About Rakethopp

This is my personal site about interaction design in general and game design in particular.

However, it's terribly out of date! Expect a revamp very soon (as of the fall of 2014).

Jacob Michelsen

@Jickelsen on Twitter
Rocketjumpr on Tumblr
Read this stuff! :D

Indies at Gamex 2011

Last weekend I went to the computer and video game expo Gamex in Kista. It's Sweden's first real gaming expo, this being their second year. 

It was great fun to help out my friends in the crew of Svampriket.se, but most interesting was checking out the indie presence.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Paradox Interactive, game developer and publisher of titles such as Magicka, dedicating most of their floor space to indie games they were not actually publishing themselves. 

I got to talk with Coffestain Studios, developers of Sanctum, They've really focused on marketing and have tried all sorts of tricks including having Totalbiscuit and the Yogscast play their game and promoting it on Rock Paper Shotgun. I wish I could've had more time to talk marketing and project management with them, they really seem to know what they're doing!

My friend Marko Permanto who was in my No More Sweden Jam group (we made the, uh... "excellent" Jedi Knighting Ceremony) has gone off and formed a company, Sublime Interactive with the rest of the crew for their game Unmechanical. Their game was on display, but sadly I didn't run into Marko at the expo. I wish them the best of luck, the game is looking great so far (and it seems I'm not the only one who thinks so! (Swedish)).

Gotland University was also providing great support to their students by displaying their games on custom-made arcade cabinets, complete with custom controllers.

Walkabout from Lucid Dreams was also on display, a Lemmings-esque game where the player controls gravity by rotating the iPad. A saw an early prototype of this game last year and it was one of my sources of inspiration for the Gravity Spin concept. I got to talk to them a bit about the challenges of implementing such gameplay. Their game seems to be coming along well and I absolutely love their art style.

Fellow Gothenburgians Image & Form were there, showing off their neat new iOS game AntHill, a favorite with the Svampriket-crew. We even made a video about it!

Chalmers was present too but with general information only, no game focus or anything. Maybe  someone should try convincing them to show off some student games next year? ;)

I thought last year's expo was great but this one was certainly an improvement. More exclusive titles from the big publishers but also more room for smaller developers. I should really try going to Gamescom in Cologne next year, which seems to be the closest international games expo.

Interaction Design, impressions after the first half semester

The master's in Interaction Design is located in a brand new building called Kuggen, located on the other side of the river from where I live (which means I get to commute to school by boat. Awesome!). The building looks  great on the outside but is pretty dull on the inside, so one of our first assignments has been to create a "design intervention" to make the building a more interesting place for meetings… where one student went off and created a giant cardboard moose bulletin board. 

The programme has a couple of different tracks but I will focus on gameplay design in particular. The two courses I've had so far, Interaction Design Methodology and Prototyping in Interaction Design are mostly-design oriented though, and boy is it a fresh break from what I'm used to! Methodology gets us into the designer frame of mind and protyping does a great job teaching us a host of useful tools and techniques. Taking on the role of a designer seems to be suiting me better than I could ever have imagined, and I'm loving getting to be creative daily. We've already had a whole bunch of group projects, the results of which include a WiiU game concept, iPad game concept, Pacman projector controller, techno jewelry and a pretty obnoxious camera

Moving to Gothenburg

After a great final weekend in Stockholm (^), the move to Gothenburg went off without a hitch... apart from the fact that we only just managed to fit everything into the car! My new apartment is in a student housing complex with shared kitchens up on Stigberget, near Masthuggskyrkan. It's on a mountain/ridge near several really nice areas such as Majorna and Haga, with old buildings and nice cafés. The view from the mountain is great and there are moose and penguins nearby thanks to the Slottskogen-park. I really am loving Gothenburg!

I got one of them Tumblogs

I was going to move this site from the Squarespace platform but with version 6 coming out soon bringing some very interesting improvements I'll hold onto it a while longer. I do have a Tumblr-blog though, Rocketjumpr! I use it to post snapshots, awesome designs and cool stuff found online and the occasional reblog. On the other hand, this site will focus on my own content.

Nordic Game Conference in Malmö

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Nordic Game Conference in Malmö, the largest industry gathering in Nordic Europe. For two days me and Samson Wiklund listened to speakers, photographed stuff on display, and played a number of promising indie games. The whole thing kicked off with an Indie Night the evening before the congress, which was a lot of fun (though I had kinda hoped for better presentations, though Grapefrukt and Petri did a fun one on their obsession with statistics in games).

While only a handful of studios had booths, the Icelandic group including CCP being the loudest, a great number of prominent figures were present. Most well known is probably Ed Fries, previously leading Xbox development at Microsoft. His opening keynote was a throught-provoking piece on the importance of constraints to stimulate creativity. To illustrate this he brought up the challenge he had set himself, to create a Halo game on the Atari 2600 with the unique limitations imposed by that machine. The book that was his inspiration to undertake such a project, Racing the Beam by Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost seems like a very inspirational piece for any game programmer (needless to say I've already ordered it :) ).

The final session, pitting indie titles against AAA games in various categories, has inspired me to finally write a piece about player-driven storytelling in games, specifically Minecraft. I hope to be done with it soon!
More pictures and video from the event can be found over at my Tumblr blog and soon also at Gameplayer.se, the site I helped photograph for.
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