Friday, December 17, 2010

MilMo on the Move

We're extremely happy to be able to finally launch MilMo in Brazil, fully translated into Portuguese. Our Brazilian publisher, Mentez, has been great to work with and we're sure they will treat MilMo to a fantastic launch. The game is now available on Brazil's largest social network, Orkut and on (ofcourse, neither of this will affect MilMo on Facebook or

MilMo has been popular among Brazilian players from the very beginning. At first we found this a bit peculiar, but soon we found that some of the games that inspired MilMo are very popular in Brazil (for example Maplestory and Super Mario Bros). We also found that Brazil has a strong gaming culture, a fairly modern computer fleet, very computer-literate players and some 70 000 Internet caf├ęs!

Now on to some news in MilMo Update 22!

The Flea Circus and the Kitchen

First off, we have two new and awesome levels for you, which unfolds more of the Mice & Maniax storyline and its dark mysteries. The strange and wonderful Flea Circus is finally open to the public (prepare for classic platform game craziness). Beyond it, we venture further into the mad scientist's house and try to survive the hellish Kitchen. Of course, all of this means new NPCs, creatures and tons of quests!

The Open Gift Dialog and some new Premium Items

This Holiday season the team has had great fun developing the long awaited Gift feature! In the Premium Shop, you can now click "Gift" on an item to get it for one of your friends. The recipient will get to open your present with a fun animation. Accompanying this feature is a batch of new cool premium items in the shop; weapons, holiday hats, samurai helmets, space marine outfits: you name it!

We're also launching the Winterfest Event on Seastar Resort and Kraken Island. It comes with a whole range of new Winter Medals. Collect them all and win the glorious Snow Gun!

Winterfest on Seastar Resort, and the new Profile Window

Another great new addition is the Profile Window, where you can view the details of any player. It displays information on title, membership, personal message, mood and any collected medals, tokens and reward items.

If you are playing on Facebook, you will notice that with this release, MilMo is officially switching from June Coins to Facebook Credits. Credits is the new official currency on Facebook (see how many you have in the top right corner of your browser). They are very easy to get a hold of, and they work in any game (!) on Facebook, including MilMo.

Vouchers can be upgraded to greater and greater value

With the Facebook Credits came an interesting design challenge. As we weren't allowed to give away Facebook's Credits, we couldn't convert your June Coins into Credits, and we couldn't give away Credits as Star Token awards for members. Because of this, we have come up with a new Voucher system that is part solution, part new gameplay system. A voucher is a small ticket that exists in four values: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Bronze can be upgraded to Silver, Silver to Gold and so on. Star Tokens now award you Vouchers and your existing June Coins have been exchanged for Vouchers. To make sure we introduce the new system with a bang, we've given you Vouchers worth four times the amount of the June Coins you had!

Have Fun,


Today's post is made by Calle Lundgren, game designer and project manager at Junebud. Calle has been making games for everything from the C64 to the PS3. He has also had time to help found a successful band and to start up Junebud! He has a hand in everything that goes on at the company - especially MilMo. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Channels of Communication

Since we decided to bring back Junebud's Twitter to life two weeks ago, I want to say a few words about communication. How do we, the people at Junebud, communicate with our players when we want to share news?

In the beginning there was only the homepage. Most people go to the homepage of a company if they want to find out if the servers are down, if there's a sale coming up or an update around the corner. A nice, informative and clean homepage is a great place to start. Under the category “News” you will find all the latest news and happenings within the MilMo Universe.

Next up, we've got the Forum. One big difference between the Forum and the homepage is the ability for the players to give feedback. The other difference is space. As you might have noticed we get more detailed about new updates on the Forum. Usually the post on MilMo's homepage links directly to the Forum post about what's new. This is our way of keeping away walls of texts from MilMo's homepage.

OK, so the Forum and the homepage are our two main ways of getting the news to our players. On top of that we've added the newsletter feature. The MilMo Newsletter is delivered once a month, more or less. We create these colorful, informative newsletters when we feel like we have some big news to share with you. For example: we released one when we first introduced the Shop. Managing newsletters is a delicate balance. No one likes spam, but we want our players to know whats going on. It's always a bit scary to press “send”, knowing that thousands of players will get the letter. If you messed something up, there's no way of undoing it.

