Hi hi.
It's been a while since I did an AMA so I'm back again.
I work for an indie mobile game and animation studio in a small Finnish city called Pori. In 2017 we were subcontracted to develop a game for a publisher, and ever since we started that project we dreamed of releasing our own mobile game.
About six months ago, I was hanging out with my friend Oku after one of his gigs. Oku hosts a weekly radio show here in Finland called Retroperjantai(Retro Friday) on one of the country's most popular radio channels Radio Nova. We got to talking about marketing and branding, and it got me wondering if anyone had ever made a mobile game specifically for a radio DJ before. I did a ton of research and couldn't find a single one.
So our team got to work on making a retro-style casual mobile game based around Oku's life as a successful DJ. The game also features appearances by Finnish dance music artists that Oku has made songs with in the past. We launched on the 16th and then put out an update on the 22nd to fix some immediate issues our players pointed out to us. Our plans for the future with this game include more artist appearances, better accessibility, more structure in terms of levels, and a way to customize your game's Oku.
You can download the game for Android here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nopia.okugame Or iOS here: https://apps.apple.com/app/id1475885860 Note: The game is not currently available in Asia.

As I mentioned in my post title, I am almost completely blind. I've been like this since birth. I never imagined myself working in the game industry, but when my studio hired me I was eager to come along. At first I was meant to just be a general office manager, but it became clear that I had the skills and passion to be a producer.
Finland's game industry is small but incredible. There are about 3,000 people officially working in the industry and it's a very welcoming, accepting community when it comes to gender, disability, race, sexuality, or anything else. We are also always very eager to help each other, give advice, and lend our time to newbies and people just getting started.
So, AMA about..any of the above! :)
Proof: https://imgur.com/a/puhD9bs

Comments: 383 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

butterboy451245 karma

How do you test your game if you can’t see it?

GrumpyFinn290 karma

I can see it if I put my phone directly against my face. We have relatively large UI for a mobile game, though I admit I think we need to make it more accessible. It's on the to-do list for the next update.

JigWig104 karma

What makes your game innovating?

GrumpyFinn78 karma

No one's ever made a mobile game for a radio DJ before, and incorporated artists directly into the story like we're trying to do. Our goal for the game is to incorporate more and more artists and grow the world as big as possible. There are narrative-driven games for the likes of BTS but there's nothing like what we're doing, and I think we've made a pretty cool marketing tool at worst and an innovative game idea at best!

SquareUltima46 karma

So the music makes it different from other runner games, or is there more to it?

GrumpyFinn20 karma

The backstory and the story in general. Those characters you see in the game are all real people.

LuckyJamnik-20 karma

I don’t see how is it innovative in any way.

Edit: downvote me fuckers, cause developer can’t explain their statements.

GrumpyFinn32 karma

You're entitled to your opinion. You don't have to agree with me.

Honest_Abe_180967 karma

What have been some challenges being a almost blind producer?

GrumpyFinn91 karma

Sometimes I miss minor graphical things. I think the biggest problem is actually mobility, so if we're at a conference I'll always need a bit of help. In the studio I don't think it presents itself often. Sometimes my eyes get tired but that's usually after a long day.

Honest_Abe_180924 karma

My eyesight is pretty bad too, I love technology and coding and I’m learning html, css, and JavaScript in school because I wanna be a programmer but I know my eyesight is gonna cause issues

GrumpyFinn50 karma

There was an article in our local paper about a totally blind guy who landed a job as a coder at a local IT company. I also know of a few blind women in tech doing code. It's only an issue if you let HR and management make it an issue.

rogert231 karma

A lot of mobile games are very obviously designed with the goal of getting gamers to open the app for a few seconds every couple of hours. These games contain only the minimum amount of satisfying gameplay or content necessary to drive that behavior in users.

Why is that? Not all of these games display ads. I assume it's because the monetization plan is to sell real-time location data to third parties, but I don't understand how just location data would be valuable. If ads are being shown, location data is useful, but as I said, a lot of these games don't display ads, so I don't see the value of the data.

