Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lights & Shadows: Diary of a Game Sound Designer

Following up Martin’s Square Enix adventure, here’s an exellent short documentary feature on him made by Stagewolf productions!

Lights & Shadows (2015) Diary of a Game Sound Designer from JD Stagewolf on Vimeo.

“Martin Kvale is a Game Music composer(Sound Designer) from Oslo, Norway. Having his career taken off within the independent game community and currently traveling around the world collaborating and exploring new sounds, Martin has worked on games such as Among the sleep, Teslagrad, Little big mansion, and so many more.
In this series, Martin shares his views, thoughts and disciplines on Sound design and gives an insight into the independent gaming community.
This is the first part of a series of short films from the Artist profile series covering musicians and creative personnel that strive to achieve their dreams and inspire others with their art.
Enjoy!”

Produced by Stagewolf Productions
Directed and Edited by JD Lakhiani
DOP: Em Lakhiani
Music by Martin Kvale
MartinKvale.com

Environments from Teslagrad, pt. 1

We thought we’d take you on a little guided tour to some of teslagrad’s hand-painted environments. First out is a look at the starting environment, the city of Teslagrad!

Teslagrad is the biggest city in Elektropia, a land cut off from and shunned by the rest of the world after an unsuccessful attempt at conquering the nearby nations years ago.
Rumor has it that the nation’s king- once an idealistic and well-regarded leader, now deluded and bitter after years of isolation following his defeat- has grown resentful and paranoid towards his people.

Whole neighbourhoods are mysterously cleared out overnight, and rumors are running rampant as not much information about the state of affairs is available to the population of Elektropia-except for of an abundance of propaganda posters painting the king’s former advisors and associates, the order of the teslamancers, in an extremely negative light.

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MAGNETS ARE COMING!

December 13th is finally here, and Teslagrad is slowly but surely being released into the wild. For you discerning ladies and gentlemen, we have quite a few venues where you can make a purchase of the lovely Teslagrad.

First up of course, is our own website, where you will be purchasing it through the Humble-store, which also nets you a Steam key. You can also just buy it directly from Steam itself. Then there’s Desura, if you’ve been hanging with us since we first uploaded it there. And finally, GoG which is of course the choice for anyone who wishes for their games to be totally DRM free.

So far, we have enjoyed very positive reviews of Teslagrad, and we hope this will reflect how you all will find Teslagrad once it finds its way into your homes. Stay tuned for news on the console releases, coming in 2014!

Please enjoy Teslagrad, and happy holidays from everyone here at Rain!

Teslagrad release date announced!

Dear friends!

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The time has come. After two years of hard work, it is time for yet another milestone moment. We’ve had several incredibly exciting moments during our journey towards the game’s release — the Greenlight race, releasing the official demo, our dialogues with Nintendo and Sony — and now, we are finally ready to release our dear game into the world.

Yes, that is right, the finished, full version of Teslagrad is coming to PC, Mac and Linux on the 13th of December, 2013, via Steam, Desura, GoG.com and GamersGate!

I know! It’s so awesome! I can barely contain myself!

“But Marte!”, I hear you ask, “where is the Wii U version? Where is the PlayStation3 version?” Oh, dear friends, have no fear, it is coming! It will just take a little bit longer. In 2014, you will absolutely be able to get Teslagrad for both of these awesome platforms. So stay tuned for updates on the porting-front. We know you’re excited about it! We are as well, so don’t you worry a bit about that. We’re making good progress, so it will not be too far away.

So! December 13th! PC, Mac and Linux! Mark your calendars, friends, we’re almost there! And if that is just too far away, remember that you can download and play our awesome demo, right here, right now!

Stay tuned, and stay awesome, my friends!

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Magnetic high fives from,

Marte, Eduardo and the rest of the Rain Team!

Teslagrad music: Bear & Cat

Jørn Lavoll and Linn Kathrin Taklo are the awesome composers behind Bear & Cat Music Production, as well as the magicians who are giving Teslagrad it’s unique musical feeling. I’m really honored to work on the same fastantic team as them, and also I had the great opportunity to steal them some hours, making them park their banjos for a while (not much) and share some random thoughts together with the friends of Indieorama, the Spanish indie game magazine.