Speaking about spam, that brings me to Facebook. Of course MilMo's got its very own Facebook page. Today, most companies are expected to have a site on Facebook. Facebook is the place where we share our news as briefs. It's the art of copy writing. We post status updates about once a week, so no spam. As for the Forum, players and visitors have the ability to give feedback. We might not answer all of the feedback (that would be impossible), but you can rest assured we're always lurking in the background, reading.

So, what's Twitter all about? Click here to find out

Another great source of information is Junebud's dev-blog and Twitter. Since you are reading this it's safe to assume you already found your way to the blog. This is a place for you to tell us about our thoughts when creating MilMo. What inspires us and what to expect in the future!
If you don't want to sign up for the official newsletter, Junebud's Twitter is a great option. Our Twitter is updated every time something happens to the game. Wheather it be an update or a competition, a server crash or a new, fun event, we'll post it. The reason we chose to bring back our Twitter was a suggestion from our players. They missed a way of immediately knowing when the game is updated.

The point of hawing multiple ways of communicating with our players is to make it easy for you to find your own way of staying in touch with MilMo developments. If you don't have Facebook you can always follow us on Twitter. And if you feel Twitter is not your cup of tea, then feel free to visit our homepage or forum instead to keep up with the news!

Stay tuned,


P.S If you want a sneak peak of what's going on behind the scenes of MilMo, you find my own Twitter right here.

Sara is the Community Manager at Junebud. She also works with Quality Assurance (QA) and social media. She's got a bachelor's degree in game design, but likes the social part better than tweaking numbers. She usually spends her time moderating the forum, testing the game and planning new events.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wait, I'm Watching the Cutscene!

Story. Stories in games in particular. It's a problem for most game developers who make a game that isn't a pure puzzle, action puzzle or otherwise abstract game. You know what I mean: Tetris doesn't really need a story. Or maybe it does? I spend a lot of time thinking about these things.

There are a lot of ways to categorize games. We categorize by genre, of course: shooter, puzzle, racing, sport, strategy, role-playing, and so on. We categorize by what  platform a game is played on: home console, personal computer, hand helds, etc. We also categorize by the format: single player, co-op, multiplayer, massively multiplayer. Each of these categories bring with them possibilities and limitations when it comes to telling a story of some kind.

Does pinball really need a story?
If you're like me, you like story. When asked, I can name hundreds of movies, books, comics, games, songs, paintings and speeches that have moved me. The story can be a few sketched out sentences, or even a song title, like “Dancing On My Own” or “Raining Blood”. In other formats, the story is long and complex, masterfully crafted throughout an entire novel, like “Crime and Punishment”, or “Out”. A movie is only about 90 minutes, but because it is a one-way, chronologically organized medium a director can pack a large amount of story in one.

Games are their own medium, good at some things and restricted in other ways. The good thing is that we get a lot to work with. We have music and sound effects, we get all the visuals like characters, enemies, levels and props - even the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the menus.  Most games have text, delivered in different ways, and many games have voice-over, too. Unlike most other media game designers also get actions to work with. These are usually referred to as “verbs”. Typical verbs are things like “jump”, “shoot”, “open”, “run”, “evade” and “buy”. When we watch a movie or read a book the only verbs are “watching/listening” or “reading”.

Moscow: forever associated with turning 4-piece blocks
 Not all games are the same of course. In single player games the player is closer to being part of a “captive audience”, same as when we watch a movie. That means we can expect greater patience with cut scenes as well as longer voice-overs and texts. Levels can often be more linear, which means it's easier to guarantee a particular experience. In multiplayer games people have less patience with anything that locks you down or requires long periods of unbroken attention. It's pretty easy to understand: when there are other people around, a lot of our brain power is immediately diverted to “figure out what the others are up to”. We don't want to be bogged down and risk missing important signals from opponents or team mates. That means that it's close to impossible to tell a linear, attention-demanding story in a massively multiplayer game.  Who wants to get ganked (or left behind) because they're busy watching a long cut-scene? The same goes for level design: it needs to be more open, because in a multiplayer game, many players will be looking for alternative ways of doing things. Most people don't want to do what everyone else is doing: they want to be creative and feel smart when others may be watching them.