---

Along that same line, what kinds of monetization options were presented to you? How did your team navigate situations where you expected that a different set of game mechanics might be less satisfying for your users but would present additional ways to monetize your user base? Or where making gameplay richer, more satisfying, or simply more convenient for users, would actually hamper your ability to generate revenue? Were there arguments? Did those discussions happen early in the design process, or after the core gameplay was settled, or at the end when you had a playable game?

I've been down this road with mobile apps myself and would love to hear how things played out with a different team (not to mention one from what I have to assume is a less-poisonously capitalist culture than the US).

GrumpyFinn34 karma

Hi! Sorry, didn't wanna half-ass this reply.
Those games exist, quite frankly, because there's a market for them. Not everyone wants a super deep, meaningful game experience. SOme people just want something to fiddle with on the tram or while they're waiting for something and there needs to be games for people like that. The ads are there because that generates money. People watch an ad, you get a few cents. Scale that to millions of people and you're doing pretty okay.
For us, we didn't want to do any "play to win." We will be adding IAPs later, but none of them will effect how you do in the game and will only be to customize your character and his surroundings. We've been judged a bit for this, but it's not something we feel comfortable with if we let people spend money to win.

rogert220 karma

I assume you meant "pay to win"?

At what point in the development process was that decision made? Was it one person's decision? What did you have to give up by making that choice? What did you gain?

GrumpyFinn14 karma

We all decided it as a team. Everything we do has to be agreed on by the team. It's one of the things I love most about the people I work on this game with. In theory i should be "the boss" here, but that's a recipe for disaster and not an effective way to lead.
We decided this from the get-go. It's just something we all feel can be predatory. We're probably losing money, but we've gained confidence in ourselves because we're standing up for what we believe in.

robdiqulous5 karma

Wait. Having a boss isn't an effective way to lead? Shit. Somebody tell literally every other company!

GrumpyFinn15 karma

You're misunderstanding me. Someone needs to always be the "leader", but when it comes to games you're working as a team. Everyone has a role and everyone deserves a say.

TheQwertyDude20 karma

What is the game about? And what other games are you planning?

GrumpyFinn29 karma

The idea is that you are Oku and you're late for a gig. You need to run to the venue, but there are these pesky ninjas, cars, and slow-walking grannies in your way. Along the way, some artist friends of yours give you power-ups and teach you new skills.

quequotion17 karma

Have you ever made a game for completely blind users? / How could that be done?

GrumpyFinn37 karma

Audio games exist and there's an entire forum online just for audio gamers! Definitely look them up if you're curious. With the right accessibility features, allowing screenreaders to work in-game and so on, it's amazing what's possible these days.

Nessius13 karma

I’ve got an almost non-stop Finnish PR bast on my LinkedIn (thanks Rovio!). Can you share a bit about life/work balance and dev culture in Finland game dev?

GrumpyFinn30 karma

I think it's a constant struggle, but I think it's something that studios have started to take a lot more seriously. Burnout is a huge problem still, but a lot of people have switched to thing like four-day work weeks or banning the idea of "crunch culture." At our studio, we really discourage against working yourself to death. The way we see if, a crunch is a sign of poor planning(unless there has been a critical technical failure).

Ragin_koala11 karma

What is the condition that makes you almost blind ?

GrumpyFinn22 karma

Autosomal congenital cataracts that went untreated.

Ragin_koala5 karma

Is there a treatment like in the more common cataract that affects the elderly or since it's been present in the developmental stage of sight there isn't much you can do about it?

GrumpyFinn18 karma

The difference is that. when the elderly develop cataracts, they've never had them before. All areas of their eyes have received and processed light since birth. SO they just need a new lens and things are back to normal.

Thepixelbaron10 karma

What advice would you give marketing teams who want to be more accessible to gamers with disabilities?

GrumpyFinn46 karma

Ignore Twitter "debates" and don't be afraid of offending people whose life revolves around being outraged. An estimated 25% of gamers have some kind of disability. You are only hurting your profits if you forego things like colorblind mode, larger UI, and so on.

OehoeDeUil10 karma

Why does the main character dodge the bras instead of collecting them?

GrumpyFinn8 karma

If people threw bras at you, would you collect them?

Kuivamaa9 karma

What are your favorite mobile games Made in Finland?

