Category Archives: Things That Make Me Happy

Looks

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Me winter 2012.

It’s funny. When you are a woman people like to comment on your looks; how you dress, how you should dress, how you shouldn’t dress, what you should wear. If you don’t wear enough clothes people called you slutty. If you look too uptight they call you an old lady.

Magazines rate the dresses of all the women going to the Oscars, Golden Globe or the MTV Awards. They gossip about if someone is getting fat, or if someone is getting too skinny. An actress can rise to fame if she make obvious statements like “I eat plenty of food and I like ma curves”. Politicians like Merkel, Rice and Clinton are commented on because of what they sport, not because of their brains.

I have worked enough with Photoshop to know 99,99% of the photos out there in celeb/fitness/fashion blogs and sites are manipulated.

I don’t really care about what someone might think about my makeup (if I ever wear any), or my clothes. I dress the way I want to, and put on what makes me feel good. When I was   a teenager boys used to make fun about my lips, and when I turned twenty I suffered from a bad skin condition.

I make an effort every now and then and put on a nice dress, but really, the place I feel most sexy is probably in the gym or on my surfing board.

My Seven Days In Egypt!

I was lucky enough to catch e few minutes with some giant green sea turtles in a bay.

I was lucky enough to catch e few minutes with some giant green sea turtles. They were huge!

A sting ray on the left. The waters in the Red Sea are top rated and coincided to be aiming the world's top places for snorkeling and diving!

A sting ray on the left. The waters in the Red Sea are top rated and considered to be aiming the world’s top places for snorkeling and diving!

I’m back from seven days in Marsa Alam, North of Egypt. The main purpose of the trip was to snorkel, get some sun and rest, and I think I managed to do all of that. All in all it’s the fourth time I’m traveling to Egypt, but my first time to Marsa Alam. We found an abandoned hotel in a bay, near where we were staying, and I was lucky enough to swim with some sea turtles!

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The water is crystal clear as long as no sand is carried to the Ocean with winds from the desert.

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A group of small scissortail sergeant fish. These fellows are everywhere and very curious and friendly.

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I met so many warm, friendly locals at the hotel. People were very friendly and greeting you with a smile. I spoke with some of the locals, and it really puts your life in a new light, when they tell you they are working 15 hours a day, two jobs and barley surviving.

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Small banded dascyllus in shallow waters near the beach. The hotel had its own reef, and many rules about how to protect the environment. You can not touch the fish or the coral, not feed them or walk on top of them. You should never touch the wild life when diving, it can be both dangerous and poisonous. 

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A small grey moray!

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Most fish stay something like 1-10 meters below the surface, and the water is extremely salty, you really have to struggle to dive deep because you float almost too well! This photo is taken around 6 meters down.

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Me and my sis, the last day before departure. We woke before sunrise and saw the sun rise above the desert.

I’m extremely happy and thankful my dad was a dedicated diver in his youth. He has always made sure me and my sis knew how to swim almost at the same time we learned to walk and talk. I love the Ocean, to swim and look at all the fish. I can honestly say it’s one of the things that make me truly happy in my heart <3

Mojang’s Housewarming Party

Game developer beer in Malmö, Tuesday, arranged by Tarsier Studio. It’s really nice they are hosting these kinds of get-togethers! I felt a bit socially awkward since I’ve been hiding away in my dungeon last coupe of weeks, drawing. To my surprise and joy a whole bunch of old Junebuddies showed up!

Heading off to Stockholm on Thursday to attend Mojang’s housewarming party! Got latest issue of Wired to keep me company on the train. Takes about 4,5 hours to go there.

Enjoying a cup of tea at the Mojang’s offices. They got a super cool studio! Sorry, didn’t take any more pictures, was too busy hanging out with my friends and making new ones. Thanks to Lydya and Johan who invited me!

My sister did my awesome braid on the train from Uppsala to Stockholm for the party. Thanks Kira!

Had a chance to check out my new apartment in Stockholm. Found out I live near two beautiful lakes <3

Autumn up here is so beautiful! I usually look up, watching trees when I’m out walking.

Last week I went to Stockholm from Malmö, delivering a first batch off stuff to my new apartment. New job starts on Monday the 15th, and I’m really excited! I had the chance to attend Mojang’s housewarming party and mingle with some of the most awesome game developers in Sweden.

Åland

Beautiful autumn day on Åland (Finland).

Traditional houses where you keep your boat!

The last flowers standing their ground towards fall.

What would have been a weekend on the Åland Islands (Finland), has turned out to a full week of vacation.

