King Interview With Games Guru Tommy Palm
King, creator of the massively popular Candy Crush Saga, recently gave several journalists a chance to tour its Stockholm headquarters. We got to check out the facilities and talk to the developers about the company and its games. One employee, King Games Guru Tommy Palm, was able to sit down with us for a personal interview.
Let's get this out of the way. Do you have anything to say about King going public?
I can't comment about anything regarding an IPO right now.
In that case, why don't you just start by telling us how you feel about King's current direction?
We can't rest just because we have a solid concept that is a good format for our games. We need to continue doing what we've done for 10 years, which is innovate.
You always need to keep your eyes on the horizon. There's an enormous market for games on iOS, Android and Facebook. If the game is free, they can download and enjoy it without any obstacles.
Obviously Candy Crush Saga has been a huge success. Is there a lot of pressure to keep those hits coming?
I don't particularly feel that we have a lot of pressure on us. Success like that doesn't happen every time. We're aware of that, even if all the ingredients are there.
It's great fun to see how extremely popular Candy Crush Saga has become. Even with more targeted games, they also have a lifespan within our company.
Touring the offices here, everyone put a huge emphasis on the smallness of the development teams. Why is that?
For us, it's been the right way to work with small game teams that have the ability to talk directly to each other about their product. We have technologies that span over multiple teams.
Use of that technology is usually prioritized in a specific region, to keep necessary conference calls in the same time zone. That way, developers don't have to work through their families and home lives. That's something that's very important to King.
You mentioned earlier that the company founders still work in the open floor with the rest of the designers, instead of their own offices. Why is that so important to King?
People can try out new things without feeling they need to check for permission first. You have to be fast and able to try out things. If I look at the traditional publisher-developer model, it's something many companies are moving away from. It's just too inefficient, and it's much better to work as a unit.
With DICE, Mojang and King of course, Sweden has become something of a game development hub. Why do you think that is?
It's many different things. It's first of all a strong gaming culture that started in the 80s with everything ranging from Nintendo to PCs. We had good systems in place. We have good infrastructure. Good internet and connected mobile phones have been here for a long time.
A lot of good engineers come out of the mobile phone companies, and the weather keeps people indoors rather than outside, so there's a greater focus on playing games.
You mentioned Notch. He actually used to be a developer here. Minecraft was a pet project of his when he was working here.
It's great. I think it's an important part of our culture. One of the founders is still working with the code and is very much a strong pillar of part of the platform.
How does the look and feel of a Saga game come together? They all seem to have an overriding theme.
The visual design is driven by the team. All of these things come together to create an entity. Then the art director pulls everything in one direction.
Games are really about all of these expert fields that come together to make a perfect balance of things. In that way, I really think that game development is a great example of civilization.