Budget Cuts - Ciwiel

Today we’d like to introduce you to someone you will spend a lot of time around - please meet Amber Martinez, your co-worker from TransCorp.

Hello Amber! Can you please introduce yourself?
Hello coworker! My name is Amber. How are you today?

What do you do at TransCorp?
Reading emails. Filing files. Killing time.

What’s the most challenging/most rewarding part of your work?
You don't have to be crazy to work here. But it sure helps! Ha ha ha…

What does a normal work day look like for you?
Oh what a wonderful Monday! Oh what a wonderful day!

What makes you a valuable member of the staff?
Reading emails. Filing files. Killing time.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Hello! Would you like to exchange friendly human conversation?

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Amber! You guys will definitely see more of her once you’ve settled in at the office on May 16th.
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
During the production process of Budget Cuts we’ve worked with several awesome contractors, bringing their skills to the table and helping us out with everything from 3D-models to concept art, programming, writing and PR.

Today we’d like to introduce you to some of the contractors working on the game! Please meet Jenny, Amelia, Laura and Johanna.

Hello guys! Can you please introduce yourselves?
Jenny: My name is Jenny Holmér and I'm a Character Artist here in Stockholm, Sweden.

Amelia: Hey there! My name is Amelia, I’m a writer and occasional illustrator from the UK.

Laura: Hi! I'm Laura and I am a 3D generalist and an animator! I also draw comics and illustrations when I have time.

Johanna: Hello! I'm Johanna and I do PR/marketing things. I am also a Twitch streamer under the name Ciwiel.

What do you do on Budget Cuts/Neat Corp.?
Jenny: At Neat I had the privilege of designing and concepting the robots you find in game.

Amelia:I’m a Game Writer. For the uninitiated, this means I work with the team to flesh out the story of the game, create characters, write dialogue and guide voice actors with readings.

Laura: I worked as an contractor, mostly doing general 3D stuff! Creating new props and objects and updating old things they had in the game. I also taught the team how to use the coffee machine and spin milk for their cappuccinos. ;)

Johanna: I handle things like social media posts, responding to your Steam questions, planning and executing marketing/PR plans and so on!

What’s your background with games?
Jenny: I've been working in the games industry for 8 years now as a character artist. It stemmed from the desire to combine the two loves of my life, art and games.

Amelia: I’ve worked for Minecraft and freelanced for other VR game companies too!

Laura: Started with the cliché of "I've always loved games and played a lot when I was a kid", after that I went a long way around to finally realize that making games was not just an option, but a possibility. I went to school and tried creating my first game and fell in love! While designing and planning a game is fun I realized quickly that my favourite part was the visuals, creating 3D models, menus and animations.

Johanna: I've been in the games industry for two years working mostly with marketing, community management and graphics design. I love to interact with the people who play the games!

What does a normal work day look like for you?
Jenny: In the beginning I got design descriptions and some inspiration guidelines to what direction we wanted to characters to go, then it was just a feedback loop from there until we had reached a design that we were all happy with. It's a really collaborative and fun process!

Amelia: Being a writer involves a lot of solo work, trying to preempt what material people will need before they need it. I’ll talk to the designers throughout the day to check on level design and try to imagine what it will feel like for the player. It’s always super important to have the player in mind at all times when writing. There’s no point writing some elegant long passage if you all you need to do is guide the player to a nearby objective. There’s no typical day in my job - some days you’re writing short barks or enemy chatter, other days you’re dipping into lore and helping to guide a voice actor on how to best read the lines you’ve written. It’s a very varied job.

What’s the most challenging part of your work?
Jenny: Designing characters for VR! Not because it's necessarily harder than for "standard" games, but that it's a different design process. I had to take other things into consideration that I usually don't have to in my regular work. But this made it a really challenging and fun learning process as well.