Okay, so cut-scenes and walls of text/dialogue are out. But we still want a story, so where does that leave us? First off, I'm a big fan of scenario. By using graphics, sounds and verbs, it's possible to establish a setting and a number of tasks that need doing. Are we fishing on a beautiful river, and need to find and catch as many fish as we can in a limited time? Perhaps we're stalking through the jungle at night, looking for treasure to collect while we're fighting off conquistador zombies. In these cases, the scenario itself tells a pretty powerful story.

Is this what any of us really wants?
In massively multiplayer games players usually get to create their own avatars. As a game designer, I can't know if someone's male or female, large or small, friendly or violent, dressed for utility or for a formal function. It's the player's job to create the character and whichever way the player chooses to act determines what sort of person that character is. So as a game designer, the avatar is mainly off limits. But there are characters we do get to control, such as the non-player characters (NPCs).  In MilMo, we have a lot of fun designing and writing people like Frank, Spike, Siggie and Blue. These are the people who inhabit the MilMo Universe, and each can be an individual with problems, hopes and dreams the player can learn about. In helping the NPCs with their ambitions, the players can learn more about the world and about the people who live in it. Even a lot of single player games use NPCs to boost the story. These are usually sidekicks, like your partners in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune or Oracle in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

This game has a lot of NPCs. And it's a good thing, too!
Another way of telling the story is through level progression. Players start in one type of environment, like Lightmill Island, and then more throughout the adventure along a reasonably predictable route. In Summer Tide Saga, the theme of Alien Invasion is gradually introduced as the player progresses. (I'll avoid spoilers).

One of my favorite ways of strengthening the scenario based story telling is though “fluff items”. Fluff items are things like books, bottled messages, carvings etc. that can be found throughout the world. They let curious players learn about the background of the world, and about the different things that are going on. For players who don't care about such things, they don't get in the way and they aren't necessary. It's a neat way of getting past the problems of the captive audience and offer deeper world lore to those who are interested. In other games, such fluff items can be audio snippets or animations. I recently played Mass Effect 2. In one of the rooms aboard my ship I found two people sitting at a table talking. They were always commenting on what had just happened in the world, and always related it to their own worries regarding their family members and friends. It was a clever way of reinforcing the story and putting it into perspective without actually forcing the player to sit and listen to chatty junior crew members.

Search and you shall find. Extra story for the hungry.
But do all games need story? I guess the answer is no. But almost every game can be improved by at least a hint of story. When Nintendo released Tetris for the Game Boy, the menu had graphics representing the famous onion domes of the Kremlin. That was probably to reinforce the Russian heritage of the game. A completely abstract game like “Minesweeper”, included on most PCs, has story woven into its very name. It works on me: when I imagine a mine field that I have to clear, I have a much easier time accepting that a single mistake means game over than I would have had if the game had a nonsense name like “Grix” or “Flabbermajibbit”.

A good old classic
I really hope you enjoy the story elements of MilMo. We want to give you a smooth, unobtrusive experience that still has a clear flavor to it. We always try to include extra information for the players who like the MilMo Universe as we strive to allow the game to be action oriented and fun. After all, MilMo is a game where the gameplay the players is what matters the most. But that doesn't mean a healthy helping of story is a bad thing.

All the best,


Ola Holmdahl is a game designer and CEO at Junebud. Ola's previous career includes teaching game design, doing game design, and creating concept art. In a previous life he was a freelance artist and an academic (but not at the same time).

Friday, November 12, 2010

The People Behind MilMo

In this post I want to talk about who the people behind MilMo are. If you hang around on the Forum, you probably remember me talking about "the script team" or the "design team" or the "level designers". A couple of days ago I realized this might seem confusing, so today it's time to introduce the teams working day and night to make MilMo what it is!

First out we have the famous scripting team. Scripting is a bit like being a programmer, only you kind of build upon the rules the programmers already put in place. Scripters place the enemies, tell them how to react to players and make sure they drop the right loot. But our beloved scripters have more artistic assignments, too. Scripters plan, write and implement the storyline and the quests. They make sure you get your medals and your rewards. Right now our scripting team consist of people from USA, Finland and Sweden. 

