T Plus 3 Years – Of Monkeys & Dinosaurs #1


Ah, September 15. To the day it’s been exactly three years since Paraworld shipped in Germany and a few other European markets; the UK/US version showed up ten days later. Well, what a journey that was.

An uphill battle. When I joined the company in 2005, SEK had just gone through what seemed a horrible crunch. It had ended a month or two earlier, but I still could sense the aftermath and the psychological toll it had taken on the team. The prospects weren’t looking too rosy either – there was next to nil international buzz since no publisher had signed for the North-American market at that point. There was no real hype in Germany either, but for entirely different reasons: Paraworld had been announced roughly two years earlier, and so far hardly anyone outside of the companies involved had played the game. Some people weren’t sure about whether there was a substantial concept behind the pretty screenshots or not, others expected it to be cancelled at any moment.

It was also apparent that the partnership of SEK and Sunflowers — the publisher of the game, who also held a stake in the company — was a clash of two corporate cultures. Sunflowers had a rather patriarchic setup; SEK had four founders ( = directors), and occasionally felt like something that could be described as creative anarchy. With all the upsides and downsides you could imagine.

The Secret of Ninja Monkey Island

I had once written a huge article about an expo trip for a previous employer, jokingly also mentioning the two or three things that initially didn’t work out quite do well. You know, standard show dilemmas such as PCs occasionally overheating thanks to them being placed in small glass boxes and the like. I then ‘learned’, that those two or three tiny bits which were part of a 2000 word article made the company look “completely unprofessional”. I fought for my work, but in the battle between professionalism and boring and soulless crap nobody wants to read, professionalism prevailed. Oh joy. Ultimately, the text never went online at that particular special interest magazine because I then ditched the article knowing it would be a disservice to both parties.

Soon after my arrival at SEK, I pitched the idea of us posting regular updates on our website. Mind you, that was mid of 2005, and it wasn’t quite ‘everyone and his dog has a blog‘ time yet, especially not in Germany. (Most German developers haven’t really embraced that concept to this day, actually. And half of those who try don’t realize yet that a blog is supposed to be more than a channel for you to solely pump your PR/marketing poop through.) I devised potential content, a few jarring jokes here and there, decorated with small tidbits on what is currently happening in the company. I even incorporated The Mysterious Legion of Ninja Monkeys, a concept I had once used at said previous employer to label information we weren’t ready to talk about yet.

A Mysterious Ninja Monkey

(A Ninja Monkey – as envisioned by Steffen)

To my utter surprise, the pitch was green-lit. Not only that — the weasel who just had arrived received the Go to publish updates pretty much without them having to get ‘proofread’ by management first. Clearly, they were batshit insane.

In the next part: Holy crap, it’s late, and I have no idea yet. (Nope, that’s the situation, not the title of the upcoming entry, you dorks.)

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  1. #1 by NIls on September 16, 2009 - 11:56 pm

    Interesting, please keep them coming

(will not be published)