Inside the Grove
Widowgrove is a small media company owned and operated by me - Anders Rauff-Nielsen - with a focus on development and publication of games, apps and works of fiction. The company takes its name after my maternal family name "Enkelund", which in english translates to "Widowgrove".
Since 2006 I have worked as a game designer, world-builder and fiction author. My previous workplaces include Danmarks Radio (Barda) and Politikens Forlag, as well as TCDigital (Chaotic TCG) in San Diego, where I worked as a writer and game designer for almost 3 years. Following my time on Chaotic, I worked for 3 ½ years with digital game development as the Lead Game Designer at Unity Studios and currently I work as a Game & Universe Designer at FundayFactory. On the side I have created several award-winning game prototypes, as well as books and games which will (in time) have their home here at Widowgrove.
This career in games and as an author is based on a lifelong passion for games and storytelling, together with a solid academic master's degree (Cand. Mag.) in Philosophy and History.
Below you can check out some high-lights from my (pre-Widowgrove) resume. These projects range from previous publications, over projects worked on while in the employ at other companies, to signifcant projects undertaken in my spare time over the last couple of years.
In may 2015 I was selected by the Danish Cultural Agency (under the Danish Ministry of Culture) to partake in a StoryJam to help investigate the future of digital litterature. 15 Game Designers, 15 Writers and 15 Illustrators holed up at "Schaeffergaarden" north of copenhagen for a very intense weekend, which produced a number of interesting and inspiring pitches and even prototypes of new concepts for digital storytelling.
If you want, you can check out the resulting presentations HERE.
At this years Nordic Game Jam - the worlds largest game jam - my team (with Ditte Deenfeldt, Rasmus Heeger & Patrick Jarlestam) created the rythm-based stealth-puzzle-platformer "Sneaky Elvis in The Amazing Jailhouse Escape". We ended up being awarded the Jury's Choice award for Best Audio Integration, as well as the 3rd place in the main competition - making it a personal hattrick as "Sneaky Elvis" is my third NGJ game in a row to win an award. And yes, I'm the one doing the mumbling Elvis impersonation for the in-game music :)
Dead Water is a fantastic multi-player Ghost Pirate adventure, which I played a key role in developing during my time at Unity Studios - from creating the very first idea, through succesfully fund-raising to create a Vertical Slice Demo and leading the game design through pre-production and demo creation. The project was supported by DFI Spilordningen (the Danish Game Scheme) with 850.000 DKK and you can check out the games Facebook page with videos and screenshots right HERE.
At Nordic Game Jam 2013 - the worlds largest game jam - my team (with Ditte Deenfeldt, Rasmus Heeger & Patrick Jarlestam) created the game “Twisted”, which won the "Most Innovative Game" award. The game is a deformation of the arcade classic Tetris into a grotesque version - exploring the impact of continuous application/changing of basic rules, mechanics and environment and the use of new input forms available on the iPad, such as Gyroscope and touch interface.
To see a short presentation and the game in action, just click HERE.
Let's Grow! is as much a creative experience app as it is a game. In Let's Grow you are challenged to grow, trim and style plants into beautiful artistic bonsai creations to share with friends and exhibit to earn stars to unlock new plant species to grow.
At the core of the game lies a very advanced self-organizing growth algorithm that ensures that each and every plant will grow up to become unique and which makes the plants able to grow on their own accord (just water them) - so that you have to "master" each species by trimming and styling them differently to make the most of their growth. Just as if you had a real living bonsai inside your iPad.
I have written a 2-piece featured Gamasutra articles on the growth algorithm and my thoughts on how such chaotic systems can empower (and improve) the user experience, which can be found HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2), should it be of interest.
At Nordic Game Jam 2013 - the worlds largest game jam - my team (with Ditte Deenfeldt & Sune Hede) created the game Boing Wauw, which won the Jury's Choice Award. Boing Wauw is a two player Co-op iPad game that explores social and learning aspects of gaming, with the device primarily working as an information carrier and the core game element kept in the inter-player communication. Taking turns, the players hear a sound, which they have to mimic in order to let their co-player select the (abstract) image on the game board that matches the sound. As the game progresses the sounds and images scale in complexity. The Jury's Choice Award was awarded by Jury Member Ole Teglbjærg (Press Play).
You can see a short video presention made during the game jam HERE.
Noorhjem is an Augmented Reality game created as a tourist attraction in northern Jytland, which was intended to help promote other attractions in the area, by connecting more than 30 other tourist attractions in a "Choose Your Own Addventure" fantasy experience. In the fantasy world of Noorhjem, the queens amulet (and source of power) Ravnoor had been stolen and it was up to the player to help her get it back by solving a number of quest and reading thorugh an interactive story sent bit by bit in SMS and responded to via an SMS short-code service. During each chapter the player needed to access a quest location and solve the quest there - these locations being the 30+ other tourists attractions.
In developing Noorhjem, I took part in conceptualization, game design, on-site quest design, narrative design/world building, writing fiction and art direction, as well as a great deal of on-site research (of more than 70 tourist attractions nominated to be part of the Noorhjem experience) and several workshops with the involved organizations.
The Chaotic trading card game was an internationally market leading brand, which was published in more than 15 nations worldwide, translated to several languages and ran primetime TV series with 70+ episodes nationwide in the US and other nations. During my time on Chaotic I worked as a fiction writer (of both publishable fiction and backstory/IP development) and with game design on the core TCG design team.
I 2007 I wrote the book "Politikens Bog Om Rollespil" together with my brother Martin. The book is an introduction to roleplaying games and storytelling, aimed primarily at pre-teens/teens, as well as parent who wants to get a fundamental introduction to their kids' hobby. The book covers both table-top and LARP and includes basic rule-systems for both, as well as introduction adventures to kick-start your adventure into the fun world of roleplaying games. The book is published by Politiken, one of Denmarks largest publishing houses and is part of their bookseries "Politikens bog om. . ." (Politikens book on. . . ).
Widowgrove.com © - Anders Rauff-Nielsen