The games that made me (Part 2)

This is part two of the article that explores the games that made me the developer that I am today. What’s important to me in a game? What type of games do I want to make and play? I recommend reading the first part of this article before you continue.

The Timeline

Gantt style timeline for games played and platforms used by Lars Magnus Fylke, spanning 1988 to 2020. The timeline is further explained in the text.
Gantt style timeline for games played and discussed in this text and platforms used by Lars Magnus Fylke, 1999 to 2020. Click for a full scale image.

80’s and 90’s – The Early Days

My early video gaming days were dominated by Nintendo. Mario, Zelda and Metroid were the go to games for me and my friends back then. I did have a C64 that we played on as well. I even made some unsuccessful attempts to develop my own games on it. But the games for C64 never measured up to the ones for NES when it came to quality and fun.

When I received an SNES for Christmas, the C64 started collecting dust. Around the same time my dad got a home PC for his work. I immediately started playing games on it, to the extent that he eventually got me my own PC. This opened up completely new gaming possibilities, and it had a huge influence on me when it came to strategy, management and simulation genres. I remember those games fondly and I still play very similar ones today.

90’s – Tabletop, Board Games & Roleplaying

I have to mention my interest in tabletop roleplaying games and to some extent live-action role playing and boardgames. This took up a lot of my time when I was a teenager. I received Drakar och Demoner (Swedish fantasy roleplaying game) as a birthday present from my mother when I was 11. Ever since, I have been hooked!

My friends and I started up and ran two gaming clubs in the 90’s with the help of Sverok. There we played everything we got our hands on. I was usually the gamemaster if one was needed, but occasionally I got to play as well. Some of my favorites games back then were Drakar och Demoner, Mutant Chronicles, Vampire: The Masquerade (tabletop and live-action), Blood Bowl , Civilization and Axis & Allies. I believe my enjoyment of emergent roleplaying in games comes from this time in my life. I still love tabletop roleplaying and I have The Expanse and Tales from the Loop in my bookshelf waiting to be played.

The cover images for Drakar och Demoner, Mutant Chronicles, Vampire: The Masquerade, Blood Bowl, Civilization (the board game), Axis & Allies.
The covers of my favorite tabletop and boardgames in the 90’s.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and Fallout 1 and 2, were the first role playing games that I feel came close to a good roleplaying experience in digital format. Since I was typically the gamemaster when my friends and I played tabletop RPGs, I enjoyed these games extra much. For me, the key to a good RPG is freedom. I rarely care about the story, and I usually don’t even complete the main story in an RPG game.

00’s – University & Work

During the first half of the 00’s I was busy with my university studies and my gaming time dropped considerably. I worked on a few smaller game projects as part of some of my computer science classes. But up until 2005 I didn’t have any serious plans of making game development my career. However, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas changed that, something in those games ignited my passion for game development.

Once I got started in the game development industry, my gaming changed to reflect the projects I was working on. Mostly shooters with focus on co-op and multiplayer. As a perk, Starbreeze gave everyone an Xbox360 or PS3 for home. This led to the Xbox360 becoming my primary gaming platform from 2007 until some time in 2011. Gaming was now part of my job, and not necessarily entertaining and relaxing.

10’s – New York City and Today

When I moved to the US in 2012, my gaming changed again. Instead of playing games for work, I started playing them for myself. While I was developing AAA action at work, I was predominantly playing strategy and simulation at home. And my new dream changed to develop an RPG, simulation or strategy game.

The cover art for Cities: Skylines, Civilization 6, Stellaris, Football Manager 2020, Battlefield 1, Minecraft, Mount and Blade: Warband, Europa Universalis IV, Kerbal Space Program, This War of Mine and RimWorld.
The covers of the games that I play regularly nowadays.

How I Play Games

When I can, I play slowly. I like being strategic and calculating. I like fantasizing about the world and the people in it. Think things through, pause and divert my attention to my wife or the cats when needed. This is why I prefer single player over multiplayer games in most cases. I played only 4 out of the 22 games on my list in multiplayer, and out of those 4 I only play 2 regularly nowadays.

Half of the 22 games on the list I still play regularly (marked with an arrow in the timeline). Some of those games are part of a series that come out with new updated and improved versions. But even with that in consideration, they all have incredibly high replay value, which makes me come back to them.

