FOUNDER'S STORY: MARKUS NYSTRÖM (ART DIRECTOR)
“Hi there! My name is Markus Nyström, and I am one of the four founders of Fall Damage. I guess I am a veteran these days with 30 years in the industry, though in honesty it feels like much less.
It all started with me pushing pixel-art in DeluxePaint on my Amiga 500 for the game Pinball Dreams (ask your parents I guess?). I was also one of four founders of Digital Illusions or DICE as it is known today.
I stayed at DICE between 1992 and 2014 and during that time I was involved in shipping roughly 25 titles. This included everything from Pinball games via racing games to FPS and finishing off in a galaxy far far away.
At DICE, I had the opportunity to work with many different aspects of art and art direction. However, the greatest experience was being a part of the journey from a small start-up to one of the most, if not THE most, successful studios in Sweden! I met SO many wonderful and hugely talented people and I had the most wonderful time!
But all good things must come to an end. Between 2014 and 2016, I took a much-needed break from the industry. I spent the time taking stock of what I had learned over the years. I reflected on what I want out of working with games, how I want the workplace to feel and how to make people enjoy and survive the game-making process. Out of these reflections, the idea of Fall Damage slowly formed.
My passion has never been creating games per se. My heart lies in creating art. To dress the game that the designers dream up with an art style. Building a well-oiled team that can deliver that vision. Carefully curate, nudge and push the team in the right direction. Watch people grow as creators and humans. Dare them to believe in themselves and what they create! I see art direction as gardening. I only pull weeds out, the rest I leave to bask in the sun and grow.
The feeling when you first start play-testing what you have created and watching people enjoy their collective work... That is pure magic, and the strongest reason I do this still!
Because building a studio and a team is hard and nerve-racking work! The first but-clenching years where every decision is to make or break will cost you in sleep and sanity. Mercifully I was too young to care the first time around and experienced enough to pace myself this time. Perhaps one studio startup every 30 years is a good number?”