• Dusty Weis

PixelSmiths Ep. 2: Klang & Klang 2 w/ Tom-Ivar Arntzen

Updated: Feb 28



A Norwegian wünderkind finds inspiration in music to put a dazzling new twist on rhythm games.

On this episode, Larry & Clinton talk with Tom-Ivar Arntzen, the one-man virtuoso behind Tinimations, and creator of Klang & Klang 2. The Klang series is an innovative take on the rhythm game genre, combining the timed button combinations of tradition games with hack & slash combat.


In this conversation, they talk about how Norway's culture led to Tom's obsession with video games, his award-winning game development during his upper secondary (high) school years, some of the struggles of working with a publisher, and how music helped him find his ideas.


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Find Klang on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/412660/Klang/

Find Klang 2 on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1111600/Klang_2/

Visit Tom's website: https://tinimations.net/

Follow Tom on twitter: https://twitter.com/Tinimations


Transcript:


Larry Kilgore III:

Video games are an art form. From the bits and bites of the old-school arcade cabinets to the technological advancements of the modern era, video games have been a way for creators to tell stories in an interactive environment that can be shared the world over.


Clinton Bader:

Developers, designers, visionaries, and story tellers. Like the artisans of old, it's their blood, sweat, and tears that go into crafting these unique and innovative experiences for players. But oftentimes, the independent artists get lost in the overwhelming space that is today's hectic gaming market. And at Pixelsmiths, it's our goal to be a platform for those artists to celebrate their drive, their vision and the work it takes to create their art.


Larry Kilgore III:

On this episode, we talked to Tom-Ivar Arntzen of Norway about his rhythm action games, Klang and Klang 2. This is Pixelsmiths. Hello, and welcome to Pixelsmiths. I'm

Larry Kilgore III, podcast creator and video game enthusiast.


Clinton Bader:

And I'm Clinton 'Paperthin' Bader, esports broadcaster and commentator. We're here to really highlight a space that can oftentimes be overwhelmed with choices, and we strive to bring you some of the best and brightest creators to keep an eye on.


Larry Kilgore III:

Today we are joined by Tom-Ivar Arntzen, the one-man band behind Tinimations Game Studio, creator of Klang and Klang 2. Tom, thanks for joining us.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

And thanks for having me.


Larry Kilgore III:

So, Tom, you founded Tinimations in 2013, but before that and outside of your Tinimations projects, you're also a freelance game artist and animator. What did your freelance work in the industry teach you about creating games and the other parts of game development before you struck out on your own?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

The cue of that is kind of reversed, since I actually founded Tinimations just as about as I was to graduate from school. And most of my freelance work actually came to me as I was building up a reputation as this one-man guy. But yeah, it's mostly started out with participating in student competitions. Back then, I actually was working with people, I wasn't solo, and gained some notoriety in the local game development scene, since it was very small at the time and participated on a few game jams, mostly student competitions that actually ended up giving me, and my peers then, a few prizes that we could kind of use as bragging rights that, "Hey, we actually made something cool," even though no one ever heard about those projects ever again.


Larry Kilgore III:

So you knew pretty much right out of school that you wanted to make your own games and you wanted to strike out on your own.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, I think I was as young as 13 or something by the time I knew that I really want to do this. And after that revelation, pretty much all my actions was based on how can I skew the school curriculum into something I can exploit to prepare myself for making games whenever I get the chance to actually give it a shot.


Clinton Bader:

That's a really young age to kind of figure out what was going on with yourself. What was some of the things that kind of gave you that direction? What made you feel at such a young age that this is the direction you wanted to go with your life?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

I guess that's both a blessing and a curse of growing up in Norway, especially in a small town in Norway, since it is a small country. Nothing really ever happens here. And then, from abroad you have this magical thing called video games. That's just pure ecstasy like, "Wow, what is this magic? And it comes from this country on the other side of the globe called Japan." And like, "I need to know more about this," since we didn't really have a local music scene, nor a movie scene, barely even any culture at all, really. And of course, just the regular day to day, that was pretty much like, "Hey, do well in school." Since again, the Norwegian culture is kind of also based around that you're supposed to get an academic education and a high-paying job, just very run-of-the-mill, kind of everything's just boring. And this was the one thing that was super exciting all the time. So I guess to a very young mind, it was easy to get inspired to at least wanting to learn more about it.


