Jory Prum – a champion in the Norwegian gamedev community

On April 23rd we got the sad news that our dear friend and best “sound guy”, Jory Prum, had passed away after a motorcycle accident a few weeks before. He had been slowly recovering and we were hopeful that he would soon be with us again complaining about a tiresome recovery period. It was therefore a painful shock to many of us and I, for one, have been crying in many public spaces since then.

Jory had an enormous influence on the Norwegian game development community.  Not only did 12238036_461610137361671_2300017370915052368_ohe work on the sound for many of the games but he was also an essential team player of our sales force. We don’t actually have an official Norwegian game sales force, if we did, Jory probably would have led it. Jory understood the importance of networking and communication. He has played a vital role in placing Norwegian game developers on the map in several ways: by introductions to his vast and rock star network, by carrying around and distributing pamphlets on Norwegian games at GDC, by making sure to invite his amazing network to our conferences and events, by giving talks at our schools, by giving talks at Norwegian gamedev events, by giving talks at events that have nothing to do with game development, by naturally taking on the mentorship role for both students and first-time game developers and by constantly rolling his eyes and shaking his head at the Norwegian reluctance for selling ourselves.

But without a doubt he was a champion of sound and he was brilliant at reminding us how essential good sound is in game development. He fought for sound to be taken seriously in both budgets and planning and it infuriated him when it was suggested that students could do sound for games for free, that there was no need to pay professionals to do it.  Jory was a champion for real professionalism and can take a good deal of the credit that so many of our game studios are running successful companies and churning out top quality games.

Here are some of the Norwegian games that Jory worked on:

For me, personally, he seems to have been a larger part of my life than I thought. He was with me when I bought the computer that I’m typing this on (and warned me that I would regret not getting more memory – which I, of course, do), he graced Konsoll with his presence twice, he had faith in the work I’ve been doing and I was privileged to know a good deal about the project he was working on .

It’s unbelievable that he is gone and left this deep void.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Kickstarter from Norway

My good friends at Antagonist are in the middle of their Kickstarter campaign and you should definitely support them!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1854868411/through-the-woods/widget/video.html
It’s a promising game with many very specific nordic features like art inspired by Kittelsen and Hertervig. The nature of and the forest seem to be extremely Norwegian as well as the folklore and mythology that’s put into the game.  But nothing is more Norwegian than these guys with their lumberjack beards and Norwegian sweaters.

Skjermbilde 2015-05-27 19.30.35

They’re a determined group of developers and I believe in them. I believe that they will reach far! I love that audio is such a core game mechanic for their game and it seems they’re trying out some good new ways of thinking about narrative in games. What’s not to love?

They’ve also received some love from the Norwegian game developing community, which says a lot about them. So much love, in fact that a new hashtag was born #ThroughTheBeards. Please join us!!

LinnAntagonist2

LinnAntagonist2

Re-mission 2

I recently had the privilege of giving a presentation on what games are, how they’ve IMG_0765grown to a serious medium and the potential of what games can bring to different forms of communication to a group of proffessionals in the health industry. The wonderful Ricki Sickenger from Sonat Consulting followed me to talk about the process of gamification. My main focus through the presentation was on gaming systems. True – the graphics within the industry have become “almost real” and truly beautiful but so has the system/game design. And I wanted to emphasize on this to point out that game developers should be involved early on in development processes and not brought in in the end with a simple note of “gamify this within 2 weeks”. At least I think I did – but this may also be the conclusion from the wonderful conversation we had after.

It gave me an opportunity to dip into some health games and I’m absolutely smitten with Re-mission 2 by HopeLab! I love this project! They put game developers together with kids who are going through cancer treatments to make games that are absolutely joyful and so much fun. The games helped kids visualize what their bodies are going through and understand what all the painful treatments were fighting. I love this idea! First of all just using kids that are already going through this to help create games must be such a great program in itself. Second of all – the games are gleefully great! They made me giggle.

I wanna do something like this in Norway! Who’s with me and where do we start?

PAX 2013

I’d really like to go to PAX Prime! I mean … I really really really wanna go. It seems like the perfect injection of gaming inspiration that I need. Since I have no money – I’m looking for creative ways of getting me there so if you have any good ideas – let me know! I can write, talk, network and sell. I think I need about $3000.

There’s two game companies that I adore and would love to work for someday that are going; D-Pad Studios and Rain.

D-Pad

D-Pad’s lovely and gorgeous Owlboy has been picked as one of the PAX10. So incredibly proud of and excited for them! What an honour! I already have an beautiful image in my mind of Phil Fish and Wil Wheaton playing Owl Boy together with huge grins on their faces! Just look at the beauty:

And today they’re releasing the game Savant – which you should play as soon as it’s released!

Rain

Rain will also be there with their upcoming game Teslagrad! I love this game – or I guess it’s more correct that I love where this game comes from and I love that it’s just the beginning of a wonderful world that they’ve created. And I’ve certainly enjoyed playing the game.

They’ll also be at PAX! If you’re there make sure to stop by and be smitten! Thomas and Magnus will be representing and they’re definitely two of my favourites – SO worth taking the time to talk to!

They’re also on Steam Greenlight and they need your vote – so go do that now!

I’m also secretly hoping for both of them to officially release their games at Konsoll 2013.

