Maschinen-Mensch is an independent game studio from Berlin founded in 2014 by Johannes Kristmann and Riad Djemili. We love creating games using a mix of carefully hand-crafted elements and procedural gameplay to create unique experiences for players. Our first game Curious Expedition sold more than 250.000 copies across all platforms.
As a studio we aim to offer opportunities to local artists and creators and strive to be a part of the vivid, wonderful Berlin indie scene through collaborations, events and our shared office space and collective, Saftladen.
Check out the press kit for pictures, logos and more information.
Johannes Kristmann (CEO, Art Director, Game Designer)
Jo has been working in games for over 10 years before co-founding Maschinen-Mensch with Riad. When not thinking of new weird creatures, costumes and characters and being a vocal and important part of the Berlin game dev scene, Johannes spends as much time as he can with his family. He is an outdoor guy through and through and loves gardening, hiking and strolling through the forest.
CURIOUS FACT: Jo has a surprising talent for painting nails and loves to wear his designs around the office.
Riad Djemili (CEO, Technical Director, Game Designer)
As a kid, Riad’s favorite book was a board game manual. So, designing games was just the next logical step for him. After studying computer science in Berlin he worked in AAA development for over 7 years on titles such as Spec Ops: The Line and Dead Island 2. He co-founded Maschinen-Mensch with Johannes to create games that explore social dynamics of the real world. Riad loves to play chess, ride his bike around town and photography.
CURIOUS FACT: One of things that fascinates Riad the most is data visualization and he is constantly designing systems, rules and tools that help him manage his life.
Isaac Ashdown (Senior Programmer)
Isaac specializes in gameplay programming and loves to turn design into realities that people can actually play. After working on Dead Island 2 for several years, Isaac co-founded his own studio, inbetweengames, and created All Walls Must Fall, a turn-based love letter to time travelling, techno and Berlin’s club scene. Free time is for walking through forests with his husband and his dog.
CURIOUS FACT: Asking Isaac for curious facts about himself gives him a real sense of Existential Dread. Don’t do that!
Katarina Czikorova (Animator)
Before coming to Maschinen-Mensch, Katarina was working as a designer and lecturer in motion design. For her PhD she was actually researching how animation can be used as an educational tool. Working in games sounded like something new and exciting so she decided to join our team. Katarina is happiest when seeing the first movements of a character on screen.
CURIOUS FACT: Katarina enjoys going to the movies alone and tries to go to the theater at least once a week (unless there’s a pandemic going on).
Laura Brosi (Technical Artist)
Laura joined Maschinen-Mensch while studying Game Design at HTW Berlin. Today she is our Technical Artist, fusing art and programming to create beautiful special effects. In her free time she is involved in TV productions and is part of Berlin’s stand-up comedy scene where she creates digital formats for artists. Laura is working on her own games too: one of her projects, Ampere, was nominated for the German Games Award.
CURIOUS FACT: Laura is an avid cosplayer!
Lorenzo Pilia (Producer)
For almost a decade Lorenzo has been organising events in Berlin, helping establish the local game dev scene, such as Talk & Play and A MAZE. / Berlin festival (for which he curated the conference programme from 2014 to 2019). As a producer at Maschinen-Mensch, he's taking care of a lot of different things every day, so that the rest of the team can focus on creating great games. He's also responsible for most of the marketing and communication tasks, such as this website.
CURIOUS FACT: If Lorenzo would have his own banner, it would feature a lemon on a yellow background — he is totally obsessed with that colour.
Mascha Camino (Game Designer)
Mascha grew up in a family of actors and chefs, but once her dad introduced her to videogames, she wanted nothing more than to create them herself. After studying Game Design in Berlin she joined Maschinen-Mensch, where she’s responsible for creating experiences players will remember and cherish. She is also an integral part of the Berlin game scene, working on initiatives such as Femisphere (highlighting diversity in the games industry), the Indie School Trip, Devolution, and one of Berlin’s biggest indie dev gatherings, Talk & Play.
CURIOUS FACT: As a theater kid, Mascha always wanted to help out backstage. One of her highlights was holding up a bush for a show of the legendary puppet theater troupe, the Augsburger Puppenkiste.
Milan Pingel (Business Developer)
Before joining Maschinen-Mensch, Milan co-founded Massive Miniteam and spent three years as a Creative Producer and CEO. From his home office in Cologne, he works on funding and business development for Maschinen-Mensch. As a huge fan of roguelikes and procedural storytelling, he feels right at home with the kind of games MM creates.
CURIOUS FACT: Milan has spent years living in Spain and Brazil. He wishes Germany (and the population) was a little bit warmer.
Petter Vilberg (Game Designer)
Petter grew up in a forest outside of Oslo and studied scriptwriting to get into film, but then games came along and his life took a different direction. He got his start in games after cold-emailing a studio to hire him. They did! Petter loves creating and tweaking systems that generate entirely new und unscripted outcomes, connections and stories. Before joining Maschinen-Mensch in late 2020, Petter worked on Crusader Kings III. Outside of games, he pursues an ever-changing set of hobbies, such as surfing, playing the piano, camping, hiking and photography.
CURIOUS FACT: In addition to working on the game itself for years, he also created the most popular (and possibly only), skateboarding mod for Crusader Kings III. It’s pretty gnarly.
- Our company name Maschinen-Mensch means “machine-human”. The first name that we landed on was “HIC SVNT LEONES”. We prepared all the company foundation papers with that name and then got second thoughts at the last moment and had to come up with a new name within half an hour. If you’ve ever started a company or project then you know that coming up with a name is probably the hardest part of it all.
- Before Curious Expedition was released, back in 2014 Riad and Jo created a small game for the Ludum Dare 29 game jam titled Planet Corp. — you can play it here (but don't tell anyone).
This website was designed by our producer Lorenzo. Daniel Berndt coded it. Dennis Kogel wrote the first draft of the texts and helped collect curious facts for the various Curious Corners. Our business developer Milan made sure we received funding to create this site.
The creation of this website was supported by Kreativ-Transfer with funds by the representatives of culture and media of the German government. Let us say that again in German: Gefördert durch Kreativ-Transfer, aus Mitteln der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.