Larry Kilgore III:

Would you say that that kind of helped you learn to love other cultures too? It's just like, "This is a country that I've never been to or don't anything about, they're creating all these great things."


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, definitely. I guess that's also part of the experience of growing up in Norway as well, is that you always, to some extent, feel like an outsider to the mainstream culture. Because again, since we didn't really have a culture scene of our own, so most of our media was imported from Hollywood and Japan, and stuff. So everything was this foreign thing. So you become more self-aware that you're not the center point of the universe, I guess, especially when I reached adulthood, I kind of learned to appreciate that, it opened my eyes to just how big the world could be.


Clinton Bader:

Amen. I get it. I live over here, so I totally get it.


Larry Kilgore III:

So I want to talk a little bit about you working at the Hamar Game Collective, which is an incubator for indie developers there in Norway. So you've got an office full of other people that are creating games yourself. How many people are you, I guess you're not working with, but working near and around?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. I keep losing count, but I believe we're about eight studios of different sizes. There are a few that are one man's like me, but I think our biggest studio, which is called Sarepta, I believe there are about eight to nine people at this point. They've been expanding and haven't really... Kind of lost track of their progress since they've grown a lot in just the few recent months.


Larry Kilgore III:

What's it like working in an office full of creatives like that? Do you guys bounce ideas off each other? Do you help each other out?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, definitely. And I think that's the most valuable aspect to it, especially when you are working alone, is that it's... Since the biggest danger is that you lose kind of track of your own work, it's very easy to get blindsided or tunnel visioned. Even to some point, if you live in isolation, maybe even self-inflict yourself with some form of delusion of grandeur that, "Oh, I'm suffering so hard to make this thing, so it has to be super meaningful, not just to me, but everyone around you," blah, blah, blah. And just being around people like that, especially from many different disciplines, kind of helps you keeping yourself leveled a bit. I also didn't realize how important it was at first, was just that since not only are there many creatives, but with very different tastes in games, so whenever I showed... Like when I was making Klang 1, for instance, to people at the office, I had the one guy who absolutely hated story in games, another who only cared about the social aspects, dah, dah, dah. And yeah, you just kind of, again, just realize that, "Hey, you're not the center of the universe."


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Also, your game design is not the center of the universe and you can't expect everyone to like it and which crowd should you then cater to and which should you be okay just not catering to, but should they at least be able to play it, even if it's not for them, dah, dah, dah. And it gets you thinking in a lot broader aspect, since at least something I noticed when some designers that hasn't really been exposed to that part of feedback is that they're a hyper fan of one game and they try to kind of emulate it in a sense, and then an outsider tries it and they just are unable to play it since they haven't been able to convey the concepts the same way that the original designers did. And when you then call them on it, then they just kind of get very defensive and like, "Oh no, you're just not the target audience to it." Or, "You need to understand this game to understand this game." And it's like, slippery slopes, slippery slopes. And it's very healthy to be able to catch all those problems to your own design very early by just simply showing it to people that have different perspectives.


Larry Kilgore III:

So then, let's talk about your first game, Klang, which can be best described as an innovative take on the rhythm game genre, you tied music and rhythm action to a hack and slash platforming concept where you fight your way through different stages of the music. Where did the idea come from?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, I guess that one was a long time coming. If I'm going to try to take it as back as far as I can, I guess it of course started with discovering StepMania, essentially Dance Dance Revolution for the PC, and just kind of finding the appeal and matching input to the music. And then, I was a super huge fan of the character action games, like God of War, and Bayonetta, and Devil May Cry, and those types of games. But in those games, a lot of people just end up button mashing. They don't really truly immerse themselves into the experience, almost like, unless you truly master the game, your interaction with those games were kind of a little insincere perhaps, because so many players were just spamming the button and just seeing stuff happening on screen without really embodying the character. And I felt like maybe that's some creative energy I could tap into by trying to get the rhythmic aspect into that action game and see how that pans out, essentially.


Larry Kilgore III:

I myself am a fan of the third-person action platformer type games too. And I enjoy the rhythm games, but sometimes they don't keep me very long, but this is definitely one, the combination of the two I think is very intriguing and it kind of combines two genres I really love. So I think it was a really cool concept.