The future is bright! Ola at Games Com 2010

But to make all this scripting work, there has to be a solid foundation of code. This is the code that makes everything else work. This means work for the programmers. We have gameplay programmers, web programmers, backend programmers and interface programmers. Some people think all programmers are lurking in their dungeons, afraid of sunlight and exercise. The programmers working on MilMo are bright and funny people. Some of them like hiking, other juggling and one of the gameplay programmers even grows her own herbs and spices in her garden! It seems they like to keep all parts of their brains busy. Programming is hard work, and you have to be careful about the details.

Me and our concept artist at Games Com 2010

But who comes up with the ideas for MilMo? The same ideas programmers and scripters work so hard to implement in to the game? That's a job for the game designers, who make up the design team. Being a game designer is very complex. Usually you have a lot of different skills and know a little bit about everything. You have to have good communication skills, both written and spoken, to get your ideas across to the rest of the team. You might have to tweak numbers in order to create the perfect balance for one game system (weapons for example), or you might work with designing new game play features (like the Exploration Tokens, the Shop or the special potions). It's often the designer's job to keep an eye on the rest of the team and make sure everyone keeps their deadlines. A game designer might spend half of the day with the script team talking about the look and feel of the new island, and the rest of the day working with updating the project plan. One of our game designers have even morphed into a businessman and is responsible for meeting with new investors, meeting with other companies and making sure our public relations are taken care of. The other one sometimes takes the shape of a sound designer. Game designers are shape shifters (or at least very flexible people).

So that's some of the stuff under the hood. On the "surface" you have the graphic team (also known as the art team at some companies). When you start playing MilMo your first impression is always the surface; what the game looks like. Our graphic team consist of a bunch of people with broad skill sets. We have a concept artist who draws the portraits of all the NPCs, the map and the splash screens, among other things. His job is to transform ideas into pictures, in order to help set the look and atmosphere for the game. Our 3D-artists and level designers look at these drawings, and model the objects using special software. The animator animates them to appear lifelike. The graphic team also paints textures for all items and clothes. They have an excellent eye for color and form.
A self-portrait made by our animator. She draws comics on her spare time

Our level designers work closely with both the graphics team and the game designers when they create the "physical" world of MilMo. They are the "architects" of the MilMo Universe. They listen to the designers and look at the concept artwork when they build the new levels. They constantly have to think along the lines of, “How can I make this forest/island/basement understandable for the player? How do I set the right mood with lighting? How many trees can I use on this level, if I use too many the loading time will be too long”. Our level designers have plenty of experience in creating graphics and working with 3D. 

An early concept picture of Visitor Island, made by one of the level designers

Okay, by now you hopefully know more about the teams that design, code, create and paint the game you play! When you work with game development you can't do it all by yourself (anymore). You need a lot of different people, and they all need to have some basic team working-skills.

See you online,


Sara is the Community Manager at Junebud. She also works with Quality Assurance (QA) and social media. She's got a bachelor's degree in game design, but likes the social part a bit more than tweaking numbers. She usually spends her time moderating the forum, testing the game and planning new events. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Go Live (or Die Trying)

As some of you already know, we just released the next chapter in the ever-expanding MilMo universe. It's called MilMo: Mice & Maniax. This time we move into a slightly darker area of the imagination, and it's been a blast to work on. Games don't exactly develop themselves, of course, and so we've had to make some critical decisions these past months. This post is going to delve into the hows and whys of the new expansion.

It all began with the wrap-up of Summer Tide Saga, the first MilMo adventure. The Saga begins on Lightmill Island and spans a vast summer archipelago. With the release of the Alien Ruins level and the last of the major bosses, that world became complete. Summer Tide proved to be a great way for the team to find out what MilMo is about: what kind of gameplay belongs in the game, how levels should look, sound and feel and what kind of stories take place on them.

Work in progress of the Mice & Maniax splash screen
Earlier this summer we sat down to begin work on the next adventure, and the first thing we did was to assemble a team of imaginative people to write and draw some high concepts. High concepts are usually very visual and most of the text consists of headers and bullet points. The idea is to get a quick feel for the flavor of some different ideas.