So I decided to stay on Åland for a while, instead of hurrying back to Malmö. Got my family here, so I’m hanging out with them, chilling and playing with my dog. Yesterday I had an ice-cream with Lucas Gustavsson, a Swedish/Finnish fashion blogger. He is kinda like a childhood friend to me, so I’m always happy to see him. We talked about the future, and all the energy that goes into a well groomed and interesting blog. I started this blog to have a place to write about stuff I’m thinking about, and to be in charge of what people do with my name online. It’s never really been about popularity or “today’s outfit”…

Also, some great news that really made me happy: a Swedish company called Dohi Entertainment have bought the IP of MilMo! They have stated on MilMo’s developer blog that the game will go live again, that all avatars and items will be intact! So all you MilMonauts, get ready to play your favorite game again!

Moving To Stockholm!

At Rovio’s party this Thursday, in Stockholm. Finnish game studio behind “Angry Birds” are opening a new office in Stockholm!

Saturday morning, and I’m tired as fu*k, waiting for the subway. Stayed at a friend’s place, and only got around 4 hours of sleep. We spent the night talking about game design, space and life in general. I appreciate these kinds of midnight discussions so much!

Outside Easy’s offices in Stockholm. My friend Henrik works as a game designer on Battlefield Heroes. He was kind enough to show me around!

Bathrooms at Easy’s office. That’s cool!

Had a lot of time to kill on Friday, so just walked around in the city. This handsome guy is selling fish and teaching some school kids about all the fish you can find in Swedish waters. Looks hipster to me. The artsy tattoos, the long hair, lumberjack beard and the expensive watch. I’m sure he owns a long board and updates his tumbler with Instagram photos? But what do I know…

So this week I was back in Stockholm for more. Attended the Rovio party on Thursday and met some new interesting people. Took the time to hang out with old friends, and had a lovely dinner with people from Mojang, Easy, Paradox and more on Friday. All in all I had some very difficult decisions to make about the future, but things are looking bright. So bright in fact I’m now searching for an apartment in Stockholm! I will be moving there next month, so if you know anyone who has place for rent, let me know (you can drop me an e-mail to sara.casen at gmail dot com).

Learning to Draw: Post #1

At the beginning of this week

At the end of this week.

This week’s been all about drawing for me. I’ve always created things and painted, but ever since my life got a bit more busy with working and stuff, I haven’t really had the time to draw like I did before University and Junebud.

Drawing is my hobby, and it’s one of the few ways for me to get into flow, to just forget about time and trying to improve my skills and express myself. I mainly draw to express ideas, feelings or design fantasy creatures. I don’t want to draw for a living, since I fear that would kill the fun of it, and put a lot of pressure on me.

So this week I decided to get back in the game again, and to really try to level my skills. I’m aiming for more dedication this time, and so far I’ve been drawing for about 3-5hours each day. I’m starting off with basic anatomy, and quick gesture drawing, and in a month or so I’ll try to tackle the digital bit again. Hopefully I will manage to keep this up, and I want to share my progress with you each week! I’m doing this for me, to fill the gap after I decided to hang out less on Facebook, 9gag, crappy fashion blogs and other stuff that just kills your time. I’m not aiming to be the best, but to see how far I can go. Wish me luck!

First digital drawing Algenpfleger posted in his online gallery at Diviantart, late 2007.

Posted less that one year later by Algenpfleger again. This guy has been working his ass, and it’s so inspiring. He decided he wanted to learn how to draw and paint properly, and then practiced every day until he reached his goal.

Refs for my images this week: Skeletal system, Posemaniac, Basic Anatomy and some extremely motivational inspiration!

Finding A Balance

Windsurfing in Norway 2011.

I’ve came to realize, the hardest thing about working with games is not to find a job, it’s not to make a really cool game, to get along with your colleagues or to keep a deadline. The hardest thing for me is to find a work/free time balance. It’s very easy to work too much when you really like what you are doing. You might not feel you need to take a break, and end up sitting hours in front of the computer without a break. You neglect sleep, friends or lovers. In the games industry there’s a word for working overtime in order to deliver a milestone/deadline. It’s called “to crunch”. Now luckily I haven’t had any monster crunches, but I know it’s way more common at some studios.

In Sweden (and the other Nordic countries), employees are protected by many laws, or at least if you compare them to some of the laws about employment in  England or the US. A normal work week is around 40 hours, and people usually work from 8-17 or 9-18. If you get sick and can’t work you get money from the state, and the health care is almost free in the Nordics. You can’t be fired over nothing (like showing up late one single day or if your manager decides he just don’t want you anymore). If you get a full time contract, you are quite safe. You can’t get fired for becoming pregnant, and if you get laid off, usually you have between 1-3 months of time before you need to find a new job. All in all, many people are part of the Union (but not in the games industry), and once you got yourself a job it’s hard to just loose it, compared to standards in many other countries. However this also makes it hard to get hired in the first place, or to land your first job.

