There's something for everyone at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki and with publishers, expert devs and of course the Journalist Bar hosted by our friends over at PocketGamer.com, it's the perfect way for up and coming developers to show off their games.
One such dev is Not a Cult Oy who's upcoming mobile title Walkscape is an RPG inspired by the likes of Jagex’s RuneScape BUT it has one key difference… By utilising a phone’s built in motion sensors, Walkscape tracks a player’s activities and fitness in order to fuel progression in the game, all without compromising player privacy or data.
With a beta just around the corner, Not a Cult Oy brought their game down to PGC Helsinki (along with a freind dressed as a wizard) in order show it to the best and brightest of the game industry directly.
Not a Cult Oy features a single developer, plus graphic designer, and Sami Pentti [left in our picture] the company's CEO (commander of the eternal order) with ‘Oy’ being a Finnish term meaning something similar to ‘ltd’ in English.
Pentti is a computer science student at the university of Helsinki and he told us all about their game, their focus on user privacy and fair monetisation, and why showcasing at our Helsinki event is so important.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a little bit about Walkscape?
Sami Pentti: So Walkscape is an MMO-inspired RPG game, where you progress in the game by walking in real life. So this might sound similar to games like Pokemon Go, or other games but our biggest difference is in terms of privacy and the game not intruding on your exercise.
We’re doing this by keeping it distraction free so that when you’re outside you can focus on your walking or workout. I’d previously tried a lot of fitness games and they usually force you to open up the game very frequently, and this ruins any serious exercise routine you may be doing while playing.
Also, we don’t use GPS, it’s a concern for many people, and we’ve seen recently with Pokémon Go that a lot of players are really angry about the way Niantic have handled privacy issues. So we’re staying well away from all that by not having GPS at all, instead we use the pedometer on your phone, to count your steps which also allows the game to be completely shut down while you’re exercising. So this allows you to do the gaming part before your walk, then open up the game when you get home again.
I think this really appeals to people who really want to exercise and enjoy their surroundings, and the people they care about who join them on their walks.
How are you looking to monetise the game?
Nothing is set in stone yet but our current plan, and what we’ve communicated very clearly with our community, is that we have an initial free to play version of Walkscape so you can try the game before you buy it. The free to play version has a lot of content so even if you cannot afford the game you can still play it for a long time.
But if you want to support the game and unlock the whole experience you have two options. You can either pay a monthly subscription - which we will try to keep as affordable as possible while still keeping the business financially viable - or if you’re not interested in the online MMO-style features you can pay a one-time fee to play it offline instead.
How has PGC Helsinki been for you so far?
It’s been great. It was very easy to get here, set up our tables and whatnot. Everything has been organised very nicely, and the ticket prices were affordable enough for even a smaller company like us. We are just starting up so it was an amazing opportunity to be able to showcase our game here, and the people have been amazing.
Do you have any plans for a beta release?
We plan to have a closed beta this fall and the open beta will be, hopefully, sometime during summer next year. Our full release is planned for 2025.
And how are you planning to publish your game?
We’re self publishing currently. I’m from a very indie, hobbyist background, so I see publishers as an obstacle in some ways, I like to retain my creative freedom. And we’re a newcomer so it has been very difficult to find a good publishing deal or even a publisher that knows about this game.
But has showcasing the game here been helpful?
Yeah, when I was doing the Big Indie Pitch I talked to publishers and many seemed very interested. I’m hoping that something comes out of it, or at least I get some advice.
But we’re kind of not looking for publishers or investors right now, we'd really love to retain the creative freedom that we currently have, and build the game with our community, for the community.
Do you think the unique nature of the Finnish games industry has helped push you towards gaming as a career?
I think Finland has, as you say, a very unique gaming industry. We have a lot of mobile and PC game companies. I initially started back in the day - we’re talking early 2000s when I started programming - and I found the Finnish game-making forums and it was all just hobbyists tinkering with game engines. And this kind of drove me forward. I think many Finnish developers started in the same demo scheme that we used to have back in the day, and now we’re studying computer science or making games full time.
Will we see you here next year?
Yeah, I’ve liked PGC Helsinki very much and I think you’ll see me again. Next year we will have a full playable downloadable version of Walkscape, not just a demo, you’ll be able to play it here as well.