Firstly, it would be great to have a few words on yourselves. Kind of an elevator introduction. Who are Jørn and Linn Kathrin?

Jørn: I am a music composer and producer working and living here in Bergen, Norway. By education I am both a theatre director and film composer. And for the last… 6? years I’ve worked full time with music only. I’ve worked on a tv show called City of Friends, several films, documentaries etc. I started working with Linn a few years back, and we have collaborated on a couple of songs and projects (for City of Friends, theatre etc). I sometimes say that I am the Final Fantasy guy and Linnk is a Zelda girl. So we like games where the music is a big part of the storytelling.

Linn: Ok, about me… I’m an educated music teacher with a masterdegree in drama ped.! I work at a cultural school and music theatre, and been working with Jørn since dec 2010. Yes, I´m a Zelda girl for sure. Love that game, and specially it’s music! Besides our projects I have an artist project as well, been writing songs since I was 12! like writings songs for various projects, in almost every genre.

To be honest, I didn’t expected a gaming world reference so soon in the chat. I see you both love videogames, but let’s talk a little about games themselves. Children playing. Where did you grow up? Which where your most beloved toys?

Linn: It started with the typical Nintendo NES: Mario, football game, Tetris, Trolls in Crazyland, Chip & Dale… Lil’bit of Super Nintendo: bit of Super Mario and Sega. Then I got my own Nintendo 64 and got a bit addicted to firstly Mario, then Donkey Kong, then Zelda ;). Zelda made a big impression on me! I fell in love with the story, the world of Hyrule, the various characters but most of all (as mentioned) its music. But, to be honest, I’m quite of a wimp when it comes to scary parts of the game, so most often I sat and watched my father play, while we collaborated on finishing the game (laughts)… so, my father was addicted as well!

Jørn: When I grew up we weren’t allowed to be inside. My mother always threw us out so that we had to play outside. So I didn’t grow up with videogames. But I was fascinated by friends who had amazing machines like the c64. But you know the c64. it took about an hour to load a game, so we started loading, went out, loading fail, tried again, went outside to play more.. then maybe Last Ninja 2 had loaded, but we couldn’t figure out how to play it so we gave up. At the age of 10 I got my first keyboard (the musical instrument) and a little later I got my first Atari st. So that was the start of my sequencing/composing/music production life.

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So basicly, you remember a Jørn-boy being a little artist… Very young, indeed. And a little Linn ballerina, perhaps? [one of Linn’s pictures shows her on a ballerina outfit, fooling around]

Linn: I´m not ballerina in real life, but oh well 😉 hehe. Jørn had an itch to create “something” when he grew up. so he made some board games etc, which was fun but not satisfactory. But he felt he “arrived” when he got his musical keyboard, and knew that this is what he would be doing with the rest of his life. Linn felt about the same when she got her guitar around age 10 😉 (after learning how to play and after her fingers stopped bleeding and aching haha). She spent lot of time in her room getting out emotions and writing songs (which are quite embarrassing to read nowadays hehe)

This is for Jørn. Your experience includes a huge list of works for advertising, TV series, short films and videogames, among other projects solo or together with more people. However, you started studying Theatre Arts and Communication. Did you start your career more like a vocational artist rather than a musician?

Jørn: No, music has always been my main focus. But I feel sometimes like a… potato or renaissance man. With lots of interests in all fields of arts. For me they all blend together: photography, theatre, music, film.. for me it is all about how we humans tell stories to each others. So it is easy for me to apply the knowledge from the theatre into photo for example, what makes an interesting staging makes an interesting photo as well.. depth, light, the drama, where you want to direct the audiences attention. Same with music.. and video games. What’s your focus in the story, which bit are you telling at the moment. And many other things.. like structuring your story. Dramaturgy and storytelling structure, good both for music, theatre, games etc. Did that make any sense?

Linn: I agree very much with Jørn 😉 especially this sentence: “for me it is all about how we humans tell stories to each others”.

Jørn: We just had a concert/dance performance hybrid here called “Munch Remastered”. What we were really successful at was blending the different “expressions” together seamlessly to create a natural complete. And although we told these stories in a more abstract way, this was a very concious decision on our behalf. To leave more room for the audiences personal interpretation of what the story was about. Not sure if I am anwersing your question now :).

