Interview with one of MiTale’s founders, Mikko Lainio

We want to introduce you to Mikko Lainio, one of the co-founders of MiTale, a full-stack programmer with huge passion for game design. Besides hard-core programming, Mikko’s talents are in writing, pixel graphics, music and project management. Today Mikko will share about his background, career path, interests and much more.

What drew you to become a game developer?

That goes way back, maybe around the time I was 10 or 12 by drawing pixel graphics for imaginary games and scribbling down my first ever “design documents”. I started playing games since I was 4 years old, with an old 8086 8Mhz, and was hooked ever since. I guess it was just a matter of time until I wanted to make one, but it did take me quite a while longer to actually pursue a career in this field. I guess what opened it up for me was when I realized I could become a programmer and do it myself. It wasn’t obvious for quite a bit of time, but I am happy I made this choice.

What type of projects do you prefer working on?

I’ve been drawn to RPG’s for quite a many years now, so I like projects where I can tinker with RPG systems, procedural creation algorithms and also Physics-based gameplay. Otherwise, I’m mostly familiar with C# and Java based stack, so it’s always nice to work with those, but I always welcome new technologies and frameworks as a learning experience and challenge. In general, I really enjoy making systems that may ease development on the long run.

Where do you see MiTale in the game market, what do you see as unique thing that our team offers?

We have an amazing team capable of doing almost anything. Whatever we do, we do it in style and with good taste. As our team is growing, we want to make sure we scale-up maturely. As for the market, everyone in the industry knows the struggle, but what sets us apart is definitely an ability to innovate and find new angles to the interactive storytelling design, which we are very proud of and so are our clients and partners.

What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day work?

I tend to have quite many projects at the same time, not just at work but also my personal projects, so I guess managing my time is the big one. For MiTale projects there is the support and development done by the whole team, as for my personal projects I sometimes get challenges with scope and being too self-critical. Our company policy is that everyone is encouraged to work on own concepts and games, learn new tools and try new things, which also includes receiving feedback on these ideas and projects that one wishes to pursue developing further.

What are the best parts of your work?

I love the pre-production phase of a new project when the project is still but a gibberish mess of ideas, waiting to be processed through our brains and flushed down to a canvas of bullet points, ugly drawings and excel sheets. Then at some point it all clicks together, and you have the skeleton of your project, in some form, barely imaginable, yet there. I love the rush of innovation and creativity during that phase. Then much later, once you have a functional prototype, to see the designs click together and the feeling of pride to having accomplished that. Naturally, it’s rarely if ever that simple, and to get there you need several iterations, plenty of work and headaches… coffee helps!

What do you see as the biggest benefit of working in MiTale?

We’re often right “in the thick of it” and each of us has significant influence in how something is implemented. If it goes wrong, there’s no one to blame but ourselves, but if it goes right, the credit is also all on us. It’s satisfying and fulfilling to be able to influence the outcome of a project in a meaningful way. We’re only responsible to ourselves – and our clients 🙂

What was the most memorable moment in your career so far?

Probably setting up the company in the first place.

What tip would you give to your younger self?

Irrelevant. He wouldn’t listen anyway.

Interview by Milica Bulatovic.

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