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!