ell us a bit about you and your history in games development.
I am Hans von Knut Skovfoged, the creative director of PortaPlay
I was a pen-and-paper and board gamer back in the mid-90s, slowly starting to design my own RPGs, tabletops and digital games. As I was midway through university the first game engines started appearing, making me realize, that game development could be a possible job and not just a hobby. After some dabbling with Virtools – ohh, the agony – Game Maker and Flash, we started a game company doing asynchronous multiplayer games for Java phones.
Then switching to PC and mobile as the big smartphone switch came along with Unity3D (being developed by some friends at the university, who we had to buy beer for, in the university canteen, as they were pretty broke).
The last several years we have switched between working with serious games for learning, to making our own games grounded in reality or factual settings. Well, semi-factual, if you take our game Tales from the Void, about a submarine crew from WW1, who ends up in space due to a secret weapons project misfire (don’t you just hate when that happens?).
But our present and upcoming projects focus on combining challenging gameplay and serious storytelling, about serious topics grounded in history or reality.
What’s the pitch behind your game?
Broken Lines – Turn-based tactics game with real-time execution, for PC, consoles, Switch and tablets.
A game with ultra-accessible but demanding tactical gameplay, wrapped in a great story and intense atmosphere.
Broken Lines is a war-game with a serious story, told from the perspective of the individual soldiers. A game for people who likes real-time tactics and strategy games, but are too slow to play them. Give orders to you men, while in pause – and total control. Then see the execution in real time – sometimes resulting in catastrophic failure.
You control a squad of mismatched soldiers, fighting for survival in Eastern Europe, during WW2. A squad with both disillusioned and brutal veterans and civilized, but mostly ineffective recruits. Who can work together, who will you sacrifice and who will survive to the end?
Why are you attending Pocket Gamer/PC Connects London 2019?
To be able to tell about our game and the experience we are trying to create with it. -to press and publishers. Present the story of ordinary men and women, who experience hardship that slowly withers away their integrity, making them end up doing unethical acts, to save themselves – to survive in war-time.
Given how challenging the indie market is right now, what sort of opportunities are there for smaller developers?
That is a long story. As a company surviving for 10-plus years, by combining contract work, partnerships and developing our own games – while never crunching nor going starving to bed, we are proof of there being opportunities for smaller developers.
Contract work does indeed not scale well – which is also why so many chase the hit…
But as we see it – being able to work on project for a living, while getting better at making games, eventually enabling you to make your own games (and being better at it), without living on noodles, is an opportunity – not a derailing.
As an indie, what does success mean to you?
If we were in it for the money, we would be doing something else. So our goal with doing games is a combination of:
Egocentric masturbation – like many other self-absorbed artists
Trying to tell the stories which are often not told
So success for us means getting as many people as possible, to play and be entertained by our games.
But also to tell them stories which are usually not told in games – the dark side of the war, which so many games paint in a heroic light.
To make games about violent conflicts and killing, experienced from the perspective of the common people, instead of from the perspective of the hero or the general (even though we also like the game Heroes and Generals).