Some of you already know what you’re about to read, but since many don’t I wanted to share why I’ve had such a huge smile on my face the last few days. I had the opportunity to visit the sacred grounds of Rovio HQ … in Finland!!
Rovio hosted their very first Offline Event on March 13th, 2015 and invited a small selection of people to come over. The Nest was included, but unfortunately (she says with a slight grin on her face) the guys couldn’t fit the 15 hrs plus flight into their schedule. When @Birdleader asked if I wanted to go (note: I am not the traveling kind, nor have I ever flown in my life!) I couldn’t pass up such an amazing opportunity!
If not for the Rovio designer asking for two more weeks to tweak it a bit, the original Angry Birds app would have been scrapped back in 2009. This little-known fact was just one of many revealed during Rovio’s first-ever “Offline Event” in early March at its headquarters in Espoo, Finland.
I was extremely fortunate that my husband was allowed to accompany me on this amazing adventure, so off we went on the first flight of our lives to visit Finland and the Rovio HQ!
It was a sunny clear blue sky when we took off at Schiphol and even though we both discovered that flying isn’t our thing, I loved the amazing view of the world beneath us. After landing we were picked up by a taxi and taken to our fantastic hotel, Klaus K. We checked in and went up to our room and found a goodie bag filled with amazing stuff. Sweet!!!
Later that night we had a meet and greet in the bar where we met the other guests and a handful of the Rovians (that’s what they call themselves, don’t you just love that!). It was great fun to meet all the new faces, everyone was so nice!
A day of wonders!
The next morning we were picked up by a taxi and brought to the Rovio HQ, which is in Helsinki-Espoo. Upon arrival the first thing I noticed was … well … it looked like just another boring office building. I never Googled it, but in my imagination it would look like a Pigconstructed building, with lots of secret places, wood and quirky corners. But none of that, just a plain office building.
Somehow it didn’t matter at all, because once inside the fun Angry Birds atmosphere took the upper hand and the plain office turned into a playground where people are (supposedly!?) working. There was a great vibe and all the Rovians are really proud of the company they work for. Amazing really as one would expect when a company grows that the employees start to disconnect from each other and just keep busy with their own job. But none of that, as each and every Rovian I met was full of enthusiasm and pride towards what they / Rovio have achieved. Plus, they were all super excited to have us visiting and to show off THEIR Rovio.
After breakfast we sat down for a couple of presentations. Kicking it off was Niklas Hed, Rovio’s co-founder. He talked about how it all started, the bumps in the road and how they came to the creating Angry Birds. Back in 2009 the smart phone just started to become a popular gaming device, the games and the possibilities were in the early stages. Actually playing games with your finger instead of controls was something that needed to be discovered. Did any of you know that if not for the original designer asking for 2 more weeks to tweak Angry Birds some more, Angry Birds would have been scrapped?! Whaaaaaaat??? Luckily that wasn’t the case and as we all now know, the rest is history!
Next up was Heini, she presented the new Stella Pop game, which surprisingly shows that a boring bubble shooter game can be so much more. Followed by Vellu who presented Ruffle, the in-game video channel section that will be a collection of all kinds of gaming videos, walkthroughs and hopefully a lot of behind the wacky scenes of the Rovian.
The history and future idea’s for the Angry Birds Toons and Comics was presented by Jukka. Who showed us Rovio’s new idea for a new comic starring the Super Angry Birds. It looks like old school comics and revolves around superhero Angry Birds. An amazing new look actually, totally different to the cuddly colorful Angry Birds we are used to.
Next Ritva talked about some new ideas for animation and I believe it was she who announced the new movie that will be released in August of next year. We tried to get a sneak preview and some information as to the story, but their lips where sealed. Nothing worked, not even waiting for the right moment and the right amount of, um, liquor. Nothing! :( So at this point we don’t know any more about the Angry Birds movie than the rest of the world. The line up is a who’s who of Hollywood though.
After a delicious lunch Patrick & Andreas presented the new game Angry Birds Under Pigstruction, which was soft launched in Canada the week before the event. Funny side note: Internally they call the new game ABBA, because it was the Swedish division of Rovio that made the new game. The presentation was enlightening, the stuff I found ‘different’ about the game was actually intended. Like the “no extra points for leftover birds”. Their take on the new Angry Birds game is actually the joy of doing as much destruction as one can and just watch the towers come down, which, I must admit, is the overall feeling it gives me when playing. I love watching the utter destruction caused by the birds, but alas, the “Score Addict” in me wants more!
They were really interested in our input though, which was the overall feeling of my whole trip. Each and everyone I talked too showed so much interest in what I do here at the Nest. They wanted to know what the Nest is about and how they can improve their connection to the fans. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they add the bonus for the leftover birds in the near future ;)
After all that amazing information we visited the different departments within Rovio. And let me tell you, it looks like one BIG playground. Everywhere you look there is a toy, game or plush, and Rovians with a huge smile on their face. We were divided into groups and sent of in different directions. Along with Juan we went off to make our own Angry Birds Original level lead by Stefan & Kai. It was so cool to see how easy they have set up their system to construct new levels. We all got to try it out and make a level of our own, but the fact we could do just about anything created a mind block. How could we make a level in the short time we would have? Where to start, what to use, how many pigs, which birds, what structure… arggggh… it was a total bust, so no new levels for Rovio for their next update :p
Next on the itinerary was a sit down with Patrick who presented Angry Birds Under Pigstruction earlier that day. We had a chance to play the game and ask him questions. I really never got to play much as I was too eager to talk with him. As many of you already know — or just found out by the length of this article — I love to talk about my passion for “the birds” and learn new things on just about anything. I also got to talk with the executive producer of Angry Birds Seasons (and formerly Angry Birds Space) Niko.
