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Hall of Fame: Tommy Palm

King's Games Guru in praise of the Jesus phone
Hall of Fame: Tommy Palm

Tommy Palm started programming games for the Commodore 64 back in 1986, founding developer Jadestone in 1999, and then Fabrication Games in 2009. In 2012, Fabrication Games was acquired by King.

Palm is currently King's Games Guru. He has worked on more than 30 game titles including Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Sprinkle, Championship Manager Online, World in War and Dirk Dagger.

In his spare time, Palm enjoys teaching, writing articles and is a regular speaker at conferences such as Game Developers Conference and Casual Connect. He holds lectures at The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and has been a member of the jury for IGF Mobile, IMGA, Nokia Innovation Challenge and Swedish Game Awards.

He was's Best Dressed Man in 2012.

Pocket Gamer: What were your favourite games as a kid?

Tommy Palm: The list is way too long to fit in an interview. I am still a kid when it comes to games. I still run home from the store when I've bought the latest game I've been waiting for - most recently GTA V.

But if I should mention one single game that was influential for me as a kid it would be Space Invaders. It was the first time I saw and tested an arcade game and I got completely hooked. For life.

Other favorites in my collection includes Dark Castle (Mac), every single C64 game there ever was Spy Hunter, Defender of the Crown, Pirates!, Monty on the Run, Who Dare Wins II, Cobra, Saboteur, Impossible Mission, Exploding Fist, M.U.L.E, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Last Ninja, Bruce Lee, H.E.R.O and ... okay, I should stop ... King's Bounty, Nethack.

When did you realize you wanted to make games as a career?

I did not realize that you could make money out of making games for a really long time. In the 1980s, it was just unheard of in Sweden that you could earn your living on making games.

I programmed games for fun until I ran out of student funds, then I made the realization that I needed to make money on the games I was doing.

What was your first role in the industry?

I started a company called Jadestone straight out of school. It was at some point Sweden's second largest game developer.

I worked there for ten years and worked my way from CEO and down the ladder until I started Fabrication Games instead.

What do you consider your first significant success?

At the age of 13, me and a friend made a virus that killed off the school computers one after one, posing as the work of the Danish Cracking Corps.

We got paid by the school to remove the threat and got good grades. The teacher never found out.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

I was very technology focused and started believing that this would be a great industry when I saw the multiplayer version of Snake in 1997 on a Nokia 6110.

But it would turn out to take another 11 years before it was a good idea from a business perspective to make mobile games.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming?

The iPhone or the "Jesus Phone" as it was referred to by some bloggers when it arrived.

Not only did the followers preach about it but for us working with mobile games could count time in Before and After the iPhone.

I refer to 2013 as year 5. (The App Store did not come until 2008).

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

No regrets. That is not my style. I am very proud of having had a small part of creating the world's most popular game, Candy Crush Saga.

But I am most proud of being a good father, raising my daughters, and showing them how much fun it is to develop games.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently?

Rymdkapsel, Kingdom Rush and Candy Crush Saga are on my most frequent playlist.

Even though Candy Crush is part of my job I still really like playing the game, one year in.

What are your predictions for the future of mobile games?

I think that social functionality in mobile games is still in its very early days. We will see more social phenomena such as Candy Crush Saga because people really like doing the same things as their friends and family.

I also think that the biggest inventions will occur in terms of usability. That was the main reason for the success of the iPhone.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

I still think I have a couple of titles in me before it is time to retire, so more great games, in other words ;)

Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something will be doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.