Plumbee Studios VP and GM Raf Keustermans first got to know who plays social casino and why they play it at Unibet and then learned about free-to-play social titles and game design and marketing at EA Pogo/Playfish. This helped them in their current role at Plumbee that has been recently acquired by GSN Games. So, what is life like after acquisition? What draws one company to acquire another, what changes an acquisition brings to the studio being bought, and how the transition can be navigated, as well as what to expect once the dust settles? At Casual Connect Tel Aviv Raf discussed these topics in a fireside chat with Vicenc Marti of Tangelo Games (formerly Imperus, which acquired Akamon and Diwip) and iGaming Capital’s Melissa Blau.
Benoit Prunneaux of Bento Studio is one of the main developers behind unWorded. The game was nominated for Indie Prize at RESPAWN, a conference designed to allow the free exchange of ideas between developers, where lectures happen in open environments that attendees are allowed to freely flow between as they wish with topics including Creative, Game Design, Business and Tech to Culture/Communications and Storytelling. Bento Studio will compete at Indie Prize hosted by Casual Connect Europe in Berlin.
“We are very proud of this nomination and it was a fairly big surprise. This game is really important for Bento because we have placed something special in this title that it is more personal. So this is a real reward for us,” said Benoit. “Honestly we have not made this game to win contests. We registered at random to see if our game could arouse interest in the audience and make it more visible. Since our participation we are very happy to be able to benefit from this support.”
Yuriy Krasilnikov is the Director of Business Development at TrilobiteSoft, developer of Pig Bang. The game recently took home the best art and Grand Prix prizes at the Indie Prize partner event Indie Game Cup at White Nights Moscow 2016, an international cross-platform business conference for game industry designed to facilitate networking among game developers and publishers from Russia and all of Europe. TrilobiteSoft will present the game at Casual Connect Europe and Indie Prize.
“The team working on Pig Bang sets the highest standards – both related to the visual component of the game, and to the gameplay in general – to those experiences that Pig Bang gamers can get,” said Yuriy. “Awards received during Indie Game Cup at White Nights Moscow 2016 showed that we are heading in the right direction and this definitely is inspiring.”
“We are going to come to Berlin with even better-polished game, and, peeling away the mystery, most likely with additional characters and even with the mode of the game. So to say, we are keeping our hopes up that at the Casual Connect’s Indie Prize, the game will be really appreciated,” Yuriy continued. “On top of that, conferences of this kind are a great opportunity to talk to colleagues in the industry, to the leading developers and potential partners.”
“It is basically a huge opportunity to spread the word,” said Jan. “Since I am the only one developer of this game, it is very hard to contact a wider audience and get in touch with the press.”
Mashinky is based on players creating their own transportation empire based around trains over multiple time periods. Jan has always loved railway transportation and the way steam engines worked, even owning a model railroad as a child. Besides that, Jan says the primary inspiration for the game was very simple.
FlowPlay has launched Dynasty Football, an online fantasy football strategy card game. Designed to appeal to both fans of collectible card games and fantasy football enthusiasts, this unique game blends the real-world player stats of fantasy football with the excitement of head-to-head card battles.
“Collectible card games have become increasingly popular over the last two years, and we saw an opportunity to bring our expertise in casual fantasy sports games to this growing market,” said Derrick Morton, CEO of FlowPlay. “We’re one of the first to introduce sports elements into the digital card games genre, allowing us to expand the appeal of Dynasty Football to the broader audience of 60 percent of the U.S. population that considers themselves sports fans, according to Gallup.”
Séverin Larose of SoulGame Studio has created multiple titles, including Rogue Soul II. SoulGame recently received the bronze medal at Ludum Dare gamejam, which Séverin was extremely proud of since it was the studio’s first time participating in the event.
“The concept we came up with was new to me, I had never worked on a pure puzzle game before so it was nice to check that we could do puzzles as well,” said Séverin. “It also meant that the experience I had accumulated working with Flash was allowing me to ‘impress’ people with high quality polish in just 72 hours of work, since many comments were actually skeptical about the possibility of achieving such a result in such a short time frame… that was really satisfying and motivating.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Séverin, having to work as a part-time music teacher during the creation of SoulGame’s first release: The Soul Driver. There were other games before that, but Séverin was willing to scrap partially complete projects in order to put something out at the level of quality they wanted.
“I think most of us aim at perfection when we create things even if we never reach it, but I think some devs are just more reasonable than I am when it comes to budget and deadline. I did spend a lot of time, hard work and money just to make our games better, when they could have been released. Sometimes I spend a whole day on an invisible detail… I basically only stop when I’m so out of cash that I can’t continue!” detailed Séverin. “It’s just that I really value players’ enthusiasm, a lot. It’s extremely rewarding for me, even more than money. It’s really quite logical after all, we just want to make games that people love, and yeah sure, if I get rich in the process, awesome! But that will be a consequence, not a goal.”
Séverin has also participated in Indie Prize, after talking to Khail Santia from Moocho Brain who talked about how great the experience was for them. “Indie Prize to me was an unique occasion to meet in person a lot of people from the industry. It was kinda epic, to be honest!” said Séverin. “I got so used to working on a remote basis, dealing with email and invisible people, so meeting them after all those years was a kind of ‘real world’ confirmation that everything we lived was actually true. I especially loved meeting and share experiences with my fellow game developers from literally all around the world, some I’m still in touch with.”
Mattias Lindblad is the CEO Flamebait Games, makers of starving artist simulator Passpartout. The game recently scored a spot to compete in Indie Prize at Casual Connect Europe by winning the Swedish Game Conference, whose theme this year was inclusive game development.
“It is very exciting and we’re looking forward towards showcasing Passpartout in Berlin,” said Mattias. “We’re also looking forward to meeting other developers and playing their games.”
The current industry trend of “more women in tech” can easily be supported from the very beginning, by exposing girls to all kinds of games from a young age, so that they would get familiar with the medium regardless of genre. Educational game developer at Helen Doron Shulamit Ferber emphasizes: it’s important to provide them with relatable characters that wouldn’t be pastel-colored and overly feminized as this isn’t what all girls associate themselves with. Tips and tricks on correct game design for girls get explained in Shulamit’s Casual Connect Tel Aviv session.
Kamil Orman-Janowski is a composer who has provided music to games such as Warplane Legends, Beyond Space and Isleron: The Rending. Probably his most famous works at this point, however, have been to Path of Exile and its various expansions.
“My vision of music for Path of Exile is still evolving, but there are some major sources of inspiration,” said Kamil. “I try to find proper balance between music from games such as Diablo 1-2 and movies or TV shows with similar setting. I’m always looking for something dark, ethereal, deep, sometimes weird and strange but at the same time epic and noble, so it’s mostly fusion of symphony orchestra, guitars, ethnic and many experimental instruments.”
At Casual Connect Tel Aviv, Guy Hasson offered tried and tested strategies on how to improve your monetization through economy. “Suppose you have the greatest content, great games, great graphics, great themes, great math. You can waste it all by having a bad economy,” Guy explained. Learn more specific tips on how to have a good economy and ways to dodge monumental mistakes in the video below.