George Erkhan described how he felt about his role as a developer to his audience during Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014: “Our purpose as game developers is to make pure, unstoppable fun.”
George Erkhan is the creative director of HeroCraft, a Russian video game developer and publisher. With more than 150 games of a variety of genres, HeroCraft’s primary focus is strategy games, with notable releases including Strategy & Tactics series, Majesty Mobile, and more recently: Warhammer® 40,000®: Space Wolf.
Erkan’s career began eight years ago as part of the HeroCraft team. While he had no relevant experience, he dove right in as the sole game designer in what was then a small studio. With dreams of bringing ‘real’ PC hardcore games to mobile, HeroCraft began by making java games with 100kb jar. When reminiscing about growing up alongside HeroCraft, Erkhan shared, “the company increased rapidly, a game design department was established and I headed it”. As the lead of a few teams (including HeroCraft Donetsk), each of his teams are collaborating on RPG and mid-core titles. As creative director, Erkhan is in charge of monetization, statistics, and game design.
For Erkhan, working in the gaming industry enables him to pursue many different interests. As priorities and interests change, there is a fluidity in the games industry that allows one to shift with ease while still staying in business. While this flexibility is available in other professions, the “endless evolution and changeover of your own work-flow and occupations could be considered the coolest stuff of our profession”.
Erkhan has quite the collection of interests; his favorite past times are not limited to gaming and game design. Erkhan has a deep love of literature. He sees literature as not only a hobby but also a “lifestyle or the main affair”. Right now, he is concentrating on writing short horror novels. “This genre allows to flay the armor skin of routine and to show the essence of a human being, their secret emotions, all that is hidden most of the time,” he says.
Other interests include culture and history of the ancient world, especially Sumer and Mesopotamia. As the “cradle of the modern civilization”, he is the most intrigued by the region. “It’s a pity that unstable political situation in this region makes impossible any trips there,” he says. Erkhan has delved into various types of martial arts, including Russian Sambo, BARS, Aikido, Kudo, and Kyokushan Karate, plays soccer (European football) at work every week, and is a huge supporter of the London Chelsea and the Spartak Moscow Clubs.
Lastly, Erkhan is a MTG (Magic the Gathering) player, referring to it as a genius card game. In many ways, playing it gives him new insights as a professional game developer. The competition of it give him great joy and sparks some creativity, too.
Overcoming the Challenges
So what makes Erkhan proud? “The evaluation of my work by usual players who say their thanks on Google Play and Appstore . . . all our work is totally senseless without users who love our games”. He is proud to admit that all the work of putting together a game is worthless without the players acknowledgment and happiness in the end product. That knowledge helps him stay at it and overcome the challenges he encounters at work.
While George feels we can collectively cope with challenges facing the gaming industry, such as discovering, optimization in stores, and player acquisition, the biggest challenge is a strategic one which could only be solved by the efforts of the entire industry. He calls it the “Struggle for Recognition”. This struggle embodies the need to recognize games as ranking in importance alongside movies and music. Games are not harmful. Games make us happy and enrich our lives. It is all of our jobs to explain, this not just to the geeks, freaks, and teens, but to society.
Mobile Games and the Future of the Industry
Erkhan’s primary platform for his own game play is on the iPad. Currently, he is playing an original battler from Nival: Etherlords. “It was interesting to me to examine how this old-school brand will be revived in a modern mobile F2P reality. In spite of having nothing in common with its progenitor, this game is Nival’s new successful step within the genre”. He hopes that many developers will follow Nival’s lead shortly.
Big trends within the next three to five years in the industry will be fueled by the next wave of tablets and smartphones. Portable gadgets are the future and George says they “will require their own gamepads and bring to our TVs new brand games . . . I behold how mobiles will jostle classical consoles from our living rooms.” Currently, HeroCraft is converting games to be playable on mobile devices. As people embrace mobile gaming, it has revolutionized the gaming industry.
Emily Baker is the Production Supervisor for www.gamesauce.biz. Emily loves learning about cultures, taking care of her hobby farm and spending time with her two kiddos.