Come watch our producer Geoff!

Come watch our producer Geoff!


Geoff was already featured in an interesting blog post on last week, which we’d recommend taking a look at if you’re interested in games dev. This week you can get more insights into the We Were Here series and more as Geoff will be taking part in an Airmeet event organized by, happening today! What can you expect exactly? We’re glad you asked!

Two industry leaders in social gaming, Geoff van den Ouden, Producer of Total Mayhem Games, and Selcuk Atli, CEO of Bunch, will share their insights on how to make games more engaging through social connection, and why you should ditch Discord and add live voice and video directly inside your game

There will also be a Q/A session and a social networking time towards the end, as well as some tips and tricks to increase a game’s user base and session times!
If that sounds good to you, check out the event here!

Developer Diaries - Episode 4: Total Mayhem

Developer Diaries

Episode 4: Total Mayhem

We are closing the year with our fourth and final episode of the We Were Here Together Developer Diaries! In this episode the team takes you on their own journey. Starting as a group of students and having the opportunity to establish their own independent studio is quite a ride!

Developer Diaries – Composing the We Were Here Together Theme

Developer Diaries

Composing the We Were Here Together Theme

Hi everyone!

My name is Leon van der Stel and I’ll be talking today about the creation of the main theme for We Were Here Together.
The first and second We Were Here games share the same main theme. For the third entry in the series, we wanted a new main theme – the classic We Were Here atmosphere in a new jacket. I would like to take you into the story behind the main theme and the choices that were made along the way. At different sections I’ll link to audio clips. These are interim versions and ideas for the main theme that show the development process well.

For the people who want to play the main theme themselves, I made sheet music, which you can find at the end of this dev diary. Finally, I want to thank Jos Platschorre for helping to compose the main theme with his grandiose guitar playing, and Tom Hartman for his support and feedback.

The author, making music.

The process

The most important thing with each piece of music is which feeling it must express. Since We Were Here Together is about two explorers alone in Antarctica, the terms cold, deserted and isolated occurred to me. Although these were good terms, there was still something missing in my opinion. In the story, the other two explorers become hopeful when their emergency signal is fired into the air. Therefore the word hope should also be included in the overall picture.

Now that the atmosphere has been determined, how do you implement this, and with which instruments? This is a question that you can only answer by getting started and carefully directing the result at every step. Having said that, I thought it would be cool to take the first steps with some guitar.

This idea was inspired by the OST of The Last of Us, and it was in line with the direction which the TMG team and I wanted to go. My goal was to raise the standard to produce a greater result and I felt that this could only be achieved by involving other musicians. Fortunately I knew a good guitarist, Jos Platschorre, whose playing style would fit well with what I had in mind. After a phone call he agreed to help me to make something beautiful.

Below are some of the first jams with Jos that had the most impact on the end result:

Jam 1A:
Jam 1B:
Jam 2:

When listening to the above jams, several parts immediately jumped out that fit well with the new main theme vibe. Keeping in mind the cold and isolated atmosphere, the start of jam 2 was very satisfying. This stayed into place since then. After jam 1A was recorded, I had the impression that a strum style could fit in boldly with this (jam 1B). Although the Total Mayhem Games team was delighted with the vibe of these early jams, a simple and recognizable melody was still missing. Based on these jams, I came up with the following melody, to be played on the piano. The chord changes, the guitar style and the melody were the starting point for the next step.

Jam 3 – Piano melody:

The following fragment contains the points above combined with the melody partially incorporated. In the second part I experimented with midi controller pads and vocals.

Jam 4:

At this point it was starting to become more viable and I was pleased with how the melody was incorporated with the guitar scrum. However, it still didn’t jive just yet; it sounded more like a loop. I was fortunate at this point to get some good advice from talented musician Tom Hartman on how it could potentially be turned into a good swinging melody that tells a story. Below is a take that he sent during a meeting. This recording inspired me during the composition of the end result.

Jam 5:

So with this new jam in mind, I went back to the drawing board. The following jam (which is divided into two audio clips) was created by editing the old jams to be closer to the feel of Tom’s recorded take (jam 5). Based on these new ideas, I selected a high pitched piano to incorporate into the theme – this piano with a lot of echo gave a hopeful feeling, which you’ll recall is one of the expressions I added to my list at the beginning.

Jam 6:
Jam 7:

This is NOT what the composition process looked like, for the record.

Fitting the pieces together

As you can see, every decision at each step has had a part in shaping the music into what it is today. Although many ideas were collected, a complete composition was still missing. Even though the individual parts sounded good, the overall composition is what makes or breaks it as a piece of music. From this point on, I didn’t want to create new content anymore, but instead wanted to use what I had.

During this stage, the guitarist and I tried various parts on the spot in different combinations and listened for what felt best. Afterwards the composition was recorded in six takes. The last addition that has been made to the main theme was done by not ending with the tonic. This gives a dissonant / out-of-place feeling that is also in line with some of our aforementioned expressions: cold, deserted and isolated.