OK, let’s say you landed your first job in the games industry, you work really hard and want to see this awesome new game getting made. How do you relax when you are not at work? Scientist have found out it’s as dangerous for your health to smoke, as it is for you to just sit still all day long, so I try to so something physical in my spare time. Some of my best ideas ever came to me at the gym! Now, when it’s summer in Sweden, I try to be outside as much as possible before the waters freeze and the snow starts to fall. I try to spend my spare time by the Ocean in some way. It’s my way of trying to sustain a balance between work and free time. What’s yours?

Wonderful under water photos from the Philippines. All credit goes to the Facebook group “Dive philippines”.

 

Extra Vacation

An air plane. That takes you places.

Feel free to let me know if you have any idea from what anime/manga this picture is. I just love it! It reminds me of my childhood, of the long and hot summer vacations, when we visited my relatives in Norway or Finland. Lazy days at the beach, hunting crab fish with net and a bucket. White sand and clear, deep fjords. The clouds almost like mountains of ice.

Today I really missed my friends from the Junebud Crew. I have never worked on a place with the same family spirit! People really cared about each other. I remember when the lead animator Karrey bought me a liquorice cupcake as a surprise, “just because she wanted to” <3 Anyway, I’m sure there are many awesome adventures out there. There’s nothing bad that wont bring anything good with it, so I’m trying to relax and catch the last days of summer before I go back to sitting in front of a computer screen.

Yesterday I left my phone at home, took a long walk on the beach in central Malmö, watched the sun set over Denmark (you can almost see Copenhagen from the tip of Malmö). Took a swim in the crystal clear water, read a book and felt pure happiness.

From the cray fish party last weekend! Me and my friend Tim.

A very disturbing and uncanny napkin!

Malmö by night!

Mojang

Tobias, Me, Johan and Lydia.

This week I flew to Stockholm, staying just for a day, meeting up with some old palls and new contacts. I must say I was very excited when Mojang’s community manager Lydia Winters invited me on Twitter, to the office for a cup of coffee. Meeting with her was such a nice experience! She really is the same lovely, smart and talented Lydia as on Twitter. It’s not often people turn out to be the same IRL. Many ppl create an alter ego online that possesses all those characteristics they wished they had in real life, but not Lydia.

So I had a quick cup of coffee (or glass of juice for me since my stomach was still rioting after the flight), and I must say it was so sweet to meet old friends such as Tobias and Johan (also hired by Mojang now)! We went to school together, and they are both very bright and fascinating gentlemen.

But the coolest moment was when I opened the door to the office and an unknown family behind me tried to look over my shoulder to get a sneak peek of the Mojang office. It turned out they had traveled all the way from Israel, to see the place where Minecraft was made! The young gentleman in the Israeli family got to take a photo with one of the Minecraft devs  “Jeb”. I have never ever seen anyone that starstruck, he almost fainted! His mouth was  moving, but he could not make a sound, and his eyes were almost popping out of the sockets. It’s amazing he got to meet his big idol, and I’m sure he will remember that moment for the rest of his life. My previous boss at Junebud, Ola Holmdahl, was the lead designer for Battlefield 1942, and sometimes when he mentions this fact to developers at game conferences, they react a bit like this young Israeli kid. But they usually like to shake his hand and thank him for making such a great game (then they want to talk war stories from inside the game). All in all, it’s amazing to be part of something that actually means something to people, that changes them, that makes them have fun and connects with other humans.

Bono from U2, acting artistic and stuff.

It’s important to have someone to look up to, when you are young. To have some sort  of role model, someone who inspires you and brings out the best in you. It can be your mum, your cousin, a teacher, a singer or a game developer. I admired Bono from U2 when I was a teen. And if I got to choose, I think he is still one of the most inspirational people I know. One day I would love to sit down with him and have a beer, talk about the world, and how strange place it really is.

 

Bruce Springsteen Concert!

Bruce Springsteen live!

A glass of smashed fruit at Bruce’s hotel. He walked past the bar 20 min before this photo was shot.

My friends had made sure they got a room on the same hotel as Mr Springsteen, and last night they were lucky enough to get a picture with him when he returned from the concert!

This weekend I’m just chilling, yo. Yesterday I took the ferry from Finland to Sweden (back after 30 days in Finland). Went to the Springsteen concert in Göteborg with my hommies. The traffic jam when 65 000 ppl tried to leave the stadium area was just unimaginable!

I love relaxing weekends like this one, just laying on the sofa, listening to the rain and reading interesting articles about game making.