My combined gaming time of the 22 games on the list is more than 12,395 hours. That’s 310 forty hour work weeks, or about 7 years of full time work spent on playing them. In addition to that, I have played plenty of other games as well. However, I do work as a game developer, and playing games is my main form of entertainment. This does show that I spend a lot of time with the games that I enjoy and they keep me interested and engaged for a long time.

Personally I have a hard time being evil when I play. It can be fascinating, but I can’t get invested in the same way as I do when I play nice. However, having the option there to be bad, makes it much more satisfying to be good. It’s even better if a game reward being bad more than being nice, unfortunately few games dare to do this.

I am almost exclusively a PC gamer today. The games that I enjoy playing are all PC based. My childhood and early teens were Nintendo dominated and I had my Xbox 360 period during my time at Starbreeze. But I have never had a Playstation. The big Playstation games tend to be story driven action blockbusters. They are well made, polished and popular, but they don’t interest me.

A relatively modern form of entertainment is to watch people play. Strangely enough, I really enjoy this! It started as a thing I did for work. It helped me understand how other people played a game, and  it saved me from playing a game myself. But now I also watch streamers and youtubers play games that I play myself. It becomes a passive form of entertainment, with two layers of stories. One layer from the game and another one from the person playing the game. This will never replace playing games for me. But it’s a practical tool for me as a game developer and it’s an entertainment form that I occasionally like to consume.

Games made by me

The bigger games that I have professionally been part of developing, have mostly been action shooters. From first person corridor shooters to third person open world action. A mix of singleplayer, multiplayer and co-op games.

The box cover for The Chronicles of Riddick: Assualt on Dark Athena, Syndicate, Just Cause 3, Just Cause 4 and Outriders.
The box cover for the released and soon to be released AAA games that I have been part of developing up until now.

This list is radically different from the games that I enjoy playing. However, I did learn a lot working on AAA shooters and action games. And they did shape me as a developer, especially when it comes to quality, production, stability and optimization.

My Vision

I already have a clear vision of the games that I want to make. For way too long I have been developing games that I don’t necessarily enjoy playing myself. That is about to change!

The genres that I will focus on are strategy and simulation with elements of RPG. I will encourage and support creativity and emergent roleplaying as much as possible. In a crowded indie game market, I think there’s space for this type of game. This also happens to be my favorite type of game to play.

I do want to make as big and impressive games as possible, but scaling the games according to available resources is critical. This has to be reflected in the concept, design and production of the game. Visually, a unique look that supports the gameplay and is affordable will be more important than perfection and high fidelity.

I will lean into my strengths as a veteran gameplay programmer and focus on systemic gameplay. This goes hand in hand with the type of gameplay that I like, the genres that’s my focus and the replayability I strive to create.


Looking at the games that have made me into the game developer I am today, we can draw some distinct conclusions. There’s a disparity between the games I have been developing and the games I enjoy playing myself. This is something that I am changing by creating my own game company.

Story is not of great importance to me, but the setting, the world and lore is. I rarely finish a story driven game and a set story tends to remove freedom and choice from the player. However, the story that I make during my journey in a game is vital, almost every game on my list gives the players the opportunity to do this.

Art and music are extremely important! Thinking anything else is delusional. But a game doesn’t need the best lighting, most high res models or smoothest animations. Instead, the art and music have to be there to support the gameplay, the world and setting. Giving just enough to kickstart the imagination can be so much more powerful than painting the entire picture.

Gameplay is king! The core gameplay needs to keep me interested and wanting to play more. A good, solid and well polished experience is always appreciated and preferred. However, perfection is overrated, and many games that I play have huge flaws but I love and play them anyway. Originality and connecting the gameplay to the world and setting is much more important.

I enjoy systemic games that encourage creativity, exploration and discovery. Such games tend to also support great freedom and choice for the player. Solving problems with your imagination and intelligence is so much more satisfying than shooting your way out of trouble.

A Venn diagram with the genres Strategy, RPG and Simulation. Placing the games Stellaris, This War of Mine, Civilization, Mount and Blade, Europa Universalis IV, RimWorld, Football Manager, Battlefield, Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program and Cities: Skylines in it.
The games that I play and their place in a Venn diagram with genres as sets.

The genres that I prefer are strategy, simulation and RPG. Games that manage to blend those genres, I like even more. I am much more likely to enjoy and stick with a game that touches any of these genres.

