Developer Interview: 10 Questions for Morten Sandholt

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When I was a child, my family and I often went to Denmark for vacation. That had three reasons: First of all, Denmark is a really beautiful country with wonderful dunes and beaches, secondly, the Danish people are great and their language is adorable (I’ll never forget the sentence “fang meg hvis du kan” – “catch me if you can”.) and last but no least – we lived in Northern Germany, so it was a short trip. 😀

Nowadays, I appreciate the country for its culture, from the gorgeous architecture to the great Android Games. Responsible for this (the games, not the architecture) is Morten Sandholt, amongst others, who developed games like Silvester’s Band, Front Runner and Billy’s Hill. I’m very excited to get to know him!

Interview by Frederik Schrader.

10 Questions for Morten Sandholt

1. Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I’m Morten Sandholt, an independent developer of interactive experiences for the web and mobile. I collaborate with people on various projects. My primary collaboration is with my brother Jeppe on our Uncle Handsalt universe for kids.

2. What made you want to be a game developer?

It kind of happened by chance. I made a couple of single player mods for a game called Far Cry while I was studying music. Crytek, the creators of Far Cry, noticed my work and asked me to join their studio.

3. What platforms do you develop games for and why?

Currently I am developing for the web with Adobe Flash and for mobile using Adobe AIR. Previously I worked around 5 years with big teams on games for PC, XBOX 360 and Playstation 3. The web and mobile are great platforms for independent developers, so that is what appeals to me right now.

4. What are your experiences in porting games between two platforms?

I program everything in ActionScript, so it is relatively easy to get apps up and running both in the web browser and on mobile devices.

5. How do you get inspiration for a game?

I’m good at imagining things so I literally have visions/day dreams where I see myself interacting with the app. Anything can trigger these; conversations with people, playing a game, reading an article…

6. How long does it take for you to write a game from start to finish?

I have worked on projects with production times from 2 weeks to 3 years, so it depends entirely on the project. I have set aside 4 months full time for the current Uncle Handsalt project.

7. What are the biggest technical challenges when you develop a game?

Dealing with different screen sizes can be challenging. Getting good performance across all devices is time consuming. But to be honest the biggest challenges in development are not technical, they are usually design related.

8. What do you think the future of gaming will look like?

I am not sure we will see another generation of gaming consoles in the traditional sense. Mobile devices are the next generation of „consoles“ that you can connect to your TV and game controllers. I also have huge hopes for services like OnLive and GaiKai that simply streams a game from a server to any device that can display video and sends back the keypresses etc. from the user.

9. What is your favourite game at the moment and why?

I got addicted to Wordfeud over Christmas. I want to do an asynchronous multiplayer game too! Probably I should get Mass Effect 3 for my XBOX 360. I loved the interactive storytelling in the first two. Looking forward to the Double Fine Adventure too.

10. What is your advice for new developers?

Learn the basics of programming. Then create a small Flash game or mobile app and release it. Emphasis on SMALL and RELEASE. I am talking about a ridiculously small idea. A 1 level game or whatever… but something that you WILL be able to finish without losing your motivation. Going through all the small steps in the process from idea to shipped product is super-important for new developers.

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