Clinton Bader:

Yeah, I was really taken aback by it. I mean, I'm a huge rhythm game fan. Just like you, I played StepMania a long time ago on my computer. I mean, absolutely just fell in love with any kind of rhythm game, whether it be Dance Dance Revolution, or Guitar Hero, or these kind of things. This game is kind of a unique fusion of a couple different genres. Klang is this guy, he's got headphones on, he looks really cool. The art is, first of all, gorgeous. But it's really stylized, it's very neon, it looks very futuristic. Where did the idea for this really, I think, quite cool world come from for playing?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Well, first of all, thank you for the compliments. I guess the only thing I really knew back then was that, okay, this is going to be a game world where music is a huge part obviously, to the point of parody even. And I also knew that I really wanted to emphasize on electronic music, and of course, at least back then, neon and Tron was kind of the closest image most people had of electronic music, bright colors, and that kind of sci-fi vibe. At the same time, that was around the time where I was starting to really delve into the fundamentals of art, which usually goes more in the polar opposite direction of nailing the human form, naked bodies, the Renaissance, that type of vibe. And then I figured like, "Okay, what if I try to just mesh them together?" I also so knew that a lot of the art assets would have to be static in a sense, that there wouldn't be a lot of destructible environments and stuff, which depending on the level of interactivity, people tend to point out as a negative.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

But if I made the art in a way where people can just tell it's supposed to be static, and the best way to convey that was to have a lot of statues and stuff. When you see lot of sculptures, you think that is supposed to be static. And that's also kind of where that main tower with a lot of the faces in Klang 1 came from. Lots of faces, lots of sculptures that kind of gives you that sense of majesty while also being static in a sense that makes sense. And also, regarding the whole musicality aspect of it, that was to the point where the moon is literally a G-clef and the main character has a tuning fork as a sword. And his headphones are literally, almost like the mask of Darth Vader, where it enhances his force powers, it makes it easier to focus on the beat.


Larry Kilgore III:

Did you settle on the tuning fork as the weapon right away, or did you try a couple of different concepts before you were like, "Oh no, this makes sense"?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

The tuning fork came very early. I think I knew that whatever the weapon was to be, it couldn't be a sword because everyone does swords. It's the most overused weapon in games and media. But swords are still cool, so what's the middle ground? And then I just saw a tuning fork. I was like, "Oh, yeah. Okay. That is the thing." It's like this hard blunt piece of metal. And then, that led to the name in the sense that when you just clash two pieces of metal together, that's like a clang, like [inaudible 00:11:50].


Larry Kilgore III:

I like that.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

And considering that a tuning fork is supposed to be hit on something as a way to become useful for the calibration thing, it just kind of made sense as well. Also, when the game mechanics naturally started revolving around deflecting stuff, you're supposed to hit stuff, but not necessarily cut or strike. It's just, I know you deflect stuff. And then, literally every time it's like a clang, a clang... And the name just kind of stuck. And then, in Klang 2, I just doubled down to the point where a Klang is a name, it's a noun, it's a verb, it's an adjective in this universe.


Larry Kilgore III:

With a lot of creative media endeavors, especially movies but games as well, that aren't necessarily rhythm-based games, music and sound design kind of comes in the later stages of production. But obviously, working with a rhythm game, music is paramount, and what's it like building a game around the music as opposed to trying to design music for the game?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

The thing I really like with music is that, depending on how in touch you are with your own subconscious, is that, because at least for me, when I just listen to music, I just get very visual ideas in my head, and I kind of get them for free. They just come to me when I listen to music. And the great part about that, as well, is that no one can tell, "Oh, you got that idea from this song. I'm going to sue you." Because like, "No, no. I just listened to your song and whatever came to me is mine. You won't even know." And it also really helped with planning out the scenario for the game, since when you're solo, you're likely going to know what you have in mind long before you actually get to make it.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

So when I got in touch with the composer pretty early, when I had a vague idea for a boss fight or this level, and said like, "Okay, he's going to be, for instance, this angel character. She's going to fly and stuff." And make a boss draft that would be cool for that. And then, the composer made something and I was like, "Oh, okay." And now I got my free ideas that came from his track. And also when I have the track, I also know what beats I need to match the gameplay up to, which definitely helped me a lot merging the gameplay and the audio visual aspect of it.


