Interviews// Penumbra Developer, Frictional Games

Posted 3 Jan 2008 17:59 by
Thomas Grip, co-founder of Frictional Games
Thomas Grip, co-founder of Frictional Games
I had the pleasure recently of being whisked off to the obscenely flat Copenhagen to, among other things, sit down with Frictional Games and have a chat about the developer's upcoming Penumbra game, Black Plague.

If you're scratching your head and wondering how someone interviews an entire company, let me enlighten you. Co-founders and programmers Thomas Grip and Jens Nilsson pretty much are the whole company. The duo co-ordinates various freelancers from the comfort of their own two homes.

What makes this all the more impressive is the fact that the pair of bedroom developers isn't pottering about with small casual games. Black Plague - the second game in the Penumbra series - is a fully-fledged survival horror title for the PC that focuses on physics-based puzzles. The game centres around Philip, an unlucky sort who's found himself in a shadowy underground complex and is trying to get to the bottom of his father's mysterious death. To help out, players have to interact with the dark world around him using the mouse as Philip's hand to solve puzzles entrenched in the environment. You can find out more here.

Jens Nilsson, co-founder of Frictional Games
Jens Nilsson, co-founder of Frictional Games
I sat down for a chat with Thomas and Jens about the perils of working in your bedroom, where they see their company going next and, of course, the upcoming game.

SPOnG: You guys work from your home. How many guys have you working on the job?

Thomas Grip: Itís hard to say how many as at any time there may be anything from five guys involved to just us two, we really just outsource things to people who know the company. The main core team is just us two; and then everything else is outsourced. Through the defining course of the game we had our English writer.

A company in the Ukraine was involved at one point who took care of a lot of animation and a lot of art. So there have been a lot of people involved, Iím not really sure how many, but none of them are full time employees that have been here throughout the project. Thatís just us two for the main part.

SPOnG: How do you find that? You said that youíve both been involved with games before, obviously you have a lot more control now than you used too. How is it?

Jens Nilsson: The way I work itís basically the same, as I worked from home and I still work from home now, so thatís the thing. But Iím not doing things for someone else's game, so itís more me thatís in control. Iím doing things for my game, or our game.

Thomas Grip: Yes, there is a difference there between being a freelancer and working on a public project. On a public project you do have deadlines obviously, but when you are a freelancer you have to obey somebody elseís rules and do what they say to do; and check if something looks good enough, which is good in some situations but bad in other situations. If we had been working in a big corporation, it would have been a lot harder to get back to working at home. But now we are quite comfortable with it as that is the way we have worked for several years and we donít really know everything else.
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