Monday, October 08, 2007


I have been described as a "holistic game designer" meaning I tend to look at the whole product, creating systems rather then single features.

Well wouldn't it be nice if I could just do a simple f*****g task every once and a while?

*delves back into the behemoth system of doom that started out as a simple task... again*

Thursday, October 04, 2007


My last post highlighted the importance of making players actually like your game, which in return generate sales and a certain place in the hall of fame.

However, do not misunderstand me, I am very bitter with Halo 3 and bungie in general for making such avrage games coming out as "perfect". I fully realize that there is no denying their greatness, but the success of halo does imply that innovation has little to no importance for success which really turns me down.

To sum it up. I envy the success of Halo. Therefore I am bitter and need to express my dislike.
Fortunatly I don't have to do anything since it's already been done.

I present the Zero punctuation review of Halo 3!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who is your customer?

Game design... I used to think it was a dark art, almost magic... The one "wizard" with the most delicate solutions won...

That still applies, a game designer has to be able to create very complex and advaced systems if need be, but he also need to ask himself; who is my customer?

If you are into game design as an art form, this may very well not apply, but if you want as many people as possible to play and enjoy your game, this is it.

Who is your customer?

The best designer is indeed he (or she) that can provide what people want. The most painful example of this is Halo 2 and 3. Halo 1 was just brilliant in many ways and deserves all credit and success... but what about Halo 2 and 3?

Halo 3 got 10/10 in EDGE... I mean edge is tough and they usually demand sequels to be extremely good to give a high score.

The thing with Halo is; they provide what the customer’s desire and the skill to do this is almost unfathomable. It is the real design magic. Ask a halo player why he/she enjoys halo and you will not get the answers you need to replicate the success, the only ones who know, are the fellas at bungie.

This is something I am just beginning to learn, when I worked at Lockpick we did ask the question, the problem was, we only fabricated some bullcrap answer that worked well with what we wanted to do. (This I can only say is certain for myself, the others might have actually tried their best)

The question is as blatantly simple as the answer and there is no escape. Who is your customer?

It's often taught that you need to specify your target audience, well this is true in a way, the more you specify the easier it will be for you to get away with stupid things.

My audience is NASA scientists with 2 brains = Ok, go ahead and do the game uber advanced
My audience are players that like Civ 3 and Warcraft 3 and some web games like Utopia and... = Well go ahead and make a fantastic game but don't expect many to play

Try this instead; My audience is every PC gamer. Period. Done.
Now you have your customer and your work cut out and you will also find yourself operating at the master level of game design. High Sales. Like Bungie the true wizards of design.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

An era ends and a new one begins

So after co-founding lockpick entertainment and being with it during development and release of Dreamlords, I have moved on.

My new employer is
EA DICE. It was a fantastic journey to develop dreamlords but I came to understand one thing. I wasn't experienced enough to fully commit to my own company, that would mean I would always be at the very top of the hierarchy, never having to listen to anyone and never learning from anyone in the same sense as when you work your way up in a huge organization in which many masterminds reside.

It was a huge honor to work at Lockpick entertainment and to work with the creative talents there. I see only good things on the horizon for Lockpick.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

MPOGD review cast their review on dreamlords. Thay also have some new screenshots.

8 / 10

Friday, June 01, 2007

Making an MMORPRTS? Piece of cake!

This is an article about the development of Dreamlords that I wrote some weeks ago for IGN.

If you are at all interested in the development of Dreamlords I recommend it.

You can read it over at IGN RPG Vault.
To add further spice, the article is illustrated by Dreamlords lead artist, Daniel Ribera Olsen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gamers hell review!

Gamers Hell cast their vote on Dreamlords and and it's an eight!

8 / 10

Read the review here

This review, although the score is very high, is much more informative then the terrible Zitron review, how much worse it would have been for us if he had put forth his review with such detail and clearity.

Monday, May 28, 2007


I have sworn not to rant about flying in this blog since it is a game design blog but I just have to give myself a break!

Here is me performing a very difficult landing in flight simulator X.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

$$ and The Movies

One topic that is often discussed passionately amongst game designers is the question whether or not making money is the "main thing". A natural response is "yes" but if someone raises the following question, is it more important then making a brilliant game? Then thee is a debate.

So what do I think? I used to think that with great gameplay, or at least smart gameplay, players would always come. That doesn't seem to be so, The Movies for instance is a very notable example of this not being true. Most reviewers and industry people think that The Movies is an astonishing feat of development in general but design specifically. And despite this, The Movies didn't perform well at all and was far from a block buster.

Why is this? Ambivalent game identity and over-ambition. One of the things I am so impressed by with the movies (and many with me) is how they, from a design perspective, integrated all features into a whole, a very well functioning game. Almost every aspect of all features were cleverly integrated despite the vast amount of unusual challenges design-wise.

However, all this design magic where to be for nothing, since the game didn't sell. The fantastic game design solutions made no one happy even though they were great because the main bottom line of the game wasn't appreciated by the players.

For those of you not familiar with The movies, there are two major features in the game that are equally big. There is a tycoon game and there is a (superb) movie making tool.