Laura: Making everything work! There are more elements that goes into 3D that are not visual, but need to work correctly to not break the game immersion. But it's of course part of the fun and an important part of game making.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Amelia: ‘Finishing it’ isn’t the most inspired answer, but there’s nothing quite like getting to the end of a first draft. Very satisfying! I also really love working with the voice actors and talking about the character. Seeing your work come to life is really special!

Johanna: Seeing all the awesome responses to what we put out! Getting to work with an amazing team of people is a huge plus as well.

How do you hope Budget Cuts will be received?
Jenny: I hope that when people play it, they have as fun as we had making it~

Amelia: Everyone on the team has worked so hard on it and cares so much about it so I hope it does fantastically well.

What’s it like to work at a small studio like Neat Corp.?
Jenny: There's the freedom to be different, and as an artist there is nothing more inspiring.

Amelia: The team is small so everything is changing and agile, which is an exciting environment to work in. It’s so easy to talk to the different team members and discuss new ideas.

How can we spot the work you’ve done in-game?
Jenny: When you play the game and run into a quirky looking robot that our amazing 3D artist and animator Christoffer has made, you know I had a part in the design. ^^

Amelia: Any time you hear a voice, I wrote it :D

Laura: You can spot a lot of my work just looking around in the game! I worked mostly with props and environments, so most things will be displayed throughout the game. I think my favourites where computer props and the elevator. But I made some smaller items as well that I hope people will appreciate.

Johanna: You can’t! You can spot my work on our Facebook, Twitter and the Steam page. :)

Where can we follow your work?
Jenny: @NeedleFork

Amelia: I use amelialkd for all my social media stuff, so feel free to say hi!

Laura: If you are curious of my art you can follow my instagram, but I have to warn that I am bad at updating regularly.

Johanna: Feel free to follow me @Ciwiel. I also stream a bunch on my Twitch channel.

That’s it for this time. Thanks to all of our lovely contractors that have had a hand in creating Budget Cuts!
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
No game would be complete without sound and music. Therefore today’s spotlight is on Jonas, the creator of everything your ears will pick up in Budget Cuts.

Hello Jonas! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jonas Kjellberg, father of one or two depending on when you are reading this, and I love things that make noise. I am an audio designer and composer.

What do you do at Neat Corp.?
I am working as an independent contractor, but have been with the team since the early demo. I record, compose, edit, design, implement and script the sounds and music for the game.

What’s your background in the games industry?
While finishing up my Masters I started composing and sound designing for indie games, and have been doing so ever since, for about 4-5 years now. I am partner of Teotl Studios and we made The Solus Project, of which I did all the audio design, implementation and music, as well as working on the VR conversion of the game. I am also CTO of a startup that creates music middleware for games, with hopes of making music in games become fully adaptive to whatever is happening on the scene.

What’s your all time favourite video game?
Transport Tycoon. My dad was head of a logistics company and he bought the game for me and my sister to better appreciate his line of work or something? Who knows, it was a weird game to gift a 7 year old who didn't speak english. But some year later I came to love it and now I play it every other year.

What does a normal day in the life of an audio designer/composer look like?
I've recently moved my studio space into my home office, to be able to work while the kiddo is having a cold for the eleventh time. After dropping off at kindergarten, I sit at my workstation and either boot up macOS for composing or advanced audio design, or boot into Windows to work directly on the implementation in Unity or doing simpler audio design. I normally sit very focused for hours on end, only stopping for lunch and coffee. Since I am offsite I follow along the latest updates on Slack on the state of the game.

What strikes you as the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of your work?
Forcing creativity, especially when it comes to composing music. When you are a hobbyist you have the luxury to sit down and make music whenever you feel inspired. But as a professional you have to make sure to be inspired at 9AM every morning. And of course the music of Budget Cuts is influenced by Noir jazz. I know nothing of jazz, I am schooled in electronic avant garde stuff, so I have to fake a jazz sound on top of everything! When it comes to audio design the most frustrating part is having to put on a VR headset, and then fancy headphones, just to pick up at virtual soda can and throwing it a bunch of times to make sure it sounds realistic. Then take everything off, change a few setting and strap in to test it again. Repeat for every sound in the game.