But the first goal of this performance was: we want to create a good experience for our audience. Something where they can really attach themselves to emotionally… and after this came the idea of making music inspired by Munch’s paintings.

This mixture of arts and feelings. How would you apply this, let’s say, to voice acting (other of your works, isn’t it)?

Jørn: Tilstedeværelse is a good norwegian word. the best english translation I know is “presence” . It’s especially apparent in modern dance, but super important for voice actors also. It’s about where you are with your mind/body. You have to be present in the moment, otherwise it will be fake and the audience will notice that, and you want the audience to be equally present and mindful.

Now let me change the subject. One of the fields you know the best is advertising. In that respect, I would like to know how to adapt your inspiration to a commercial focus. How complicated is to work with the eyes put on sales, on a product?

Jørn: Hard to answer. The difference is the people you work with. And specially how they are able to communicate what they want from the music. I’ve had many fun comments from directors like “I want the music to be more like insects” and “I want piano music but I don’t want any notes”. And then it is up to me to try to interpret what they are hearing inside their heads :). But production-wise, and artistically, there’s no difference for me. I don’t have an “art on/off” button I can press. I just make music the way I think it should be and how I would like to hear it, regardless of what it is for.

Linn: I think the main focus is -in every project- making as good music as possible to reach out to as many people as possible, and often commercial projects are a good opportunity to do so… but non-commercial projects can make you feel a bit more ‘free’ in that matter… ah, hard to explain… Commercial projects often has a target audience, so one has to keep that in mind making the music though, as well as keeping in mind what the customer (ordering the music) wants… Not good at explaing, but hope you see my point, heh.

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Taking a glance into your personal Twitter account reveals how passionate you are about your works, Jørn. And somewhat I can feel a lot of strenght when you talk about Haap, a duo on which you take part. Tell us about that project.

Jørn: Ok, let’s go back a couple of years. I was watching “Norways Got Talent” or “Xfactor” or something on TV. And there was a girl singing who I didn’t know, but I got a strong feeing that somehow, sometime I would work with this girl. A few years later she was booked in to be the voice of a commercial in my studio. And I was very excited, but I was too shy to tell her my “vision” when I had seen her on TV. But she had also googled me before and wanted to discuss some musical projects with me, but she was also too shy. So we were kinda like some teenagers in love where no one dares to tell the other. Musical love, of course. But luckily she was booked in for more sessions and eventually we got around to talking about music, and it was instant happiness. We were both “missing” a project like this in our lives. A place where we can go all the ways we want musically. So the music is very conceptual/prog in nature. Our idea was that these are songs and music from films that doesn’t exist yet. So for this first album we have made a complete story and characters, and it all comes together when you hear them on the album. But each song should also be strong itself. I guess the genre is symphonic rock.. with prog elements.. and lots of folk and world music. Film music turned into songs. The best part for in this project is to get to write music that I know Heidi will sing. Heidi is an incredible singer, truly amazing. And that alone is so inspiring, just to know that this amazing angel will sing the music. I feel like the phanom of the opera, hehe.

Despite of the fact that the duo’s life is yet short, you have a legion of fans, and many singles which have been successful. Has it been easier for you to break through as a “traditional group”, rather than being a musician for videogames, for example?

Jørn: I think people can sense our genuine enthusiam for this project, and that this carries over into the music and peoples experience of it. And this is the same thing in indie games. At the core there’s this fantastic enthusiasm for the medium which you can feel as a player. Throughout (art) history you see this bursts of creativity, new thinking and times of collective enthusiasm at the cusps of “new schools”. I think this art revolution is happening right now with indie games, and that when people look back to this very time, indie games might perhaps be the new “art-movement” of our time. But back to Haap. It makes us very happy to see that the music is welcomed in this way, and also very interesting to see where in the world people like it. For some reason we have tons of “fans” in Macedonia. So maybe we have to start a tour in Skopje :). But it is important to not make this sound like I am not equally excited about writing music for Teslagrad! Teslagrad rocks. I am very happy to be a part of Teslagrad.

Life is easier for musicians since we have access to a myriad of digital tools, on which each musician have his personal touch and secrets. Would you share with other musicians some program or tool which you like especially?

