This is big! Mikko “Mikki” Rautalahti, a dear friend and a talented writer who has worked on hit games like Alan Wake and Quantum Break, has joined the Druidstone team! With Mikki on board the rest of us can concentrate on game mechanics, levels and balancing, while Mikki is stabbing away at the story, writing missing dialogue lines, filling gaps, and do what is necessary to make the characters and the world really come to life. Mikki and I have a long history and the idea of working together has always been on the back of my mind. Previously other projects and timing has prevented this, but luckily the planets finally aligned… So, without further ado I’ll pass the mike to Mikki and let him introduce himself!
Let me start off by talking a little bit about how we got here. In a lot of ways, this feels like the culmination of a long process: I’ve known Petri for a good long while now — we both worked on Alan Wake together at Remedy, back in the previous decade — but we haven’t actually had a chance to work together directly after those days. When he and the Almost Human gang started working on Grimrock, I was very much into it; it was a lovely union of the classic and the modern, and it was executed with what I thought was exceptional skill and clarity of vision.
We briefly discussed some potential collaboration at that point, but Grimrock really didn’t end up being the kind of game where my services were needed. Over the years since, there have been a bunch of different ideas and concepts. I was still working at Remedy at the time, and their office was right next to Ctrl Alt Ninja’s, so we’d see each other regularly. (Not sure what the difference between Almost Human and Ctrl Alt Ninja is? In practice, the answer is “not much.” It’s mostly just a business thing.)
So every so often, Petri would go, “hey, we have something new we’re working on, wanna come over and see what you think?” And then he’d show me something clever and exciting they’d worked up, and we’d talk about it. The idea of working together on something often came up, but they were in an inconvenient phase with their work, or I was way too busy with something else, and it just didn’t come to pass.
Until now. Now the stars are right, the words of power have been spoken, and a pact has been made, and here I am, just working on Druidstone like it ain’t no thing.
But it is a thing. I’ve been in this racket for a long while, and I’ve been involved in a lot of projects. Some of them I genuinely loved and believed in, others I didn’t; some I worked hard on, but you will never see anything about them, because they didn’t get made for one reason or another. It’s a tough business. For me, Druidstone stands out from that crowd. It’s not a big AAA production, and that means there’s very low latency in decision-making — there’s a small roomful of people, and if they think something is good, that’s it, done, decided. There’s no external validation required, no notes from the IP owner’s marketing department, no brand new executive producer on the publisher side suddenly upending everything because they just got appointed and God forbid they fail to make a splash. There’s just the people in that room, working hard to ship a game they really give a crap about, that they have a personal stake in.
I don’t mean to romanticize indie game making too much. I know making games is never easy; indie, AAA, whatever, creative labor is just super hard, period. But for me, right now, Druidstone’s exactly the sort of thing I want to do. I’m enjoying the immediacy of it. I like the elegance of its design, how the combat works, and I like that it’s also a brightly colored fantasy game. It kind of wears its heart on its sleeve; it’s very sincere about what it is. I like that we can make it funny and cool and weird. I like that it’s not just something people make because you have to do something, and it might as well be this. It’s being made with passion.
That’s something I can get behind.
I am, of course, coming into the project at the tail end of its development. A lot of effort has already gone into building the story; Petri and Janne Sundqvist in particular have been working on it. Still, with all the critical development work being done, it’s fair to say the story track needs some extra love. Somebody really needs to bring it home, make sure all the pieces fit together, take a look at things with a fresh eye, polish it all up. So there’ll be some heavy lifting involved, but I think we’ll end up with something that’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot going on in Menhir Forest, and I look forward to showing you a secret or two.