The most rewarding part is when inspiration strikes and you get into a groove, composing music fully envelops you and it's like everything else cease to exist. I enter a zen like state and the only thing that matters is organising these fleeting ideas into a pleasant sounding stream of sounds. Next best (which is also the ugliest) is whenever someone compliments your work and your ego licks that praise up like your life depended on it. Working with small studios gives me much more creative freedom, and I feel that I can go more with my gut at times. I enjoy working with Neat in particular because several of the team members were friends of mine even before we started working on budget cuts. And even though I don't see them in person very often, it's great to have some friendly folks to share everyday banter with since being a composer is a pretty lonely job.

Where can we spot your work in-game?
If I've done my job correctly you should not notice it, but every single thing that makes a sound have been graced by my hands, or rather software. Also the music that plays in your ears.

Where can we follow your work?
I have a Twitter of course @wrenchse. Also, follow me on SoundCloud! soundcloud.com/wrench-se. But if you wanna buy my soundtracks check out wrench.bandcamp.com instead.

We hope this gave you a little more insight into the audio production of Budget Cuts. Thank you for the continuous support!
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
Last week three of our developers - Marko, Christoffer and Flippy were interviewed by Everything Vive about Budget Cuts.

Plug in your headphones to get some more insight in how the project started off, how the initial demo was received all the way back in 2016 and to where we are today - standing before the release of the full game on May 16th.

Listen here!

Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
It's time for yet another spotlight from the team behind Budget Cuts! Ever considered an internship in game development? Meet Filip, our 3D-art intern at Neat Corporation!

Hello Filip! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Heyooo my name is Filip Tengwall but I almost always go by Flippy, I'm a 3D artist at Neat Corp and I love dancing and fighting games!

What’s your job at Neat Corp.?
I’m a 3D-art intern! I focus mostly on creating assets and general art stuff, but I love every part of game development so I try to be involved in as many different things as possible.

How did you get into working with games?
Ever since I got my first Gameboy Color, games have been a part of my life almost daily. I used to draw a lot of concepts for games when I was smol boi, never thinking that I would actually be working with games eventually. I also made a bunch of shitty games in like flash and RPG maker on my own we won’t talk about, haha! When I started applying for high schools I found an education for game graphics! It became my first steps in learning 3D, animation and general gamedev stuff. So I've basically worked with 3D for 5 years-ish? I tried out some other things after that, but nothing felt as natural to me as gamedev so I decided to commit fully to my dream which I will probably never regret! I then applied to Futuregames, and bam bom now I'm here at Neat doing my internship! C:

What’s your all time favourite game?
The World Ends With You! Although Super Smash Bros Melee is the greatest game ever made. Free.

What does a normal day working at Budget Cuts look like?
I get to the office, I force Christoffer to make me coffee since I am awful at it, and then I usually just go through my to-do list and start working! Normals days are rare at Neat Corp. since we're a smaller studio, and there’s always something new that needs to be done. Especially this close to release, new things tend to pop up all the time.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Since this will be the first released game that I have ever worked on, getting to see my own work being released in a full commercial game is a really cool feeling. What makes it even more neat is that it’s such an anticipated game, and I get to be a part of it!

What’s the best part of working at an indie studio like Neat Corporations?
Best part for me is the size of the studio for sure. I really prefer working in smaller teams, it’s a lot more comfortable for me and I feel like it's a lot easier to communicate and have an input on things. The atmosphere feels more relaxed and less like work when there’s fewer people as well, which is nice.

What are your hopes for the release of the game?
Hopefully it will meet all the expectations it has! There's a lot of hype around the game which is really exciting. I hope that the release of Budget Cuts will convince a lot of people to try out VR and see for themselves how cool it is.