Peter Molyneux once promised that "yes you are indeed going to be able to make movies and watch them within the game itself". This statement cornered the design team, the tycoon mode was absolutely necessary to have a game at all, and Peter had promised the movie making tool...

Since the designers (and whole team) where so damn good, they solved the challenges so well that both modes became equals and in effect, competed for the player's attention.

This is something you don't generally want, having your features competing against each other, but rather work in harmony/symbiosis. (I am the first to admit I only draw this conclusion after the movies proved not to be a hit)

One detail that I think stands out as a conflict between the modes is the rating of a movie within the game world. Since it's a tycoon game your movies will bring you the income, actors, sets, food trollies etc provide expense. Now there is also the movie making tool within the tycoon game, so you are free and encouraged to delve into a single movie, directing it with your bare hands and voila, some algorithm decide that it blows and the revenue is 5 bucks.

Why create real art for an algorithm to judge? Lionhead felt the same thing and rallied to enhance the movie making tool to have a stand alone community where real people would judge real art. Once again, great solution, but it further split the two modes apart.

Imagine two people discussing how to play the game.
Run a movie studio, make movies!, hire actors and manage salaries, make movies that are great, but don't earn revenue unless you have hired the right stars, placed a food trolly and provided your main star with botox, but other people might love them! But my studio will go bankrupt! Develop new scenery through R&D! Yeah.. but you don't need that since all sets are available in the sandbox so you can make cooler movies!, Yeah but that won't be real.... Who cares if the movies are cool?, I make movies for real people!, I use the same set for all movies and earn good money, well I only use the sandbox..!!

In the end, all obvious problems have been cleverly solved by the dev team so only the not so obvious problems remain.

If you haven't already, try the m

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Story in games

I was recently asked to share my view on story in games for a research project. Here is my reply:

I think the consensus is there all right, but more then saying story is bad, what companies are saying is that good gameplay is much more identifiable then story, so in a sense story becomes a risk factor. Since a story so clearly can be good or bad, putting a story in the game can equally clearly enhance or reduce the game. Building a strong game with no story e.g. Battlefield 1942 / 2142 is in that regard "safer".

The old stigma for the game industry regarding story is the linear nature of a story. Only if you make a linear game can a strong story really add to the game in a big way, but even then you take the risk that the story won't be popular with the gamers.

Another factor why story always takes a beating is because it doesn't really matter... This becomes clear in games with a bad story. Take Gears of War for instance, the story is OK I guess but compared to literature it's very basic and flat like an action comic. Critics and players alike love Gears of War despite this fact which suggest that gameplay/graphics etc is much more appreciated among the audience then story.

I do think that traditional storytelling will continue to face difficulties in games and that the best way ahead is to adopt the art and craft of storytelling into the games medium.

For instance, background story has a wider use then story per se, look at the warcraft universe, they have a very strong back story that they draw from when creating the game, however, they also have a story, that is fairly complex but most players don't know about the specifics of the actual story because it doesn't affect them in any way.

To integrate storytelling in games I think it needs to be merged with aspects of game design and simulation so that the story can grow within the game and also have an impact in the game.

The bottom line is I think, stories are unpopular because they don't matter. Make the story matter within the boundaries of the game.

To mention a few great examples where story have been integrated to some extent within the game:
Beyond Good and Evil
Half Life 2

These games have made an effort to take as much as possible from the story/back story and make it real in the game, this is one of the huge advantages with the game medium, not only create this and that weapon but also having huge tv-monitors on walls talking acting out the story, propaganda leaflets and posters on the walls etc to include you in the story you could otherwise just read about.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Nordic Game Conference

I have just recently returned from the southern tip of sweden (malmö) where the Nordic Game Conference is held.

The NGC is very good event for nordic game developers to meet and exchange knowledge (and staff).

The great news is that Lockpick Entertainment won some hundred thousand danish crowns for one of our projects (not dreamlords) and we were also the swedish nominee for Best New Talent 2007 by IGDA, something we are very honored by. In the end, the Danes won the award but at least we are the most talented in Sweden ;)

"Sweden's Best New Talent 2007" -IGDA

Here is Jon Selin looking crazy as always =) He recently quit Lockpick after completing Dreamlords. He was recruited by Icelandic developer CCP who made a good signing for sure.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The all seeing orb

Don't try to hide, don't even think about it!

The all seeing orb will always see you, watch your every move... it is.. omnipotent!

Anyhow. Not much activity lately, and since no one read this blog, there is really no harm done =)

My next post will be a retrospect look at a game that I really admire in many ways; The Movies by lionhead studios. I isn't really brilliantly fun or balanced but it is an incredible feat and possibly the once game with most features that actually made it from idea to working in game.

So that is whats coming next. You are watching CTP.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

TenTonHammer Review

The reviewers at praise dreamlords with

4 / 5


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Zitron's revenge

Ed fought back. Rather well so. Nice move.

To my amazement some people have actually read my rant about Zitron.

I am sure that I would be entertained by Zitrons reviews as well, but you cannot expect me to be entertained when he kills my game?

Surely, looking him up on the net, was an act of fury but nevertheless, he made me furious, thus an act of fury...

