Hello, everyone! I’m Uni Dahl, the developer of The Silent Age. The mobile version of our game has won the Casual Connect Indie Prize, the Best Sound Design as well as Best Artistic Achievement at Spilprisen and had crazy success with players, so this year we decided to branch out to other platforms. We didn’t want to be one of those games that’s just a direct port from mobile to Steam, so we put a lot of work into totally revamping the game and adding new features. What we’re most proud of is all the voice work we added and how awesome the game looks in ultra HD.

Our team is based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, which is known as being the happiest country in the world. It’s also the home of the Little Mermaid, Carlsberg beer, five million people and 28 million pigs...we love our pork.

I’ll be joined today by - Linda Randazzo, our lead programmer (/u/randi_lee) - Anders Petersen, writer (/u/ape_houseonfire) - Thomas Ryder, designer (/u/thomas_ryder)

We’ll be answering questions from now, 1 p.m. EST, through 3 p.m. EST. If you have a question about mobile app creation, the game itself, bringing mobile games to PC, being a woman in STEM, or anything else The Silent Age related, go for it!

Our proof: Here is are links to our Tweet about this AMA on our official Twitter page: https://twitter.com/u9i/status/611572681901768704 https://twitter.com/houseonfiredk/status/611562774200758272

Here are our Reddit accounts linked on The Silent Age's official website: http://thesilentage.com/contact/

EDIT Alright, we've reached the end of this session. Thank you all for participating. We've thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the office this evening answering your questions. We'll of course answer all remaining questions.

Cheers Uni

Comments: 70 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

Stuifiee29 karma

Pretend I'm someone who has never heard of The Silent Age, how would you describe it in one sentence?

houseonfiredk54 karma

The Silent Age is an atmospheric point-and-click adventure in which you travel between 1972 and an apocalyptic present on a quest to save mankind from extinction.


cat_with_giant_boobs10 karma

You don't have to pretend with me.

houseonfiredk6 karma

You can check it out on Steam, Mac, iOS or Android. If you like adventure game, it's a unique take on it, i think :)


IndieGameGirl8 karma

I was one of the 7 million people who played The Silent Age on mobile. I really enjoyed it. What did you revamp and how did you decide what to revamp in the PC version?

ape_houseonfire8 karma

Due to size limitations and support for older mobile devices, we couldn't go nuts with resolution of the graphics on the mobile versions of the game. Also, we never in a million years figured so many people would play our little game, so voice acting never really entered our minds as a possibility. However, after the success of the mobile version and getting proper publisher support, we suddenly had the ability to do those things. So in short: The PC version has super high res graphics and voice acting.


houseonfiredk5 karma

Sorry, the answer above came from my personal account, and not the House On Fire account. We're sort of new at this group posting thing. :)


IndieGameGirl3 karma

Was it a challenge finding the right voice actors for your characters? I.e., did you know how you wanted the characters to sound when you were searching for talent, or did you discover this along the way? Also, how did the addition of voice acting change the way the game felt from your perspective as a developer who had been working on it for so long only knowing your characters' personality through text?

houseonfiredk5 karma

Hey IndieGameGirl. As the lead writer I can say with confidence that, yes - it was a challenge. :)

Confession: I'm a very slow reader, and the reason for that is that I act out what I'm reading inside my head in real time. It's something I've done since childhood, and though I've tried to "unlearn" this habit many times, I've never succeeded. For most things it's a curse, but for this it was actually practical, since toiling over the story and dialogue for months on end, I already knew what each character sounded like in my head. The real challenge was finding actors with a close enough similarity. Or actors who would simply kill it with a great alternative take on a character.

The first round of casting involved almost 30 actors trying their hand at several characters. There were 10-20 auditions per character, so I spent several days listening to almost 200 of them.

But even before we got that far, Thomas and I did sit down and discuss it on several occasions. For a game where the music plays such a huge part in telling the story and creating that all-important sense of intense unease and solitude that we wanted you to feel when playing it, we worried that adding voice acting to it could very well break the tone completely. I think that the creative decision (which was really spurred on by financial realities too :)) to keep Joe's thoughts/inner monologue in text and only voice the moments where he speaks out loud (i.e. talking to other characters), helped create a really good balance there.

I take it you haven't played the PC version yet, but if you have, what did you think of the voices (and do you think we managed to strike a proper balance)?