Once we had several solid concepts we sat down to compare the pros and cons. Did any of them feel right? Were they visually engaging? Were these ideas doable? Junebud is a small but creative company and we don't have unlimited development resources. It's tempting to stay close to what's expected and focus on doing it well. It's also deceptively easy to grab a wild, crazy concept and just go, only to find out half-way that there's no way to do it well, or even complete what you've started.

We had some very exciting ideas on the table and a decision had to be made. In the end we went with the path that inspired us most. All the cool possibilities of having your game character shrunk, the environments, the enemies, the puzzle of figuring out who (or what) the non-player characters were made us throw caution to the wind. Some ideas are like that: too good to pass up on.

Introducing a new kind of non-player character: the mouse
While Summer Tide Saga is an idyllic world of high skies and long beaches, where you spend your time beach combing or uncovering mysteries, Mice & Maniax is a darker, more sinister world of hidden threats and heroic deeds. Because Mice & Maniax involves so many new effects and visuals, we've had to do a lot of head scratching. Hopefully, the results speak for themselves.

The plot: a fun tool for writers
Plot-wise we've wanted to make this new adventure clearer, more immediate. The setting, the people and the deeds that need doing should all gel together better than before, to tell the story of the mad scientist and his corrupted house. We decided to go in a more immersive story-telling direction, which made our game writer quite happy.

On the topic of releasing new content, I have to touch on the issue of Halloween. I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan. I love the time of year, I love the visual props of Halloween, I love Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, I love John Carpenter's original Halloween movie and, well, I love monsters. We've known for a long, long time that we wanted to release a big update for this Halloween, and we wanted that update to have a certain ominous, creepy feeling to it. But as a game developer, the most challenging part about Halloween is that it won't move. It is where it is, when you look in your calendar, and that means it's a deadline that can't be bargained with. The entire Junebud Crew has worked long hours indeed to make sure we could bring Mice & Maniax to our audience in time for Halloween, and I am immensely proud that we did.

Future projects. We have them.
We have so much stuff in the pipeline (gameplay features, stories, graphics and events that we really want to do), that everything we do means there are hundreds of things we don't develop. Mice & Maniax rose to the top both as a concept and as a technical challenge. All things considered, I can safely say it's a worthy update. Think of it as a promise of all the great things to come. One of my favorite aspects of MilMo is that it's a 100% living project. Everything and anything about MilMo could change at any time, and the game grows with every week and every month that goes by.

When I worked with boxed titles that were sold in stores, there was a single, huge deadline at the end of the project. That resulted in a “gold master” disk that was shipped to the publisher, who made lots of copies. Then the copies were shipped to brick-and-mortar stores. If you made a mistake, you had to make a patch and put it online (or before that, burn on a CD and ship it with popular gaming magazines). Working fully online, fully live and developing a game with the players along for the ride is a beautiful way of making games. Every day at the office is an adventure and any idea can be made into reality and shipped at almost any time. Instead of hulking final deadlines, we work with many small deadlines and get to see how people like the game after each one.

Awesome stuff in the making
MilMo is an awesome project and we have a lot of surprises we can't wait to spring on you guys. It's more like your favorite TV channel, where you get new stuff every week, than like a favorite movie that you watch, and then watch again a couple of years later. What's not to like? Stay tuned.

All the best,


Ola Holmdahl is a game designer and CEO at Junebud. Ola's previous career includes teaching game design, doing game design and creating concept art. In a previous life he was a freelance artist and an academic (but not at the same time). 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Casual vs Hardcore Games


Some of you might know me as the community manager at Junebud. That means I also work on the event design team. I play a big part in arranging events that take place inside the game, like the Halloween 2010 event. Each month will bring you a mix of screen shot/art contests and new in-game events, offering some kind of item or ability as a reward. These rewards are unique, so each event is a great opportunity to collect rare and special stuff. The Haunted Stone you can get this month is really cool, since it lets you summon a bunch of small, eerie ghosts!

