Aber natürlich ist es gar nicht so einfach, ein Unternehmen zu führen, gerade wenn es so jung ist und man nicht nicht weiß, ob es die Firma morgen noch gibt. Man muss auf jeden Fall an seinen Plan glauben und dieses Gefühl auch den Angestellten vermitteln. Wenn du selbst nicht an das glaubst, was du da machst, dann merken das die Mitarbeiter sofort.

Wie sieht die Arbeitsteilung bei euch dreien aus?
Oddur kümert sich um die Umsetzung aller technischen Aspekte der virtuellen Welten, die KLANG kreiiert. Ivars und Mundi kümmern sich um den einzigartigen Look und das Gefühl der KLANG-Produkte. Es ist ein bisschen wie bei einer Band: Wir sind wie drei unterschiedliche Instrumente, die zusammen gut klingen.

Was ist euer wichtigstes Arbeitsutensil?

Ohne Post-its läuft bei uns nichts. Wir sind eben doch ein Start-up.

Last but not least: Welche wichtige Lektion habt ihr letzten Monat gelernt?
Dass wir dringend eine Klimaanlage im Büro bräuchten, um Berlins heißen Sommermonaten zu trotzen.

You can read the full article by Mit Vergnuegen, as well as check out the amazing photos and GIFs here: http://mitvergnuegen.com/kleine-geile-firmen/kleine-geile-firmen-29-spielentwickler-klang-games/

 

Klang Games Receives London Venture Partners Investment

Klang Games was founded in 2013 by Icelanders Ivar Emilsson, Odd Snær Magnusson and Gudmundur Hallgrímsson. A few weeks ago, the studio finally closed a deal with London Venture Partners for, among other projects, the studio’s ReRunners mobile game. 

ReRunners is the first product of the accumulated experience of the team behind Klang Games, and the game is set in an open world, combining adventure, racing, action, and RPG elements in a socially engaging environment. The game is set for release later in 2015 for both iOS and Android devices.

But investments are not completed overnight, and the team at Klang Games is glad to finally be able to announce the investment. Klang Games’ close-knit collaboration with LVP (London Venture Partners) took, according to MMO design veteran and Klang Games co-founder, Ivar Emilsson, approximately a year to court.

“The process was very fluid and natural, we first got to know LVP over a year ago, and ever since we’ve been building our relationship. They’ve given us solid advice from day one, so we’re really happy to have them “officially” on board. Of course there were some unexpected difficulties, but nothing major and almost exclusively limited to weird German bureaucracy (the best kind). “, says Ivar Emilsson.

“The studio is fully focused on our first release ReRunners, we’re ironing out the last kinks and getting ready for soft-launch!”

All in all, Klang Games is the embodied vision of the three Berlin-residing Icelanders, and apparently there were great benefits involved with moving to Berlin, Ivar says. According to him, some of the many advantages included: Cheaper prices to minimize costs, attractive local talent, accessibility from the rest of Europe, the weather (though compared to Iceland), and generally liking Berlin.

“We actually had a short list of cities that we were considering, we wanted to choose the best place to start our journey. In the end Berlin was chosen due to its many advantages. We love it here!”, Ivar Emilsson states.

So what is Klang Games’ recipe for a success? Some of it has to do with inner wanting and desires. Ivar describes it like so: “Having a great time doing what we love!”.

Taking that into consideration, it suddenly becomes a bit more obvious and clear why Klang Games seems to slowly be rising to the top in mobile games. After all, having a clear vision of where to be is half the journey. And the location especially becomes relevant when you have to start recruiting great talent.

“We believe that player-to-player interactions are really important, playing with or against someone creates an unique emotional atmosphere that we really hope to capture with our games. Our goal is also to create long-term sustainable games, by constantly iterating and improving them and building strong player communities.”, Ivar Emilsson says.

Source: http://nordicgamebits.com/2015/08/04/klang-games-receives-london-venture-partners-investment/

Former Eve Onliners Create New Icelandic Video Game - The Reykjavík Grapevine

Two former CCP employees, Ívar Emílsson and Oddur Snær Magnússon have teamed up with designer Mundi Vondi to create a new bite sized massive multiplayer mobile phone game called ReRunners...

To read the interview in full, visit:
 http://grapevine.is/news/2015/01/21/former-eve-onliners-create-new-icelandic-video-game/