GrumpyFinn14 karma

I used to play Boom Beach a lot! Motionvolt also makes some pretty fun, casual mobile games too.

blastcat49 karma

Do you think we'll ever see an improvement in the mobile gaming scene in the near future? It has a terrible reputation for predatory F2P mechanics and exorbitant microtransactions and on top of that, the Google Play store is a complete mess.

GrumpyFinn11 karma

I hope so. I'd love to see a world where people can execute their awesome game ides without having to think about f2p and micro transactions or monetization at all, but it' s not cheap to make a game, and premium mobile games don't generate as much profit as f2p. In our case, we plan to have microtransactions but it won't be for anything that gives a player an advantage. This will limit our potential profits, but none of us want to be accused of being predatory.

unhappygounlucky9 karma

Since you are nearly blind your other senses must be nearly heightened. Whenever someone in Sweden opens a can of Surströmming can you smell it all the way at your house in Finland?

GrumpyFinn13 karma

Someone opened it once at a nearby office, and the whole block smelled terrible for a few hours. I'm not joking!

MsBlis6 karma

What is your advice to other game devs for making a game more accessible to players with disabilities? Are there resources they can look into if they don’t have someone like you on the team?

GrumpyFinn10 karma

The absolute best resource out there is this:
http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/
I recommend this website to anyone, absolutely anyone, developing a game. It breaks features down by level of difficult and disability and is as straightforward as it gets.

RESERVA425 karma

What are the major Finnish game developers? Rovio and Supercell? Do they trade programmers a lot? Are they centered in a certain geographic area?

GrumpyFinn7 karma

Supercell, Rovio, Remedy, Housemarque, etc. IGDA(the International Game Developers Association) has a cool little list: https://www.igda.fi/
People switch companies for various reasons. Not every company's culture fits everyone, sometimes people move, sometimes people just want a change. Sometimes people start out doing one thing and then realize their passion is somewhere else.
Helsinki region and Oulu has the most active scenes, but Tampere and Turku are also quite active.

tcinternet5 karma

Didn’t you do a post about being able to play a Pokémon game for the first time when Let’s Go came out? That was really cool, learned a lot about gamers with disabilities during that.

Here in the states, we had a commercial for The Xbox adaptive controller during the Super Bowl this year, which opened a lot of people to the concept of gaming that works for everyone . Is there a product you could tell us about that assists gamers with visual impairment?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

That Xbox controller is amazing, and I think everyone who advocates for accessibility was over the moon when that ad aired during the Super Bowl.
For us, its been more about in-game technology. That Unreal plugin that helps to make VR more blind-friendly was huge. More ans more companies are also just doing simple design changes, like larger UI and adjustable text size.

BonkeyCS5 karma

....but how will you read my comment?

GrumpyFinn32 karma

Science and magic.

Speculater5 karma

I was thinking of creating a VR game for the blind using 3D sound and haptic feedback. Is this something that is even achievable?

GrumpyFinn8 karma

Unreal Engine has a cool accessibility plugin thing for VR! I canät remember the name right now though

teethblock5 karma

What do you mean by “almost blind”? What’s your visus with best possible correction?

GrumpyFinn17 karma

Correction isn't pssible. Iw as born with cataracts. The Finnish government considers me 90% disabled. If I didn't want to work, I wouldn't need to, on paper.
When a child is born with cataracts, there is a three-month window to remove them without parts of the eye lsing their ability to develop. SO even though I ahd my cataracts removed in my 20s, my eye was done growing. So, while nothing is blocking those parts of my eye now and the light is reaching places it's never reached before, my eye will not magically start growing in those places.
Maybe, with stem cell research, this could be correctable in 20+ years time, but I'm not holding out on it.

teethblock7 karma

Thank you, it’s now a lot clearer. Although I’m now interested in about why would kids cataracts be operated as late as 20s in country with one of the best healthcare systems, I realize that might be a bit personal and not about what you’re here to talk about.

GrumpyFinn18 karma

The technology didn't exist when I was born. It's quite simple. :D and the surgery is utterly useless after the age of three months.

Lifeesstwange4 karma

How long did production take you?

