My name is Viljar Sommerbakk. I was born in Tromsø, Norway, on September 18, 1969 (at 5 am). My family moved around a lot when I was little, but eventually we settled down in Botnhamn, in the north of Norway, in 1976. I started school there in the fall. I lived in Botnhamn for nine years.
When I was fifteen, I moved to Tromso to go to high school. I moved there in the fall of 1985. I graduated from Tromsdalen Videregaende Skole in the summer of 1989. Before I graduated, I had spent a year in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, from 1987-1988. I was part of a student exchange program, going to an American high school, Caddo Parish Magnet High. I had a great year in the US!
After high school, I spent four years at the University of Tromsø, taking classes in philosophy, anthropology and psychology. I took one more class, but didn’t finish it.
I moved from Tromso to Målselv, also in the north of Norway, in the summer of 1993, after I had had enough of studying . I started working immediately after leaving the university. However, in the summer of 1995 it was again time to move on, so I left for Trondheim, a city in the middle of Norway.
I didn’t have a job when I moved to Trondheim, but I was tired of the snow and the cold of the north. I spent some time alternating between being unemployed and working odd jobs. I had several engagements for Manpower, notably as a customer consultant at NetCom, a Norwegian cellular phone company, and as a documentalist for a Belgian company, Decor Art Creations, among others. I also had some commissions for Olsten Norsk Personal (now Adecco), where the longest lasting was for TOBB, an apartment bureau.
I went back to school again in 1998, at NæringsAkademiet, to study computers. I took exams in Visual Basic, Microsoft Office 97/Communications/User Interfaces, Novell Network, and Computer Communication. During this time, I got back in touch with a friend from Tromsø, Viggo Løvli. Through him, I learned that the game company he was working for, Funcom, needed world designers. I applied, and some time later I got hired.
Having worked on AO for about three years, I decided to move again. This time I went further than ever before, all the way to Sydney, Australia, to work for Micro Forté on an Xbox game. I worked there as a Senior World Builder, from January 28, 2003 to January 30, 2004. Unfortunately Micro Forté lost their funding, so suddenly I found myself without a job.
Eventually I got a job as Lead Game Designer at Perception, Sydney. I worked there from March 15, 2004 to December 6, 2005, on a game based on the Stargate: SG-1 license. Perception lost their publisher as well and eventually ran out of money, having to let their staff go.
I quickly found a new job with another Sydney based developer, Team Bondi, working on the detective thriller L.A. Noire. Having signed only two weeks after leaving Perception, I had to wait several months before I could start, though, as I had to apply for another work visa. I started there on March 20, 2006. I only stayed there for a short time, however, until May 22, 2006. Having been abroad continuously for 3 1/2 years without seeing friends and family had taken its toll, so I decided it was time to head back north to Norway.
I contacted my old company, Funcom, and got a job with them again as soon as I returned to Norway. I started there on 26 June, 2006, working on Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.
It was good to be back home, but I still had some more adventure left in me, and decided to go to Copenhagen, Denmark, and work for IO Interactive on Hitman: Absolution as a Level Designer. I started there on 1 May, 2008. I enjoyed my time there, but after 2 and a half years in Copenhagen, I decided to take a short break from working on games, to relax and visit friends and family. I left IO at the end of September, 2010, and went to Norway, to Harstad, to stay with my parents for a few months.
Having recharged my batteries, I landed a job with Starbreeze Studios, in Uppsala, Sweden. I started there on 24 January, 2011, working on Syndicate as a Senior Game Designer. Unfortunately, after the release of Syndicate in February 2012, Starbreeze wasn’t able to secure further AAA game development contracts, and had to let people go. In the end I was made redundant when the small project I was on was put on hold (late 2012).
I had to look for work yet again, and this time I got a job at Avalanche Studios in Stockholm, again as a Senior Game Designer. I started there on 2 October, 2012, but only stayed for 6 months before going to DICE on April 1st 2013, also in Stockholm. I worked on Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Battlefield 1 for DICE. I bought my first apartment during my time with DICE, solidifying my commitment to stay in Stockholm and Sweden.
Having worked in the AAA video games industry for about 16 1/2 years, I thought it would be interesting to try something different. I went to work for King, one of the biggest mobile games developers in the world. I wanted to try working on less complex titles in the mobile space. I started there 5 September 2016.
My time with King was interesting and I learned a lot. However, a new AAA studio was founded by Ubisoft in Stockholm, working on a game set in James Cameron’s Avatar universe, together with Ubisoft Massive in Malmö. The thought of being there from the beginning was too enticing. I started there on 20 March 2018…