Clinton Bader:

So the music-making process was kind of a two-way street. Sometimes he would come at you with songs that he had already fleshed out himself and other times you would come at him with ideas for graphics or art that you wanted to put in the game?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, pretty much. And sometimes... Since again, I discovered him through his remixes on OCR, or OC ReMix as it was called back in the day.


Clinton Bader:

OCR.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. Yeah. He was the kingpin of the remixes there pretty much. A lot of Final Fantasy and a lot of Super Metroid remixes. And actually, many of the ideas from Klang 1 was actually formed from the remixes he made before I approached him. So that also kind of made it easier to finalize the soundtrack, since whenever I was listing references, it was mostly his own works like, "Hey, you know that remix you did, and it has a really cool part in there. Yeah. That vibe, just switch up the beats a bit and then we'll go from there, and then you can maybe add something new from that," which turned out to be a very productive way of getting stuff done quickly.


Larry Kilgore III:

I'm not sure if we said his name yet, but the composer that did all the music for Klang was bLiNd, correct?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Correct. Yeah.


Larry Kilgore III:

So I know you said you kind of reached out to him, what was his initial response? Was he on board? Did you have to kind of convince him to make the soundtrack for your game? I'm interested what it's like to reach out to someone like that. Someone whose music you like and try and tell him like, "Hey, I've got this game idea. I'd love for you to make the music for it."


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. I still remember reaching out to bLiNd. That was something I actually had to man up for, since it was the first time really reaching out to someone I considered of a very high creative stature. So it almost felt like asking a girl out on a date and that whole, "I'm going to do it. Oh, I'm going to do it."


Larry Kilgore III:

Got to get that confidence.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. But essentially, what I did was that I just used his music without permission and just implemented it into the game. And when I then felt that the demo had progress to a certain level, I just approached him with actual gameplay footage to show for him like, "Hey, I'm making a game and boom, here it is. Do you want to be part of this?" And that is something I've then used a lot since, that technique, and it's never failed me.


Larry Kilgore III:

Well, Tom, I'm loving this conversation about Klang so far and I want to talk a little bit more about that and Klang 2, but we're going to take a quick break, and we're back in a moment with more from Tom-Ivar Arntzen, when we return here on Pixelsmiths.


Larry Kilgore III:

This is Pixelsmiths, the podcast that gives a voice to today's indie game developers. I'm Larry Kilgore III.


Clinton Bader:

And I'm Clinton 'Paperthin' Bader, and we're talking with Tom-Ivar Arntzen, creator of Klang and Klang 2. So I could go a lot of different ways with this, because I'm actually really digging this conversation and the game. So Klang came out in September of 2016, but you were already receiving a lot of positive feedback in your community. Could you maybe elaborate on what kind of awards or feedback you were getting and how that helped you get to the release of Klang, I guess?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

I guess Klang's development could be divided into two, well, arguably three parts, but the two main parts were when it was still a student project and when it then transitioned into being the main thing I was doing. That was also the same time where I joined that incubator collective. But before that, when I was still in school and I was like, "Okay, I want to try out this rhythm thing." And I then, on my spare time, made a prototype up to the point where I could send it to the same student competition I had already earned some prizes on before. And I guess, since I've already got something from that event twice now, then hey, maybe trice is the charm. And then, yep, it actually worked. It definitely won best audio. I believe it was best design and this...


Larry Kilgore III:

Best design and sound.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. On the same event. Yeah. And I felt with that that I finally had the momentum to then apply for funding from a local culture fund, which had more of the artistic expression in mind rather than the commercial ambition of games. So it was more in line with something I could apply for. What was also pretty nice about is that there was no real strings attached. It's not like I had to share the revenue with an investor or anything. It was just, no, we're essentially just going to quadruple the budget you have within reason, which is a really nice little feature of the Norwegian government, I guess. And of course, with the confidence and some of the cash that gave, that kind of gave me the confidence to then join this collective, which was mostly consisting of bachelor's students from the town of Hamar.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Since I then had the option to okay, should I go to university to get a bachelor in game design, or just skip the school part and just jump straight to making the game and just learning with the bachelor students who were already the best of their class, since all the best class students just went to the collective as well. So I figured it was best to, I guess, to just join the elite kids instead of going the normal route where there usually are like 20% of the students that make it anyway. So I guess it was just a better environment to be in, just more focused. So yeah, just jump straight to that. And that's when the Klang 1 people know, as for the finished game, that's when that started for real. And I believe it was about a two and a half year development cycle from that point before the final product in September 2016. Yeah.