Where can we spot your work in the game?
My work is kind of spread out all over the game! I've made sure assets work as they should and looks nice, and I've also made a lot of objects in the game from scratch. I've also worked on a bit of the level art to make sure that the levels in the game look good! Think of me every time you break a mug. Or something.

You can follow Filip on Twitter at @FlippyTengwall!

Thanks for taking your time Flippy, and we will indeed think of you everytime we break a mug - both in and out of game.
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
Next up in our developer spotlight is Marko who works with game design, programming and AI architecture!

Hello. My name is Marko Permanto. I intend to save the world by making video games.

What do you work with?
I mainly do game design and AI programming, but seeing as we are a small team most of us do all kinds of things to some extent. I also do some level design, some production, VFX, audio programming, and a lot of nitpicking to the detriment of my colleagues.

What got you into working with games?
I knew from the age of 6 I wanted to make video games. I finally figured out how to do some Qbasic programming and make mods and levels to games like Quake, Unreal and Starcraft at age 13, having a blast but never really finishing anything for many, many years. After growing up a bit and reading a lot about what it's like to work in the games industry, considering crunch and other sources of stress I figured I'd only keep making games on my free time. Eventually I grew too bored with "vanligt knegande" (Swedish expression that roughly translates to "regular labour") and figured the stress is worth it. Not sure yet if it is :D. Things I've made in the past include Unmechanical (adventure-puzzle game), and some kids toy apps at Toca Boca (such as Toca Cars, Toca Pet Doctor and Toca Life series).

What’s your all time favourite video game?
Usually the answer to this question is tied to nostalgia, so if I just go with that it's probably Quake, but not for the multiplayer as most people associate it with. For me it was the atmosphere in the single-player. A less nostalgia based answer would be Portal. It's too perfect in ways difficult to distill.

What does a normal day at work look like for you?
I come in to the office with the thought "today I will focus super hard on just doing thing X so it's finally done". It always ends with minimal progress on the thing I planned to do, and bouncing around between various admin-ish tasks, communication and bug fixes here and there. C:

What would you say is the hardest part of your job?
Tough one! I guess balancing what we have time to do versus what we want to do is among the most difficult. Another big challenge for me personally is keeping things coherent in the game, balancing everyone’s ideas and thoughts on how things should work or look. We are keeping things very open for everyone in the team to be as involved as they want in all aspects of the game, which sometimes leads to heated discussions until we reach agreement, which is exciting but obviously tough :)

What’s the best thing about working with games?
Seeing people play what I've made, easily. It's why I do this at all. No matter how enjoyable I find programming, I could never do programming for the sake of doing it, and be satisfied with that alone. It's always about seeing players' reaction in the end.

How can we spot the work you’ve done in-game?
All the behavior of the NPC's primarily, I've worked tightly with our animator Christoffer on making them feel as nice as possible. Gamedesign is harder to pinpoint, as it's like... how things work together with other parts of the game. To pick an example, we have had an inventory system for a long time which works well and people seem to enjoy using, so when it came to designing a system for mission objectives I wanted to use the inventory that everyone is used to and just have all mission related items use the same space, so it's as intuitive to use as possible without requiring any redesign of button layouts or anything. It required a couple re-thinks back and forth as it's quite different from mission objective systems in other games where they usually have dedicated buttons on the controller and/or space in the GUI, while we expect players to sacrifice space they could use for weapons for mission objective related objects. Luckily poking around with items in VR feels so natural and nice that this just fits great in our game. It's worked well in our tests so far, hopefully people like it once we release.

Where can we follow your work?
@UrrePolo on Twitter - I mostly just retweet silly things, with the occasional tweet of my own if I have something silly enough on store.

As always, thank you so much for all of your support! We will be back with another developer spotlight shortly.
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
How does one make things move around in a game? He’s the man for the job - today we would like to introduce you to our animator, Christoffer!