PS: I played it and dig it. Love endless runner type games and the inter level mini games are great. Good luck, your story is inspiring!

GrumpyFinn7 karma

About four months in total, but we're going to keep working on it for as long as we can!

Hites_053 karma

Where do you see the Finnish mobile game industry in the next 5 years?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

I would hope that it would continue to grow, and that the larger studios would continue to invest back into the younger talents and ecosystems!

Shaggykorean3 karma

what candy bar do you eat when you feel you need a little extra energy to zing you thru the day?
also wish you all the success!

GrumpyFinn12 karma

I actually usually just reach for mixed fruit and nuts. But if I had to pick a bar, I'd say this: https://www.fazer.fi/tuotteet-ja-asiakaspalvelu/1605/fazerina-suklaapatukka-37-g/

iammoussteryes3 karma

Does a team help you by telling you whats happening on a screen? I really admire you.

Also, do you think the finnish game industry is as big as the others?

GrumpyFinn9 karma

Hey, thanks! Sometimes I need help, but it's not that often.
Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by "big". In a country of 5.5 million, a 3000-strong industry is quite large. Companies like Supercell, Rovio, Remedy etc have made huge contributions through taxation as well. It's big for Finland.

coope463 karma

If you’re almost totally blind why did you dye your hair? When I did mine I liked how it looked, what was the reasoning for you?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

I can see things when they're close up. If I take a selfie and zoom, I can see.

SquareUltima3 karma

What program was used to code the game?

GrumpyFinn7 karma

Unity! <3

OispaKalja3 karma

Miksi porilaisilla on niin huono maine?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

en tie :(

dcwither2 karma

What accessible games do you most admire? Did you draw anything from them to help make your game?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

I drew from things that I don't like more than things I like. My approach to games is to do things I don't feel others are doing, or to improve on their ideas. Larger UI, audio queues, colorblind-friendly graphics, etc

sanlys2 karma

Do you have an apk file to download directly? There is something wrong with my google account rn, and it sounds fun!

GrumpyFinn1 karma

Sorry, you'll have to go through the stores directly. What's the issue with your account? Maybe I can help you troubleshoot?

jpsulisz2 karma

Are there any specific challenges when it comes to mobile game development that aren't an issue for PC/Console game developers?

GrumpyFinn7 karma

I've never worked on the PC/console side, but I'd assume the thing we struggle with is the market. Most mobile game's monetization models involve in-app purchases or ads, so you've kind of got to always be thinking about that. With PC and console, you sell the actual game(with DLC sometimes of course).

DinoDinossaur2 karma

Why the game in the link isn't avaliable on Brazil?

GrumpyFinn4 karma

It's possible that we didn't open the link in Brazil. I will fix that for you first thing in the morning. I thought all of South America was open. I'll fix it!

SquareUltima2 karma

How large is your team?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

The team that worked on this game was 5. Our studio in total is 10.

Ggungabyfish2 karma

Hi! So is the gaming industry in Finland more laid back?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

I don't know if "laid back" is the right word. We still have deadlines, investors, etc. The big difference is that Finland in general has a very pro-worker culture, and the game industry is always looking for ways to avoid crunch and reduce burnout because it's a real problem. I know a lot of people doing four-day work weeks, for example, and it's growing in popularity.

1sweets2 karma

What funding options and obstacles did your company have to go through?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

We self-fund through our animation subcontracting. We're a bit different than the typical studio, though this is becoming more and more common in Finland.

dusty_relic2 karma

What do people like to eat in Finland?

GrumpyFinn8 karma

A bit of everything. Traditional Finnish food is meat, potatoes, etc, but Finns love hamburgers, pizza, sushi buffets, and all kinds of stuff. Finland's food culture is constantly evolving and it's been really interesting to watch.

SquareUltima2 karma

Other than this ama, what's your marketing strategy?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

Working with the real-life artists. Our idea is that they'll be so excited to be in the game that they'll share it around a lot.

JyShink1 karma

I'm also managing through life with a visual disability and, like you, have to have my phone inches from my face to see anything. Although I do have corrective measures, it is limited to a time limit each day.

