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Meet Klang: the Berlin-based indie studio with ambitious MMO dreams

Meet Klang: the Berlin-based indie studio with ambitious MMO dreams

Seed is looking to shake up the MMO space with next-gen cloud tech and emergent design.

At least, that’s what the team at Berlin-based developer Klang is hoping. And the ambitious project has been the recipient of over $13.95 million in funding to date, so the studio certainly has the means to do something special with this project. 

Klang’s single-shard MMO - an online game where all players are on the same server - begins to make an overwhelming amount of sense when you look at the team’s founding composition. While Vondi himself comes from a creative background that spans fashion, fine art and graphic design, the rest of Klang’s lineup creates a clear development lineage.

“Two of the three founders worked for close to a decade each at CCP Games back in Iceland,” Vondi explains.

“Oddur [Snær Magnússon, CTO] played an integral part in the shipping of numerous game expansions and improvements to EVE Online, and Ivar [Emilsson, CCO] was a game designer who shipped thirteen Eve Online expansions.”

Production on Seed began in October 2016

That experience from CCP drove the concept behind Seed from the very start. Klang had the project kept aside during development of its first release, 2016's mobile MMO and platformer ReRunners: Race for the World, with production starting on Seed in October of that year. 

“When we starting talking about Seed over a decade ago, we were really inspired by the scale of Eve; that all of the game's players exist in the same playing space, with a player-driven economy and player-created stories," Vondi explains.

"We saw this a massive opportunity - there are few games out there with the same scope on a single-shard server, such as Berlin-based neighbours Albion Online.”

Seed isn’t just interested in nabbing single-shard server ideas off Eve: Online, however. Klang has been inspired by that game’s emergent framework, requiring more player investment and creativity as opposed to a World of Warcraft-like theme park design.

“A project like this requires a lot of design thinking, and we felt we had the expertise to take the single-shard MMO experience to the next level," Vondi says.

"So that's when we started to think about Seed as an emergent MMO. That reduces the typical gameplay problems, such as the massive grind and the discrepancy between veteran players and newcomers, as well as a lack of content. As Seed will focus on more emergent gameplay, a lot of content will be player-created.”

Achieving the Improbable

Klang is one of the most ambitious projects being developed with Improbable’s SpatialOS cloud computing technology. For Vondi, this platform was a lifeline that potentially meant huge savings on both budget and development time.

“We always saw Seed as a single-shard game, but with a game like that comes unique backend tech to run the project. We thought about developing our own, but that would have taken years of development time, added a huge cost to the whole project, and delayed the development of Seed," he says.

“When we initially saw SpatialOS, we thought this is precisely the kind of solution we're looking for to bring the game onto a single-shard, and allow for lots of players to exist in the same world.”

As Vondi previously claimed, Seed has been in the works in one form or another for a decade. Working on a project of this scale has been a vital lesson in learning to control scope and expectations - particularly when it comes to the game’s fans.

“For us as a studio, it's essential to be very open to new learnings and always ready to adjust course based on what we find," he says.

"No matter hard you plan, some things take longer than you'd initially expected, so focusing on the scope and prioritising features is something that we take very seriously.

“The scope and complexity of Seed are huge, so we make sure to be honest with the community to manage expectations.”

Right now, Klang is deep in the process of making its single-shard MMO and has plans to expand to team to realise to help realise this ambitious vision. 

“Development is going strong," he says.

"We're expanding the team and looking for new talent to join us in making Seed. We have a bunch of community content efforts lined up throughout the year, which we're excited for.”

Staff Writer

Natalie Clayton is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer and game developer. Besides PCGamesInsider and Pocketgamer.biz, she's written across the games media landscape and was named in the 2018 GamesIndustry.biz 100 Rising Star list.

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