Hello Christoffer! What do you do at Neat Corporation and Budget Cuts?
I do a bit of everything, but mostly all that involves our lovely character. Which involves modeling, rigging and then of course then animation which is the part i love. Plus generic stuff that are needed for set dressing etc., also annoying my colleagues to no end with silly stuff.

What have you been doing up until you joined Neat Corporation?
I've been working with 3D since 2009 doing more visualization work. But it wasn't until 2013 that I started working with Toca Boca doing play apps for kids like Toca Kitchen 2, Toca Hair Salon 3 etc. I’ve been playing games my whole life and felt that VR was something new, fresh and exciting. So Budget Cuts feels really cool and challenging to work on.

What’s your the most challenging part of your work?
Probably not making all the animations into super cartoony Disney early day of animation. I like cartoony, okey! But I would say one of the most challenging parts is to get the animations on a level that I feel happy with. It feels extra tricky as well when you, the player, is the camera and can get super close to the characters in Budget Cuts, so everything needs that extra polish which takes a lot of time. But it’s also fun to be nitpicky with this stuff.

What’s your favourite part of doing what you do?
I would say its working and creating with people thats very dear to my heart! These derps i tell yah. <3 And also doing something that I really love of course! :D

What’s your experience working at an indie studio compared to larger studios?
I would say it’s the spread of work you have to shoulder. It’s not that you're assigned ONLY animation tasks, which might be the work layout if you would work on a bigger studio. Instead it’s more helping and doing stuff that needs to be done in other areas as well. Like doing set dressing and props and character design. Which is both super fun but can also be a bit distracting if you really want to do one thing good. But I guess you have to take the "bad" with the good.

How can we spot your work in Budget Cuts?
Oh! All those swavy robots that walk, glides, floats, hover, crawl, rolls and most likely will die... I've given a poke at. Please be gentle with them!

How do you hope the game will be received?
I really hope that people are going to really let go and be super immersed in the experience and take people by storm really. And hopefully not smash their head to hard looking through vents and around corners. :3

That’s it for today, thank you Christoffer!
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
Introducing our next developer behind Budget Cuts, please meet Jenny - co-founder and CEO of Neat Corporation, a.k.a. Bossperson.

What do you do at Neat Corporation/Budget Cuts?
When I first started working with Neat Corp, I did all kinds of things, but with the Budget Cuts demo, mostly art and design. As we grew bigger and hired people who were way better than me at making the game-related things that I did, I shifted my work to making sure they could all focus on making a great game without having to think about all of the paperwork, legal stuff, finances, book-keeping, hiring, business development. All that jazz.

What did you do before co-founding Neat Corporation?
I started my first games-related company that could pay my bills when I was 19 and ever since, I've been in different roles in the games industry, working my way through art, design, code, business, PR and leadership. Music and sound might be the only area I haven't touched at all!

What’s it like to work at an indie studio?
The best and worst part is how much you and the whole studio depend on each and every person. It pushes everyone to do and be their very best, but it also makes us fragile. Which makes us have to take very good care of each other, and I think we do! Not because we were friends before starting the company, but because we all are on this mission to push the boundaries, push ourselves and each other in a very loving and trusting way. I've never seen a workplace like that before, so maybe it's not "just" being indie, but I'm 100% sure we wouldn't have been able to grow into what we are if we weren't.

What does a normal workday look like for you?
I don't have normal days. There's always something new or weird to deal with. But that's part of the fun.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Probably making my mom understand that I have a real job.

And what’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Seeing people develop and create awesome shit! I feel so immensely proud of my team. Of every single person who is in it. :'3

What are your hopes for Budget Cuts?
I hope that Budget Cuts can raise the bar for consumer room-scale VR. That it will be *that* game that makes the players expect more, want more, crave more, demand more. That will make these tech-demos and crappy VR ports be a thing of the past. That Budget Cuts will be that mainstream game that proves how ******* cool VR is and makes people start dreaming about what amazing games COULD be made.