An event should be easy to understand and fun to take part in, but the deeper you dig, the harder it should become. Events often consist of several steps that have to be completed in order to move on to the next part, or to get the desired reward. The hard thing for me lies in designing a good difficulty curve. It's not supposed to get too hard too fast, but then again, if it's too easy some players will get bored (or frustrated) and ignore the event. On top of those things, MilMo is a game aimed mainly at a casual audience. That means the players usually get irritated if they have to grind for a certain thing for hours. So the question is, how do you make something that's difficult enough? There's no perfect answer here. Remember, you can't please everyone or design something that's going to fit every single player who plays your game.
The Haunted Stone

If you are a good designer you manage to make something the majority of your target audience will appreciate. Some hardcore gamers will accuse you for being a sell-out if you aim for the casual gamers out there. This is something that I find very interesting: casual vs hardcore game(er)s. In the past many "casual" games would lack the quality that made some of the hardcore games stand out. Nowadays you can find plenty of casual games with both good graphics and great gameplay that could easily get you hooked. A casual game is a game you don´t have to sink a lot of time into, before you start going anywhere - or least least stop sucking. Casual games are often played on a lunch break, or when you've got some extra time on your hands, or maybe at a party. These are games like The Sims, Super Mario, Snake, Bejeweled, Farmville, Solitaire, Frontierville, Plants vs Zombies, Tetris etc.
Plants vs Zombies by Popcap Games
 Wikipedia defines a 'casual game' as, “A casual game is a video game or online game targeted at or used by a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer." But this is just another one definition of 'casual games'. There are many others, I recommend you look some up.

Let's take a look at Farmville. It´s a game with over 62 million monthly active users. That would be like every single person in the United Kingdom played Farmville at least once every month. No mater what city you went to, every person you met would know about Farmville! That's crazy! So let's say Farmville is a casual game. It's easy to access, you play it online, it's targeted at a big audience, it's fairly easy to start planting your crops. You can log on for a few minutes and play, and the original game itself was developed in five weeks by a small team, according to Zynga.

Creativity in Farmville
When we look back at the early days of video game advertisement, the game companies usually targeted families, and games were (and sometimes still are) considered an activity for the whole family. Advertisement has become more complex over time, with so many different games and target audiences, and sub-target-audiences. Games today are aimed at children, families, teenagers, adults, hardcore, casual, girls, boys, FPS gamers who only like space marines, etc. You name it, they made it! What's more, you can play a hardcore game like Starcraft casually. And the same person could be a heavy player of Farmville, like level 90. There really is no clear line between hardcore and casual, it depends more on the style of the player.

But what do casual gamers think of hardcore gamers? And how are you greeted in the company of hardcore gamers if you are a Farmville or Habbo player? From what I learned in my three years at a computer development University in Sweden, many hardcore gamers tend to look down at casual gamers, and consider them a “lower form” of player.

The explanation for this could be found in what Wikipedia said about casual games; “They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games. They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play (...)”. If you are a hardcore gamers and play video games several hours a day, guard your rank within a special game, practice your skills and are very competitive, it's no wonder you can't take a person who plays Plants vs Zombies a few hours a week seriously. But this elitism is a bit strange to me. For instance, since when do professional athletes look down on someone who only goes to the gym once or twice a week? None of the athletes I know act that way.

Here at Junebud we welcome both hardcore and casual players. MilMo is the perfect game for playing a few hours a week when you have some extra time, or you can go all out and grind it in order to get all the awesome medals and weapons!

The Epic Sword
Well, these are some of the things I think about when I design events. I hope you'll like the Halloween 2010 event!



Sara is the Community Manager at Junebud. She also works with Quality Assurance (QA) and social media. She's got a bachelor's degree in game design, but likes the social part a bit more than tweaking numbers. She usually spends her time moderating the forum, testing the game and planning new events. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

A glimpse of impending fun

Today's post is made by Calle Lundgren, game designer and project manager at Junebud. Calle has been making games for everything from the C64 to the PS3. He has also had time to help found a successful band and to start up Junebud! He has a hand in everything that goes on at the company - especially MilMo. 

