Interview Published: 03/02/2016
Timothy Courtney interviews Erik Svedang, an indie game developer who designed games like else Heart.Break(), Blueberry Garden, Shot Shot Shoot, and Kometen.
Timothy Courtney: Hey Erik, thanks for taking time to answer my questions. Where did you grow up and what do you like most about that place?
Erik Svedang: I was born on the east side of Sweden, north of Stockholm but we moved to the west side when I was 12. Our house was next to a fjord that I'm very fond of so I'd say the fjord, we had a lot of fun there.
What is one of your most fond memories from your childhood?
Sailing to an empty island with my family, sleeping there for the night.
What age did you decide to start programming, and how did you get started?
I found a book about BASIC when I was 13 and somehow managed to make sense of it. I was really bad at English back then so I guess I must have really enjoyed learning how to program.
In Gothenburg, where you live now, are there many interactive media developers? What's the game dev community like there?
Yes, there is! And we're getting a shared office now. Of course everyone is not going to sit there but it's cool anyways. Our community is pretty great, everyone knows each other and are very friendly.
What was it about game development that made you really interested to make games? What do you really like about the medium?
First of all it's very enjoyable to make things move on a screen, like interactively.
Too much fun!!!
Secondly, I'm very interested to use these interactive systems to say something about the human condition ( = to tell stories).
Is it sometimes easier or more enjoyable for you to make games alone? How do you prefer to work and why?
I like both ways of working, usually the one I haven't been doing last.
Was Blueberry Garden your first game or had you worked on others or prototypes before that?
I had made many prototypes and unreleased games but Blueberry Garden was my first solo project that I put out publicly.
Was the art for Blueberry Garden done in markers and watercolor? How did you create that and how long did it take?
The coloring is in Photoshop actually. But the lines are markers on paper.
What was the most valuable thing you learned about game design by the time you started else Heart.Break()?
Pure simulation can be wasteful, sometimes it's better to cheat. There's still a ton of simulation in EHB though, so I'm not sure I listened to my own advice.
A lot of art games are made in 2D. Even with shot shot shoot and Kometen, you were making 2D gameplay. How did the idea for else Heart.Break() come about, and why did you want to make it in 3D?
Because it makes the world SO much more real. It's ALMOST there!
You're working with Niklas Akerblad for the art. How did you guys meet, and when did you start thinking about what Kometen could be?
We met in university. Kometen was conceived at a bar after Niklas drawing a comet and me thinking about an idea that'd work on iphone.
Dorisburg seems a lot like Gothenburg culture-wise and with the trains, being coastal, the waterway and buildings. Is that where a lot of that comes from, and if not, where do you imagine it coming from?
Yup, that's correct.
It seems like you wanted to avoid a HUD, but have you considered adding an on-screen compass for easier player navigation, and why/why not?
Heh - I guess. I made the camera face north when you look at the map in a patch... but maybe that's not enough. We wanted people to get lost a bit. But maybe not THAT much.
Do you think more guys and girls should pick up hacking? Is part of the game about encouraging people to learn, or is it just something that you decided would make fun or interesting gameplay?
I think there is a certain beauty to programming - and a power too - that's what I wanted to get across. I have no desire to turn everyone into coders, it's more of a personal expression. Trying to make people understand, and twist their minds a bit in the process.
How long do you plan to update builds of else Heart.Break(), and do you think there will be a sequel or anything?
I'll try to keep patching it for quite some time. There will not be a sequel but I will use what I have learned to make new and even better games obviously.
What are some bands you really like?
My favorite artists are Bjork, Morrissey & Cocteau Twins. And Michael Jackson & Bo Hansson. Recently, I've really enjoyed Santigold, she's awesome.
There are messages in else Heart.Break() that are referring to disappointment in people, and shallow environments. Does that come from your experiences, and were there more things like that which didn't make it into the game?
There's always a lot that doesn't make it.
The events and dialogue isn't straight from my life but sure... some of it is :)
Aside from games, what kind of things do you like to do?
I like walking in the forest, and playing tennis & ping pong. And my apt is pretty chilly so I like taking warm baths:
(doodle of Erik in his bathtub)
What's the greatest thing you've learned about players so far as a game designer?
They will get the subtle details, atleast some will. It's possible to connect on a wordless, higher plane.
What are you going to be focusing on next? Are you working on a new prototype, and do you think you'll make it back to 2D?
Yeah, I'm going to make a small game now I think. But then I'm going to make a big one again. Too Much FUN!!
How can people follow you and your work?
💘 Interview by Timothy Courtney
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