Nolla Games

Nolla is the Finnish word for zero. That’s the number of new posts (not counting this one of course) in this blog in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and most of 2013.
That’s also the number of games I’ve released since releasing The Swapper.
There’s an arguably good reason for both – we’ve been busy enough working on a new game with Petri Purho and Arvi Teikari. Or you could call it laziness, or wanting to take a break.

We thought it would be a good idea to have a new studio for the new unannounced game. Since the studio has released zero games so far we thought it’d make sense to call it Nolla Games. By the way, did you notice how quickly that site loads? I should probably get rid of this WordPress crap.

So, for now, if you’re interested in the gamestuff I’ll be making in the near future you should probably look no further, just click on one of the official internet links below.

Since company announcements are quite boring we recorded an in-engine animation where our logo is damaged in many of the horrible ways our new Falling Everything Engine allows us to do:

We should have more mysterious info about our mysterious game in a week or so!

Nolla Games website
Official Twitter
Official Youtube
Press kit

Expect to see a new post in this blog in 2021.

– olli

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The Swapper artwork

With The Swapper‘s launch looming less than a week away we’re happy to share this promo artwork by the amazing Sakke Soini. Our Steam page is also now live! Enjoy!

The Swapper Artwork The Swapper Artwork

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The Swapper releasing May 30th, New Trailer!

The Swapper

Well, we’ve done it. The long wait is over. The Swapper is officially coming to Steam (and other TBA outlets) on May 30th! Scroll below for the trailer.

Mark your calendars! Tell your friends and family. Staple flyers to telephone poles and graffiti building sides. Use a megaphone to yell at strangers on the streets. This is serious news.

We understand you might be feeling apprehensive that the launch date is so soon and that you have not properly prepared. Don’t worry! With our help, in just 2 short weeks you too can be ready to play The Swapper.

We recommend you take the following steps*:

– Isolate yourself for long periods of time. This will acclimate you to your new, desolate environment and help ward off space dementia.
– Practice solving puzzles by pushing all buttons, levers, blocks and switches you come across in your day to day. If this causes trouble, just swap to one of your clones and leave the old one behind!
– Oh, be sure to start cloning yourself. That part is also important.
– Wear your space suit daily, including during rigorous physical exercise, sleeping and eating. You need to be familiar and nimble with your equipment on.

And remember, those voices you’re hearing are all perfectly normal. It’s an indication that your preparations are working!

Congratulations! Now you’re on your way to successfully experiencing The Swapper!

For additional study materials please view this new gameplay trailer and read Part 1 of Tom’s narrative retrospective.

Happy Swapping and thanks for the support everyone!

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*We accept no personal liability for possible side effects of extreme isolation, button pushing, graffiti, human cloning experiments or existential crisis brought about by recommended preparations.

Posted in Screenshots, The Swapper, Video | 4 Comments

Designing Narrative to Fit the Gameplay Part 1: Controlling Idea

Hello. My name is Tom, and I’ve been narrative designer-ing The Swapper on and off for the last eleven months. When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been making things like FTL and Ir/rational Investigator, studying philosophy, and lending a hand with other word-like tasks, the latter of which brings me here.

Today I’m being brought to you with my narrative designer’s hat on. That’s going to prove necessary, because somehow I have to explain to you all that’s happened to The Swapper’s narrative over the last eleven months, without actually giving any of it away (and it’s very much that sort of game, you know). I have to try to explain the thought that went into decisions like silent protagonist and the general goals of the writing, without actually explaining exactly what happens. Wish me luck.

We should start where my first writing tutor assured me you should always start – at the beginning. Olli contacted me May last year. He’d played Penumbra, and needed some help with a ‘2001: A Space Odyssey meets atmospheric puzzle solving’ game. He had a synopsis of the basic story structure, but was open to new ideas. It was to be a few weeks’ work on a minimalist, text-only 3,000-word script.

The Swapper

Eleven months later it’s fair to say that while the script has expanded only a little (we’re at around 5,000 words as we hit text lock) the workload has ballooned. Thanks partly to an extensive post-IGF plot revision and constant on the fly iteration, I’ve spent around 8 full-time weeks on the game in total. Here’s the breakdown:

7 days – Initial plot pitches and story docs

4 days – Converting story docs into a functional narrative design and planning out every narrative element in the game

8 days – Extensive plot and narrative design revision + new character designs

7 days – First draft of complete in-game script

8 days – Playtesting and script redrafts

3 days – Voice over auditions and direction

Discounting the week or so we killed by overhauling the plot it’s still fair to say I’ve spent more hours per word on this game than any other. That’s exactly what excited me about the project in the first place – with such a minimal script, and the convenience of playtesting the game, there’s no excuse for every word not being precisely where it should be. I hope the attention we’ve paid them pays off in the end.

So just what have we been working on? Here I’ll briefly discuss the direction the gameplay imposed on the narrative, and in the next post I’ll go into more detail on how that informed the various changes we made.

The Swapper as the ‘Controlling Idea’

Starting work on any game with a relatively open narrative landscape is a different task to writing a novel, or a play, or just about anything else, in so far as the gameplay provides and imposes unique restrictions on what it makes sense to do with the story. The Controlling Idea is the core concept that moves the entire narrative.

The Swapper

The story in The Swapper could only ever have been about one thing.  What the titular device actually does, and what it means for us. When I came onboard the focus was on the cloning aspect; we kinda know where that goes. As we developed ideas about how the device could be used in the key story beats it became clear that the really interesting thing wasn’t so much the cloning as it was the transferring of consciousness around different bodies.

What exactly is consciousness? Is there something like a soul that we can actually identify separately from the physical machinations of the brain itself? What constitutes what it is to be you?