Today I'll take the opportunity to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming release of MilMo and our future visions for the game. We have a big update right around the corner, and with it we are officially wrapping up what we call World One. That means two new levels and two new awesome bosses! The team has been working super hard on this and are pleased to have finally completed the first standalone chapter of MilMo. The quest chain ending with the Heroic Ray Gun is finally complete. There is a way to enter the UFO on Visitor Island. The dark secret of Nikonos Island has come alive, and paths have been opened up to the Secret Cave in Ancient Forest with a first glimpse of background story to the MilMo universe.

These guys will have you for breakfast.

Just so you know it we have very big plans for MilMo and with this release we're preparing the game for future expansion. The world map is now called the Navigator and is basically the main menu of the game. Here you can quickly access MilMo news, options, your friendlist, the premium shop and a new feature that we call Chat Rooms (there is also a placeholder section in the Navigator that will give you a hint as to what we are preparing next - and just how much we value the feedback of our community).

The Navigator is pretty much the new Main Menu.

A Chat Room is a level that can be visited at anytime without spending telepods. You won't find enemies here since it's primarily a meeting place for people to hook up and chat even if they're currently playing on levels vastly separated in the world. Our old fans will recognize the first Chat Room - it's an old goodie that has been heavily rebuilt. We are now fantasizing about some crazy, themed chat rooms for the months to come.

Want to change your height or eye color? Become a red head? Another new feature is the Makeover Studio. From the Navigator you can always enter the studio and rebuild your character from scratch with the basic set of start clothes (for a fairly small price in ingame currency). This feature has been requested since very early on, and we think it will add a bit more replay value to the game.

Feathered Epic Bows, diamonds and tropical islands. Only in MilMo.

With this update, arrow damage has been increased significantly to make bows a lot more fun. To balance this, an ammo system has been introduced. It means your arrows will run out, but it also means deadlier bows and fun arrow powerups that fit neatly into the platform game feeling we want to achieve. Speaking of which: platform game fans will love the introduction of World Gems: these are floating gems scattered across the level in various patterns. It really makes the islands come alive (often opening up unused space) and boosts replay value since gems will respawn.

Last but not least we are adding the (very optional) choice of supporting MilMo development by becoming a member. Getting a membership is quick, easy and very affordable with many cool upsides for those who are serious about playing MilMo. With that said, remember that the game as such and the main storyline will always be Free for everyone!

A small glimpse of what's currently being built at Junebud.

Having wrapped up the first full MilMo world, we are now concentrating on the next chapter of MilMo. Beginning work on World Two, we put some of our best people together in a task force to take the game in a new cutting edge direction. What I have seen so far makes me very, very excited! In terms of storytelling, visuals and raw entertainment value their concept is of absolute world class and I'm sure it will bring MilMo and Junebud to new amazing heights.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What about the magic?

Today's post is made by Ola Holmdahl, game designer and CEO at Junebud. Ola's previous career includes teaching game design, doing game design, and creating concept art. In a previous life he was a freelance artist and an academic (but not at the same time).

Making games has a lot in common with creating other types of media. Don't get me wrong, game making is its own discipline. There are skills to master, special considerations - I'll talk about those in a minute - to take into account, but it eventually boils down to creativity. A game maker is an artisan, a craftsman. At the end of the day you're a creator. There's the raw energy of a game. The inspiration, the pure joy of playing it. The magic. Magic is not about performance specs or protocol standards.

Where does that magic come from, then? Picasso once said that as an artist, copying others is inevitable, but copying yourself a tragedy. Does that make it okay to just swipe ideas left, right and center? Well, sure, as long as you steal from the best. Whenever we sit down to create something new, the first thing we do is remember the things that inspired us. Most original ideas are really something old that has been reinvented or taken from one context into another. We can't help that, that's what we do as people. We piece the world together from all the things we see around us. It's how we piece things together that makes us unique.

                                  Picasso liked to put things in new contexts.

Trying to do the same thing over and over with only superficial variations is the quickest way to kill creativity. At that point you're only copying yourself (tragic!), trying to make sure all the things you create are in "your style". Boy, that's pretty dumb. I mean, whatever you do, no matter how different from what you've done in the past, it's still you doing it. So it kind of has to have the "you" feeling, doesn't it? But if that's true, how come the world is full of boring copy cats? Why don't we all stand out more? That's a thinker.