I will continue playing for fun, relaxation and work. Hopefully, I will be able to mix work and fun, making games that I enjoy developing and playing.

The games that made me (Part 1)

The games that made me

So many games influenced me! I am a (hardcore) gamer and a game developer. Part of my job is to play games, to find inspiration and ideas in the work of others. And I think it’s important to acknowledge and understand where your own ideas are coming from.

It would be impossible for me to write about every game that influenced me. But here’s a list of games, in autobiographical order, that have had a special influence on me and in my career as a game developer. These games will also continue to have a huge impact on the future games that I make as an indie game developer.

Super Mario

Release Date: September 1985
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Estimated Gaming Time: 200+ hours

Super Mario for the NES (and the copy, The Great Giana Sisters for the C64) is one of the most classical games ever. My friends and I played it and Super Mario Bros 2 & 3 a lot when I was a kid in the 80’s. The first games I tried to make on the C64 were also heavily inspired by it.

When Super Mario World came out on the Super Nintendo, another world opened. The quality of the gameplay in Super Mario World is something that I remember to this day and I think of it when I design and implement features.


Release Date: February 1986
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Estimated Gaming Time: 200+ hours

The first Zelda game felt like a huge adventure with a massive open world when I was a kid. My imagination filled in the gaps in my knowledge of the game world, which made the game even more fantastic. Just the idea of what Zelda was back then, will always be with me.

When The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came out for the SNES, it instantly became my favorite game, and it would be for the coming decade. However, once the Zelda series went 3D I lost interest. To me, something had been lost. Not because of the move to 3D, but something else had changed and it wasn’t recaptured until Breath of the Wild.

One day, I hope that I will have the opportunity to make a game that sparks my imagination of being an adventurer, a knight, a hero in such a way that Zelda did to when I was a kid.


Release Date: August 1986
Developer: Nintendo R&D, Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Estimated Gaming Time: 100+ hours

Metroid to the NES and Super Metroid to the SNES were some of my favorite games growing up. I still love a good metroidvania game, and I have even worked on a game that was supposed to have been a metroidvania. Unfortunately, that game was cancelled, but one day I hope that I can incorporate a bit of this subgenre in one of my own games.


Release Date: 1991 (for SNES)
Developer: Maxis
Publisher: Maxis
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

In my opinion, Cities: Skylines is currently the king of city builder games. But I have also played SimCity for SNES and SimCity 2000 for PC a lot. I find these games nice and relaxing; they are all about being creative, optimizing and making your city a place that would be nice to live in. It’s the balancing act between beauty, comfort and efficiency that makes this type of game interesting even without a clear goal to strive for.

UFO: Enemy Unknown (a.k.a. X-COM: UFO Defense)

Release Date: March 1994
Developer: Mythos Games, MicroProse
Publisher: MicroProse
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

The original UFO: Enemy Unknown and X-COM: Terror from the Deep, are some of my favorite games. I played these way too much as a teenager. These games got me into turn-based tactics and strategy games. The two layered gameplay experiences, the pausable real-time world view meta strategy on one side and the up close turn-based tactical combat sessions on the other side, mixed extremely well. I personally always added some elements of role playing to the mix as well with how I set up my bases around the world, naming and developing the characters, etc. Games that allow and encourage that type of voluntary role playing, always feel richer than the sum of their parts.


Release Date: 1991
Developer: MicroProse, Activision, Firaxis Games
Publisher: MicroProse, Activision, Hasbro Interactive, Infogrames, 2K Games
Estimated Gaming Time: 1000+ hours

My first Civilization game was CivNet in 1995. Since then I have played every Civilization game and many other civ-like games. I get caught in the “just another turn” feeling, just like everyone else, as I am roleplaying my nation through time. While I nowadays rarely play Civilization, I have wanted to work on a turn-based 4X strategy game since I began making games professionally because of it.

Little Big Adventure

Release Date: October 1994
Developer: Adeline Software International
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Estimated Gaming Time: 30+ hours

The world, story, action gameplay and controls were not the best, but the game still managed to capture me. The fight against an oppressive regime in a free-roaming action adventure game with some elements of a metroidvania made it great. This game lent some of its best parts from Metroid and Zelda and wrapped it in a bright colored dystopia that stuck with me.