Stuifiee6 karma

What inspired you to name your company "House on Fire"?

houseonfiredk6 karma

I think it very much reflects our naive and eager state of mind when we first created the company :)


Stuifiee3 karma

I almost forgot - thank you for bringing it to Windows Phone, too! You've already covered quite a few platforms now, but are you planning on releasing it on any others?

houseonfiredk6 karma

Hi Stuifiee, it is really nice to know you are happy about the Windows Phone port :-) We would love to bring the game to other platforms, especially consoles. So we are looking into these possibilities. /Linda

bolt2strike3 karma

I've played the first chapter, but haven't gotten around to the second. Regardless, the story afaik is amazing. Did you get inspiration from anywhere for the story?

houseonfiredk3 karma

Actually I tried very hard to shy away from the obvious inspirations during the writing process (stories by Verne and other authors, movies like Back To The Future, 12 Monkeys, Triangle, Primer, Los cronocrímenes, etc. and games like Day Of The Tentacle, of course), mainly because I didn't want to inadvertently end up rehashing those ideas. Writing genre fiction, it's hard not to end up in a lot of the same places as it is, what with all the interesting conundrums of time travel always being at the centre of attention.

What I did have was a pretty good idea that I wanted to explore a facet of time travel that I hadn't seen other storytellers tackle a whole lot: The sad fact that if you're a successful time traveler and manage to right all the wrongs, nobody will ever know about it. None of your experiences will have happened, and all your trials and tribulations will have gone entirely unnoticed. You saved the world, and nobody is any the wiser. In the end, a time travel quest is an incredibly lonely one, and I wanted to show that.

Of course, this wouldn't work with an empowered and strong character, so that sense of melancholy and solitude was something I started imbuing Joe with very early in the process. So without giving too much away, with Thomas' introductory images showing Joe in all those menial low-level jobs, I wanted to make the story come full circle at the end, really hammering home the recurring theme of loops and having that sense of bitter-sweetness sink in.


Tkwk332 karma

How are you people? I'll be honest, first time I hear about the game or you guys. But from the responses you're giving...

I really like your work philosophy and how invested and honest you all seem to be. You're not simply porting for more coverage, it can be notice you care about the industry, PC and mobile gaming. And you treat the game with love. Passionate is the word I was looking for.

After having a shit year with game releases you're the kind of developers that bring me new hope for videogames.

Thanks for being like this, we need more of you. Keep up the good work!

I don't really have a question this time but wanted to let you know :)

houseonfiredk4 karma

Hi Tkwk33, thanks for your message. It was very heart warming to read it :) We are all passionate about what we do, so I guess that is why we care so much about the game and the industry. I personally dreamed of making video games since I was 6 years old and got to know my first computer, the C64 (or Commodore 128 to be precise). This is not really an answer to your non-question, but felt you might like to know ;)


Illusion132 karma

Do we just buy the game? Or are there a ton of microtransactions involved and we'd have to spend like 200 bucks to even progress anywhere in the game?

houseonfiredk10 karma

Hi Illusion13. Thank you for your question. The microtransactions is probably why PC gamers are so wary of games coming from a mobile background. I can assure you The Silent Age is a premium game. Pay once and enjoy the experience. And it's the same business model across all platforms.


Azr791 karma

This is the only game i enjoyed playing on mobile, are you considering making new games?

houseonfiredk2 karma

Hi Azr79. We're all here super glad that people are enjoying the game. I guess it's not so typical for a mobile game :) I think launching it on Steam and PC made good sense. We'll definitely be working on new games. You can follow both House on Fire as well as me and Thomas on Twitter, follow The Silent Age's facebook page or even sign up to our newsletter on The Silent Age's website to keep informed.

Links can be found on http://thesilentage.com/contact/


drocktapiff921 karma

What was the biggest challenge bringing SA to PC? As a developer what is your best pieces of advice you could give to devs looking to bring their mobile games to PC or vise versa?

houseonfiredk1 karma

The biggest challenge in bringing The Silent Age to PC from a developers point of view has been redesigning the menu and input controls to fit with the new platform, and also adding voice acting to the game. We used Unity3D to develop our game, so the mobile game could already be built to a PC version right from the beginning. The main thing you need to focus on then is to not just do a port, but change the game so that it fits the new platform. For example by changing the main menu and level select screen to fit the PC version. /Linda

houseonfiredk1 karma

I can add, that my best advice working on multiple platforms is to go from PC to Mobile, not the other way around. If you're planning all platforms, go PC first. Games coming from Mobile often have a hard time on e.g. Steam. I guess I understand where they're coming from. Games are often more casual on Mobile, and not always suitable for PC.


