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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 05/20/08)  | Pub:Eidos Interactive
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Interview with Mats Remman

By  on March 29, 2007 | Interviews | Comments

Interview with Mats Remman

Tell us a little about your childhood. How did school and where you live influence your choice to join the video game community?

Mats Remman:

I guess I was fortunate in the way that I got my first C64 at age 6, and used to spend quite a bit of time in front of it. From there it just expanded and I've either owned or had access to a bunch of different gaming hardware. But there was never any community here that had a more genuine interest in game development, so it wasn't until adulthood that I started to get more involved in the video game community. Also, growing up in a little town in northern Norway, having just about no decent game retailers didn't actually help on getting enough games!


Can you remember your first video game? How often did you play, what other games had an influence on you?

Mats Remman:

I can't really remember the first game I ever played, but what I do remember was the day I got my first color TV. Up until then I had been playing games on a black and white TV connected to my C64. I got an old color TV from a relative and my first game experience in color was Spy Hunter - "du-du-duh-duuh". I probably played as much as I could when growing up - just hindered by "meaningless" activities like sports (I used to play soccer, handball, volleyball, basketball and so forth).

I have also had phases of my life that was heavily influenced by the MMO games, and I have spent some unhealthy 15+ hours per day periods playing these games. While not healthy in any aspect, it has given me a much broader understanding of games, gamers and what makes us "tick".

I can't really say I have been influenced much by any game in particular up the years, but there are of course titles that sticks very well to mind, for example the violent Moonstone for the Amiga, or the eternally classic Last Ninja for the C64.

Besides games what other influences brought you into your career? Whether it is books, movies, or artwork everyone has different tastes, tell us about yours.

Mats Remman:

I never had a "thing" for any theme in particular, so even though I read a lot of books and watched movies that were rated way above my age, I can't really say that I've been heavily influenced by anything or other. I'm more inspired by concepts of ideas instead of thorough implementations. Being able to imagine a scenario and expand on it is more rewarding to me than having it all played out with a definite border. There are of course the preferences when it comes to different things, like Donald Duck stories by Don Rosa, or Narnia instead of Middle Earth (Darth Sauron who?) - But that's just it, preferences!

What was your first job in games? What other games have you worked on?

Mats Remman:

My first job in the games industry was being a Game Master at Blizzard Europe for the English realms in World of Warcraft. I got to know some people while being a member of the EVE Online volunteer program (Polaris), and sent off an application - one thing led to another, and all of a sudden I was living in France.

Age of Conan is my first game that I'm a developer on - so I haven't worked directly on any other games other than on a voluntary basis. Though, with that said, I hope Age of Conan won't be the last game I will be working on :).

What is your job at Funcom? How did you get your foot in the door?

Mats Remman:

I was hired as an Item designer and currently I'm leading up the Items and Magic strike team here, making sure that it all fits together. My responsibilities cover managing a few excellent people on the graphic team, as well as trying to coordinate our needs with other content production team needs so that we can achieve a better workflow.

I think that getting this job was just a chain of random events, as one of the friends I made while working for Blizzard sent me a message one night saying he was going to apply for it and included the link to the job offer page. So after thinking a second, I thought why not, and sent in an application as well. After the usual processing time I was interviewed, got a job offer, moved to Oslo and started working.

Take us through a typical day of work on Funcom while working on Age of Conan, what is it like when you show up at the office?

Mats Remman:

I usually arrive a little before nine in the morning, and the office I'm sitting in is usually empty around then. I check my mail, read up on some commit logs (to be up to date on what the coders are doing), look through my task list and figure out what needs to be done this day. Then there's the daily morning meeting, where everyone gathers to get the latest news from our project director. After that it's back to the office and start working on my tasks. This might be making spells for different encounters, balancing out item drop rates, making quest items, tweaking values here and there, discussing issues with my strike team, helping other teams or just getting a sip of coffee and have a chat with the receptionist. Every day is completely different and there's never a moment to get bored.

Are there any friends or family who had a major impact on your career or chasing dreams that you'd like to talk about, do they play games?

Mats Remman:

I'm the oldest of my siblings, so I guess I've impacted my family more than they have impacted me. It might sound a bit arrogant, but I don't think I've been heavily influenced by anyone in particular, I have always followed my own path and taken my own decisions and stood by them. It's what has gotten me to where I am today, and I hope it'll continue to bring me further.

The video game industry continues to grow very quickly. What are your hopes for games in the future?

Mats Remman:

I hope that we one day will have the "real" matrix MMO game - with jacks in our head, giving the ultimate game experience... On a more serious note, I'm happy with the current trend of how the gaming industry works, there's hardware (like the new Wii) that's opening up the world of games to an ever broader market than before, and there's software (like Sims and WoW) that has expanded both the casual and subscription based market substantially. I guess I'm just looking forward to the first game to break the 50 million subscriber milestone - perhaps in 2015?

How have things been progressing with Age of Conan? Have you enjoyed working on such a strong IP as Conan?

Mats Remman:

Since I joined the team here at Funcom last year, I think Age of Conan has come very far. I love the way our combat system works and I think we have the potential to make a game that's truly sticking to the original IP of Conan. I guess the main concern players might have is that their imagination of the REH (Robert E. Howard) world may differ slightly from our own view. Even so, I think anyone that plays the game will be pleased with what we have accomplished. The world of Hyboria is so vast and different that it's hard to portray everything with just words. Since a picture says more than a thousand words, I'd probably have to use millions of words to describe how much I like it!

Is there anything you would like to write to the readers of that we have not spoken about?

Mats Remman:

I don't really have much to say, and I should get back to working as well, but I'll just close with that I hope you all will have as much fun playing the game as I am having being a part of making it. Peace! (Oh, and loot bags rule!).

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