When you hear about the Finnish mobile games industry, most people tend to think of Supercell and Rovio.
PocketGamer.biz readers might offer up Next Games, Grand Cru and perhaps Fingersoft.
But what about the companies that fall under the radar? Today I’m going to introduce and talk about a tiny company with its roots based in the frozen North, far away from the city life of Helsinki.
Say hello to No More Pie.
- Do they have a game?
- What’s it called?
- Project: Steal
- Ah, let me just download that - hold on, I can’t find it in the App Store.
- Well, that’s because it’s on Windows Phone
- Oh what?
Before I talk about the game, I should mention that No More Pie is something of a mysterious entity. Not only are they not all based in the frozen wasteland that the Vikings didn’t fancy hanging about in about a thousand years ago - they’re not necessarily based anywhere.
“We’re a virtual company,” insists their CEO, who in a typical Finnish way, is less of a boss than the team member burdened with making the final decisions.
“Some of us live in France, Germany, the USA and even Thailand and Vietnam.” he says.
“We know each other by roles. We originally had a different CEO, I was ‘The Artist’, and when he left I took over.” Other team members are known as Mr. Wizard, The Tech Guy, The Professor and so on.
Not your traditional Finnish games company.
How did No More Pie come into existence then? I press the CEO formerly known as The Artist.
“No More Pie was founded like a rock band, with people providing key skills - drums, bass/art, code, etc. - and forming to create something awesome, like an album.
We have never had an office, never had official working hours, no nine-to-five and nobody is the boss.The Artist/CEO
“Originally the company dream was very ambitious, and it also centred around the way we wanted to work and the company philosophy. We set the goal of being the 'Nintendo of browser games' and the two original founders didn't live in the same country, so we needed to be a 'virtual company'. We were inspired by tools like Google Docs to be fully online, and never have any physical offices.
“We have never had an office, never had official working hours, no nine-to-five and nobody is the boss.”
So as if Northern Finland wasn’t lonely and empty enough, No More Pie seems to have taken that isolation a step further. But did it feel that way in reality?
“Yes, we feel slightly disconnected from even the Northern Finnish games community but it's on purpose,” says the CEO.
Do you even know anyone then? What about the other games companies based way up in the Arctic Circle?
“We great friends with people such as Fingersoft. We quite literally knew them before they were anybody... dare we say, we actually taught them what they know! The Oulu games community is a very friendly one.”
Doesn’t that mean you’re probably just a bunch of nobodies doing this as a hobby? Do you have backgrounds in game design?
“Our background varied, one of us is a former CTO of Rovio - pre-Angry Birds – and a few of us worked together on PSP and Nintendo DS games for Activision and Eidos. My background is ex-console at EA, on the Burnout franchise. Our original CEO worked as a producer on Spec Ops: The Line before founding No More Pie.”
So now we know at least a little more about this rogue bunch of experienced game creators, what exactly is their game all about, and why on earth is it on Windows Phone?
Project: Steal is in fact a prequel to Project: Steal 2, which itself is an unfinished free-to-play browser-based title. But wait a second, if the original Steal is the prequel, why did Steal 2 come first?
Project: Steal is the prequel to an unfinished game that was a sequel to game that’s now retconned.
“The game became known as a sequel because we first wrote a game idea called Steal. It was not very good, so we scrapped it and rethought the gameplay. Steal 2 was born. That idea was created by myself and a friend, and it led to us taking seriously the idea of actually making it.”
Right, so Steal 2 is a better game that didn’t get finished?
“Correct! The concept was simple. A great feeling, classic run and jump platformer about stealing money except- the money belongs to other players. The bank vaults you are raiding, and every item inside them, is owned by real players.
"The money you steal can then be used to build better defences in your own vaults by hiring security guards. In fact you have to expand your vaults, to store your loot. The game was intended as a satire on human greed and capitalism. Everyone is trying to grab the same loot from each other, and we of course planned that players can spend real money to change into game currency…”
Aha, very Fight Club. That sounds pretty interesting, is there a playable version?
Project: Steal then, your mobile game (Windows Phone remember), is the prequel to an unfinished game that was a sequel to game that’s now either retconned or a non-canon game. Well at least we cleared that up. What is it about then?
“It’s similar in concept to Steal: 2. No More Pie moved to mobile because we bet on the wrong horse - browsers - with our game concept and decided to re-deploy that idea to mobile.”
It looks pretty old school. Reviews are also positive. But I have to ask this question...
Why Windows Phone?
“We were paid by Microsoft. We got funding via AppCampus to create the exclusively Windows Phone game.”
Are you going to release it on a real mobile platform, iOS or for Android?
“We hope to have both iOS and Android versions out by the end of the year.”
So how come so many people use Windows Phones in Finland?
Why do you think Finland is so successful at making mobile games?
“Because when Finns set their mind to something, they do it ridiculously and meticulously well.”
Who is the next big company to watch coming from here?
“Next Games - of course, if they get their games out on time - and PlayRaven.”
What about No More Pie? What are your future plans?
“The future for No More Pie is uncertain. We all have day jobs now. We’ll release Project: Steal across all platforms, and let’s see what happens.
My own current day job is something that is a true passion for me, even more than games. I am a full time lecturer in Vehicle Design at Lahti Design Institute. Day to day- I teach courses such as design drawing on paper, user centred design - vehicle packaging and ergonomics - and also we try to run real design projects with car and tech companies. This is a permanent post, and I'm committed to making this my life's work.”
Why should more people move to Finland to make games?
“Forget making games. People should move to Finland anyway. It's lovely here. Making games is something that is well supported though, with government funding - so you might get lucky and have the chance of realising a dream game design you had. In most countries you are on your own with that dream.”
Finally - tell us something about Finland that people don’t know.
“There's no AA or RAC in Finland. There's no fast emergency breakdown recovery at all. Every Finn - women included - can change a wheel, or fix a car themselves by the side of the road. At least in the north…”
Many thanks to “The Artist” (and CEO) of No More Pie. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to use a Windows Phone (I know Keith, I know), go check out their game now. If you’re on one of the real mobile platforms, look out for it later in the year.
The Finnsider is our regular look at the ever-dynamic and increasingly successful mobile development scene in Finland, hosted by former Londoner – and now a Helsinkiläinen - Steve El-Sharawy, Digital Engagement Manager at EzyInsights.