Blitz12441 karma

What advice would you recommend to learn coding such as java? Any input would be appreciated, thanks.

randi_lee4 karma

coding such as java? Any input would be appreciated, thanks.

Hi Blitz1244, that is actually a good question. I would recommend following some online tutorials, that get you right into the action, i.E. stuff happens on the screen when you compile and run your code. When I started learning Java I had the most fun when I was actually coding, and getting "Hello, World" print out on the screen. It is much easier to learn something when you have fun doing it. But once you know the basics, you need to learn the theory as well, such as inheritance, incapsulation etc. /Linda

houseonfiredk2 karma

That was my first reply on Reddit, and on my own account, so sorry for the bad formatting :) /Linda

twerkforlucifer1 karma

What advice do you have on making software or games more successful? How do you make your program stand out from the rest?

houseonfiredk2 karma

I think the most important thing is actually to stand out! What i mean is make something unique, and be exceptionally good at something. With The Silent Age I think it's the visuals, writing and atmosphere that makes it unique. But above all, make sure you actually think it's fun yourself.


drake07271 karma

What type of regression testing could be carried over from the Steam game codebase to the Mobile platform codebase?

Who is the generally the technical QA for games like these?

houseonfiredk1 karma

We don't have a system in place as such. When making updates we played through the game repeatedly testing the entire game. The Silent Age was actually developed and tested a lot on PC, so the codebase is pretty much the same on both mobile and PC, except for the control schemes (which of course caused a lot of headaches). Anyway, for us QA was done by repeatedly playing through the game ad nauseum.


Arized691 karma

How long does it usually take for a game to be created?

houseonfiredk2 karma

It actually took us up to 3 years to develop The Silent Age. But a game like Neon Zone, our other title from House on Fire took 6 months. So it really depends on the complexity and size of the game. People often underestimate how much work goes into a game.

But after the game is actually done, you're only half way through. Bringing the game out to people, marketing and PR, etc is in itself just as much work. As we learned the hard way with Neon Zone, just pressing "Publish" on The App Store wasn't really enough. You have to do the legwork after release, and that work actually starts long before releasing. Ideally everyone should know about your game before it's even out.


andyrcraft1 karma

How did you generate an audience for The Silent Age? Or better yet, how did you create awareness of your game and of your company in the beginning, when nobody had heard of you beforehand?

houseonfiredk2 karma

When we started The Silent Age we also created a website with a blog. This must have been the single best thing we could have done. Somehow, with the 5 daily visitors we had, one of them was from Apple. They liked what they were seeing, and it's no secret that getting featured on their App Store will have an incredible impact on your launch.

But the website can't stand alone. It is really important to create teasers, screenshots, show work in progress and always have material ready for the press if they want to do a piece on you or your game.

When we launched The Silent Age Episode One on iOS, it was actually by accident. We had set a launch date way into the future while we were planning a launch campaign, but that date came and we had forgotten to move it. So one day the game suddenly popped up out of nowhere. Marketing-wise you'd think that this would be a disaster, but it actually made it really interesting for a lot of bloggers to write about it. It became kind of this cool new thing that nobody had heard about before and the rumor spread like wildfire.

So I guess the short answer is - get noticed by Apple - and be incredibly lucky.

While developing Episode Two we kept an active blog and kept facebook and later twitter updated, so our community grew gradually over time. We also attend conferences and award shows. Finally, prior to launch of Episode Two, we hired a PR agency to help us reach out to the press.

Key takeaways: Make material that people can share and enjoy. Teasers, trailers, sketches, anecdotes. You never know when you meet "the right person" that will bring you awareness. Whether its through your blog or at a conference.


