Moving Gaming from Starbucks to Traffic Lights

Finnish game developer Everywear Games is releasing Runeblade, a fantasy roleplaying game and the first game developed exclusively for the Apple Watch.

Earlier this year, Apple released their smart watch, fittingly named Apple Watch. And though the screen is small, the new platform is the most accessible yet, according to Everywear Games CEO, Aki Järvilehto. The Finnish game developers’ game, Runeblade, is developed exclusively for the Apple Watch.

“Smartwatches are such a different platform, so we felt they deserved games that were tailored for them”, he says about the idea behind Everywear Games’ debut.

Runeblade is a classic roleplaying game in many ways with a fantasy setting featuring spells, enchanted blades and magic. But where the more traditional roleplaying games for consoles and PC’s focus on long sessions, where you play for hours at home, Runeblade’s approach to the genre is something different, Järvilehto explains.

“We wanted to create a world with all the classic elements of high fantasy, while tailoring it specifically for smartwatch gameplay”, he says.

 

A change in mindsets

Though Runeblade is Everywear Games’ first effort into game development as a company, the team behind it is far from newbies when it comes to making games. Järvilehto’s last employment was as executive vice president of Remedy Entertainment and as board member for Finnish game development associations Neogames and IGDA Finland.

Everywear Games’ Runeblade on Apple Watch

His two co-founders, Markus Tuppurainen and Mika Tammenkoski, have years of experience from companies such as Angry Birds-developers Rovio and Remedy Entertainment too. The rest of the team is equally experienced, which has been important for the developing process of Runeblades.

“Everyone on the team has a decade or more industry experience working on many different platforms. So we know our way around new technologies. But even more important is the change in mindset. Consoles and smartwatches are very different in terms of game design. We’ve done these transitions before and know how important it is to recognize that people’s expectations are very different for each platform. It’s critical to understand how people will actually use these devices”, Aki Järvilehto explains.

While many game studios today focus on developing for multiple formats simultaneously, Everywear Games takes another route. With a slogan that reads “The world’s first wearable games studio,” the Finnish game developers are focusing on games for smartwatches exclusively.

 

Gaming in five seconds
With the emergence of the mobile games for phones and tablets, developers started talking about “The Starbucks Factor”. This meant that a lot of games started focusing on gaming sessions that last a couple of minutes, so you could play while waiting for a cup of coffee – hence the Starbucks-reference. With Runeblade, Everywear Games have shortened it even more, now focusing on “The Traffic Light Factor.”

“We’ve dramatically simplified the core gameplay almost to single click ease. Sessions have been designed to last 5-15 seconds and everything is tailored for Apple Watch”, Aki Järvilehto says and continues:

“All the way during development we’ve had this unique feeling that’s perhaps a little hard to describe – the kind of feeling that we’re doing pioneering work, something that no-one has done before in games”.

With the Apple Watch – and the smartwatches as a whole – still in its youth, we have yet to see the full potential of “watch-gaming.” But Aki Järvilehto and his associates are optimistic about the future for gaming on watches:

“Last fall when Apple announced WatchKit we were very impressed. Apple Watch is perhaps the most advanced smartwatch ever created, and with WatchKit we knew we could deliver new and fresh gaming experiences. We think that Apple Watch is the gaming platform of 2015. A brand new Apple platform with no-existing content – what could possibly make it more exciting for developers?”

Authors
Bo Nørgaard

Gamer, metalhead and journalist, not always in that order. Bo started gaming when he was eight and has been following the gaming industry since.

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