Vladimir Gersl discussed the transition from working in a big company to turning indie during his session at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014. “Use AAA games rigid processes for vision, budget & planning,” he explained. “But as indie, stay flexible and iterate a lot to find the perfect process that will suit you.”
When Vladimir Gersl and Lukas Labaj decided to create their own company, Fun 2 Robots, they carefully examined the games industry and asked themselves, “What is the problem with today’s mobile games? What is missing?” The missing factor they uncovered was challenging gameplay. So they determined to focus their efforts on mid-core gamers and bring them intense, console-like gameplay that would require them to use all their skills in games tailored to mobile gaming specifics.
As CEO at Fun 2 Robots, Gersl is responsible for fulfilling the overall company and game vision. He spends his time locating strategic partners, finding investors, hiring the right employees and ensuring that they receive adequate compensation. But he is also the lead game designer, which makes him responsible for overall game design and mechanics, as well as cooperating on all game features and visuals and setting the game difficulty, progress, and prizes. Although he enjoys both these positions, he recognizes that doing them both 100 percent for the long term would be impossible. So as the company matures and funds become available, he will be searching for the right person to take over the game design responsibilities.
Gersl naturally finds his extensive experience in game design an advantage in the work he is now doing. But he also finds insight from his past experience in theater while in a university and from the people around him. In fact, he says, “I’ve realized that everything I’ve done in my life is somehow connecting, and I can use all of it in my work.” He finds himself using his activities outside of work, including watching movies, going to the theater, reading, playing board games, and especially, meeting people, all as sources of inspiration for game design.
His strong-willed nature is particularly valuable, especially when it comes to determining and reaching the vision and long-term goals. He admits, “From time to time, you meet someone who tells you that you can’t change anything. But that’s not true. With keenness and the right people you trust, you can change a lot.”
The Next Milestone
Gersl has had many moments in his career that have brought him satisfaction and pride in what he is doing, ranging from his time in elementary school selling 50 copies each month of the video games magazine he wrote himself, through to the time he was told by Activision that he was the “best Cauldron’s man” in the company’s history. Other highlights include creating his first game 14 years ago or being told by younger game developers that he was their role model. Recently, the excitement has been building with the creation of Fun 2 Robots, being nominated for an Indie Prize award, and succeeding with crowdfunding for their new game while receiving very positive feedback.
He believes as you set higher and higher goals, your latest success is the largest and brings the most satisfaction, so he is always looking forward. He claims, “I can tell you when I’ll really be proud: when Fun 2 Robots is known as a company making high-quality, successful games that always give mid-core players a little extra. I believe we’re on the right track, but it will still take a lot of work and focus.”
Making a Stable Industry
The games industry is young so, according to Gersl, it is facing many challenges, including how to estimate development time more precisely or how to use games to educate a new generation. But the largest problem he sees, particularly in the mobile segment of the industry, is how to make games a good and stable industry without disturbing its basic principle. Games are meant to be fun, and this is the crucial aspect the industry must not lose. But the premium games model is no longer working to generate the necessary profit. He insists that implementing the free-to-play model can bring stability, realizing profitability without reducing the fun factor. This is what Fun 2 Robots has focused on from their beginning.
Gersl finds being a part of the games industry both fun and exciting. The fun comes from socializing with people around games. The excitement comes from taking part in creating a new branch of entertainment still in its genesis and being in a position to influence its evolution. And he appreciates having his work as his biggest hobby.
Once a Gamer
He does enjoy hobbies not related to gaming, including skiing, biking, playing squash and football. But gaming remains the most significant. For longer play sessions, he still prefers his PS3, and also owns an Xbox 360. At one time, he had all the consoles, since he was designing for them, and considers it essential to know your audience perfectly.
For the shorter play sessions he is most involved in today, he uses his phone, a small tablet, or PC. Currently, he is playing Miami Hotline, finding it an inspiration for polishing details of his latest game.
At Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014, Gersl announced Future Factory, their debut game, will be released next month. It will be on the Windows phone and will be available on other platforms in the near future. This game will bring fresh, new ideas to the mobile market, so he advises, “Stay tuned!”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.