I was keen to learn about the mystery behind certain the glitches. Do they appear without them actually knowing in advance or do they intentionally place them in the games?? Well, due to the many variables most of the glitches are indeed unintentional. One site note, when I asked him about the Ham Dunk level 4-2, its high 3-star threshold and need for the basketball glitch he started to wonder that as well. He immediately tried to find the person responsible for that level, but due to the jam packed schedule and little time we had he couldn’t get me my answer right away, but he’ll will get back to me on that subject.
Off we went to the warehouse, the place where all the Angry Birds merchandise samples are kept! It’s a TOP SECRET place so taking pictures or video wasn’t allowed. I just got a glimpse, but with approximately 700,000 different items — it was HUGE!! Aisle after aisle of Angry Birds goodies. Some produced, while others never met Rovio’s standards for products that are using their name.
It was heaven! I wanted to come back at the end of the day, browse through all the wonderful stuff then curl up in a sleeping bag and dream sweet dreams about the birds (unfortunately, they didn’t let me in after closing hours). On our way out out they gave us a ton of goodies to bring home with us. Actually, as I write this I am wearing my new Mustache Pig Sweater :-D
After a group photo and signing of the guestbook, we visited the audio department, which actually opened up my
eyes ears. Hearing the sound clips without seeing the actual scene made me realize just how recognizable the Angry Birds sounds are. I immediately drifted off into to the world of Angry birds. We got to listen to the first draft of sounds in Angry Birds Under Pigstruction, as well as the final, chosen, sounds. The process is just amazing.
We even got the record of Apocalyptica Angry Birds Theme song!! Which reminds me, one of the other guest, Vladislav Orel, produces amazing stop motion videos of clay sculptures and figurines. I am sure you have seen his work before, but check out his new video of Angry Birds Aporkalyptica on his YouTube Channel. I just love all the details he puts in them, just amazing. He offered to create stop motion videos for anyone here in the Nest! Just let @vlados110 know what you would like to see him make and he will be happy to try and make it work.
We finished the afternoon with some drinks and snacks in the audio department before finally leaving the wondrous world of Rovio HQ behind. We headed back to the hotel, freshened up and got ready for an evening in jail! Yes, you heard it right, we went to prison… for dinner! The prison in Katajanokka was closed in the spring of 2002 and was transformed in 2007 to a high-class, modern hotel. In the basement restaurant, The JailBird, waiters are dressed as prison guards and your dinner plate and water cup are made of metal. The food was delicious, actually all the Finnish food was. The evening ended up in a rock music bar. By that time my brain was so overloaded and hyped up with all the wonderful things I had seen that day that we only stayed for one drink before heading back to the hotel at 1:25AM.
Time left for some sightseeing
Our return trip was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, so we had the whole Saturday to explore Helsinki! Which we did. The weather was amazing and the sun was shining. There is big center with lots of little shops on the surrounding streets and the people in Helsinki are all super friendly. It’s a place to visit again for sure (going by train and boat that is hee hee)!
Sunday was supposed to be a visit to the sea side of Helsinki before we headed to the airport, but things didn’t turn out as planned… I lost my ID card (like a passport-light for us European Countries)!!! We ended up going to the Airport early to report my ID missing. Long story short, the police was there, but wasn’t… they only handled emergency passports for the Finnish citizens. Because The Netherlands and Finland are apart of the Schengen Area we took the chance and traveled without. Thankfully, this worked out, as we weren’t checked and we got home safe and sound!
So that’s it, my PIGmazing and BIRDtastic adventure to the birthplace of the game that I love so much. This game has lead me to so many wonderful things and how I found Angry Birds Nest, the place where I found all of you! It’s such a wonderful and amazing community for those “infected” by the birds!
There aren’t words enough to express my gratitude towards Rovio for not only creating the game that started the butterfly effect of me playing it, looking for a way to up my scores and get the “score addict” achievement, ending up here in the Nest, finding so many wonderful new friends and enjoying all that I do here, up until it all culminating in being invited to the biggest adventure of my life!
I also want to thank @birdleader for playing a huge part in this butterfly effect by creating THE BEST Angry Birds community out there, for putting his trust in me by making me an admin 2 years ago and sending me off on the very first flight of my life! You got the Dutchie off the ground and into the clouds, both literally and figuratively!
I also want to thank each and everyone one of you here at the Nest. From the first time I set foot in the Nest up until today, I always see friendly faces and comments from people across the globe. Each and everyone helping their fellow Nester any way that they can and sharing our love for the birds, however angry they are.
My visit to Rovio taught me the Rovians are in fact much like all you birdies at the Nest: one big community with a heart of gold! Lastly, a special thanks to Steve and Johanna for taking care of everything for our stay! Almost sounds like I won an Oscar huh?
So here is a cheers to all the wonderful people at Rovio and all the wonderful people here in the Nest, THANK you ALL!!
Lots of love from the bird-crazy Dutchie E*