Meet the Boot Campers: Wolfmans
As we get closer to the first ever Chartboost University: Boot Camp, which kicks off next Tuesday, March 12, we thought it’d be a good idea to fill everyone in on exactly who will be attending. While we already posted a quick peek at the participants, we thought it was only fair to profile each of the seven developers. So, in the seven days to go until we’re joined by our international comrades, you’ll be treated to one interview per day. We hope you enjoy them!
We’ll be posting these in reverse alphabetical order, therefore Wolfmans will be the first on the chopping block. Wish them luck!
Chartboost: How and when did you know you wanted to be a game developer?
Mads, Software Engineer, Wolfmans: After working 2 years as a software engineer, I knew I wanted to bring more of my own ideas to life, and that’s when I started the M.Sc. Games at IT University of Copenhagen. After studying, game jamming and self-publishing LAZA KNITEZ!!, indie game development has become more and more appealing to me.
Joon, Game Prototyper and Web Developer, Wolfmans: When I was twelve, a friend and I picked up DIV Game Studio, a DOS-based game programming language. The only game I remember making in DIV was a two player racing game where players could also shoot fireballs at each other. Due to lack of a community and outside support, which I’ve since learned is crucial to my creativity, it never went any further. In 2010 I discovered the Game program at the ITU, where I was met with an amazing, nurturing development scene that made me almost angry that I had missed so many years of potential game development. I always knew that I wanted to do this, but I had no idea I could. The first semester I found out that I had the skills I needed to make games, and I think I made about twenty before the year was over.
Mikkel, Game Artist, Wolfmans: I have pursued game development as my general career direction since I graduated high school in 2006. I did my bachelor’s in Medialogy, to get a feel of a more specific path within the field. Since I cannot program to save my life, I focused on design and graphics and studied Game Design at IT University of Copenhagen to improve my skills and meet people of the same mindset.
An in-game shot from Wolfmans’ Zumbie prototype
Chartboost: How did your team first meet each other?
We met at the IT University of Copenhagen, where we all started studying M.Sc. Games in 2011, and we’ve worked together in various constellations during our time at the University. Mads and Joon worked on LAZA KNITEZ!! together, and Mikkel was the graphical artist for Toy’s Purgatory. Our teams got along very well and enjoyed many hours of playtesting each other’s games. When Joon started working on Zumbie, Mikkel was literally in the other room and one quick shoutout: “Hey can you draw a little dude with a shotgun for me?” sparked the first of many collaborations.
How did you come up with your company name?
WOLFMANS is the title of a game made by RedGrim, a Swedish game company we met when they won Nordic Game Jam 2012, the largest game jam in the world. They are good friends and personal heroes of ours who made WOLFMANS during the No More Sweden game jam in 2012. When we were looking for a new band name we asked them if we could adopt WOLFMANS, and they said yes. We like the analogy of being a music band, where it is not uncommon to name your band after a song of another, or vice versa.
What is your favorite aspect of building games?
Mads: Designing a game to be fun for the players and the spectators is my favorite part of building a game. Seeing the reaction to something you’ve created, when players play it, is amazing!
Joon: The generative part is what really does it for me. Being able to not just create something, but to create something that creates things is an amazing feeling. Writers say that books sometimes write themselves, and I sometimes feel the same about my games. Zumbie is a zombie game because in the concept phase, I had written a bug that would spawn an infinite number of zombies when the player died the first time. The reaction of the spotter at that time was so genuinely shocking that I decided to take it further in that direction. Press [X] To Give Up is a game where you fight a bull, made for Nordic Game Jam. The bull charges and you have a split second to react. When the game was finished, we realized that it is actually possible to just walk over to the bull when it is not charging, and stab it repeatedly. This results in completely unexpected behavior, sometimes crashing the game. While testing, nobody ever considered approaching the bull, because it was so intimidating. Those little subversions that seemingly emerge by themselves are my favorite aspect of game building.
Mikkel: I truly enjoy striving towards the game-dev concept of “masocore.” It’s difficult but very rewarding to creating an experience so difficult and demanding of the player that it pushes the boundarie of the notion of fun. Being able to bring out a player’s maximum effort, bordering frustration, though still left with a sense of flow.
And this is how you play Zumbie. Note the blindfold…
What is your favorite mobile game right now?
Mads: It’s hard to name one favorite, because my iPhone contains 50 games I think, but Super Hexagon by Terry Cavanagh, Spirits by Spaces of Play (which I contributed levels to after dominating the leaderboards) and Circadia by Kurt Bieg are definitely three games I love.
Joon: Spaceteam. Play Spaceteam. Stop whatever you are doing, find 3 more people and go play Spaceteam. Spaceteam. Spaceteam. Spaceteam. Spaceteam.
Mikkel: Super Crate Box by Vlambeer, Windosill by Vectorpark Inc., Little Inferno by Tomorrow Corporation
What is your favorite classic game?
Mads: I love being competitive, so my favorite all-time PC game is Quake 3 Arena, and in the analog world I love foosball.
Joon: Does Cave Story count? I never owned a console, but I played a whole lot of DOS games, mostly Apogee platformers like Crystal Caves, Duke Nukem, and Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure.
Mikkel: Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon Red for no apparent reason, and Leisure Suit Larry 7
What do you think the future of gaming will entail?
Mads: I think the future looks bright for game developers, especially if you focus on novel mechanics or play environments. We think local multiplayer games are on their way back into the public imagination, as a more modern version of folk or party games.
Joon: I am very excited to see what society is like with a larger percentage of adults who grew up playing video games. The stigma of being a gamer still exists, unfortunately. I hope the term gamer will lose its meaning, just like we don’t need a word for people who watch a normal amount of TV or read an average amount of books. Recently, we’ve been seeing a rise of local multiplayer events, where people come together and play video games. Unlike a LAN party, all games happen on one screen, and the emphasis is more on being together than on the individual games. If this sort of thing catches on, and manages to secure a foothold in our culture, that would kick ass.
Mikkel: I am exicited to see where games are going, and what their role will be in the future. On one hand we have an increase in generations that have always had games as part of their life, bringing with them a legacy and a standard of what a game should be, but on the other hand, everyone can make games now, and the amount of cloning and shoddy ports on easy-access platforms is frightening.
What do you hope to gain from our Boot Camp?
Mads: We hope to gain a wide network of awesome people in the industry from all around the world, while also learning about and discussing which business models might be useful for a small indie studio like ours.
Joon: Like we said in the video, we are new to all this. We started making games a bit longer than a year ago, and the support we’ve received is astounding. We want to learn how to insure that we can keep doing this for a long time, and avoid any major disasters. The few American game designers that I had the fortune of meeting made me feel like there is a big difference in how they do things, and it looks like CBU will bring us together from all over the world, which I’m very excited about.
Mikkel: Hopefully establish some good connections with people of the industry and understand how the rest of the world is going about things. I am very much looking forward to what the whole experience can teach me, from a business point of view.
Check back in tomorrow for our next Boot Camp developer profile. Be sure to hit us up on Twitter @Chartboost.