I believe it comes down to courage and honesty. Most of us want to be special because we want to be liked. But the best way to be liked is to not stand out too much. It's to do what everyone else is doing, only a little better. The problem here is that if we work too hard at being like most other people, that makes it hard to convey a personal "you" feeling.

It takes a lot of courage to follow your own intuition and taste. It takes deep honesty to even realize what you want to express, so you can try to be brave enough to express it. That's the part that usually gets me, the honesty bit. The most common problem for me is to feel that I don't have anything in particular that I want to say. That's not true, of course. Everyone has lots of stories. When I feel that way, other media is the best medicine. I particularly like stories about people who create, even if it's difficult and even if they are afraid. That's one of the reasons I love Michael Ende's books, like Momo or The Neverending Story. (I wasn't so fond of the movie. Read the book instead.) Man, I absolutely loved them, growing up. When I read one of my latest finds, Haruki Murakami's brilliant Kafka on the Shore, I get that same feeling.

           Some books are dangerously real, they say. I think they should be.

I also love crazy, wild stories about people who go all out and do their thing whether they're any good at it or not. John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China comes to mind, it's one of those movies people either love or hate. The main character is a gung ho klutz who can't get anything right - but he has a lot of guts and those stories always warm my heart. The theme doesn't have to be silly. One of my favorite movies is A Scene at the Sea, a Japanese movie by Takeshi Kitano. It's a simple story about a deaf and dumb garbage collector, who has decided he's going to learn how to surf - and does so no matter the cost to the rest of his life.

                Takeshi Kitano. This guy knows how to tell a story about the sea.

'Following your heart' is a beautiful theme that has been told in many different ways already. It's a story that has to be told again and again, in different media and in a way that connects with every generation, because it's too important to be forgotten. Even The Matrix is a version of that same story. To be honest and find out what really matters to you, no matter the cost. Even if you have to live in a rusty submarine and eat snot, that still beats living a lie.

         The power of imagination is great - but tomorrow's breakfast is still snot porridge.

Let's get back to game making, though. Games aren't books or movies, games are actions and the players who perform those actions. When you play a game you're not part of a "captive audience", you move around, you search and jump and fight and collect. You choose where to go, and if you like a place, you probably revisit it.

When you build a game you build a framework where players are free to act out their own stories. Your job as a creator is to make sure the players get good tools for doing that. It should be fun and challenging to jump from one ledge to the next. To enter a new level should be awesome.

Social games. Playing with a friend is more fun. 

MilMo has borrowed lovingly from a lot of sources, like Nintendo's Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing games. Some of the DNA of the game comes from ID Software's classic DOOM, believe it or not, and some inspiration was taken from Arena Net's Guild Wars series. The important thing is to borrow from the best, and to be honest and brave when you use the pieces to build a playground where we can all help tell the story.

All the best,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to our developer's blog

Sara is the Community Manager at Junebud. She also works with Quality Assurance (QA) and social media. She's got a bachelor's degree in game design, but likes the social part a bit more than tweaking numbers. She usually spends her time moderating the forum, testing the game and planning new events.

First of all I would like to say hello to all newcomers!

It´s been a steady flow of new players signing up to play MilMo this last month. That´s great! We hope you will enjoy the MilMo Universe that we're working so hard to build. Speaking of that, we now have over 2000 people on Facebook who like us. Keep inviting your friends, MilMo is even more fun when you play together.

If you have visited the forum, you may have noticed that Esteban was the skillful winner of our art competition (theme: "dragons"). To see the awesome artwork follow this link.The 1st prize was 2000 fresh June Coins.

Right now things are moving fast here at the office and we want to bring you the new build as soon as possible. We are working on some exciting concepts, which will pretty much be the next chapter for MilMo. As you might have noticed we're using iterative development. That means we are constantly adding new levels, islands, features and creatures, and improving on what's already in the game.

Plenty of game studios back in the good old days used to make the whole game and then, when deadline came, put it out on the market for their players. That is not our cup of tea. We use live development to make MilMo a better game by listening to the feedback from you, and then expanding the game based on that feedback.

Time to start planning the next forum event! See ya online!


Sara, Your Community Ninja!