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A conversation with Denis Mikan from Kunabi Brother about their first game Blek, how they started with no experience and ended up being written about in the New York Times, and why you sometimes need to take a step back and change your approach.

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This interview is part of a series of conversations in which I talk to small game development studios and independent developers to shed some light on the difficult decisions, surprising challenges, and funny stories great games are made of.

Denis and Davor Mikan, two brothers who live in Vienna, Austria, published their first game in December 2013. It won international recognition for innovation and design, and was enjoyed by millions of players. Blek is “an open-ended experience with deep, bauhaus-informed design; it offers a space where logics and creativity as well as personal style and temper get to play with each other.”

Each Blek level looks like a piece of modern art

Two Brothers

Who worked on Blek and what exactly did you do?

The game was developed by my brother Davor. I was what you would call a business guy. Everything we do, we do together and discuss everything. It was a small team, only the two of us, so naturally we talked about everything. We talked a lot.

Denis Mikan in his office in Vienna

When did you start working on Blek and how did you decide that you want to work together on a game?


A conversation with Adriaan de Jongh about his latest game Hidden Folks, how it’s different from hidden object games, the art and science of hiding things, and why the game is not free to play.

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This interview is part of a series of conversations in which I talk to small game development studios and independent developers to shed some light on the difficult decisions, surprising challenges, and funny stories great games are made of.

Adriaan de Jongh is a game designer who lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His earlier games Fingle and Bounden blur the line between mobile and physical games and inspired people to interact not just with a touch screen, but also with each other. For Hidden Folks he teamed up with illustrator and artist Sylvain Tegroeg to create “a hand-drawn, interactive, miniature searching game” that wants you to “unfurl tent flaps, cut through bushes, slam doors, and poke crocodiles.”

Hidden Folks is not a hidden object game because it’s way more interactive than what most people who play hidden object games are used to.”

The Game

How would you describe Hidden Folks?

Hidden Folks is a searching game. It’s black and white, it’s interactive, and it’s animated. It’s huge and there’s lots of stuff to find. You can spend hours in this giant area full of little folks trying to do things, having their own little stories. Imagine for instance, opening a garage door where there is a hidden folk behind. Or maybe you open up a tent flap. Or you drag a slider which opens up another thing. There are lots of little interactions. I don’t think you should think about it as a hidden object game. Hidden object games are often static.


A conversation with Henrik Johansson from Mediocre about their latest game PinOut!, what game developers do exactly, and why creating mobile games can be challenging.

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This interview is part of a series of conversations in which I talk to small game development studios and independent developers to shed some light on the difficult decisions, surprising challenges, and funny stories great games are made of.

“Games should be about entertainment and storytelling, not just vessels for profit.”

Mediocre logo

Mediocre is a small game studio in Malmö, Sweden, founded in 2010 by Dennis Gustafsson and Henrik Johansson, who had a mission “to make games that are free from violence and unethical business models.” They feel that “games should be about entertainment and storytelling, not just vessels for profit” and have published eight games in six years. Emil Bengtsson joined the team in 2015 as a game and level designer to help further their vision.

Their latest game PinOut!, a pinball arcade game, was released in October 2016. This interview with Henrik Johansson has been edited for length and clarity.

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Stefan Lesser

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