Forced Out, But Forging Ahead – The Incredible Story of BetaDwarf
Oct. 24, 2013, is not only the release date of indie gem Forced, by Denmark-based developer BetaDwarf; it is also the culmination of an incredible, nearly three-year-long story surrounding the development of the game, featuring overwhelming passion, the amazing power of social media, and a just little bit of trespassing on university property.
BetaDwarf got its start at Aalborg University in Denmark, where Steffen Kabbelgaard and Kenneth Harder worked as teacher’s assistants. Both Kabbelgaard and Harder had delved a bit into game development in the past — working on a game called Armies vs. Champions, which has since been shelved — but they realized that if they truly wanted to get into the industry, they needed a team. Fortunately, their positions as TAs in animation and programming classes gave them the opportunity to know the brightest minds in the curriculum.
So one day, the pair decided to invite some of those students to a secret presentation of the game that would eventually become Forced. A team of nine was formed, and BetaDwarf was born.
Working for the university had another perk as well: During summer vacation, Kabbelgaard realized that the classrooms were completely empty and that no one visited them.
“We slowly moved in bits into a big classroom and before we knew it, we were suddenly living there,” said Kabblegaard. “We literally moved everything we had. We had eight big beds, microwaves, refrigerators. We had no reason not to live there because there were bathrooms and even a gym there.”
The team stayed in the room for seven months, well past the duration of summer vacation. Some teachers were willing to look the other way, but eventually, word got out. This put the university in a bit of a tough situation, Kabblegaard said. On one hand, the university was extremely proud of what the team had accomplished with the game. But of course, on the other hand, trespassing is a serious offense.
“They had a double-edged sword because they wanted to befriend us for the future as well, but they were not that okay with us being there illegally,” Kabblegaard said.
Ultimately, the school offered BetaDwarf a room to work in, but it was too small for the team, and they were forced to pack up and hit the road. This put BetaDwarf in a bit of a crisis. The company had no office, several of its team members had cancelled their housing arrangements and leases in favor of living in the university, and the game was still nowhere near to being ready for release.