Make sure to follow Jenny on Twitter to see more of her work and awesome updates - @sranine.
Budget Cuts - Ciwiel
To give you more insight in the development and team behind Budget Cuts we’ve gone a bit more in-depth with the people working on the game. First out is Linnéa who works with creative direction, level design and production.

You’ve been in the games industry for quite a while. Can you tell us a little about your previous experience?
I've worked in the video game industry since 2010 and have helped build games in the Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Medal of Honor series. I also worked on Mirrors Edge: Catalyst! Now I'm really excited about VR so I'm really excited I get to work on a game like Budget Cuts that really takes advantage of the hardwares capabilities in roomscale VR.

What is your job working on Budget Cuts?
Most of my time is spent building the levels for our game, from designing the layout, building puzzles, to art dressing them and lighting them! I also help plan our production schedule to make sure we get everything done on time!

What’s the most challenging part of your work?
Reminding myself to take a step back from time to time, look at the big picture, and find solutions to problems that are elegant rather than just duct-taping together stuff so it "works" or just covers up the issue. I think it's very easy when I get into "the flow" of building smaller systems, areas, and levels that I can easily forget about the big picture, what the goal with the game is, and to just focus on finding the fun. It's really easy to forget, so I think I need to get better at remembering to look at what the final experience for the player will be, rather than just looking at the system from my perspective as a developer.

And what is the most rewarding part?
Seeing people play our game with a big smile. Seriously. This is what I live for!

What are your hopes for the game?
I hope that Budget Cuts allows players to have fun in VR by exploring a fictional space, sneaking around and being silly in a way that they haven't done in a long time. I felt like I could just let go and be a kid again, just go all out and have fun and be crazy and silly in a way that I haven't really felt since I was a kid pretending that the floor was lava.

How can we spot your work in the game?
I've worked on the art style, lighting, and level design, so whether you are peering down on a group of robots from a ledge, or sneaking around a dark supply closet trying to find knives, I probably had a hand in creating not only the design of that area, but also the look and feel of it. I was really inspired by the visual style in Mirrors Edge, so I've worked a lot to get bold primary colors into our environments, while still maintaining an office-scape identity to our spaces. The lighting as well needed to look quite iconic for each space, so I focused on making sure we could have the type of ceiling lights you would expect to see in a large corporate office environment without sacrificing the drama of more direct lights with tight ambient occlusion or interesting cast shadows. The contrast between the dark and the light areas are heightened in VR I think, so playing with lighting to really make a space feel cozy and sneaky vs exposed and oppressive has been a really fun challenge.

What is your all time favourite video game?
Oh gosh. So hard to choose just one! I definitely spent a TON of time playing the Myst series, and Mirrors Edge will always have a special place in my heart! Lately though I've been playing lots of MOBAs and Monster Hunter.

Where can we follow your work?
Feel free to follow me on twitter for silly updates about my dog, my adventures in powerlifting, or random photos from the office at Neat Corp! @Dhiel

That’s all from us right now! Thank you for your support - we’re working very hard on finishing up the game for you all.
Budget Cuts - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)


The blessed boys and girls of Valve were showing off some VR games for the upcoming Vive Pro at the Game Developers Conference last week. They were encamped near the press room in a large chamber split up into little shacks, each running a game such as the robot-avoiding comedy stealth of Budget Cuts, or the sunbathing relaxation of Vacation Simulator. I went on a rapidfire journey through this shantytown of virtual reality, jacking into game after game, each lasting about 20 minutes. The results: this round-up, and an intense visual migraine that rendered me incapable of reading for a full 5 minutes. I m being serious. I thought I was having a stroke.

But enough about visual anomalies that float around the inside of your eye like a terrifying optical aurora, let s talk videogames. Here are the strange worlds I entered and all the ways in which I tried to undermine the developers from inside their own game. Sorry, VR fans!



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