I really need to come up with a plan to get myself there other than winning the lottery!

Programming with children

(Pictures shamefully stolen from Lær Kidsene Koding)

Last summer I was at Edinburgh Interactive and was for the first time introduced to the highres_245711632wonderful organisation Coder Dojo, which is a program or space for young people eager to learn about programming and technology. Bill Liao, one of the founders, took the stage and started reciting a poem which really moved me. He concluded with the statement “We’re teaching our children how to read but not how to write. We’re teaching our children how to use technology but not how to create and express themselves with it.” – it really got to me.

Ever since then the subject just kept on popping into a lot of discussions and meetings I was having last winter. Of course, a lot of the meetings I was having, were with very engaged technology enthusiasts. But it was uncanny the way I could be sitting in an introduction meeting between Jill Walker Rettberg and Henchman and Goon where w ended up having an opinionated and enthused discussion about the lack of programming in Norwegian education. And this just kept happening. General consensus was that something had to be done and we might as well be the ones to do it. Meetings were had between me, Jill Walker Rettberg from Digital Culture at University of Bergen, Anne Marthe Dyvi from Bergen Center for Electronic Art, some sporadic members of The Game Developers Guild, Martin Lie, Trygve Trohaug from HackBergen and one of my favourite librarians Sverre Helge Bolstad.

Continue reading

Something’s brewing in Norway – part 3

This is part 3 of a series where I’m trying to describe the lay of the land of game development in Norway. The more I dig the more astounded I am over the talent that exists here and some of the wonderful projects that are about to burst outta here! For more please read part 1 and part 2.

Moving east we arrive at one of the most exciting game developing companies in Norway, Rock Pocket Games. These days they’re developing the gorgeous looking Oliver and Spike – Dimension Jumpers:

Still not convinced? Here’s some more people drooling:

Continue reading

Something’s brewing in Norway part 2

In part 1 I started introducing the game developers in Norway starting with Bergen. So far I’ve mentioned Rain (keep an eye out for them at GDC – they’ll be at the Nordic Game stand), D-Pad Studios, Henchman & Goon and Turbo Tape Games. I still have a few more I’d like to mention:

Mentalfish Mentalfish logo

This is pretty much a one-man band named Petter Sundnes. I’ve had the privilege of working with Petter on a few potential projects and I enjoy his visions and game developing skills. We’ve also worked with students together and he’s an excellent and patient teacher  while introducing Unity (I’ve even started dabbling with it). His game mechanic skills are excellent, creativity top notch and management skills are great. I hope to work more with him in the future and is my number one choice to bring along for meetings with potential new clients.

Read more about Mentalfish here.

Vostopia

Vostopia is slightly outside Bergen in beautiful Voss. Vostopia’s founding father is Bjarne Rene who has the most impressive game developing CV that I’ve seen around here. I keep describing him as a person with gravitas, by this I mean he is a man with experience and connections and we all value his opinion greatly. But he’s also a genuinely nice and fun guy who’s very willing to share and contribute to building a sustainable game developing industry in Norway. Here’s a little profile piece from our local paper, BT (again – in Norwegian): http://lisa.bt.no/btmultimedia/prosjekt/vestlendingen/#story_13

Vostopia offers avatars or avatar systems for game developers. They’re very versatile and fun and I think it’s a very smart business idea. Are you creating a game in Unity I would definitely recommend having a look. Here’s their demo reel:

Continue reading

Something’s brewing in Norway – part 1

I spent the better half of 2012 getting to know the Norwegian game development community. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening and I thought I’d take some time off this Sunday afternoon and write a few observations, while the local game developers are slaving away at Bergen Game Jam (over 30 participants and a good handful of women – not bad – very proud girl geek heart!).

There’s over 70 companies registered in Norway that are game developers and I’m willing to wager that there’s at least as many individuals dabbling with game development in their spare time but not taken the steps towards professionalisation yet.

Norway may be a very small country but we are also spread far and wide with massive mountains inbetween. Usually what comes out of our capital, Oslo, has the main focus, but I’m wondering if those of us who are a part of one of the “districts” of Norway are also coming into our “own”. We can debate on why later.

First off let me introduce my home town:

Bergen

There’s so much excitement in the air here in Bergen. We’ve got a unique community here that is all about sharing and boosting each other’s projects. We meet once a month for beer and informal chats and it’s quickly turning into one of the highlights of my month.

At present I count 9 game developing companies in Bergen and nearby districts. I’m sure there are more, so please let me know if I’m missing something.
Rain Games
Rain is very currently adding the finishing touches to their game, Teslagrad and it looks beautiful, or as Nathan Grayson from Rock Paper Shotgun puts it:

“Titled Teslagrad, the outwardly Braid-esque (read: hand-drawn and utterly gorgeous) sidescroller deals not in time-bending, lionsheep-smacking hijinx, but instead traverses terrain by magnetizing objects and characters.”

January 17th, 2013

They’re a very passionate group of game developers and artists with a very clear vision of the worlds they are creating. They’re very dedicated to their craft and the results are obviously gorgeous. Here’s a clip of gameplay:

 

It should be finished and ready for release March/April 2013 – so look out for it!

Other media mentions of Teslagrad:

Indie Statik

Gamereactor (Norwegian)
Bergens Tidene (Norwegian)

Continue reading