And so, the final composition was:

Intro: Beginning of Jam 3
Section A: Main tune (Jam 6 + Jam 7)
Section B: Start Jam 2 with the main guitar style of the main tune
Section C: Section A, but layered with high pitched piano and pads

In summary, it has been a long journey. My secret ingredient is taking little steps, building upon things that feel right along the way, and to simply ask for help when necessary to get to the next stage. This is not just for music! The same strategy could be applied to all things and decisions in life.

If you are interested in playing the theme yourself, don’t forget to check the main theme sheet music below.
If you prefer just listening, you should visit our new Spotify channel! Peace out 😀

Main Theme sheet music links

Interactive online:

Cheers Leon

Walkie-Talk - Meet Alex


Meet Alex

Developer Interview

Previously on Walkie-Talk we looked at how we design puzzles for the We Were Here games.
However, even with the best ideas in the world a game doesn’t get far without technical developers.
Today we’re talking to one of our newest devs, Alex Leestemaker.

Walkie-Talk: Hi Alex! Let’s start with the basics. Who are you and what do you do?

Alex Leestemaker:
My name is Alex, and I’m the new programmer on the team. That means I listen to what the game designers would like in the game, I program exactly what they asked for, and then the next day it turned out that they meant something completely different and I can start from scratch.

What do you think of your work at Total Mayhem Games so far?
This is my first job in the game development industry, and I’m glad it’s at a studio that makes games I’m interested in myself. Puzzle games and co-op multiplayer have always been high up on my list of favorite mechanics in video games. Since I’m new to the industry, working in a smaller team like this also feels more familiar than getting thrown into a big sea of coworkers would probably have felt like.

I like it! I’ve been here for a little over half a year now, and it’s my first job straight out of university. It’s a big jump going from a giant university where everything is planned to hell and back to our small office in Rotterdam, but I like my coworkers here far more than the average uni student.

It’s much more cosy for sure! What are you working on right now?
I’ve been working on a lot of the alpha tests we’ve been releasing over the last few months.

Final question – what are you playing for fun right now?
Currently I’m dumping most of my free time into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Thanks for your time!

A short but sweet interview this week. We hope you liked it! If there are particular topics you think might make for a cool Walkie-Talk, let us know in the comments.

Walkie-Talk - Puzzling on Puzzles with Niels


Puzzling on Puzzles with Niels

It was puzzle and computer game designer Scott Kim who said: ‘My goal as a puzzle designer is to create a meaningful experience for the player, not just ‘I solved it.’
It’s a good philosophy, especially when you’re trying to create a game like We Were Here Together, which is about atmosphere and exploration as well as solving puzzles.

Getting the balance right can be a challenge – from one point of view, the We Were Here games are all about puzzles. From another point of view they’re all about leaving your best friend to die, but let’s not get into that right now…

Where do we get our puzzles from? To find out, we talked to one of our designers, Niels de Jong.

Greeting Niels, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today! Let’s start with the big one: where do the puzzle ideas for the We Were Here series come from?

Niels de Jong:
We steal them from others of course. ;p
Seriously though, ideas can come from a lot of different places.

An approach we take a lot lately is to do a quick summary of everything we already know about the point in the game we want to create a puzzle for, and then we start throwing ideas at each other. In these brainstorming sessions, we can quickly discuss different options. The advantage of working with three game designers is that you rarely run out of ideas!

We’re able to take this approach because we know what most environments are going to be at this point in development. An example of an environment is the crypt at the start of We Were Here Together. So we start off with knowing it is a crypt-like space, and the general atmosphere we want players to feel. The position of the puzzle in the complete game flow is also important. You don’t want to have several high-pressure puzzles in a row, for example. These limitations are often a source of inspiration.

Can anyone suggest puzzle ideas, or is it just the designers that come up with concepts?

Everyone can suggest ideas! The thing is, it takes more than an idea to get to a functioning puzzle. So while other team members can provide the initial point of inspiration, there is still a lot of work that is mostly done by the design team.

Another thing to note is that while we call most of the things we make puzzles, they do not necessarily have to be puzzles. The game is about playing together first and foremost. So if you are doing something besides solving puzzles together and you’re having a great time, then that’s a win for us!

In my experience, the fun is in trying to figure out how not to fail completely at any given task or puzzle… on a side note, I need to find new, better coordinated friends.
Once you have an idea though, how do you work out the details of a puzzle?

Currently we have a way of pushing puzzles through several stages that are more or less the same for each puzzle. We start off with an initial brainstorm as already described. The next stage is to create a paper prototype of the puzzle. Some puzzles are difficult to paper prototype, so we sometimes skip this step and go straight to the next step: whiteboxing.

After testing the paper prototype and making changes based on feedback from testers, we start bringing the puzzle to the digital medium. This usually involves placing the puzzle elements in a 3D space, thinking about viewing angles and level layout and placing lighting.