Jørn: We work in Nuendo. It is the “big brother” of Cubase… or more specifically, it is a post-production version of Cubase. What this means practically is that you can have these huuuuge projects with no problems. I used Sonar before, but it started crashing.. so.. here we are on Nuendo, a super-stable and dependable platform. With Haap our secret spice is Heidi and her agile voice. A lot of things that you would think is an electronic effect, is just her voice. We also have some signature sounds that are great contrasts to her angelic-soprano voice. We have one sound that we have called “the Haap bass”. The idea was to make a bass sound like a wild and dangerous animal trapped in a cage. So the foundation is an Absynth patch that goes through a lot of modulated distortion (for growls and wild screams) and then the sound is “tamed” with a filter. And the result is this dangerous sound just lurking at the bottom of the song, hiding in the shadows but ready to eat you at the first opportunity.

You’re also the composer of Teslagrad (along with Linn Kathrin) and we have talked about some videogames in your childhood. How are your relation with nowadays videogames?

Jørn: I am so happy that Shadowrun just came out as a game again 🙂 perhaps my favourite fantasy universe.

I still love games, but I guess I am kinda particular on what I like. I love Kairosoft games on my android phone. And on my Vita I play pinball all the time. I don’t play any of the COD and those types of games. On the Wii U I play a lot of the “social” games and Mario, and of course Final Fantasy on the PS3. And also the Lego games: Lego Star Wars, Batman.

My “problem” with games now is that I get inspired to write some music. The other day I had a few hours off, and I decided to relax a bit with some games from Steam.. but I got to an intro screen and that triggered a musical idea in me, so I had to exit the game and get the musical idea recorded before I lost it 🙂 and that idea will most likely be a Haap song a little later.

Linn: It’s still Zelda for me… both in “nostalgic” ways where I play Nintendo 64 again sometimes when I’m home, but also newer versions at Nintendo Wii. And I’ve been playing newer versions of Mario and Donkey Kong I guess.. the last game I played was Teslagrad, to be honest. Had to check out the demo! And will be perhaps also extra cool because I feel related to it because of its music (ríe). I almost managed to beat the first boss, but had to give up because it was getting very late, hehe. But definitly going to play it more later on when the whole game is available :D. Looking forward to it!!

Jorn Lavoll & Linn Kathrin

Do you have composer you admire, regarding videogame music?

Jørn: David Whittaker. And my favourite video game soundtrack of all time is an old Atari game called Brattacas or Brattacus.

Linn: I’m a Zelda girl, again… so Koji Kondo. And I’m also fond of Assassin’s Creed music (like the fact that they combine songs into their soundtracks, like Woodkid – Iron, love that one!. (Been watching my brothers play Assasins the last few years.)

How did you reach Teslagrad? How do you started to work on the project?

Jørn: A little Munch Remastered anectode again. When we started the Munch project and everyone involved was gathered for the first time, I got a very good feeling. I thought “with this great group of people, something extremely good will come out of this.” I got a similar feeling when meeting Ollie and Peter for the first time. I was secretly thinking “whatever these guys make, will be great. And I want to be a part of it!”.

Linn: I joined in on this project after writing music for Pinocchio (theatre-play) together with Jørn, and because I really liked the expression and feeling of watching clips from Teslagrad. Jørn was also looking for someone to cooperate with. We develop eachothers ideas in a good way; Jørn often starts with an idea, a core-melody, which I can write out to either be a fuller melody or a whole song including vocals and text. In this project, we made “Teslagrad-sangen”/”Song of Teslagrad” in cooperation with Teslagrad’s producer Peter.

One of the most prominent aspects on Teslagrad’s personality is its appearance. Teslagrad’s visuals have a unique artistic stamp, due mainly to Ole Ivar Rudi, the lead artist. Such a personality. In this particular case, visuals were born before music, and regarding that meaning I’d like to ask you. How do Teslagrad visuals affected to the game’s music? Have the melodies been born with a birthmark?

Jørn: This probably isn’t a sign of good mental health, but when I see a picture, I hear the music for it in my mind. So yes, the music is very inspired by the art. Ole Ivar’s art is the father, and I am the mother of the music, hehe. But it is the game that is “the thing”. Not the art. Not the music. But how everything comes together in one unified experience for the players of the game.