Larry Kilgore III:

Wow. I think that's pretty cool too, even as a young student, for you to be able to win those awards and get that confidence to know you have what it takes to just go and make what you want to do. Because I'm sure in a lot of different fields, there are people that struggle with that. Like, "Can I do what I want to do or do I need to go to school and study it some more before I do it?" And it's cool to hear that you were able to get that confidence boost to believe in yourself and join the collective and move forward with it.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. The collective kind of served as the school, especially in regards to the whole feedback thing and realizing early that your design is going to be viewed very differently based on people's backgrounds and games, and their tastes. So while I skipped school, I felt that the environment I was in was still very school-like, so it wasn't like I just instantly knew everything from day one. It was a learning experience for sure.


Clinton Bader:

I actually have kind of a tangential question here. A lot of stuff that I'm interested in is that you're often talking about how your country, and maybe the culture of your country, kind of influences your life and what's going on with you. Why do you think Norway in particular, because coming from esports, I'm well aware that Norway is very, very big into not just esports, but video gaming in general. And you're even talking about the fact that the government is kind of involved in these things pretty substantially. What is it about Norway, do you think, that has lended itself to being so influential and interested in video games?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, I suppose it kind of comes back to that whole small country thing, where not a whole lot of things are happening. And we're also, at the same time, a country with a lot of spending power. So I guess, comparatively, for the whole world, then video games is actually kind of a very expensive hobby that just kind of was a very natural fit since like... Especially if you live up north in the country, it's just dark all the time and it's really cold. Nothing happens. So when you then again, have this super magic thing called video games, that's just like this light, a beacon that you can play inside your warm, cozy house. Of course, a lot of people is going to gravitate towards that. And I guess for whole esports thing, I definitely see some Norwegian names mentioned in the top brackets, but I guess maybe that is a very Norwegian thing, where I feel like the average Joe is not exceptional in any way. But you have those few people that just so hyper specialize, that nothing but world champion is good enough for them.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

And yeah, I guess the local word for that is fire souls, ildsjel, which we tend to use for those types of people. People with just a burning pursuit of one thing.

Larry Kilgore III:

Got to be the best of whatever they do.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Oh yes.


Larry Kilgore III:

So Klang 2 came out recently, congrats on that. We've played it so far and it looks amazing. When did you know that you wanted to do a sequel, that Klang was what you wanted and it was well received, and that doing another one was the direction that you wanted to go?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

I guess it was a natural transition in a sense, since back then I was working with a publisher called Snow Cannon, and it was always in the cards that we were going to port Klang 1 to consoles. So even after Klang 1 shipped, I was still kind of stuck in the whole Klang universe, still working with Klang stuff. I even spent almost six months making a director's definitive edition of the first game with lots of new content, even. And then it finally came to a point where I had finished most of that content and it was up to the publisher to then, "Hey, make it run on the consoles. It's your turn now." And that was going to take some time. And I figured in the meantime, what if I then started work on a... Oh, what's the word? A companion piece to that game, which was supposed to just be a more simplified, arcady, rhythm game where you hit circles and stuff, and you might see what I'm going with this.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

And then, that was progressing per pretty well, but the port was not progressing so well. And it came to a point where I realized, "Oh, the console port actually isn't happening." Then this companion piece I was working was kind of losing its legs, since the main thing is supposed to support is not happening so, "Oh, okay. We got a choice to make here." And luckily, the feedback I had received from the prototype and stuff was pretty positive. And I also felt I had some unfinished business with rhythm games in general, since there were some criticisms of that aspect in particular with the first game. So I was like, "Okay, I have a lot of experience with rhythm game now, so maybe I should just actually make a very focused one and make it really good this time so that I can then, when Klang 2 is finally finished, I can move on with a sense of peace that I made a very good rhythm game this time."


