I'm a self-employed game developer, born, raised and still living in Berlin, Germany.
Ever since first playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive as a child, computer games had a very special appeal to me. Starting in my early teens I spent a lot of time teaching myself anything I thought could be helpful for making games: drawing, digital art in both 2D and 3D, programming, animating...
After high-school I decided to study physics rather than computer science, and treated game development more as a hobby. Only in the later university years, advanced, free and accessible engines such as Unity became a thing, which greatly rekindled my motivation to get into game development.
I started going to lots of small local game jams in Berlin and got to know a lot of other hobbyists as well as game development professionals.
My first job after finishing university with a master's degree was in business intelligence consulting, which was very interesting because it meant I got to work with people from many different companies and industries. However, after two years I wanted to get into more programming-based work again.
I then took a job as a data scientist that allowed me to work part-time (4 days per week initially, later 3.5 days per week). This had allowed me to seriously start working on games again, and so I developed Puzzle Pelago over the course of two years (iOS release after 1 year, all other releases and updates in the next).
The more I worked on games, the more I realized I should dare to follow my passion and go full time. However, rather than taking a job as an employed game developer, I liked the freedom of working on my own terms with Puzzle Pelago so much that I ultimately decided to found Hallgrim Games as a proper company.
This was made possible in large part also by my wonderful and supportive wife, Mareike!
Goals with Hallgrim Games
I have a personal knack for making the effort to come up with novel solutions to problems, and this bleeds over into my game design journey as well. One of the founding principles for this project is to try and create novel and fun game concepts in unexplored niches of the games space.
The current project following this philosophy is Reading the Room, a stand-up-comedy themed deck-builder where your goal is to make audiences laugh with strategic and novel cards mechanics and audience mechanics.
This is risky. If I learned one thing from talking to and listening to a lot of other developers, some of the main lessons are:
- Players are much more likely to play games similar to what they already know.
- Thus, the more new and different your game is from what is already out there, the higher the chances are for your audience to shrink significantly.
- The more abstract and thinky your game is (e.g., puzzles!), the smaller your audience.
This means that it is much less risky to make something like a Vampire Survivors-like rather than some obscure puzzle game with a concept that player's won't understand in seconds when looking at screenshots.
So, if your goal is to be able to live off of game development, making games like that is the sane choice!
In addition, when you set out to develop a completely new concept, that development takes time (and thus, money!). If you don't know whether you will end up with something that actually sells, this too increases risk!
However, I've made it my mission to try and bridge the gap between novelty and approachability, and I suffer the consequences for it every day!
All joking aside, I have some ideas of how to bridge this gap, and I am working hard to make Hallgrim Games work out and that I hope we (once HG actually has multiple employees, but also of course all the awesome contractors :) can enrich player's lives with novel and fun experiences.
At some point, I would also love to start and share with you all the cool and interesting things I have experienced and learned along the way. After all, even if this fails, i.e. should Hallgrim Games end up having to shut down, this will still have been hell of a trip with a lot of friends made, and a lot of growth and valuable experiences accumulated.
So, if you are curious to see where this journey leads, feel free to follow me on social media and subscribe to our newsletter!
Thanks for reading, and stay curious!
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