Transport Tycoon

Release Date: June 1994
Developer: Chris Sawyer Productions
Publisher: MicroProse
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

There have been a number of transport tycoon games made through the years, but nothing has lived up to the original Transport Tycoon and Transport Tycoon Deluxe, except for OpenTTD. The business simulation part of the game leaves a lot to be desired, but the railroad network creation part is amazing. I really enjoy balancing creativity, building something beautiful and optimizing the flow of goods and profits.

The Elder Scrolls

Release Date: 1994
Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

The first Elder Scrolls game that I played was The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in 1996. At that time I was really into pen and paper roleplaying games (I still am) and this game blew me away! It was open world, and the size of it was bigger than anything I had seen before and the possibilities of what you could do felt endless. I haven’t played every game in the series and I have actually never finished any of them, but that’s not the purpose of them to me. I just “live” in these worlds for a while, doing heroic deeds and going on adventures, until I eventually grow tired of it and stop playing it.

Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares

Release Date: December 1996
Developer: Simtex
Publisher: MicroProse
Estimated Gaming Time: 150+ hours

This was the game that took my 4X and strategy gaming into space! It was the perfect match of setting and gameplay for me. To this day, Stellaris is the only 4X space strategy game that’s come close to Master of Orion II in my book. Maybe one day I will get a shot at this genre.


Release Date: October 1997
Developer: Interplay Productions
Publisher: Interplay Productions
Estimated Gaming Time: 400+ hours

During my late teens, Fallout 1 & 2 were some of my favorite games. The world, setting, replayability and the role playing that was possible was just incredible. I truly enjoy Fallout 3 and 4 as well, and I think Bethesda took the legacy of Fallout in a great direction with those games. Bethesda was a great developer to take over the Fallout mantle, as The Elder Scrolls games are very similar in a number of fundamental ways. To me, the most important similarity, perhaps not that obvious, is that the developers are never afraid of the players missing content in either one of the series. This makes the world feel alive, and you are part of it, instead of the world existing just for you.


Release Date: November 1997
Developer: Blizzard North
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Estimated Gaming Time: 800+ hours

Diablo had an atmosphere that few games came even close to back in the late 90’s. Combining that atmosphere with a looting system that hadn’t been seen before and an action RPG system that worked great in multiplayer, my friends and I were sold. We played the first Diablo a lot, but that was nothing compared to how much we played Diablo II. We played it together daily after work, for the first year after its release in June 2000. When Diablo III came out in 2012 some of the old friends and I got back together and played it for a while, it was good, but it was never the same as it was back in the late 90’s and early 2000s.

Football Manager

Release Date: Yearly (1992-)
Developer: Sports Interactive
Publisher: Sega
My Estimated Gaming Time: 2000+ hours

The first Football Manager game I played was Championship Manager 99, and ever since I spent a few weeks playing it every two to four years. My soccer (football) interest definitely plays a big part in my love for it, that’s what brought me in. However, the strategy, tactics and RPG is what made me stay.

This game makes you spend most of your time in spreadsheets in order for you to maximize your chances in the climactic match experiences. Using mostly UI and a simple 3D match engine, it creates an RPG experience and a plausible simulation that keeps hundreds of thousands of players interested for thousands of hours each.

World of Warcraft

Release Date: February 2005
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Estimated Gaming Time: 250+ hours

I only played World of Warcraft for 4 months, February to May in 2005, when it was brand new in the EU. I really liked it and played with two different sets of friends, on two different servers. One group was heavy into roleplaying on a roleplaying server, and the other group played it a bit more casually on a normal server. I grew tired of the game as it was harder and harder to get the groups together to play and eventually I stopped playing it entirely.

This is one of the two games that made me start playing games again and made me consider making them professionally. During my computer science studies I had mostly stopped playing games, other than an occasional Civ session, but this game made it fun again. It also made me consider that maybe I should pursue a career making games.

Grand Theft Auto

Release Date: 1997-
Developer: Rockstar
Publisher: Rockstar
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

GTA is one of those game series that’s always been great, and I played it since the first version back in 1997. However, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the other game that made me go back to playing and making games in 2005. I don’t know exactly what it was with it, but it ignited something in me. And that I am very thankful for!


Release Date: Bi-yearly (2002-)
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Estimated Gaming Time: 1500+ hours

I love playing multiplayer Battlefield, and I play most Battlefield games when I find the time for it. In the past, when I worked on AAA multiplayer and co-op games I always looked at how DICE found design and technical solutions for their games. They were, and still are, at the top of the class.

