I'm Derk de Geus, a 29-year old guy from The Netherlands, living in The Hague with my girlfriend and cat. I am a tech hippie, design junkie and entrepreneur. By running a game studio I can play around and pretend to be all three of them. Classic win-win.
Derk is an entrepreneur from The Netherlands. With a love for creative work, he is into music production, programming, photography, drawing, writing and digital art. For as long as he can remember he mixed this creative drive with entrepreneurship - starting with selling cartoons and music, and later by working as a freelance web designer and game developer.
In 2005, Derk co-founded Paladin Studios, an independent game studio based in The Hague. He runs the business as CEO, and is creative director for Paladin’s games. As head of a small studio, he takes on many roles - the most important ones being strategy, people development and product management.
Derk has given several keynote presentations on game design and entrepreneurship. He is a fan of “Good Business”, a concept revolving around respect for coworkers, striving for mutual success and facilitating a healthy workplace as an employer. This dimension of entrepreneurship is what gets him out of bed in the morning.
He strives for continuous improvement and self-development in all areas of life and work.
2009 - Present
CEO / Paladin Studios
Implementing the strategy for the company:
- Transforming the company from a work-for-hire venture to an independent game studio; - Creating new worlds, characters and stories, and growing them; - Serving worldwide markets; - Staying alive and kicking in a hectic industry
2009 - Unity Awards - EnerCities in Top 5
2009 - Nomination for Dutch Game Awards with VouwVriendjes
2009 - Dutch Game Rally award for VouwVriendjes
2008 - Quest3D Award for Monastery of Dordrecht
2006 - Quest3D Award for Qumulus
2006 - LEF Audience Award for Paladin Studios
2003 - First prize in webdesign competition
2003 - Honorary mention as one of the top 3 graduation students at Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam
Personal development, entrepreneurship, game development, agile & lean, design, art, music, photography, travel, psychology, philosophy, technology, Internet, world cultures, the list goes on...
We are about to launch our new game, Nikko RC Racer! It is a free RC racing game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Nikko RC Racer puts you in control of your favorite radio controlled cars. Discover each car’s unique features and capabilities, relive your childhood and challenge your friends on Facebook.
You can find Nikko RC Racer in the App Store this Thursday. In the meantime, check out the launch trailer:
The official Nikko RC Racer
To make Nikko RC Racer, we teamed up with Elastik. Concepts and Nikko RC. Nikko is a leading radio controlled toy manufacturer. It is their 55th anniversary this year, and a free racing game is of course the perfect way to celebrate.
Drive a real Nikko
The game features 10 exclusive Nikko cars, spanning several decades of RC history. Drive trough water at top speed with the VaporizR, blast your way to the finish with the N-Blaster or go for vintage with the Champion Kart – one of the first Nikko vehicles. All vehicles are based on the real RC cars, and each has its own unique driveability.
Race against your friends
Nikko RC Racer is fully focused on racing against your friends. Race with 10 exclusive Nikko cars on 9 different tracks. When you connect with Facebook, your replay is saved in the cloud; You can see the ghost replays of your friends and beat their times. This means you experience the thrill of an actual race, without having to be in the same session at the same time.
Fill your RC garage
The game is free to play, and can acquire premium cars to try new wheels. There are several ways to unlock the premiums:
Purchase a real Nikko RC car, and use the promo code in the packaging
Like Nikko RC on Facebook to unlock the explosive N-Blaster
Purchase one premium car for $0,99 or all the premium cars for $ 2,99
The cars are fine tuned so every vehicle “feels” unique. With 10 cars and 9 tracks to race on, there is plenty to explore!
Win a Nikko
To celebrate Nikko’s 55th anniversary, they give away a real N-Blaster every week. To join the competition, simply download the game and start racing. Whenever you get a super fast time, or do an awesome trick, be sure to save the replay on EveryPlay. Each week, the coolest video wins an N-Blaster. Just to let you know, the real-life N-Blaster has a laser and can shoot missiles.
So stay tuned – and be sure to get Nikko RC Racer this Thursday! You can get it from the App Store on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Hope you like it! Let us know what you think :)
PS - We kept this game under the hood until now, but we will be blogging about it the creative process the upcoming weeks. What would you like to read about? Let us know in the comments!
Recently our studio got an very inspirational visit. No not by some ‘big shot’ or guru, but by an exceptional 10-year-old called Lucas who was accompanied by his brother and mother. They visited us because Lucas has a wish. He wants to become a game developer one day and maybe we could help.
I guess many 10-year-olds want to become astronauts, firefighters, millionaires or uuh.. game developers these days. But few of them face the same challenges as Lucas and his family. Unlike most of his peers Lucas suffers a life-threatening medical condition.
Luckily there is the Make-a-Wish foundation who recognizes the power of a wish and tries to enrich the lives of these children, their families and everyone involved with its wish-granting work. Lucas’ wish-fulfillment resulted in a day full of awesome activities. After a DJ workshop where he got to practice his scratching and mixing, the delegation drove to our office by limousine.
We tried to give him an idea of what its like to be a game developer. Lucas and his brother Darius got an introduction to game development by game designer Tim Hengeveld. As soon as he started talking they started their inquisition. All kinds of clever questions, remarks and insights were launched at Tim. It was really surprising how much they knew already and how much more they wanted to learn.
As soon as Tim could take a breather the boys got a taste of animation and design by our veteran artist Jimmy de Meza. Together they worked on some designs for Momonga Pinball Adventures. Eventually the visit came to an end with Jimmy making an animated version of Lucas.
Lucas his day continued to stay awesome with a visit to his favorite restaurant with all of his friends he picked up on the way. We are really grateful that we could be a part of this experience and want to thank the Make-a-Wish foundation and volunteers Menno and Mieke to make it possible. Also many thanks to Lucas and his family for the visit. We will be awaiting your job application.
We have been working on a serious game called “Laka” in the past months, and we are proud to say that this game has been nominated for the Future of Health Award.
‘The Future of Health Award’ is a competition by The Games for Health Europe Conference that aims on further development of ideas around game in healthcare. At the last edition of the conference every attendee had the opportunity to pitch their idea in a 5 minute video pitch. Our client’s pitch has been reviewed by a jury and they selected Laka as one of the 5 nominees for the Future of Health Award! The winning idea will be chosen mid-2013. These are the other nominees:
We’d like to congratulate our fellow nominees and our client Ciran for the nominations. A jury report and abstracts of the five ideas will follow soon. You can follow it on Twitter and Facebook, and we will keep you up to date as well.
It has been behind the scenes up until now, so we have been quiet about it. About a year ago, the Dutch rehabilitation company Ciran contacted Paladin for a game project they wanted to start. They had the ambitious plan to create a game that could support with the rehabilitation process of their patients – mostly people with symptoms of chronic pain and chronic fatigue.
While not religious in nature, Laka is based on buddhist philosophy. The game teaches players about handling yourself and handling life – in particular, it aims to improve and test your skill in generosity, moral discipline, patience, energy, focus and wisdom. These are the six “paramitas” (virtues) of Mahayana buddhism.
In the game Laka, you step into the shoes of your avatar and travel the world. You meet different types of people and encounter various situations. In every situation you make choices: How do you react to the boy spilling water on you? What will you do when someone leaves his bag in the train? How do you respond to the man who’s blocking your view at a concert? What do you say to the homeless person asking you for some money? These situations vary from everyday situations (like standing in line) to uncommon ones (like being scammed in a tea house). How you respond is up to you.
How does this help the patients?
The sources of chronic pain and fatigue are usually found in the environment of the patient. An angry boss, a stressful situation at home – when it’s too much to handle, your body suffers as a result.
The rehabilitation process focuses on coping with the stress factors – often including symptom itself. To tackle this, Ciran has developed a treatment that not ony includes the traditional medicine (doctors, physiotherapists, and psychologists) but adds several other components: Sports, a life coach, and mindfulness exercises.
We fully believe in and support Ciran’s cause and believe that by playing this game, patients will gain insight into the choices they make every day.
The game can be played on iPad, and will be embedded in Ciran’s rehabilitation program. The game will become available to 4000+ patients each year. In order to determine the effectiveness of Laka, a scientific validation study will be carried out by the University of Tilburg.
It was an exciting day for us, because today we released our latest production Man Bijt Hond Zoekertje. Together with NCRV’s Man Bijt Hond we developed a game to bring the show to your smartphone and tablet. As of today you can download Man Bijt Hond Zoekertje on Google Play and the App Store for free.
Man Bijt Hond
Man Bijt Hond is one of the most unique and successful television programs ever aired on Dutch television. The show revolves around converting big news to small news and vice versa (just like the name suggests). It achieves this with creative but simple concepts and their own unique style. Like joining for dinner at a random household to run through their day. These sections deliver some of the most amusing fragments, and Man Bijt Hond is packed with those.
From TV to Touch
To catch the Man Bijt Hond look and feel was quite a challenge. The game had to contain the same simplicity and humour as the show, and it should stay entertaining for a while. To add to that this is the first time the program exceeds the borders of their normal format – exciting!
As soon as we entered the concept phase we realized how hard this was actually going to be. After many hours of brainstorming, mind mapping, yoga and what not, we didn’t make any real progress. But all our fancy frills actually made it harder than it actually was; we just had to keep it simple.
Because in the end, what is Man Bijt Hond all about? Normal people with extraordinary stories. In collaboration with NCRV, we identified the most intriguing people Man Bijt Hond brought to our displays. Like old-fashioned farmer Jan Stam, the colorful Mandy and the seasoned fairground operators Peter and Michel (picture). They are the embodiment of Man Bijt Hond. That is why Man Bijt Hond Zoekertje is a game based on these extraordinary stories.
Man Bijt Hond Zoekertje is a hidden object game starring Mandy, Jan Stam and Peter and Michel as the main characters. Evil forces made them lose their things and you are going to help them find it. Find as much hidden objects as possible in 90 seconds. The faster you are the more points you get. If you don’t make any mistakes, you are awarded with a bonus multiplier. As an extra objective, there are 3 hidden letters in each level. If you can find them all you will be awarded with a power-up.
Man Bijt Hond Zoekertje is now available on Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it now on Google Play and the App Store! Share your thoughts below in the comments.
So, today we are launching Momonga Pinball Adventures! If you follow this blog you know that it has been a long ride home :) I thought it would be nice to tell you about the development process, from the humble beginnings to today’s launch.
In 2010, I never would have thought we would be making a pinball game. We were working hard on several projects – most of them not even games. The two projects that kept the company going were an urban development toolkit and an interior design toolkit. Both were done in Unity, and they were pretty cool and technically challenging – but very business-oriented, and nothing close to games.
(This is the type of project we were working on back then)
We did, however, start to make money. And this opened up some possibilities. We had been brooding on making our own games from the day we started Paladin in 2005, but nothing much came of it except some ideas and little prototypes.
(Vouwvriendjes, one of the prototypes we built in 2009)
When we launched EnerCities in 2010, it was the first big “game-like” project that we actually completed. It almost brought us to the ground financially, but we loved working on it.
When we got back on our feet in 2010, we did a little test case to see if we could make a mobile game and publish it. Jimmy Pataya was launched in April 2010, and again, it really felt like something we wanted to do more. But the game never really took off, and aside from some updates and prototypes for new games, we somehow failed to finish anything big.
One experiment of note was a city builder concept for Facebook. We built the prototype but soon realized that it was waaaay over our head – the project died soon after.
(Half a year later, the city builders on Facebook were making big bucks)
At the same time, we saw that mobile was on the rise. So we took another step back and started work on an old graduation project of mine, called Hill Riders. It was a side-scrolling race game, similar to many of the line rider type games out there. But that project soon died as well. We simply never got to the point where we took it seriously enough to actually finish it. A paid project would come along, and our prototypes would end up on the shelves, catching dust.
(Sketches for Hill Riders)
We were making money with work for hire projects, but I knew we needed to make the strategic shift to our own products to become the Paladin Studios we wanted to be. And this required more than a couple of enthusiastic attempts.
When I discussed this issue with my advisor, Wynand Bodewes, he suggested something that would change our entire approach to game development. The problem was that we needed full commitment, from the entire team, and for the long-term. And the only way to get that was to think long and hard about a game concept, and test the waters early. We came up with a staged selection process, where we would go from 100 ideas to 10 designs, then 3 prototypes and eventually one game.
We already had one prototype: Hill Riders. Coming up with the other two prototypes was fairly straightforward. We scheduled one week where anyone could add game ideas to a big pool, using a simple form on Google Docs. This generated a ton of ideas, and we voted on the coolest concepts. 10 games remained.
The next step would be to create a better picture of these games, because I needed to evaluate the business sense. Using an excel sheet with a lot of variables, I scored and ranked each game. I rated the games based on things like innovation, feasibility, competition, and the possibilities of spin-offs and other monetization options. Another thing I did was to create “fake” advertising, to see which games (and taglines) would sell best.
It was a close shot, but apart from Hill Riders, two games were at the top of our list. One of them was an “Infinite Pinball” game that our developer Yorick came up with, the other a multiplayer arena game that co-founder Dylan Nagel came up with. We built the prototypes and invited testers to come over to the office and play the 3 games. Something interesting happened: People would sit down with the pinball game, and entertain themselves for at least 45 minutes.
(Folks loved this!)
It turned out that the pinball game was the highest rated game of the day, and seeing the twinkle in the eyes of the players made me realize that we had something special here. I decided to go for it, and we kicked of the early phases of development. This was January 2011, and I fully expected the game to launch that year. :)
Most games start with a prototype, and Momonga is no different. We knew that the mechanics were pinball, and we wanted the theme to be something cute – in particular, “cute with eyes”. Here are the fluffy pinballs that we came up with at that time:
But, alas, the infinite pinball concept was soon killed. Here’s the thing: pinball is a really, really tough genre to do right. We had no clue what we were getting into. It’s not just the physics, it’s the level design which proved tricky. We felt we needed a firm grasp of the basic principles before we could even start thinking about a random level generator. So at one meeting in the sun, we decided that we would do fixed levels. At the time we thought that would make our lives easier – but it turned out to be just as hard. In effect, we changed the genre from a casual game to an action-adventure game, we simply didn’t realize it yet.
When we switched to levels, the door was open to add a storyline and improve the characters a lot. This is definitely a good thing, because it allows you to build on your IP for future games. We were well into 2011 by this time, but the game started taking shape. Here is a video of the prototype in action:
Finishing the Game
Early 2012, development started to accelerate a bit. We had a bit of spare time on our hands, and devoted all our extra time and energy into Momonga. The first levels were done, and at GDC 2012 we had a pretty good prototype to show potential publishers. I still wasn’t sure whether we should self-publish or partner up, and the conversations I had at GDC were great. IN the end we decided to do it ourselves, because that was what we set out to do. Not only did we say “no” to publishers (who would have invested real euros into the game) but we also said “no” to several other paid projects. In effect we were betting the farm on this one. And the reason is that we believed in the concept. We remembered the testing sessions, and new sessions confirmed that people really, really loved the game. So we pressed on, and when we felt we had enough levels, we announced it to the world.
(The preview trailer now has over 15,000 views on YouTube)
That was April 2012, and the press picked it up beyond all our expectations. Kotaku, Touch Arcade, Gamezebo – all the big guys were there, and what’s more, they praised the concept and visual style. That’s when we knew we were really on to something. But it also created a lot of expectations, and to meet those expectations is hard. Very hard. We raised the bar, but had to make several decisions that delayed production. Other projects required our attention – in the end, we had to pay the bills. Weeks became months. We fully expected the game to be out half-way 2012, but the submission of version 1.0 was early December 2012.
On New Year’s Eve, we got approval from Apple. That’s when we knew that the game was truly “done” – we could launch then and there if we wanted. An excellent way to end the year!
And that brings us to today. I have focused all my energy on the launch in the past weeks. And it was a lot more work than I expected – banners, screenshots, trailer, a game page update, and new Apple policies – it took many more hours than I thought it would. But that’s okay. We did it. We finished the game. And did it good. It’s something we’re proud of, and people enjoy playing it. That’s what we’re doing it for – to make you smile.
At this point, I have no clue whether we will ever break even with the project. But I do know that we have learned a lot of lessons.
So I will keep writing about these lessons, and keep you posted on our adventures. Expect more Momonga Mondays in the upcoming months.
Have fun! :)
PS: If you want to try the game, please download it in the App Store and give it an honest review. Thanks for supporting us! :)
I know you have waited long for the release. The original announcement was in April 2012, and it took longer than we thought to get it done. We wanted to get it just right, and that takes time.
We finished the game last year and submitted it to Apple. They approved it on New Year’s Eve (what a way to party!) and we are going to launch it tomorrow. YES, tomorrow! :-)
So what’s next? Well, the official launch date is Thursday January 17th. That means that, right now, the game is available for download in New Zealand, Australia and Asia. After midnight your timezone, you can check the App Store and find it waiting for you :-)
Until then, here are some goodies to ease the waiting:
Happy apocalypse Holidays everyone! Boy, what a year. We moved offices, finished our first game, and we worked hard on amazing projects. I even turned 30. You only turn 30 once in your life. ;)
The absolute high point for me was last Monday. After nearly two years of development, and roughly 9 months delay, we finally – finally! – submitted Momonga Pinball Adventures to the App Store. The game is done. Our baby now patiently waits for someone from Apple to check it out and give it the green light.
The launch will be in January, so stay tuned – we will be giving away goodies and promo codes on Facebook, Twitter, the newsletter and of course this blog.
For Momonga, this is just the beginning. We have new levels in the making, and the game will be available on Android and other platforms later in 2013.
Pinball is not the only thing we’ve been working on. There are three more iOS releases scheduled early next year – a race game, a hidden object game and a 2D adventure game. We are proud of these projects, and I think you might like them too.
I want to take this moment to thank the incredible team, especially the folks who worked late nights to get things done. You know who you are. It is a pleasure to work with you, and I hope that 2013 will be even more awesome.
And thank you, dear reader – for you are the reason we’re doing this. I hope we put a smile on your face last year, and rest assured, we fully intend to do that again in 2013.
The past few weeks have been incredibly busy. We are working on several cool projects and we are putting the final touch on Momonga.
In between the real work, we have moved to a new office space too! Say hello to Unit 77:
These smartypantses feel right at home. :)
The new HQ is 50 meters down the hallway in the Caballero Fabriek, so the move was quick and painless. The past couple of years we have shared office space with the guys from Khaeon in Unit 82. All good things come to an end, and we are happy to have our own space again!
In the meantime, we are working hard to finish that little pinball game of ours. The main content is done. We have a couple of new features planned, but mostly lots of polishing. We have even secretly set a target date for submission to the App Store – but don’t tell anyone yet.
I know things have been silent on the blog here, but rest assured that we have not been slacking off :) Stay tuned for more.
We are working on a multiplayer version of Jimmy Pataya, deadline this afternoon. We are liveblogging the progress.
The goal is to make a multiplayer version of Jimmy Pataya for the Winnitron. Today we have an open house for the CabFab (our HQ) and we thought we needed a nice showcase for the Winnitron arcade cabinet we pieced together a couple of months ago. And what would be more awesome than Jimmy Pataya multiplayer?
The idea is to dodge blades and get as far as possible while blocking your opponent. All that on the good old Palatron cabinet, with old-fashioned joysticks.
Update 1: Getting Started
We started with the idea yesterday afternoon. Niels got started right away with a splitscreen multiplayer mode to see where this would go. Turns out, it is awesome. That’s when we decided to go for it. Here is a screenshot of the initial multiplayer mode in action:
Jimmy is created with 2D sprites in a 3D world. This works pretty well in single player mode, it seems almost 3D. In multiplayer mode, you can clearly see that it’s a paper-thin model. There’s not much time left – our deadline is today 2pm – but we decided to make a 3D model out of Jimmy.
Here’s Jimmy, Tim and Benjamin (our artists) working on that:
It needs a 3D model, UV map, texture, rig, and animations. I hope we’ll get it done today :)
Update 2: 3D model in the game
11:05. We have the 3D model in the game, and are working on the start and finish screens.
The Winnitron is eagerly waiting…
Update 3: Ragdoll Physics!
11:30. YES. YES. YES.
Update 4: Bringing it together
12:48. The clock is ticking, and we need to bring things together now. The ragdolls are working nicely, and the 3D models are done (including some animations). The sprint to the finish line starts – so we need to focus for a bit ;-)
However in the meantime, here is the logo and the official name: Jimmy vs Jimmy. (That’s a hat tip to our friends from Vlambeer who created Super Crate Box versus for the Winnitron)
Update 5: …..aaaand it’s live!
(14:00-15:00) Ladies and gentlemen, we present: Jimmy Demeza!
You can check it out live at the Caballero Fabriek in Den Haag. This afternoon there is an open house – so feel free to drop by! :)
Stay tuned for updates! We will post updates today as we progress. All updates will be added to this blog post. The deadline is 2pm so I will post a video of the game in action when people are playing it. Be sure to follow @paladinstudios on Twitter so you can see the latest news.
It’s not Monday but I wanted to give a small update. Even though we got sidetracked with some other projects recently, we are still progressing with Momonga. Stay tuned for Momonga Mondays, we will be posting a lot more in the upcoming weeks.
Art of Momonga talk
I gave a talk last week about The Art of Momonga at the Adobe User Group in Rotterdam. I had 160 slides packed with concept art and inside info.
A lot of the blog content is condensed in this 40-minute presentation. So if you want a quick overview of how we approach game development with Momonga, or want to see some of the goodies that have not made it to the blog, be sure to check it out!
Momonga at Indigo
Next week there will be more updates to share with you, but for now I would like to invite you to the world’s first hands-on preview of Momonga. This Friday and Saturday, Indigo in Utrecht hosts the best of the best of the Dutch indie games scene, and Momonga will be there. You heard that right – you can play Momonga in a hands-on preview!
This is our first public showcase, so we are super excited to have folks come over and play the game. I expect we will learn a lot from watching people play, so I’m curious to see what feedback they can come up with.