Alexander Bergendahl is CEO of Poppermost Productions as well as game director of the studio’s upcoming game SNOW – the first free-to-play, open world, winter sports game.
SNOW is currently in open beta for PC on Steam, but Alexander Bergendahl promises that a PlayStation 4 beta will be along shortly.
At Nordic Game 2016 in May, Alexander Bergendahl will go on stage with a talk titled “10 Things They Don’t Tell You Before You Start an Indie Studio”.
NG: What was the first game that really made you aware of games?
AB: I can’t remember a specific game, but instead getting my first copy of the official Nintendo magazine just before the N64 was released in Europe. I must have read every word in that issue and ended up making a proposal to my parents for how exactly I would “finance” the console (cashing in several birthday and Christmas presents and all my pocket money) and which games I would get and why (I tried to present a diverse portfolio of games). Thankfully, my oldest brother stepped in and gave me an N64 with Mario 64 for Christmas. So, I guess he’s to thank for getting me into games!
The first game that made me aware of game development was Metal Gear Solid 2. I purchased the special edition which included a “making of” DVD that I watched with fascination. Seeing how much work went into making a game and how games like that required all aspects of creativity from other mediums (film making, writing, music, etc.) sparked the idea of a career in games and started me down this path.
NG: Which game has made you most frustrated or angry?
AB: Staying in the N64 era of games, I remember the countless hours that my friends and I spent trying to unlock the final “cheat” in Goldeneye: invincibility. It required you to complete the “Facility” level in under two minutes, which at the age of 11 was nearly impossible. We got really good at speed-running the level, but we were always tripped up by “Dr. Doak”, one of the characters who you had to kill as an objective. Each time you reloaded the level, Dr. Doak would randomly spawn in a new location, which would throw us off and ruin otherwise successful attempts. It was truly infuriating at the time, and to this day, I still haven’t unlocked that cheat.
NG: Which game have you spent the most time on?
AB: Definitely World of Warcraft. I played throughout high school and by the time I quit, I had put a good 100 days of total playtime into my “Undead Priest” and “Blood Elf Paladin”. World of Warcraft definitely provided some of my most memorable gaming experiences. Leveling was an epic journey – getting up to level 40 to get your first mount, and then onwards to 60 (and later, higher). I remember the amazing and stressful 40-man raids in “Molten Core” and “Blackwing Lair” like they were yesterday. World of Warcraft was more than entertainment for me – I made friends, learned to work on a team and developed the confidence to manage a 40-person raid. I can’t think of another game that offers such a complete and unique experience.
Check out the SNOW open beta trailer:
NG: What game, genre or game mechanic would you like to see brought back the most?
AB: Well, I think it’s pretty clear what my answer is here. To me, it’s obvious that the ski and snowboarding genre deserves to have a more prominent place in the market. I first conceived of SNOW out of a desire to play this sort of game myself, based on my love for Skate and my belief that the same structure and experience would work in the winter sports world. Because it’s a game I want to play and a game I am convinced many others also want to play, I’m doing my part to make sure this happens! Not only is the genre ripe for creative development, but there’s such amazing new technology that has been developed for other games that could help make winter sports gaming even more amazing that I originally envisioned.
NG: What is the best detail you ever noticed in a game?
AB: It’s too hard to name just one throughout all the games I’ve played, but recently I noticed a nice musical detail in a mobile game called Two Dots. Each time you’d link a dot together a tone would play at a certain pitch. As you linked more dots together, the tones would play in a sequence that was in the same key as the game’s music. If you reversed your actions and unlinked dots, the sequence would play backwards. This meant that you could kind of “play along” to the sound track as you connected dots together to complete levels. It was a small detail, but once I noticed it I really fell in love with it. I think it’s these small touches that really help create fun and unique experiences and it’s something I encourage my team to think about when building our world in SNOW. After a few years of development, we have left our mark on the mountain in many tiny but significant ways – from naming areas after beloved pets, to hiding Easter eggs around the mountain. Of course the core experience is most important in a game, but it’s these little details that add up to create something one-of-a-kind for players.
NG: Which game would do well in another media form?
AB: I’m surprised that Metal Gear Solid never made it to film. There are some great characters that I’m sure could be adapted to a live action medium. Get Nolan or Abrams to direct it and cast one of the great gritty leading actors (maybe Bale, Hardy or Fassbender?) as “Snake” and you’ve got something interesting! There’s so much content to work with, and the story spans so many decades that you can choose so many great starting points. Just don’t touch the music – Harry Gregson Williams can’t be replaced!
Alexander Bergendahl’s session “10 Things They Don’t Tell You Before You Start an Indie Studio” is scheduled for Friday morning, 20 May at Slagthuset in Malmö. Read more about Alexander Bergendahl here and his talk here.
Ready to learn? Alexander Bergendahl – games director extraordinaire – another great reason to join us for Nordic Game 2016, 18-20 May in Malmö, Sweden. Register today!