These questions will sound pretentious to some, but they are the focus of cutting edge scientific and philosophical research into the brain, and remain more or less open to well-reasoned discussion. While it’s true – as my non-gamer flatmate likes to point out to me – that I’ve learnt a lot more about these subjects from essays than I’ll be able to raise in the game, it’s my cautious hope that it won’t defeat the point of putting them in there. A game in which you screw with your brain but aren’t encouraged to think about it would seem to have a thematic gap between its gameplay and its story.

This commitment underpins everything that occurs in the narrative. These are difficult questions to answer, and what you think about them will depend on your intuitions more likely than not. Every move you make in The Swapper we hope will give you pause to question them.

Next time: non-spoilerific details on some of those questions, and what we think their answers might be.

Posted in Guest Posts, The Swapper | 3 Comments

“Marching squares”


The Swapper
I might later tell why this post is called “marching squares”. For now enjoy the picture!


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New trailer + Steam!

Today is a big step towards release for us. We have a release platform and a brand new trailer for you that – with any luck – shows off how far the game has come so far.

You can read the full press release and watch the trailer below. (I’m just a lazy copypaster and I should be packing for Facepalm’s PAX + GDC tour).





Indie Fund-backed The Swapper coming to Steam, releases new trailer

HELSINKI, FINLAND – 19th March 2013 – Facepalm Games announces today that The Swapper will be launching on Steam in April Spring 2013, and marks the occasion with an all-new trailer.

The Swapper is an atmospheric, 2D puzzle-platformer whose accolades include IndieCade’s Special Recognition Award, and selection for the PAX10 2012. It uses handmade art to render an explorable space station in unique detail, while gameplay sees players swap between different bodies to access long-hidden parts of the station, discover what brought them here, and whether or not it will let them leave. The game is backed by Indie Fund.

The announcement coincides with the release of the first official footage of the game since May 2011. The new trailer offers a glimpse of the story and atmosphere of the finished title.
Facepalm’s Olli Harjola, along with narrative designer, Tom Jubert, will be demoing the game in the Indie Megabooth at PAX East this weekend, and attending GDC the following week.

For more information please visit


About Facepalm Games
Facepalm Games is a two-man studio in Helsinki, Finland. The Swapper will be their first release.

Facepalm Games

Other Links
Facepalm Games
Indie Fund

Press kit




The Swapper

Posted in Etc, Screenshots, The Swapper, Video | 8 Comments

The Swapper is going to be in the INDIE MEGABOOTH at PAX EAST + meet us at GDC!

PAX East 2013 is next week and we’re super happy to let you know that The Swapper will be playable at booth #876 which is part of the enormous Indie Megabooth!

 Indie Megabooth

I (Olli) am going to be there with Tom (The Swapper’s narrative designer). We’ll have three stations for the game as a reaction to the queues we had during the PAX10 showcase last fall. Come meet us and check out the game!


We’re also going to be at San Francisco with Tom during the GDC so let us know if you’re interested in hearing more about the game or grabbing a few beers with us.

Indie Megabooth Logo

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Penumbra’s Tom Jubert hired for narrative design on The Swapper


The Swapper


HELSINKI, FINLAND – 31st July 2012 – Facepalm Games today announced that it has hired Tom Jubert – whose credits include Penumbra, Driver: San Francisco and FTL – to lead narrative development on The Swapper.

The Swapper is an atmospheric, 2D puzzle-platformer, and was announced recently as one of the PAX10 – the group of indies selected by Penny Arcade’s group of experts for exhibition at PAX Prime on 31st August 2012. It’s also one of the seven games backed by Indie Fund.

Facepalm’s founder, Olli Harjola, explains:

“We were already familiar with Tom’s work and blog, and when we started looking for a writer who could deliver on the themes we were tackling he was a natural choice. Luckily he seemed to really get onboard with the premise and was keen to start work.”

“Since then Tom’s worked closely with us, developing the plotting, planning out the dialogue and even helping us write our press releases!”

Jubert, who is also known for being the inventor of sliced bread, said,

“It’s great to be behind the wheel of a thoughtful indie game. In The Swapper we’ve got this great opportunity to broach some really interesting topics: do I have a soul, am I just a bunch of neurons, what makes you conscious, and what does it mean if you are?”

Nathan Vella, of Indie Fund and Capy Games, commented,

“We’re all fans of Tom’s work, and obviously we believe in what Facepalm is doing with The Swapper. Seeing them come together, and playing a tiny role in it, is really exciting & gratifying for us at Indie Fund.”

The Swapper features a unique art style that uses real-world clay-models and found objects to create an explorable space station realised in unique detail; gameplay sees players swap between different bodies to achieve otherwise impossible tasks. The game has won awards from IndieCade, Develop and Freeplay, and been a finalist in many more. The Swapper is due 2013. For more information please visit

About Facepalm Games

Facepalm Games is a two-man studio in Helsinki, Finland. The Swapper will be their first release.

About Tom Jubert

Tom Jubert is a freelance games writer and narrative designer, based in London, UK, and represented by Sidelines games writing agency. He makes indie games and AAA games. He also operates the narrative design blog and resource, ‘Plot is Gameplay’s Bitch’.



The Swapper

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The Swapper is a PAX 10 selection

The Swapper was selected as one of the ten games in PAX 10! The games are going to be showcased at Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle August 31-September 2.

To celebrate that Jukio “Kozilek” Kallio aka guy who makes Vlambeer music also gave the game’s website a makeover.

PAX 10

We also have something else to announce in the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Posted in Awards, Festivals, The Swapper, website | 1 Comment