Linn: I agree with Jørn in this matter, visual arts and the music commenting it shall fit together like “hand in glove”, and is equally important in my eyes and ears. As probably mentioned before, music makes up half of the experience when I’m playing a videogame, because it adds very much of the emotional depth and involvement, in the same way as a touching/scary/funny etc movie would be boring and shallow without its music commenting the drama.

Teslagrad music could be slightly tetric sometimes. However, the game doesn’t have that kind of dark mood all the time, or is it perhaps evasive. In my opinion Teslagrad music is build with many lively tunes, with a wackiness and merry/absurd touch. Do you agree with that observation?

Jørn: I think you just described us, the composers, as people… so you are probably right 😉

And will we be able to find some Nordic inspiration on Teslagrad soundtrack?

Jørn: Probably as in we are nordic, and whatever has influenced us through our lives will color whatever we make. But not as in “let’s make something nordic”. For us it all about Teslagrad’s world and the emotional journey of the boy.

As we stated, part of Teslagrad music is Linn Kathrin, your Bear & Cat Music partner. I love this thing with the glockenspiel. How do you work together? Impulsive creators or planners? Wait, let’s try to change the point of view. Composers or improvisers?

Jørn: I guess I’m very much about intuition..? When I orchestrate for example, I just hear in my head what’s missing, so then I just play the parts. When I was young I realized that I could take a song apart in my mind. I could remove the bass from a Beatles song, or just play the bass, or change the bass, or add a new instrument. I dont know how other people hear music in their minds, but this is how it works for me. But of course we leave room for improvisation, happy accidents… and sometimes you need to plan. But my process is mostly about the “triggers”. And then I just “do”. Perhaps best not to analyze the process too much. And I am curious about what linn replies to this.

Linn: Often I just get an inspiration, like a melody “popping into my head”, sometimes after watching pictures of or even talking about Teslagrad. The glockenspiel is a good tool to communicate those ideas, and it is indeed very cute as well -nothing sounds “wrong” at it and that makes it quite inspiring to play at;) I regard the process both as improvising and planning as composer, perhaps most the first, at least in the first part of the music-making!

Yet you add a lot of different instruments, like the Ukelele and many others. Do you have some fetish instruments, or do you prefer to be in constant discovery?

Jørn: We add a ukulele when it has a purpose and a function. This purpose could perhaps be to just to add some “fun” into a track. That’s a good enough excuse when that’s called for. But it is important, especially when creating music for a world like Teslagrad, to have something “real” in the music. And of course I don’t mean to say that samplers and virtual synths etc aren’t real instruments. What I mean is that I want something recorded in a room, with a mic, and real air around it, and a living/breathing human playing the instrument. It adds to the “truthfulness” of the music. Not sure if that was the best word. But we want the emotions and the experiences of the boy to be real, and one way to achieve this is by having “real” mixed in with the rest of the music, which is created in a digital vacuum. Besides, the ukulele we have used isn’t what people would typically expect. I have a brass resonator ukulele, which sounds just perfect for this. It’s a very rustique sound which leads us elegantly into the next question.

So here it goes: how would you describe Teslagrad’s sound palette?

Jørn: Symphonic plus a mix of unexpected instruments, machinery, new instruments things built of found objects, lo-fi versions of established instrument… and more. Establishing a unique sound palette for a unique world is a huge part of the fun in a project like this. We don’t want a traditional sound of “this world”, but something just different enough, just like Teslagrad is compared to our world.

Linn: And as we talked about earlier, the Nordic inspiration is present in the background, combined with inspiration from Russian folk-music! When we orchestrate we select sounds that communicate and old, cold world!

What’s the most important ability that a musician need to have, in order to keep moving on videogame’s industry?

Jørn: Being able to communicate music with people who are not musicians but video game creators. And of course a good understanding of the genres and the medium. And the ability to maintain your personal wackiness and merry/absurd touch.

The first time I interviewed a videogame musician (also the last one, until this very interview) he said he dreamt with crazy architecture, giant monsters and flooded forests. What do Jørn and Linn dream about?

Linn: Hmm…tricky question! Linn tries to sum up: Our dreams varies a lot, influenced by our daily lives, our surroundings etc as we guess is normal for all people, composers/musicians or not. But, some nights/dreams carries with them some cool ideas for our works, and some of our songs actually came to us in our dreams! We wake up, reach for our phones and use our recording-apps and sing, hehe..