After this whiteboxing step, we start preparing the puzzle for alpha testing. By this point, we know the puzzle is playable IF you understand it. Of course, understanding how a puzzle works is part of the challenge. In this step, we mostly focus on adding feedback elements that tell the player how a puzzle works. An example: where before you were “pressing” a cube, there is now has an actual button model and a click-sound plays when you press it.

After adding extra feedback elements, a puzzle goes into an alpha build, where all our lovely alpha testers can give feedback and we can spot any glaring issues.

Do you ever encounter problems turning a puzzle from a paper prototype into a digital form – going from the paper prototype to whiteboxing?

Yes, definitely. It makes a big difference whether you are controlling an avatar in a 3D world or looking at some pieces of paper. When fleshing out initial ideas (the brainstorming part), we try to think about how the puzzle will fit in the digital game, even when we do not immediately test the puzzle digitally.

An example: we were working on a puzzle in a cave. The paper prototype was very doable. But of course, when you’re actually standing in a cramped cave with a wall in front of your nose, you have no overview of the entire level. Having no overview means you cannot plan your moves, which in turn means solving the puzzle becomes much, much harder. We had people who ran around in circles both figuratively and literally, because there was no way to distinguish between separate paths in this cave.

I swear I wasn’t one of those people! On the subject of testing, what is the process for testing out puzzles?

We try to annoy our colleagues as much as possible by regularly asking them to test new puzzles! Because we can sit right next to them, we can improvise and get an idea of what a puzzle would be like, without having to actually make each and every element or have the game enforce every limitation. I think it’s time for me to mention the alpha tests again! Those give invaluable feedback.

Thank you for your time!

So there you have it – puzzles definitely don’t spring into existence fully formed, and it can be a tough process sometimes to make them work at all, no matter how cool the initial idea is. Join us in the next edition of Walkie-Talk to hear more from your favorite studio!

FAQ's before release!

FAQ's before release!

Hey there everybody!

We’ve has some questions lately about pricing, the beta, and the pre-orders. Therefore we answered a few prior to the release of We Were Here Too.

Q: Will the game be free?
A: No, the game will not be free. It will release on February 2nd, 2018 for $9.99.

Q: We Were Here was also free, why is We Were Here Too not?
A: We Were Here was a school project. We are working now for months to develop the sequel We Were Here Too as a professional studio. We need funds to develop more games like We Were Here and We Were Here Too in the future, and to simply pay the bills and servers.

Q: What do you get when you pre-order?
A: When you pre-order We Were Here before the 15th of January, you will have access to the closed beta. This means you are able to play the (unfinished) game two weeks before release. You will also get some exclusives.

Q: Why does the pre-order go via Humble Bundle?
A: Humble Bundle is a very indie game friendly marketplace. When you pre-order the game via the widget on our website, you will also donate 10% to charity. You will receive the Steam key on the day of release and the beta key the 15th of January. Humble is the most developer-friendly portal in terms of revenue share.

Q: Where can I pre-order?
A: You can make your purchase here!

Q: Why can’t I find We Were Here Too on the Humble Bundle store page?
A: We Were Here Too is not yet available on the Humble Bundle store page, only as a pre-order via the Humble Bundle widget on our website! From the 2nd of February, We Were Here Too will be available on too.

Q: How many people are selected for the beta test and how do I apply?
A: We’ve had an overwhelming amount of fans applying for the beta test. We have already selected everyone for the beta tests, so you are not able to apply anymore. The only way you will be able to attend the beta is to pre-order We Were Here Too. Then you will have guaranteed access to the beta on the 15th of January, 6:30 PM / 18:30 CET.

Q: Will there be a mobile version of We Were Here?
A: For now we have no plans to develop a mobile version of We Were Here or We Were Here Too, but we’ll never know what the future may bring.

Q: How long will the game be?
A: It’s really hard to tell, due to the fact that it takes one person longer to solve the puzzles than the other. The average seems to be 2-4 hours the first time through. Of course, you can play the game one more time taking the other role.

Q: I can’t connect to my partner in the beta of We Were Here Too. What to do?
A: Check if your game isn’t restricted by firewall settings. You could also check the in-game language filter options. If you don’t have the same language selection, you are not able to find your friend. Make sure the UDP ports are open.

If you still have any questions, feel free to ask!
And here a beautiful still from We Were Here Too to make you just as excited as us!

Total Mayhem Blog #2

Total Mayhem Blog #2

This week we’re celebrating the 23rd birthday of our ‘Sound Guy’ Leon van der Stel. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring up the subject we haven’t discussed too much of yet: the music and sound design of ‘We Were Here’ and ‘We Were Here Too’!

For us, the music of the game was very important. It had to create tension and keep players engaged as they were figuring out how to advance through the game. To get a certain musical ambience that matched our intentions, we had to miss Leon for quite some time during our minor ‘Game Design and Development’. When being surrounded by us in this crowded room with thirty other students, we knew we were just holding him and his creativity back. So most of the time Leon could be found in his ‘at-home’ studio!