Larry Kilgore III:

You mentioned working with Snow Cannon Games for the first one, and I believe you self-published Klang 2. Was the issue with the porting and some of those things the reason that you decided to self-publish Klang 2?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. Shortly summarized, things just didn't really work out. But also not necessarily anything specific to that specific publisher, but I feel a thing with a lot of publishers in general is that a lot of the things they are supposed to do for you still involves you. So like, "Okay, we're going to promote this thing, but we are going to need assets from you." And just realized there's going to be a lot of overlap either way, and a lot of publishers also might find themselves struggling with getting attention from press when the developer is not there, because talking to the developer is more interesting, etc., etc. Especially when I wasn't working with some of the big boys like Devolver or something, I just kind of came to the conclusion that I probably should just do it myself and just take the cut. It might be more work, but I'll also learn more in the process. And I also have more freedom and there are less people to answer to, as well. So just less clutter, essentially.


Larry Kilgore III:

Were there any things that happened, as far as self-publishing, that having dealt with a publisher before you didn't really know were things that you needed to learn and work through?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, of course I learned a lot working with them, so I'm not bitter about the experience or anything. But yeah, it was especially just a lot of marketing fundamentals, staying on message is important, how to formulate the press releases and just being very aware of how you are perceived. Yeah, just the basic fundamentals, essentially, learning that it's all important.


Clinton Bader:

So, Klang 2 is out now. I'm kind of curious how you feel about it, how the reception's been, how the general vibe, I guess, would be so far. Personally, I've already told you that I'm actually really digging the game, but I want to get your view of how things are going on your end.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. I'm very happy that the consensus, at least so far, seems to be that it's a very solid game. The reviews and the feedback are like, "Okay, it's good. Maybe even great." Because with Klang 1, the thing that distraught me a bit there was just how divisive it was. I got reviews as far as up as nine, but I also had as low as 3.8 out of 10 and stuff. And I was like, "Oh, I'm not a fan of that mass divide." And at least now it seems to be very consistent in the seven to eight range. It's like, okay, it's very good. Arguably, it doesn't have that super messy spark thing that makes it truly special in the eyes of a certain type of gamer. But at least it's very solid and fun, which I feel is the most important thing, especially if you're going to be playing it for a long time.


Larry Kilgore III:

I know with Klang 2, bLiNd did the music for Klang 1 and he's definitely a big part of Klang 2 as well, but you got some more artists involved as well. Was that a conscious decision that you just want to add more people, or did you add so many tracks that you just needed to be able to reach out to more artists, or how did that come about?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah, I guess just varieties, a spice of life, I suppose. And also, when I was catering the game more towards... When you just look at it, it looks more like a contemporary rhythm game. So I figured it would also be nice to match some of the expectations. People just expect songs from many different artists. It's just kind of a genre tradition and it just helps making things feel more varied. I feel it would just be nice to shake things up a bit, but bLiNd of course was still absolutely the main audio collaborator. Also, in terms of the sound effects and how actually his name, bLiNd, actually has been the theme for the story as well, so it's still very much his universe. And the guest artists are a form of complimentary feature, essentially. So it also has their own little tiny part of the lore as well, as to how there are guest artists in this universe.


Clinton Bader:

Well, that's so cool. I see how that ties in with the big eye at the beginning and all that stuff. I actually really like that. I actually have kind of a follow-up question. So you talked about adding more artists, and then way earlier on, you talked about liking StepMania and those kind of things. So if people don't know, StepMania was kind of just basically a Dance Dance Revolution.... I don't know if port is the right word for it, but you could add in kind of your own stuff. And it was maybe moddable, for lack of a better word. Is that something you could ever see Klang going towards, where people could create their own songs and their own patterns for the game? Is that something you've ever thought about?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

That was in the back of my mind a lot when I was designing Klang 2, actually. And the groundwork for it has actually already been done, so that I've already made tests to see that, okay, will it be possible to make your own beat maps for Klang 2 and implement your own music, and even your own environment art as well? But one of the... Well, I guess the two major reasons why it's not available yet is that, of course, when I first launched the game, I wanted to be judged off our own work, like me and the composers that actually specifically attributed to the game. And also to not be struck with potential legal issues right after launch, because when people mod stuff, they like to blend it with other stuff that isn't theirs.