Are there times working with such a disability that you wish you could just not work? Or at least are there times you have a hard time getting out the door each morning because it feels like your disability is holding you back? How do you manage it?

GrumpyFinn4 karma

No, I've never felt that way in my work life. Maybe sometimes in my personal life but never at work. I was born this way and I will almost certainly die this way, so feeling down about it is just unproductive and a waste of my emotional energy. I have a job to do. :)

joesii1 karma

Have you tried 3D sound systems such as those in VR,or haptic 3D-position controllers with haptic feedback such as those in VR? What do you think about those 2 additional senses (touch/hearing) when it comes to modern gaming and/or VR? I've always been really keen on that sort of thing, and would love to see a game that simulates blindness well (using visual and audio and haptic feedback cues in VR), as well as ones that allow blind players to play.

edit: oh I see someone already asked a rather similar question.

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I've not tried that. I often find VR totally inaccessible, though I know some companies are working to fix that .

PeacefulComrade1 karma

What's the real poverty and life level in Finland? How much does a regular worker have to work to make a living?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

We don't have that many people in true "poverty". Everyone has a house. Everyone has a right to health care and education. I think the mean salary in Finland was something like €3k per month. We have income tax but it's not as high as the American propaganda would have you believe.

darknum1 karma

Do you have invite your friends and family events there too? Last year Frozen Byte had an event, where they had drinks and pizza for everyone for friends and family members of the workers. They let us test new games, play old ones, gave very nice details about work they do and also showed around the office.

As a person who has been playing games since Amiga 500 years, it was awesome experience to see the kitchen of this field. Of course we had to sign NDAs so we don't tell how the new coming games looked etc.

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Sometimes we hold little parties, but usually we prefer to just go put as a group for dinner and bring our friends along too. I've been to a few bigger studios' parties and they're always awesome though!

darknum1 karma

If I was a teenager, that would have been a career defining point. I suggest considering that for locals (I know Pori is way too small but maybe you can attract people from Tampere.

GrumpyFinn2 karma

We've actually tried to do a few open house nights, and sometimes we have students from SataEdu visit, but usually the SataEdu students only cone if the school tells them to. We've been thinking to have a small open house again in the fall though.

Kneljoy1 karma

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to create their own mobile game? Where would they start?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Write down your ideas, and then see of anything like what you want to do already exists. Play those games and see what works and what you could maybe do better. Then, start experimenting.

sianstark1011 karma

How does the future look like for blind people working in mainstream jobs? What changes would you like to see in our society that would facilitate the transition of blind people in normal life/work?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

As more and more work happens on computers, I think the archaic idea of us being a liability or less able than a sighted person will hopefully die out. Technology will keep evolving and, while we'll never eliminate disabilities and illnesses, we'll slowly start to build a world where these things are less and less noticed.
People with disabilities are an untapped resource for a lot of companies with outdated worldviews and perceptions.

UnderConsultant1 karma

Hi there!

What kind of advice would you give to a person in their mid-thirties looking to switch from working in IT to becoming a producer in the game industry?

Kiitos etukäteen <3

GrumpyFinn1 karma

Well, first I'd remind myself that you're going to be in for a bit of a pay cut. IT workers tend to make a little bit more than their game industry counterparts, at least in Finland.
Second, start going to any local developer/IGDA gatherings and learn to network. Networking is everything in a place like this.

UnderConsultant1 karma

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I am indeed in Finland.

Roughly how much does a producer make per month? Somewhere around 4k€?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

Depends entirely on the company, but between 3 and 4 I'd say.

Morgizi1 karma

Hey were you on one life left a few weeks ago? It was a fun interview to listen to.

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I was! I went to London back in June and they had me as a guest. It was a lovely experience.

jagua_haku1 karma

Shoutout to Porin Ässät! Is there much of a game industry in Pori? I recently moved to the city but assumed that it’s mostly concentrated in Tampere and Helsinki and maybe Oulu. My girlfriend gets mad when I play mobile games so I mostly just chop wood for sauna

GrumpyFinn2 karma

We're the only studio in Pori.

jagua_haku1 karma

I’m curious Why did you guys chose Pori?

GrumpyFinn2 karma

Our CEO's family lives here.

