Birds in Space: Rovio CEO Mikael Hed Answers Some “Angry” Questions
by Luke Y. Thompson on March 22, 2012
It’s not uncommon for spherical objects to hurl themselves through deep space, but until today, we weren’t aware of any asteroids involved in fowl play. However, since The Muppet Show there have been Pigs in Space, and starting today the Angry Birds head out into the galaxies to knock them down. In an attempt to enter their heads, we spoke to Rovio CEO Mikael Hed about the new Angry Birds Space game.
Nerdist: The last time we interviewed you, your cousin Niklas had mentioned that the only Angry Bird to ever have a name was George. With talk of an animated series in the works, will George finally be referred to by name? Is there anything else you can tell us about animation and other spin-off plans?
Mikael Hed: We’ve already teased a couple of names for the birds in our online comics that we have distributed through our games. This is really what our aim is with all spin-off comics, books, animations and so forth: to tell the story of Angry Birds in a much deeper detail and show our fans the real personalities of these characters.
N: How did you come up with the idea to have outer space be the next big change in the Angry Birds universe?
MH: This was really a happy marriage of our designers toying around with a Space concept, and NASA approaching us about common interests. We had some iterations with different designs to make sure that the game play felt just familiar enough, but fresh, interesting, and most importantly fun, and as soon as we were happy, the concept went full blast into development.
N: What’s your favorite bird to play? Will we see brand new birds with new powers in Angry Birds Space? If so, can you give us any hints?
MH: We’d really hate to ruin the surprise for our fans, so suffice it to say we have only seen a small glimpse of the Angry Birds universe so far.
N: If you were an Angry Bird, which one would you be and why?
MH: My opinion on this changes from time to time. I think at the moment we’ve been moving so fast with different projects that I feel like the yellow bird.
N: What has been the best selling piece of Angry Birds merchandise other than the games themselves?
MH: The plush toys have so far been the most resounding success; we have sold over 25 million Angry Birds plush toys so far.
N: It’s apparent that lack of gravity will be a big factor in the new game. What sorts of other unforeseen complications lurk out in space? How did you get the astronaut who appears in the promo video to do that outer space demonstration?
MH: In space, all sorts of odd conditions exist, from variable gravity fields to black holes and what have you. I think one of the nicest things is the constantly changing environment, so players have to be on their toes a bit and consider each puzzle carefully. We’ve had a great communication with NASA for about a year now, and we both wanted to do something unique. At the core of our partnership, we have a joint mission to educate people about space exploration – but also to create cool fun stuff together!
N: Might there be new foes other than pigs on some of the new planets?
MH: Let’s see what the future brings with it. We’re going to introduce more pigs and their fiendish contraptions in space. The new environments really allow us to play with all sorts of crazy structures.
N: What is it about the game that has made it really catch on in the culture, do you think?
MH: With the game, it’s all about the amazing experience. It’s very easy to pick up, but very hard to put down. The characters have a broad appeal, and the game play is great across all demographics. We release more content often so there are always new things to enjoy, and people tend to stay engaged with our games. I would say the characters are the main thing, though. They seem to evoke strong emotions in people.
N: It seems like some of the game levels have multiple ways to win, but others can only be beaten in one way. Is this correct, or are there always multiple ways to beat a level?
MH: With Angry Birds puzzles, it’s easy to get a straightforward one star resolution in multiple ways. But when you’re aiming for the perfect score, there’s usually one or two key shots that you can’t afford to miss. So yes, there’s multiple solutions to most of the levels, but there’s also the additional layer of puzzles within puzzles. This is part of the appeal of classic games: easy to learn, hard to master!