- Written by ShiftySamurai
Hey peeps, it’s PixelKitsune here again! Missed me? No? Oh, okay then… :’<
Anyways, have you ever wondered what a game producer does or even dreamed about becoming one? RedLynx producers Pasi Piispa (in the picture, the blonde with a green hoodie) and Jani Karttunen (the bearded guy with the red shirt) took some time out of their busy schedules and answered my pesky questions about their job. Yay!
What does a game producer do?
Pasi: Goes through hundreds of emails per day while running from one meeting to another!
Generally producer’s job is to make sure that everyone focuses on the right things at the right time, so that game project meets its quality standards, schedule and budget. He also enables team to focus on their jobs by removing any obstacles or distractions that get in their way and makes sure they have what they need to get their tasks done.
He also needs to keep everyone from the development team to studio management and other stakeholders up-to-date on project’s status while anticipating potential problems and trying to minimize risks.
Jani: A game producer helps the team do the real productive work, basically. S/he plans upcoming work, follows the ongoing work, and helps the team solve problems that slow down or stop work, while trying to think ahead as much as possible, so the teams can focus on their daily tasks.
A producer helps all the departments (Design, Code, Content and Testing) to communicate with each other, and communicates the bigger problems upwards in the production and studio. They also handle the daily communications with the headquarters, associate studios, outsourcing, legal department and 1st parties.
What are the things that you enjoy most about your job?
Pasi: Being involved in all parts of the game development process and getting to work with everyone in the team.
Jani: Several things, really. Being able to help the guys make the best games possible and watch them succeed: Acting as a buffer between demands from higher ups and the team and finding solutions to problems identified by the team. Each day is different and filled with different kinds of challenges.
What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Pasi: There isn’t a day when something unexpected doesn’t happen, so you always need to be prepared for pretty much anything.
Jani: Yeah, as mentioned earlier, with each day being different and having lots of challenges, staying on top of it and not losing focus while continuously juggling multiple tasks can be really challenging. Game development is a unique combination of engineering and artistic creation, and producers try to glue the teams together as well as possible. It can be difficult when demands from above have to be passed down to the team for the greater good of the project, and one has to be really diplomatic while doing so.
Game development is also infamous for crunching and work days can be long, and there is never an exact script to follow to make a great game, so plans need to keep being adjusted. When guys need to work a weekend, the producer has to ask “could I have prevented this?”
What makes someone a good game producer?
Jani: To be a good game producer, you need excellent verbal and written communication skills and a good understanding of all major areas of game development and the work each department in the company does. You need an eye for organization and for the small, boring details that still need to be taken care of. One has to have the ability and willingness to be tough but reasonable when needed. Also, you need to be ready to go out there, talk to people, and keep asking questions to get people to talk to each other and find solutions on a daily basis.
Pasi: Experience. Much of this you learn by doing, but it doesn’t hurt if you are a master of multitasking, a diplomat and a bit of a salesman as well!
Seems like a tough, but necessary job! With our producers, I know that our games are always in good hands. Think you have what it takes to be a game producer? Perhaps you could come and pla… work with us here! Did you know that Ubisoft actually has a graduate program going on right now? You can apply for the producing line here: https://www.ubisoftgroup.com/en-us/careers/graduateprogram/project_management.aspx
- Written by PixelKitsune
It’s freezing in Finland, with temperatures ranging from -1 to -19 Celsius, and two men are guaranteed to get stares: Meet the creative director of RedLynx, Antti Ilvessuo, and Lead Game Designer Justin Swan, who are crazy enough to withstand the cold wearing summer shorts.
Guys, what on earth is going on?
Justin: Well, Antti dared to question my manhood one day, and I figured the only way to prove him wrong was challenging him to a contest. A contest the likes of which the world had never seen – who can brave the Finnish winter the longest without wearing pants. This is obviously the most scientific and intelligent way to prove manliness.
Antti: It’s a competition, that’s what going on! It’s as necessary as it is for penguins to move close to each other during Antarctica’s winters, because otherwise they would die. It’s the same thing here. It’s a competition and we have to compete! Simple like that… Why do monkeys go wild when they see a banana? They love it! I love competitions, they make my blood flow. Or actually right now the cold stops my flow of blood. In my legs. The flood goes to other parts of my body, like my stomach.
How do people react when they see you?
Antti: They react by thinking “that dude is wearing shorts and its -20 Celsius. I should try and not look there… OH GOD, I looked!” It’s like seeing a giraffe carrying sun cream in Finland during August. One would wonder. Why does the giraffe need that? It’s August and you don’t need sun cream.
