I spent a wonderful day at the 2010 Grad Show of LTU Skellefteå in Northern Sweden last week. That's a branch of the LTU (Luleå University of Technology) where students learn the arts of film-making and game-development. The game guys use the Nebula "spelmotorn" (what a wonderful word for "game engine") for their projects for quite a while now, and invited me to talk about the engine and the challenges of making Drakensang. It was more of a project management talk and very light on the technical side, but since actual programmers were in the minority I think that was a good decision instead of going straight into hardcore tech stuff.
I wish I had a little more time to explore the town and its surroundings. Skellefteå (pronounced roughly like Shealleaf-tyo with emphasis on the 2nd syllable as I learned) is a relatively small town about 25 Swedish miles (1 mile is 10 km in Sweden!) south of the Arctic Circle, and as you can guess, it's still deep winter there. I was lucky to catch a nice sunny day, but the temperature was still only around -10 degree Celsius with about 1 meter of snow and a thick ice layer on the river which flows through the town.
The town of Skellefteå is really beautiful, with an orderly rectangular layout (so it's basically impossible to get lost). A surprising number of hotels, stores and restaurants are gathering around the town center, and there are colorful wood-planked town houses in the surroundings.
A small airport about 20 km south of town seems to take the role of the railway station. I was surprised to find myself in a packed-full Boeing 737 from Stockholm to Skellefteå (for some reason I was expecting something like this ;), when the flight from Berlin to Copenhagen (and back) was only handled by a mere Canadair CRJ900 (which - unfortunately - was packed with overweight German businessmen).
There's one thing I really like about Swedish people: they don't seem to like pointless small-talk. My seat neighbors on the plane didn't want to know where I come from and where I go to, what I want there, whether I like cats more then dogs or how the German beer is compared to their local beer. The atmosphere on the plane was quiet and relaxed, and I think I never encountered such a disciplined and friendly unboarding of a full plane as on the arrival at Skellefteå. Yet if you're asking for directions, they're friendly and helpful as if they know you for years.
Oh Glorious Sweden :)