“We were not inspired by money or something else,” Nenad Tomić expressed. “We were only focused on one goal and that’s how to create the best game ever.” Along with co-founder Uroš Banješević, he described the journey of their company, Mad Head Games, during Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014.
Nenad Tomić founded Mad Head Games with Uroš Banješević just over three years ago. In just six years, Tomić has been involved in the release of more than 50 games ranging from AAA titles for Ubisoft to more casual games for numerous clients. While Tomić’s most prestigious accomplishment was being involved with the development of CG portals, the awards won as a part of Mad Head Games are the accomplishment which make Tomić the most proud, as it is what defines him as the developer he is today.
Tomić’s Introduction into the Game Industry
As of now, Tomić has two separate jobs. The first one, he admits “is a bit boring and not inspirational, and that’s running a company”. The second embodies the reason Tomić went after a career in game development: designing games. During the last eight years, Tomić has been a part of game and level design, 3D modeling, some basic coding, producing, writing stories, etc. Since he has been doing all of this, he has become a “jack of all trades, master of none.” And yet, Tomić has a rich overview of their work as well as “a good understanding of how to makes games that will stand out”.
For Tomić, his straight-forward, systematic nature springs from his traditional education while being trained to be a telecommunications engineer. Tomić explains, “being systematic in game development, and especially with running a company, helps a great deal, even though from time to time it clouds some more creative and innovative paths.” It is for this reason that he strives to find a balance between his systematic nature and the creativity required for game development.
Tomić does not limit his game design to work, he also claims it as a hobby, “Yep, making games for work and doing it as a hobby is kinda messed up, but it is how it is.” He also enjoys juggling, rollerblading, and participating in all sorts of sports, especially the social ones. In his free time, Tomić also plays iOS games on the phone and tablet. For the majority of his life, he played PC games, but has now shifted. Tomić explains, “The reason for that is probably the fact that I spend the most of my day sitting at my computer, and when the time for playing games actually comes, I prefer to be in a more comfortable and so to speak ‘casual’ position.” Currently, he is playing Cookie Clicker and Clash of Clans (CoC). When he first started CoC, it was for educational purposes. He wanted to learn how F2P works. However, before Tomić knew it, he was hooked and it was no longer about education. As for Cookie Clicker, it has a “madness of its own, and I don’t have a true explanation why I still play it.” As far as consoles go, Tomić doesn’t know why they were never tempting for him. The only exception: Little Big Planet and Journey for the PS3. These games are definitely on his bucket list of future games to play.
Now that Tomić has experienced F2P as a consumer, he loves how this genre has the possibility to reach a wide range of players. Additionally, F2P games have great potential for creativity and innovation towards “nailing down the proper way of producing a fun and fair game,” stated Tomić. On the flip side, he hates how often there is cloning and reusing of optimal monetization strategies with a total lack of innovation. Lazy design strategies result in redundant games, which reinforces the perception of games being evil money suckers. Tomić does have one gripe: the waiting times associated with F2P, which Tomić admits that he really hates.
Defining Events Which Shaped the Company
The defining moment of Tomić career is when he witnessed the reception of Mad Head Games’ Rite of Passage. Although the team had worked tirelessly to ensure quality coming first in every aspect of the game, nerves were high upon release. Tomić reflected on how Rite of Passage was the team’s first casual game, stating, “We had our doubts even though we knew that we went back a thousand times to do all little improvements that were hardly noticeable.” Even though they had even rejected whole sections of the game because they didn’t meet their high standards, they were naturally anxious about the audiences’ reception. When the game hit the number one position of Big Fish Games’ top downloaded games, Tomić knew that their efforts to ensure quality first were not in vain. This moment is when they knew, “we wanted to make only games of the greatest quality and that there’s hardly a greater reward than seeing people enjoying the game you made, and hearing that in some ways it changed their lives – even if it is just for a while.”
From that moment on, the team members were able to give their absolute best because they were vastly more confident in decisions during production. They were able to stay fearless and innovative with the upcoming projects. Through this experience, they also realized that if a concept doesn’t work, it needs to be revamped until it does work. Also, if there is a part of the game that doesn’t amaze them, it won’t amaze the audience. If this is the case, this part of the game must be fixed.
Tomić finds great joy in seeing the growth of Mad Head Games’ team members, which replicates throughout the company and enables an ever increasing quality of games. Tomić explains that one thing that has encouraged this growth is the fact that Mad Head Games has, “invested a lot of time and energy into working with people on their self improvement, and teaching them to embrace our initial core values as their own. Seeing that work, everyone being happy about it, and being enthusiastic about upcoming challenges is priceless.” Personal growth is important and enables company-wide growth, which benefits everyone.
The Next Couple of Years
If Tomić had to predict one trend which would shape the industry in the next couple of years, he would pick wearable technology. He believes that the impact will be similar to the upset of mobile. He further explained, “I’m absolutely sure that developers will come up with crazy innovations that are unimaginable to us at this moment, and I can’t wait to jump onto that train.” To further illustrate his point, he said that plans are already being pursued in this field, but it is still far too early to announce it.
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.