BflatPenguin1 karma

I thought I recognized you from your amazing unboxing of Lularoe nonsense! Can you believe it’s been almost a year since that?

GrumpyFinn5 karma

I really want to do more MLM reviews, but I don't want to give them money!

discdudeboardbro1 karma

Would a game that involves no visuals like papa sangre (now unavailable) be an option for more accessiblity? Now that those games aren’t on the US App Store I haven’t found a good game with a similar format.

GrumpyFinn2 karma

There are plenty that have no visuals, but I think that's a bad angle to look at it from. No pun intended.
Games are such a large part of pop culture now that the point is to make all games playable by as many people as possible, not make games for THEM and then games for US. If that makes sense.

AprexGaming1 karma

how do you read and write these comments? is it family, friends, or your own personal translator?

GrumpyFinn4 karma

I..use myself? I'm sat at my desk with my face against the screen.

AprexGaming4 karma

XD im sorry. i thought you were too blind to read on a screen. i shouldnt have assumed

GrumpyFinn4 karma

The most common misconception about blind people is that we're all totally, 100% sightless. In reality, this is quite rare. I am extremely low-vision. I can't drive, living alone is difficult. But I can read a screen when the settings are right.

funnyrunner31 karma

How hard was it for you to get started with programming being almost blind? Also other than OS provided tools like magnifiers and text to speech apps, do you make use of any other apps that help you with your work?

Asking since I'm seriously thinking about setting up a classroom for blind people to learn programming.

GrumpyFinn3 karma

Screen readers are a big help. Also thinking for low-vision people, large texts sizes and screen resolutions.
And no glass doors and walls. Those things are the devil.

bghockey61 karma

Hey I’m practically blind, do you just have a horrible prescription or something else?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I was born with cataracts that weren't operated on.

Kessisoglu1 karma

What's your favorite breakfast ?

GrumpyFinn4 karma

English breakfast. Or American pancakes. I was in London for two weeks and I got so used to English breakfast and now I just miss it.

michaelny11 karma

How did you decide what color to dye your hair? Did you have a friend tell you what color to pick cause your blind?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I wanted a change. I was about to turn 26 and I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. That was three years ago and I can honestly say I've never been happier with how I look. It was a small change that gave me a ton of confidence. I finally feel like I look the way I feel.

michaelny11 karma

Do you know what color it is or how it looks or is it more like just having it there and knowing it’s there makes you feel better?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

I can see how it looks. And I love it.

joe04001 karma

What are some challenges with your eyesight when it comes to developing? How did you overcome them?

Thanks for the AMA!

GrumpyFinn2 karma

I mentioned below that they pretty much only relate to graphics, and usually these are things the art director handles. For me it's a matter of having good enough UI that things makes sense even if you're as low-vision as I am, so I don't really see that as a "challenge" but rather an asset in making a product that's more widely playable.
Sometimes my monitor resolution settings can cause issues, but I can usually find a workaround.

EsMopo1 karma

No onko kivaa?

GrumpyFinn1 karma

on se ainkin aika kiva!

FutureFigure1 karma

How much earnings do you expect from every 1000 active users?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

It's too early to tell, but we'd be really happy to cover project costs and make enough to keep the project alive. I don't think any of us expect to retire from this project, but we want to keep it going because we've had a wonderful time working on it and working with Oku.

SquareUltima1 karma

Who did all your artwork?

GrumpyFinn3 karma

One of our artists did the pixel art, and the cutscenes were done by an old friend and freelancer of our company. You can see his other work here: https://www.bambinomonkey.com

[deleted]-1 karma

[deleted]

GrumpyFinn1 karma

Retro-style pixel art, and the cutscenes are comic strips!

Hmurie-14 karma

Why would they hire you if your lunch a liability?

GrumpyFinn14 karma

That's a huge misconception.
Disabled people are not liabilities. Every. Single. Person. Alive. has strengths, weaknesses, things they're good at, and things they're bad at. The things I do generally don't require sight much at all, and some of my sighted coworkers couldn't do my job because they have skills in a different area. This idea that disabled people are a burden in the workplace is outdated and comes from a lack of experience and lack of exposure.