My name is Hedda Marie Ragnøy Solstad and I worked in Studio Frostbit while developing Forgotten Spirits. I am still a part of this studio to an extent, but it is no longer active due to all members starting studying. I am studying for a two-year education in game development.
Your role in the company?
Mainly I was the puzzle and level designer. I took all art assets, and all game mechanics and put them together in a level, and then iterated on the design. I was also the official CEO of the studio, but the responsibilities of the title were shared between more than just me.
Could you tell us about your day to day life and responsibilities at your company?
Day to day I would sit by my desk and work on levels in unity or I would work on a whiteboard in the office to rough out ideas when I was too tired to sit all the time. Day to day wasn’t really special, however, my responsibilities at the company were. I was responsible for all puzzles and levels being playable, visually pleasing, and interesting to play. I was the link where everything ended up eventually in production, and I had to have a constant dialogue with the artist and the programmers to make sure everything ended up well.
I was also the official CEO, and sent emails and took phone calls when needed, but luckily the responsibilities of the titles were shared between all of us.
Early on in the production, I would also act as a producer to make sure everyone had a task and stayed on schedule while we has the growing pains of learning to work together.
What was your role in the game project?
My role in the project was to design and iterate on the level designs. I drew so many potential level designs and then I would discuss the art direction and the mood with the artist and together we would pick out the best idea and I would iterate on that sketch. When I was somewhat happy with the sketch I would bring it into unity and roughly graybox the level so that the scale and as many mechanics were in it so that I could playtest it.
When it had reached this state I would tweak stuff in unity, but also jump working on my level sketch and the level in unity, until it felt okay-ish to play. I would then make it look a lot better and send it over to the programmers to insert everything I needed to make the level work. I would then continue to iterate on the design in Unity and make it look visually good. I have probably played through all the levels a thousand times.
What was your favourite part of the process?
It’s gonna sound cheesy, but there is never gonna be a better or worse moment; when someone is playtesting your work. I just want to hop in and solve the puzzle for them because ‘it’s so easy’, but then in the next moment where they get that ‘aha’ moment, it is amazing. You find out through your playtesters what works, what doesn’t, and what you have taken for granted. It is where you learn the most about the game you are creating
What was your motivation behind seeking a career in the games industry?
I didn’t really grow up with access to a gaming console and got into games a lot later than a lot of my peers. When I was around 17 – 18 I was struggling a lot in school and needed an outlet. Well lucky me then an ad for a game in development shows up on my feed. Having better to do I start reading up on this game and the game studio creating it. I started playing the other games this specific game studio had made and got updates on their progress from a monthly email from them.
Around this time that I had gotten really into games, I also needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my future. I didn’t really have any idea what to do, so I looked into going to a one-year school and studying game development. I thought it would be a fun year where I could make some friends and learn a new skill while figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.
Well, good news I guess. I got some friends, had some fun, and found out exactly what I wanted to do and I actually had a knack for doing it too.
I made my first game in that school, and another and another, and it is where I got to know the other members of Studio Frostbit.
What advice would you give to people who consider joining the games industry?
It can feel very intimidating and scary when trying to enter the industry, but the secret is that it isn’t really hard to enter. Most people welcome new people with open arms and are very kind and helpful. The hard thing is to have the tenacity to stay in it. Making games for a living is hard and you will most likely make a lot of bad games before getting an income you can live of.
Studio Frostbit is nominated to Spillprisen 2021 for their game “Forgotten Spirits”.