Clinton Bader:

Yeah.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

So one of the scenarios I feared was that, let's say I released the game out with modding tools from day one and boom, all of a and people have modded in music from other rhythm games. And then I get hit with a cease and desist from those rhythm game makers like, "Hey, why is our song in your game? (beep) you." And then the whole narrative just becomes about that this game got sued rather than, "Hey, this game is really good and cool." And of course, the dreaded modders that would just like to put Mario and Zelda into everything. And then you have Nintendo and the really big-wigs coming in to the point where it would actually be a huge problem. Though, I feel if I wait long enough, at least if the modders then did that, let's say six months from now where you can find a lot of footage and material from the main base game that, "Okay, hey guys that was a mod, I did not steal your work. Don't Sue me." Essentially just to settle that.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

And also, with the console versions also coming, which is far less likely to have modding support for obvious reasons. And I wanted all the versions of the game, at least launched roughly in the same period of time to provide the same experience, since I feel it would be cheating the players a bit if they bought the console version and then the PC version was way more feature-rich. Yeah. It would just feel kind of off. So at least during the first few months, I wanted to be providing the same thing.


Larry Kilgore III:

I would say at the same time too, there are plenty of games that do that. You look at, especially role-playing games, The Elder Scrolls or Skyrim in particular, where you can play it on consoles, but the PCs got all the mods and all the things you can do on it. So I think it's something that obviously, if you were patient about it and make sure you do it right, that you could still do, but I certainly understand that not wanting to be sued on day one. So what's next for you, Tom? Do you have another project you want to work on, are you going to develop more content, are you still working on trying to figure out if you can make mods work for Klang 2, is there a Klang 3 in the works?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

I'm still somewhat in the marketing mode for the game, where I'm just going to do a bit of additional work to make sure that it finds an audience before I potentially leave it behind. So one of the measures I took was I actually got the game working in the browser and I then published it on Newgrounds today.


Larry Kilgore III:

Okay.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah. It's playable on Newgrounds right now.


Larry Kilgore III:

Klang 2?


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Yeah.


Clinton Bader:

Oh, sick.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Or the demo of Klang 2 is playable on Newgrounds. And then, of course it is the question whether I'll be making official mod support, since I guess another reason I didn't touch upon is that the beat map tool, while it is in the game and available, it's so user unfriendly that I can't in good conscious give it to people, because it's robust and it gets the job done, but only I can use it because I designed it and I did not design it with user friendliness in mind at the time. So I got to then go back and spend a few weeks, at least, to just polish it up and remove the bugs that I know how to walk around, so I didn't bother fixing them. But I can't expect the end user to be that patient. But yeah, I definitely expect to be somewhat in a marketing mode for Klang 2 until new year's and then I guess I'll make the decision based on the reception of the game and how well it did, how urgently I have to find something else.


Larry Kilgore III:

Well, Tom, it has been a pleasure having this conversation with you. We've learned a lot. Thank you for joining us here on Pixelsmiths.


Tom-Ivar Arntzen:

Likewise, thank you so much for having me. It was a lot of fun.


Clinton Bader:

Thanks Tom.


Larry Kilgore III:

For reference, Klang is spelled K-L-A-N-G. The songs used in this episode are from the Klang and Klang 2 original soundtracks and were composed and performed by bLiNd. Klang and Klang 2 are both available now on Steam and Klang 2 is also available for consoles. Find out more about Tom at his website, tinimations.net. That's T-I-N-I-M-A-T-I-O-N-S.net. And follow him on Twitter @tinimations. Pixelsmiths is brought to you by Podcamp Media, where we provide branded podcast production services for businesses. Podcampmedia.com. Executive producer is Dusty Weis, associate producer is Gabriel Miller, and I oversee editing and production.


Clinton Bader:

And you can follow me, Clinton Bader, on twitter @paperthinhere and on twitch at twitch.tv/paperthinhere.


Larry Kilgore III:

Thanks for tuning into Pixelsmiths. I'm Larry Kilgore III.


Clinton Bader:

And I'm Clinton 'Paperthin' Bader.






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