ACHOO! FROM A CRANKY IDEA OF SNEEZING TO THE GAME HAYFEVER. WITH AN ONCOMING JAPANESE LAUNCH, CONNY NORDLUND TALKS ABOUT HOW THEY MADE THEIR WAY IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY.
Conny Nordlund and Jonas Roininen started Pixadome in Luleå in the summer of 2017 and launched their first game, Hayfever at the beginning of this year. The idea for Hayfever came from Conny, who has a background in game graphics. He has a “thing” where his nose starts to tickle as he enters new rooms. Adding to that, he also sneezes very loudly. It all started with him joking with a friend that it would be interesting to make a game about sneezing.
– I really like crazy ideas. For example, everyone has heard of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is actually quite silly on paper but the result was very cool. So I drew a character and designed a world around him. Then I pitched the idea to Jonas, who has been in charge of all programming, to make a prototype together. When we had shown it to the kids in Luleå, they seemed to like it, so we continued to develop it.
The game is in the category of “side scrolling platforms”, which they both had played often, so they knew about what was needed to make the game fun.
– We thought we would make a game that we want to play ourselves. If we think it’s fun, others will probably think so too.
“THE FACT THAT WE PITCHED AT ARCTIC GAME PITCH WAS A GREAT REASON FOR OUR SUCCESS”
They then pitched Hayfever to the jury at Arctic Game Pitch and were one of five winners to go to the world’s largest gaming fair, GamesCom, in Cologne. There they also met Zordix, who today publishes their game.
– The fact that we pitched at Arctic Game Pitch was a great reason for our success. We told ourselves early on that “we should take every opportunity to showcase our game”, and we did. So GamesCom was really a turning point for us. People saw a value in what we did and we got to meet many new contacts.
RELEASING THE GAME IN JAPAN SOON
Pitching your game in front of a jury can be difficult. Especially getting others to understand the feeling of the game.
– We had a lot of visuals, such as GIFs and videos. And a lot of storytelling. The most common mistake is having too much text, and no clear direction. You have to think as if to tell a story, because those who listen have to understand without having played the game. But also, think a few more steps ahead. Who will play this game? How to market it? What do we need? Is it money, expertise or maybe contacts?
Hayfever is now available on several platforms, including Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And will soon be released in Japan as well.
– It’s happening soon! I got to test making title pictures in Japanese which was a fun process. I think that the character can become popular in Japan, I have taken a lot of inspiration from Japanese culture.
It may sound easy, to make a game that others want to play. But there are many pitfalls when you start working on your game idea.
– You have to be patient, and be able to trust that it actually will result in a game. In the middle of it all, it’s easy to start thinking “is this really going to be something?” It’s so easy to just let it go if you start to doubt.
WORK SMART RATHER THAN HARD
And the classic advice to work hard doesn’t always work that well either.
– Yes, but work smart also. The difficulties may be to plan ahead. It’s easy to get stuck around stuff. Be clear about how you picture the game. Decide what the game should look like in, say, two months. At that time you might have to exclude some things. Being able to compromise is so important! If you are too persistent about things you get stuck.
“GAMES ARE NOT JUST ABOUT CODE, BUT ABOUT PEOPLE AS WELL”
Conny considers his Education in Game development very useful. And according to him, knowledge is important but there are other things that are equally essential to succeed in the gaming industry.
– During your education, it is wise to focus on the projects you are working on. But get to know people too, because often they are the ones that you will work with later or that can give you access to jobs in the future. Contacts are important and open many doors. Game development is very much about communication so create relationships with others. Games are not just about code, but about people as well.
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