Justin: It’s actually not the cold hard sting of -20C temperatures that hurts most during this competition. It is the cold hard stares from everyone on my way to work each and every day that hurts the most, and it is a deep cruel hurt. My walk (yes, I walk to and from work each day) also happens to pass 3 separate tram stops. On my luckiest of days an entire swarm of rubber-neckers might dump out of a tram as I walk by. It’s at this point, as their eyes descend upon my manly endeavor and foreheads begin to crease in confusion and scorn, that I know true Finnish ‘Sisu’.
How long will you continue doing this?
Antti: For as long as I live. By the way, people were surprised today at the office, because I was only wearing my underpants. Earlier I was sitting on the snow, so my shorts got wet, and I had to take them off. Why do people wonder about that? People wear underpants under underpants! Or maybe I’m the only one who does that, who knows? It’s like my mind is the only one that exists, I’m real, you’re not, sorry: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_solipsism).
Justin: ‘Til our leg hair grows grey and the stars grow cold. Either that or maybe early July.
What does the winner get or how is the loser punished?
Justin: Come to think of it, this is the one thing we forgot to settle before starting this competition. Damn.
Antti: What… hey, I KNEW we left one thing open! well, I won’t lose so the loser’s punishment goes to Justin anyhow.
Well, I’m quoting Petri Järvilehto, the CEO of Seriously: “You guys realize that this is a competition where there are no winners?”
We shall see if someone gives in first, but right now it really looks like this contest goes on until the very last drop of snow has melted. Finnish people and some Americans are crazy indeed…
- Written by Pixel Kitsune
So, have you checked out Trials Frontier yet? Today we’ll have an inside look to the artwork of Trials Frontier as the concept artist of Trials Frontier, Henri Kutvonen, tells about his work.
Q: How did you end up working at RedLynx?
Henri: About a year and a half ago I was drawing pictures as a freelancer doing illustration, concept art and whatnot. I had a single image on the Finnish graphic design website Pingstate.nu which Antti Ilvessuo spotted, found my blog and contacted me and asked if I wanted a job as a concept artist here.
At the time I wasn't really searching for a full-time job, but RedLynx seemed like a cool place so I thought, whatever, I'll have a go and see what's it like working in a studio. It's been fun so far.
Q: How is it like working here? What do you like most about your job?
Henri: It's cool and really chill except there's this annoying Lithuanian concept art guy sitting next to me talking rubbish non-stop. Just kidding! Well, for the most part. I hope he reads this.
What I like the most is that I get to draw a lot of different kinds of things and in very similar style to my own, which is cool. The Frontier team is great and everyone's really motivated to make the best game that we possibly can. Sounds cheesy, but it's really true.
Q: Tell us more about your job: What kinds of things do you do around here?
Henri: Basically I come to work every day around 10, look at tasks assigned to me, go to our morning meeting at 10:30 and after that I just sit at my corner drawing. Every once in a while I stand up to stretch, get coffee or go annoy someone in the office.
...To be honest I mostly just watch videos of dogs skateboarding and swiftly switch to Photoshop and try to look serious if someone comes by.
Q: Is there a source where you have gotten inspiration for your world and style from?
Henri: Judas Priest's Turbo Lover music video and old LucasArts adventure games.
Q: Could you tell us about the characters and village of Trials Frontier?
Henri: I tried to make the characters a bit unsettling and look like they're hiding some skeletons in their closets. - Maybe literal ones. Or maybe they're all part of covering some horrible secret. Who knows? A colleague been told some of them look like they have a severe heroin addiction, which I take as a compliment.
Q: What are you most proud of regarding your art in Trials Frontier?
Henri: Well, I'd say the characters. I had a lot of creative freedom in creating them and didn't have to make them generic busty half-naked girls and “badass” dudes that I see in a lot of games.
...And of course the squirrels!
Thank you, Henri!
How about you guys, what do you think about the art in Frontier? Have the squirrels stolen your heart as well?
Stay tuned for more developer diaries next week!
- Written by Pixel Kitsune
Previously I interviewed the lead designer of Trials Frontier, Justin Swan about the world and main character of Trials Frontier (you can read the post here). This time Justin talks about the bike and village progression.
Could you tell a bit about the bike development in Frontier?
Justin Swan: One thing we’ve never had in Trials before is upgradeable bikes. We wanted to change that for Frontier while maintaining the exact requirements to succeed in the game and also really build a sense of growth not just in your personal skill, which of course you’ll have, but also in your virtual world, your bike, your character and everything.
It helps to really fine-tune tracks and make everything pixel-perfect as far as you can ride on a certain bike, making exactly these moves with the stick, gas pedal and brake to achieve the top score.