I have played and will continue to play a lot of Battlefield. But as an inspiration for the games I make, this is most likely a thing of the past.


Release Date: May 2009
Developer: Mojang
Publisher: Mojang, Microsoft Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment
My Estimated Gaming Time: 2000+ hours

I bought a copy of Minecraft shortly after it had been released to the public. It was played in various ways in the Starbreeze office at the time. I got instantly hooked, and I stayed up way too late every day and built my castle. The building part reminds me of when I was a kid playing with Lego. Then there’s exploration, gathering and a bit of adventure in there as well, to keep me interested when I am not feeling creative.

We had several Minecraft servers running at Starbreeze and at Avalanche Studios, some of which I was in charge of. I do however usually play it by myself, occasionally having my wife drop in, look around and builds a small cottage somewhere in my world. While the creativity in it is my primary driver to play it, I do sometimes really enjoy the meditative feel I get from just digging a long tunnel.

Minecraft has sort of an ending, but I have never seen it. What’s the point of that? That’s not why I am playing and enjoying it. To me, Minecraft makes it possible to build that treehouse I could only imagine as a kid. Then run around in it, explore a world that no one else ever sat a foot in and gather more building materials to expand that gigantic treehouse even further.

Mount and Blade: Warband

Release Date: April 2010
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Estimated Gaming Time: 300+ hours

This game allows me to play out my childhood dream of being a knight. It blends strategy, simulation, action and role playing in a unique way that allows the player to become anything from a merchant to an emperor. While the game leans heavily on the action parts of the game, there are many interesting simulations going on and some opportunity for role playing. This game is far from AAA, but that also allowed it to become what it is. I am looking forward to Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord, which is scheduled to be released in 2020. With better and bigger battles, improved simulations and more opportunity for role playing and world building, this game could be amazing.

Europa Universalis 4

Release Date: August 2013
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Estimated Gaming Time: 1300+ hours

I started playing Europa Universalis 3 around 2009-2010 and I liked it, but I never really got hooked. But when UE4 came out in 2013, I was sold on grand strategy games forever. And I have become a huge fan of Crusader Kings, Victoria, Hearts of Iron, Stellaris and Imperator: Rome. This is now my favorite genre of games and one day I will make my own grand strategy game!

The simulation of history (or the future) using geography and politics composes a perfect setting for me to roleplay in or just fantasise about the world that takes shape. The replay possibilities are practically endless and I especially like how Paradox uses steam achievements to set up goals for their players since the games mostly lack traditional endings.

Kerbal Space Program

Release Date: June 2011
Developer: Squad
Publisher: Private Division
Estimated Gaming Time: 290+ hours

Space and science, beautifully gamified, packaged to tickle your creativity, challenge your intelligence and push you to explore. There are constantly new challenges waiting, new rockets and spaceships to build and test. This is the game that’s done more than anything else to teach orbital mechanics and ruin space movies and tv shows for space amateurs like me.

I love space! And the more hardcore and scientifically accurate or plausible a game is, the better I tend to like it. Kerbal Space Program delivers on all of this. It strikes a great balance between scientific correctness and playability. One thing that I would love to see for the sequel is better and more defined goals that can challenge the players to keep going further. Currently KSP falls a bit flat in that area.

This War of Mine

Release Date: November 2014
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Estimated Gaming Time: 35 hours

The gameplay in this game, on its own, isn’t the best. It’s very simple, a basic resource system, waiting for timers and a platform part where resources can be gathered. But what’s there is enough to support the setting, theme and atmosphere. 11 bit studios design their games with the mood as the key (check out this GDC talk for more info) , and in that they are very successful. The choices you have to make in this game can feel very hard. A play session can make you feel exhausted and drained as if you have watched the deepest movie you could find. This is a serious game and it’s not for everyone. But it leaves an impression and shows that games can be so much more than what they are trying to be most of the time.


Release Date: July 2016
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
Estimated Gaming Time: 340+ hours

I don’t know why I didn’t play this game until the official release of version 1.0 in 2019. Once I did play it, I could barely stop. The mix of strategy, RPG and simulation hits the perfect spot. And I am so impressed by the depth and width in lore and gameplay they managed to achieve with extremely limited resources at their disposal. This game is very inspiring to me and leads me to believe that I can create successful indie games that are a bit different.

Continue to Part 2