Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Patrick Garde0
Interview with Janne and Markus Kallio of ODDROK
We were able to chat with Janne and Markus Kallio of ODDROK, a small game development studio based in Finland. We wanted to get to know the developer behind Power Hover after reviewing the game recently. We talked about their history, game development, lessons from their first titles, and what’s next for them, among others.
Could you share a bit of history of ODDROK?
ODDROK is a small, two developer game studio from Finland. In the year 2014, we were both working at ROVIO on a little airplane game called RETRY.
After RETRY was globally released, we decided it was time to try something on our own. So, we left Rovio shortly after and started planning forming our own game studio. And then, about year later, on 2nd of November 2015, ODDROK started business. We launched our first game: POWER HOVER in December 2015.
You have a unique name. How did you arrive at it?
It was a long and hard struggle to come up with a name, most of the initial names turned out to be taken by other companies or we were unhappy with them for some other reason.
After months of back and forth between dozens of names, we finally decided to go with ODDROK. It’s unique so we could secure the websites and what not, and it nicely represents us: a bit different game studio.
Speaking of names, you share the same surname with the other half of the team, Markus. Do people always ask if you two are related?
Quite often, we share the same surname KALLIO, but we are not related (as far we know), though we totally relate on our interest in game development and the way we work.
By the way, KALLIO means bedrock in Finnish, hence the odd ROK.
What are the pros and cons of being an independent gaming studio based in Finland?
I think it’s pretty much same as anywhere. It’s just everything is bit colder and bit more expensive in Finland.
Quite heavy bureaucracy
Expensive country, for example the cost of the offices alone are quite high. At the moment, we are both working from our home-offices to save a little on the rent.
Supportive community, small and big companies are equally willing to help/share information if asked.
When did you decide that you want to get into game development?
Markus: I personally have always been fascinated by video games from the first time I saw bunch of blurry pixels move on a computer screen in the early 90’s. I made my first games on QBasic when I was around 12. As I grew up, I worked on mods and tinkered with graphics software until in the early 2000 I got my first job as a graphics designer in a game development company Redlynx. My first released game was Pathway to Glory: Ikusa Island.
Janne: I started playing games when my older brother got MSX around the mid 80s. Later during middle school, I wrote my first game and I’m still on that road. A bit over ten years ago, right after graduating, I got my first job on the gaming industry.
Do you have favorite games that served as an inspiration?
For POWER HOVER: Another world, Sonic, Starfox certainly. All those early day Nintendo/Sega/Capcom/Konami games will always serve as an inspiration for us.
We’ve been following the indie circles in awe: so many inspiring and interesting games popping up every day!
You’ve worked on a couple of games before Power Hover. Any lessons you’ve learned from the first two titles (Trials Evolution and RETRY)?
We both have worked on several other titles earlier, those two most likely are the biggest ones though.
The biggest lesson from those two games is that the core game is everything: even the simplest game mechanic, done really well, can support the whole game. Once you get the foundation ready, you can just built on that.
Power Hover is not your ordinary action game. How did you come up with the gameplay idea?
POWER HOVER is one of those games that design themselves, we had quite extensive prototyping phase: the game originally started as a car game, then it evolved into a downhill skiing game, until finally we arrived to this final iteration: level based, inertia free hoverboarding with a wild camera system.
As soon as we got the core mechanics done, the rest of the game followed quite naturally.
There is of course lot of downsides in this kind of process, as we had to redo large portions of the game quite a few times.
The game got an 86/100 rating from Metacritic and we even rated it 4.5 stars on our review. Did you expect to receive positive response from critics?
Well, you never know, you are so close to your own game that, at times, it really feels like you’re blind to both flaws and strengths of the game.
All in all, just before the release I think we were both really happy and proud with the product we crafted. Then getting the verification of that feeling in the form of positive reviews and support from the players has been really great.
At the time of our review, Power Hover is available only on the iOS platform. Are you planning to release it on other platforms?
Yes, at the moment we are working on Android version of the game. We are considering other platforms like Steam in the future, but right now we are focusing on mobile platforms.
What game engine did you use to make the game?
We used Unity3D.
What’s next for Oddrok?
Well, as it seems like we won’t go bankrupt in the next 6 months, we are busy working with the first content update for POWER HOVER, it should be ready sometimes in FEBRUARY 2016. Android version might be out bit earlier.
We are also in the planning phase on the next game, after all that’s why we started the company: to make games!
Lastly, any final words to our readers?
Keep playing and creating!
Proto shots from the past: