RPS: If you’re committed to supporting Skylines for a long time, does that mean Cities in Motion is finished now?
Hallikainen: I hope not! I want to make a Cities in Motion 3. I know there are people who really really like that game. Skylines is really big at the moment but I personally feel that we can still bring a lot more to Cities in Motion. I know it doesn’t fit the roadmap currently but I hope that at some point we really take the time to work on it.
We had so many good things going on in Cities in Motion 1. We didn’t succeed in everything we wanted to achieve in the second one. I want to comibine them and bring the ultimate mass transit simulator to our fans – the two of them that are expecting it.
If you compare, of course Cities in Motion will never be at the same scale. It’s so niche! But I feel very proud of what we achieved with it. It’s something that enabled Skylines. We learned so much from it. We could bring the outside connections that we have in Skylines to Cities in Motions, and other ideas, and work on a transit simulator on a much larger scale. That would be super cool.
I have no idea what Paradox thinks of this to be honest (laughs)!
RPS: Cities in Motion is almost like one facet of a citybuilder. Could it work as an expansion that focuses on one specific part of the city.
Hallikainen: In a sense, yeah. There are a lot of similarities, of course. The road network in Cities in Motion 2 is much more complicated. We made it a lot more simplified in Skylines. There are so many other features we didn’t want to make mass transit too complicated.
I don’t know how it would fit as an expansion necessarily. It might be a standalone project, it might be something else, but I don’t think Cities in Motion should be left as it is now. We have the fans and we should do something for them.
RPS: Do you have interest in doing other projects as well? Presumably Skylines will change the way you work as a company. Will you expand?
Hallikainen: We need more people/ With this amount of attention we’re getting, I need some help basically (laughs). I see Colossal Order doing two projects simultaneously at some point. That has been a long-term goal for us.
Skylines, with the success it has now, we are very dedicated to keep working on it. We’re going to be adding to it, working with the modding community, bringing more modding tools, more content – and then we want to start another project, which is something at least a little bit different to anything we’ve done before.
That’s going to be very exciting for the team. I don’t know what it is yet but we’re in a good situation because we have – how can I put this – we have some choices available to us now. And that relates to what the next game we’re going to work on will be. But we’ll be simultaneously working on Skylines.
What I can tell you is that in Finland we like to have month-long holidays so Colossal Order will be closed for the entirety of July so until then there will be a 100% effort on Skylines and afterwards we’ll figure out what to do with our next project. When we start working on that, we’ll keep you guys in the loop and hopefully it’ll be some really cool simulation.
But we do need to do something a little bit different.
RPS: Is part of that that you need to keep your staff interested? If you have one ongoing project, in Skylines, no matter how much fun it might be to work on, does it become a bit stale to work on for years with no change?
Hallikainen: Yeah. You’re completely on point there. We have been working on Cities in Motion and Skylines for years, and for the artists they’ve basically been modelling cities. This is something I feel very strongly about, that we should bring fresh and new things to our employees.
We have been working on these kinds of games for around six years. We need something that excites us and it’s not that we’ll move away from Skylines – we love it – but we also love variety. We need variety.
That’s something that I think about with Cities in Motions 3. If we do something different now, we can come back to Cities in Motions, back to our own beginnings, with new energy.
It’s something that I keep in mind at all times .We are a small company and I want these people to work for us for the next twenty years. Feeding them cake, making sure they’re well paid, allowing them to work on a variety of things – all of that is important. If they have to do the same work for years and years, people tend to get sick of it and then they will start to possibly explore other options.
I love the team and I want to keep them working at Colossal Order. We won’t be making a classic citybuilder next, it’ll be something else exciting and fun.
RPS: When you came to Colossal Order, is it true that you came from a non-gaming business background?
Hallikainen: Yeah, I was studying automation technology and industrial management. I have no game industry background.
RPS: Is this something that you see yourself doing for the rest of your career?
Hallikainen: I love games. I love the games industry! I don’t know if I qualify as a gamer myself, in the sense that I’m not extremely passionate about gaming and games – but I think the industry is full of such creativity, and such cool people. I love the team I work with. Colossal Order is a super cool bunch of people doing what they love. My job is to make sure they have the resources at hand that they need, that they have the opportunity to focus on the things they’re good at. That’s my job. I handle the boring stuff that no creative person wants to be thinking about. It’s important to me to enable the creative process and I love that job.
I don’t think I ever want to get away from it. There are so many options within the games industry and Colossal Order isn’t done yet. We’ve made our first successful game with Skylines and now we want to do ten more. We’re hungrier than ever. More cake, more champagne.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company were making a documentary about us last week. They were asking if with this kind of success we felt like quitting. Stop while we’re at the top. And I said, “No, absolutely not! Now we START working! Now we are on to something and we need to put more effort in.” Everybody here feels that way.
We are on to something good and we want to keep working. Part of that is down to the fact that at Colossal Order we put a lot of effort into the well-being of employees. We have holidays, we have reasonable work hours and this is something that keeps people very happy and working well for the long-term. We don’t work 16 hours a day trying to crunch and get the work done. We don’t need holidays to recover when a project is finished. That means we can go straight into post-release support and bug-fixing. Thank god we didn’t have to do any major ones but there are things we want to address, including the new content. And then figuring out what our next big game will be. It’s an exciting time for us.
On page three, memories of Maxis and the broad appeal of citybuilding.