We tend to forget how games are as much a vehicle for culture as any other medium. Peter Wingaard Meldahl, a physicist turned game designer, helped found Rain Games out of Bergen, Norway. In addition to showing us his game Teslagrad he also assumed the role as Norwegian Ambassador and told us about fjords, movies, puzzle platformers, and magnets.
If you’ve been paying attention Scandinavia has become the host of multiple well known games over the recent years and Teslagrad is looking to join the ranks. What other games have come out of Scandinavia you ask? I’m sure many are familiar with a little gem called Minecraft, which comes from Sweden. There is also that game Limbo which hails from Denmark. Perhaps you’ve seen that Angry Birds thing, that’s from Finland. Peter explains that the Scandinavian countries are all competitive with one another but also share a deep sense of cooperation to help produce some of the world’s best games.
Teslagrad honors the legacy of the Metroidvania genre. We enjoy exploration, discovery, and mechanic mastery while experiencing the very painterly, expressive art style which Teslagrad features predominately. The hand drawn art is what lured us in, clever level design and magnetic puzzler mechanics is what challenges us.
Peter explains that the development of their hand drawn art style,
“You should guess that this kind of graphics would be the natural evolution of 2D graphics. What happened was 3D was invented so there was a big push to get everything into 3D, so there was an era of art that never happened, like hi-definition 2D.”
It’s true. Look at current cell shading techniques and games like The Walking Dead. They are using a very expressive and cartoony style to help convey the strengths of 2D art as applied to 3D models. Hand drawn art assets isn’t a new thing, it is however a very broad and underused style.
Peter uses his knowledge as a former physicist in developing the levels and mechanics used in Teslgrad. Magnetism is the primary vehicle they use to help craft puzzles. The game uses a real physics engine that adds to the puzzle design and difficulty. Using a fully function physics engine helps facilitate multiple solutions to problems as well as allowing players to optimize play, which is something I personally enjoy in platformers.
Peter was a fantastic guest and really helped us illustrate some of the points we’ve been making on multiple shows: where a game is made is important! The culture that gets either subconsciously or consciously put into a game is something to celebrate and enjoy. We can hope that eventually games will be recognized as art by our government and open up grants for developers here in America much like it is in Canada and Norway. As one of the co-founders Peter told us about Norwegian Game Makers Guild, which is similar to the institutions we have discovered and covered like the Indie Game Collective in Boston and Indie City Coop in Chicago.
Teslagrad is slated to be released on PC, Linux, Mac, PS3, and the WiiU. You can also help them out by giving them a thumbs up over on Greenlight. They are also inviting everyone to download their Linux build. For any more information on the game go check out their website.