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You done got Expo’d at Eurogamer 2013!

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Dear friends!

We just flew in from the Eurogamer Expo 2013 and boy are our arms tired we had such a good time! And with this post, we just want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by the Indie Games Arcade and played Teslagrad. Your enthusiasm for the game was amazing to behold, and we really enjoyed talking to every single one of you who stopped by. Your feedback and response to the game was wonderful, and we were really impressed with the way you guys really showed that demo who’s boss. You were all great!

And of course, we have to give a mega high-five to our fellow Indie devs who stood there in the Arcade with us for all four days, and who all were showcasing some amazingly cool and creative games, created by some amazingly cool and creative people! We had a blast hanging out at Eurogamer with all of you, and we hope we’ll see you at more expos in the future.

And hey, if you went home after the expo and thought, “oh wow, I really want to download the Teslagrad demo and find the nine secrets!”, please tweet us at @rain_games and tell us all about it. Did you succeed? Are you stuck? If you are, maybe our forum is the place for you! You can chat with fellow players and even all of us!

In conclusion, we had a fantastic time! We talked to gamers, we talked to devs, we talked to journalists, we talked you YouTubers, we talked to execs, and we enjoyed it all. Hope to see you all again at the next expo!

 

We are officially Greenlit!

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Friends!

Our marathon has ended, and we made it without any grievous injuries. We have officially been included in the biggest batch of titles yet, bringing a record 100 titles through the darkness and into the green light.

The Rain Team would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have voted for us, and been enthusiastic about Teslagrad throughout this entire process. We absolutely could not have done this without you, and we’re so glad you all like the game.

Now, we ask that you bear with us as we finalise the process and work our way towards the final official release, and also keep an eye out for the demo to pop up on Steam. In the mean time, feel free to check out the demo on Desura, and remember our speedrun contest that’s running until the 19th of September. And if you’ve played the demo, or you want some tips on how to achieve the most effective speedrun, stop by our forum and get some advice from the people who are fighting for the top spot right now.

Yay! Greenlight!

Linux alpha build!

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One of the things we decided very early on was to bring Teslagrad to as many platforms as we could. Gamers come in lots of different shapes and sizes, with lots of different preferences as to how they want to play their games. Even here at the office we have a lot of different views on gaming.

So, of course, a version of Teslagrad for Linux is something we have been wanting to do for a long time, and finally, we have an alpha build ready for testing. So without further ado, let’s just cover what this alpha contains!

Take on the role as a young man who finds himself thrown into an ancient conspiracy. Explore the forgotten Tesla Tower and uncover technology long since lost to the masses. Use your newfound tools to traverse the treacherous tower and its dastardly traps and fiendish inhabitants.

Features

  • Innovative puzzle-solving using the power of magnetism and fully functional physics!
  • Exquisite hand-drawn 2D environments that shower you in atmosphere!
  • 100% visual storytelling with a sinister plot where you stand in the center of it all!
  • Explore the vast reaches of the Tower to discover even trickier puzzles and forgotten secrets!

This is a completely fresh build, and it sadly is largely untested as our Linux testing capabilities are somewhat limited at the office. That is why we need you, faithful Linux friends, to test the hell out of this version, and help us make this version great.

If you have any additional comments or questions that you feel are not suitable for the bug-reporting system, please feel free to mail eduardo@rain-games.com

 

Teslagrad to PlayStation 3

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It is a big step for a small Indie company to leave the safe playground of PC gaming, and go out into the big- boy company arena of consoles.
We are happy to announce that Teslagrad is coming out for the PlayStation®3!
Like our general release we are aiming for this fall.

It has been pretty clear to us that Sony is doing it’s best to make us, and probably other indies too, feel welcome on their platforms.
We are glad we are using Unity as a game engine because this allows us a great flexibility in porting the game to different platforms, and we might have some other exciting news for you in the near future.

In other news we are doing really well on Greenlight. We just got up to 90th place today in total yes votes ever, joining company where many have been on the list for a long time. We will still need about twice as many votes to have a chance of getting greenlit, so we hope we keep enough wind in our sales to stand the race to the finish.