Q&A

Ilari Kuit­ti­nen

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CEO

Fin­land’s renowned for mo­bile de­vel­op­ment. How do you change your de­vel­op­ment prac­tices for the plat­form?

[Vir­tual sticks on a touch­screen] don’t work; you have to fig­ure out the strengths of a par­tic­u­lar plat­form… But [there] are dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of con­troller for dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of games. Very few games can trans­fer be­tween these realms. Some­times it works, though; do­ing a touch-based shoot ’em up on iPad or some­thing is a chal­lenge, but you can do it, as we’ve been shown by Cave. I think most un­der­stand the strengths and weak­nesses of dif­fer­ent kinds of games. We wouldn’t do any­thing like Re­so­gun on tablets, for in­stance.

What’s been the big­gest change for you over the past 19 years?

Well, we’re some of the old­est guys here in the in­dus­try – at least some of us are. Back in 1995, if you wanted to make a game and get it out there, you’d need to go to a pub­lisher and have a deal, and they would then dis­trib­ute those boxes to re­tail­ers so the con­sumer could have the game. It’s a long process to get there, but now it’s in­stantly avail­able. You just have your phone and down­load it. That’s it. It’s a new thing for us to have this op­por­tu­nity to launch glob­ally. Lit­tle com­pa­nies with a few guys can launch a game glob­ally with a click of the but­ton… That’s amaz­ing.

How does that dif­fer to your work on Nokia hand­sets in the early 2000s?

We tried twice, first in 2000, then later with Java-ap­proved games, but that was again a few years too early. There just wasn’t this in­fra­struc­ture. You had these prob­lems with all these dif­fer­ent de­vices. You could buy a Java game for 5 and find out it doesn’t work, or you wouldn’t know how to in­stall it. The user ex­pe­ri­ence just wasn’t there. It was, ’I’ve down­loaded this game. OK, what do I do now? I’ll never down­load a game again.’ It took the App Store to make it work.

It’s sur­pris­ing to see so many de­vel­op­ers teach­ing chil­dren game de­vel­op­ment at schools and youth clubs here in Helsinki. Is House­mar­que in­volved?

Yeah, we’ve been do­ing that. And there are these ’con­ver­sion’ pro­grammes for the people who can code, for in­stance, but can’t make games. We’ve been in­volved in that and have re­cruited quite a few people in the process. Cod­ing po­si­tions are pretty hard to fill be­cause of the ex­pan­sion of the in­dus­try over here.

Where do most of your staff come from?

We have three types of people com­ing in, I think: the first-timers who have their first job, then the people from House­mar­que who want to come back, and then people from other com­pa­nies. I think the demo scene dried up years ago, to be hon­est, so these people are com­ing from other sources like schools and other com­pa­nies, and even people who haven’t been do­ing games. We have nice suc­cess with that, with people who have a pas­sion to make games.

House­mar­que’s new home is adorned with vec­tor im­ages in­spired by its games, in­clud­ing a time­line graphic run­ning down the en­tirety of the main hall

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