Hophop2411 karma

There are many types of mustaches. I see you went with the Walrus mustache on the main character in The Silent Age. What was your decision making process here, and why did you rule out other popular 70's versions (for example, the handlebar or the chevron?

houseonfiredk1 karma

Joe, the main character actually sports a chevron. When designing his face I tried to make a mix of the two main characters in the 1973 science fiction movie Westworld: https://johnrieber.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/westworld5.jpg

Joe didn't initially wear a moustache. It started as a joke in a blogpost on our website in which we wanted to show our support to the Movember movement, and we kinda liked it so much that we decided to keep it: http://thesilentage.com/blog/2011/12/december-update/

I'm a great fan of facial hair myself, and the Seventies is a treasure chamber of great moustaches and beards. Here's a blogpost I wrote, suggesting alternative moustaches for Joe: http://thesilentage.com/blog/2014/11/joes-mos/

Intai19931 karma

The only game that I liked on Android. Thanks for all your efforts and I wish you luck with your next releases.

Are you going to make games with the same genre or are you considering something new?

houseonfiredk1 karma

Thank you Intai1993. We're glad you liked the game. Ideally we don't want limit ourselves to just point and click adventure games, so we'll definitely give other genres a go. Our first title, Neon Zone, was actually a puzzle game, and we have lots of ideas for what to do next.

If you want to stay updated you can follow us on facebook, twitter or just sign up to our newsletter, where we'll announce new stuff. You can find links here:


drocktapiff921 karma

What is the biggest difference the average user would see between the mobile version of SA and the PC version? Are they much different?

houseonfiredk1 karma

The biggest difference is the voice-overs. We had some very talented guys who put a lot of effort into making the characters really come to life.


thinkereer1 karma

What tools do you use for the development of your games? If you don't mind me asking such a thing of course.

houseonfiredk1 karma

I used to make games using SDL library, but since creating House on Fire we primarily work with Unity3D, because it has an editor, and frees up developers, as the creative side can work very independently in the engine. It also has a lot of things done for you.

I highly recommend it.


SexCop1 karma

How hard is it to publish a successful mobile title when you're on a market that is so heavily dominated by shitty free paywall games like Candy Crush or Clash of Clans?

houseonfiredk1 karma

I love your candid description. The answer is "very difficult". We really appreciate that Apple is making an effort to promote premium content. Otherwise we could say goodbye to a lot of really nice games, point and click adventures being one of them.

But to be fair, i did enjoy Boom Beach (which is just Clash of Clans in modern settings, isn't it?), and never felt the NEED to pay. But it did amaze me seeing the prices and realizing just how little i would get for tens if not hundreds of dollars i could spend, and that there are players willing to pay so much for games.


evil_conjoined_twin1 karma

Thank you for The Silent Age! I love it so much, I've replayed it several times because of the great story and the atmosphere. Then I tried to find similar books and movies, but had no success. Thus, my question is: what were your main sources of inspiration when you created the game?

houseonfiredk2 karma

Both Thomas and I are really into 70's cinema, so our main inspirations actually came from that era of filmmaking, rather than other games. It was a very interesting time, because the big studios were failing to captivate audiences and independent filmmakers were starting to crop up and beating the studio system with interesting films that did stuff that would never be allowed under the strict studio code. The result of that was that the scared studios gave a lot of talented young, visionary filmmakers carte blanche and budgets to do whatever they wanted, and out of that came some of the best sci-fi films of the century, like The Andromeda Strain, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Capricorn One, etc. which we took our main inspirations from.

Well, I say "we", but actually Thomas had already started the work when he brought me on board, and his artwork was already oozing that special sense of late 60's / early 70's paranoia and unease by the time he introduced me to the project. I really just piled on. The music was what really completed it, though. Those synthy soundscapes, for me, is the true character of the game. If you've ever listened to some of the soundtracks by Tangerine Dream, Vangelis or Pete Namlook you know the kind of intensity that served as inspirations.

Fun factoid: The look of Frank was actually inspired by Edger Froese of Tangerine Dream.



Any chance of bringing the game to Linux/SteamOS?

houseonfiredk2 karma

We originally planned to, but right now it does not work properly on Linux. We're working on fixing this, but i cannot give any promises as it very much depends on Unity's (the game engine we use) support for Linux.


trimmedporn1 karma

When are you coming more chapters for the mobile version?

houseonfiredk1 karma

Episode Two is the final chapter in the story of The Silent Age. We are very happy with the game as it is, and now we'd like to focus our time and energy on thinking up new universes and telling new stories. /Thomas