So, yes, there are many bikes in the game and every one of them has their own personality, much like the bikes in Trials Evolution had and Trials Fusion will have. You have bikes that are more agile and can spin quickly and accelerate fast but have a low top speed. You have another bike that is more of a cruiser-kind of bike with a high top-speed, but the acceleration and the maneuverability is not quite as good.
For each of these bikes there are four parts within four major components that can be upgraded up a full large upgrade path: The frame, the wheels, the handlebars and the engine. Obviously, the engine increases acceleration, the frame helps you make your bike lighter, more air-dynamic, and to move faster. Handle bars increase your agility and wheels improve your traction as well as also your acceleration and top speed.
You help the villagers in the game, you upgrade your bike and you run into many situations where you don’t have a good enough bike yet and the journey becomes about not going and beating the next bad guy or finding the next item for a villager but instead improving your bike or maybe even find new bikes.
So the game has some RPG elements, then?
Definitely, and your character also gains level ups and gets experience. Most of your experience is gained through completing quests for the villagers, but we wanted to add more for the players who didn’t give a crap about doing quests, so you’ll get experience points every time you race, complete PvP challenges and so on.
Basically any action you take in the game builds towards your rider’s experience level, which unlocks quest lines, other content, maybe the gear you can collect but you can’t wear during certain levels et cetera. So yeah, there’s leveling up the character and there’s also leveling up the bike the rider rides.
How does the village grow?
Justin: We really wanted to show the player that based on their investment in the game they not only develop their own character, but they also help the village growing
and improving as well. Though we have a village that grows, it’s not a village-building game by any means. You’re not placing buildings or collecting crops or anything.
Basically you just have core buildings, there’s a garage to do bike upgrades in and later on you can fuse parts and components together to in this crafting system to make better parts.
The mechanic works there as well and you’ll find there is a terribly reclusive man in there, and he has done something awful in the past he’s trying to atone for and he’s kind of the village smith who will help you get to the more advanced stages on your bike. We also have the shop where the shopkeeper lives and there’s some interesting mechanics there that will allow the player to gain items that they’re having a hard time finding in the world.
You can eventually level up those buildings that’ll grow in size and shape and change. There are these different stages in the building and by doing those level ups to those buildings via doing quests for the villagers you unlock new functionality in each building.
The town hall, for example, unlocks higher level missions, new characters that have been attracted to your bigger village that’ll bring along some more advanced story lines. Also, in the beginning your garage can't level up your bike until, for example, level 5, because you only have a certain amount and level of sophisticated items.
In order to forge items you might need a, let’s say, titanium bolt for a vault or your engine, but you might only have a bunch of rusty ones lying around. If you upgrade your garage, eventually you can combine those rusty ones and change them into one titanium bolt.
Have you already been playing Trials Frontier? What kinds of bikes have you unlocked and what do you think about them? How does your village currently look? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or our Forums!
More developer diaries later. Keep on driving!
- Written by ShiftySamurai
There is a subculture in Trials. A group of individuals so skilled, and so tenacious, that they pride themselves on not only creating, but also in finishing, the hardest, most rage-inducing tracks in the History of Trials. Tracks in this category punish even the most skilled of Trials riders. These are tracks that throw physics upside down while doing endo rear-tire fender-grabs into front-flip rear-tire wheelies faster than anyone could possibly read the explanation for the moves that I just wrote.
These tracks, and the people who complete them, are called Ninjas.
I’m not sure where the Ninja moniker comes from, but it seems to have popped up at about the same time as these tougher-than-extreme tracks started to appear on track shares during the Trials HD days. I am also not sure which is more impressive; the building of these insane skill-testing tracks or the tenacity of the Ninja riders who will play a track countless times hitting the 30 minute limit or 500 faults, on multiple occasions, before ever crossing the finish line.
These are in no way Trials tracks for the majority of us Trials riders. Bragging rights are higher in the Ninja community for completing a Level 5 Ninja Track than for getting a 0-fault run on any other player created, beginner to extreme, track. When you see these highly skilled riders elation at completing a track with well over 200 faults, then you know that the track is something out of a normal player’s nightmares.
In Trials HD, no name was better known in the Ninja community than that of Malachyte. Mal, as he is known on the RedLynx Forums, took it upon himself to not only create a website listing each Ninja track that the community found, but also to play and record a replay for every single one. Ninja tracks did not stop with the release of Trials Evolution. If anything, they began a new life as track sharing was no longer dependent on inclusion on the track creator’s Xbox Live friend’s list. Hundreds of Ninja tracks now sit on Trials Evolution’s Track Central feeds, waiting to challenge and defeat the vast majority of those who try to take on their insane driving lines.
To show our appreciation to the dedication of these players we have put together a special edition Ninja track showcase video in the style of the New on RedLynx Picks videos. Players beware; these tracks are not for the faint of heart!