Being a kid again

Am I too young to say that? Anyway, I’m going to combine what happened on Monday with what happened on Tuesday because not much really happened on Monday aside from traveling.

— Monday —

Monday we finally left Paderborn and it was very nice of Hannes to come to the train station to see us off. After talking a bit more with Hannes and saying our final goodbyes and exchanging hugs with him, we took off on a what felt like a fairly long train ride. I got to see a bit of the beautiful country side though with massive open fields, farms of wheat and potatoes and corn, bundles of hay that looked like marshmallows, villages full of colorful buildings, windmills, and even a Volkswagen factory. These are sights that I’ve only ever seen in movies, so it felt like I was in one despite being a hot and sweltering train.

After about four and a half hours, we arrived in Berlin. We were quickly ushered to the hotel and very quickly ushered out because we were meeting Thomas in one the conference rooms that Parliament uses. Thomas is a member of Parliament and has been for five years now. He has and still is working on improving the reputation of the game industry here in Germany, which is commonly viewed in a negative light, most likely by the older generation. He’s most definitely a gamer and a very active guy as I noticed that he could never keep his hands still while he spoke to us about how German politicians view games.

He reinforced a lot of things that Jorg taught us about. He reinforced that violence in games is a much bigger issue than sexualization, which is the opposite in the USA. He reinforced that there are strict laws in Germany about the content of games and oftentimes  a German version of a game will require completely different assets than other versions such as the enemies of a shooter being robots rather than people, or in CoD: MW3, not being able to shoot the civilians in one particular mission that you can in the USA.

I forgot that though I view the world as one planet ruled by the human race, most others draw lines on the globe and consider themselves Americans or Germans or Chinese. The culture here is very different, in a way that I like. The current Germany, you could say, is only 25-years-old so there are a lot of young people in powerful positions. I think this is exciting in that Germany will progress in a much faster and much different way than other countries of the world right now. Just from walking around Berlin, there is so much construction, and meeting a lot of powerful people (sorry I’m slipping into Wednesday a little), I feel a powerful aura of progression and activity and change. I find that really exciting.

— Tuesday: King —

On Tuesday, the first thing we did was visit King, the makers of Candy Crush. It was amusing trying to find their office as not only were they over Hong Kong Economic offices, but the floor we thought they were on was completely empty. Turns out they were on the floor above. King Berlin is very new and thus very small right now and despite being a branch of King, they felt like a start-up, which was quite different for me.

We learned a little bit about the history of King and then we presented our games. While it was exciting to hear that King enjoyed our game and thought it was unique, I still hold some doubts about how credible the word “unique” is coming from King. Anyway, we got some great feedback on different things we could do and ways we could go with our game. We even got one of the production managers and technical leads, Moritz Voss, to play our game intently even with the buggy touch handler.

Just from observation, King Berlin tends to work in small teams and all on different projects, which is similar to Wooga (which I’ll explain later). Both of these companies make F2P casual games for mobile and Facebook. Casual games are very small and the F2P model means you can start with a smaller game and only add content if you gain popularity. Merging this information, it makes a lot of sense to use small teams to make a ton of games as the chances of producing a “hit” is so tiny.

After a lot of mingling and learning about King, it was time to leave, but not without any swag. I got buttons and decks of cards, which is exciting since I collect decks of cards from everywhere I go in the world.

— Tuesday: Wooga —

After some free time, we went to Wooga. And man, Wooga’s studio was super exciting. Everything was colorful and interestingly shaped and super-sized to make it look like a fun, creative, kid’s mansion. The men’s bathroom had one comically gigantic sink that made me feel like a kid again and I really enjoyed that. Neil Patrick Harris was above one of the stairwells holding out his hand with a little monster on it, so I high-fived it and I immediately felt better because it was something silly and childish to do and thus relaxing. So just by simply seeing Wooga’s architectural design, I learned how much the little things in life can make you feel happy, and also how Wooga treats their employees. We’re all kids; but we’re all big kids.

So three people talked about Wooga’s philosophy, and some general insight on game design and computer engineering. I think the biggest thing we learned is how it takes about 44,000 prototyped ideas to produce 2 hits on the market. That number is bleak, yet the challenge to be one of the two is exhilarating. The other major thing was just something that the Wooga Berlin game designer, Brian Davis (who’s from Cali btw), who spoke to us mentioned: have other hobbies. Only playing games doesn’t make you interesting and it doesn’t mean you’ll work efficiently either. Having other interests can help you figure out certain problems that you wouldn’t expect them to figure out. It’s also just good advice for living life. Life is about experiences. Life would be boring if there was only games.

Wooga was really cool and I could definitely see myself working there. I have honestly never said that about any business, whether in games or not, yet. I came to find what I wanted to do in the future and what I value. I value occasionally feeling like a kid and the little things that brighten your day quite greatly.

I’m still behind in my posts, but I’ll catch up eventually. I really miss everyone from Paderborn who isn’t here. And I really miss my dog….and the rest of my family….maybe, lol. XD


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