Friday, April 06, 2007

More good news

More reviews keep coming in and this time it is which I would call the first of the big fish.


We scored a very respectable 7.6 out of 10 and I couldn't have dreamed of a better score at a huge international site.

I would like to thank MMORPG for following the development of dreamlords with some interest and embracing us in the mmorpg family (after some persuasion).

Obviously I am biased to say they did a good job, but really, their coverage of dreamlords have been very professional and the rating they now produced is the result of many playing hours and years of following our project.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Stratics comes to the rescue.

Read their review here


I feel it needs to be said.
Normally I wouldn't say that one review is more right then another... But yes, I do think the stratics interview, or ANY other interview is more correct then Zitrons. That's just my honest oppinion.

We also dug out some server statistics on him showing that he hadn't activated one single technology being perfectly equivalent to; not becoming level 2 in wow.

This, might very well be our fault not making this clear etc, but his criticism did not bring that up.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Officially killed by Ed Zitron!

Dreamlords has received its first head shot!
The killing blow is dealt in PCZone UK and it is made perfectly clear that dreamlords is possibly the worst game ever! (and obviously I can't handle it well)

So how am I going to tackle this, besides throwing things around in absolute rage?
Obviously I am going to take this guy apart and engage myself in war! Like any reasonable person would. Something that might haunt me for the rest of my life given this particular reviewer's reputation... I present the man with the plan, Ed Zitron a permanent residence of, and lifetime chancellor of "Doctor Ed's house of pain".

So what of it?
Has mr. Zitron no right to hate dreamlords? Of course he does, and he could perhaps even have risen some questions that other reviewers have missed or been kind enough not to mention, my objection lies entirely in the lack of actual analysis of the game and lack of constructive criticism.

I get the distinct feeling that Ed has an image to protect which makes what he has to say rather light weight. It's like evidence in court, this man your honor is clearly biased.
Dreamlords isn't the best game ever, in fact it's rather well known to have it's downsides that are being taken care of one by one. Once again I don't mind him hating the game but I do mind the fact that he forgets to mention several important factors that are important for the reader to make up their own mind. Ed is not reviewing dreamlords, he is laying down the law, which in this case is; his own opinion and irrefutable judgement. Ed Zitron is not a reviewer, he is an entertainer.

On a personal note I certainly don't trust this man's reviews. Here is an example.
Guitar Hero 2 (OBS Ed's editor has informed me that he stands by Eds review but that he disagree with the judgement cast.)

So now that I feel I smeared him at least a little bit I feel better. And now I am going to indulge in much more positive news.

A more balanced presentation of dreamlords on gamespot player reviews
We just scored 74% in the largest swedish PC Gaming magazine (PC Gamer sweden) that was a blast.

Just look at the dreamlords gameplay tutorial film here and tell me this is a 17% score game. If you honestly think that, so be it.

Over and out.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Fellow game designer Andreas Roman commented on my MFD post and said he thought appearences had much more importance then I gave it credit for and he is right.

I fully appretiate the importance of an attractive interface, relly, I actually think that the interface is an important visual signature of a game. However, I am 100% uncapable of conceiving a "beautiful" interface my self and gladly leave the esthetics to artists even though I have my fair share of oppinions.

A great example of an attractive visual "interface" (although this is news design) is this one. It's an illustration/fact sheet about death. I find this very attractive in terms of appearance although I would never have been able to come up with this myself.

So my point is, combine my skills as an interaction specialist with this guy (Stefan Rothmaier, DN) and we could perhaps be able to break some new ground.

Friday, March 30, 2007


MFD or multi functional displays, are common knowledge in the aviation industry. HUD or head up display has its roots in the aviation industry.

Are we aware of this relationship these days? Do we care? Is it relevant?

I'm not sure, but I do know that the MFD concept is very interesting.

An MFD basically allows for almost limitless information to be accessed on a fixed size display. It is achived by creating X screens of information and Y ways to alter the information on each screen. It's nothing fancy and in HCI terms it would even be called obsolete. But still... I am intrigued. Perhaps there is a revolution in game interface design within reach? perhaps we could let go of the conceptual models that we cling on to. That is the strenght of the MFD in my mind, it doesn't try to look like something. Its just an MFD. 100% function 0% concept.

Herein lies the problem, it's usually regarded as a strenght to have a conceptual model for interaction, like "click on the turtle to go slower and the rabbit to go faster" and all that. I think conceptual models are a great tool. And yet I am intrigued...

Perhaps, or even likely, the perfect game interface has no concept but rather: Function.

Perhaps the perfect game interface is an MFD somehow, somewhere, someday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dreamlords reviews

Dreamlords has been out more then a month and the reviews are coming in. We have been getting great reviews between 70 and 80 % but the real big fish have yet to cast their vote.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dreamlords released

So dreamlords released february 15:th 2007.


So far so good, we have had some great reviews even though there are some issues we must attend asap.

Reviewers seem to appritiate the depth of dreamlords in a way some players miss unfortunatly. However, we are working on several features that will help the players land in the game more smoothly.

We'll see how it works out but I am confident it'll be great!

You can see some of the interesting developments here


My blog died...

And now it lives again!