Before founding Smarter Games, Kennedy Rose was a web developer. The transition to creating videogames was almost entirely by accident. He started creating web applications and teaching assistant tools. He was even making word search games for teachers, with menus, objectives and special effects. At some point Kennedy realized he had all the abilities necessary to create games. So why not? After realizing that it was actually pretty fulfilling, he started Smarter Games. Fox & Flock is the first Smarter Games game as well as Kennedy’s first storyline-driven game, and it’s this story that he tells.
Robert Winkler was part of a panel about launching an indie studio during Casual Connect Europe 2014. During that panel, it was said, “To be a successful indie, you need to hustle. Nobody is going to do it for you!”
Robert Winkler, CEO of 5th Planet Games, finds being surrounded by people just as passionate about games as he is one of the most enjoyable things about being in the games industry. His greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the progression of 5th Planet Games and the personal and professional growth of the team. “I grow more and more proud of them every day,” he said.
He spends the majority of his time driving the company’s strategic vision and supporting the design teams. As one of the original founders, he started out as design lead, and his passion is still in the design realm. Before founding 5th Planet Games, Winkler was in finance. His familiarity with love of numbers and spreadsheets has been helpful in many aspects of his present role.
iPad and Board Games
When not involved with the company, Winkler spends the majority of his time “playing with his house full of little gamers.” He’s obsessed with board games, playing them daily on his iPad and at least once a week with an office group. These days, his game play is focused on Lord of Waterdeep and Agricola, and, although the game he is playing is more important to him than the platform he is playing on, he can usually be found using his iPad.
Winkler also regularly plays his Xbox. “I’ve always been an Xbox kind of guy, but I haven’t really moved away from the 360 due to the lack of a killer next-gen game,” he said.
Games with Substance
Winkler believes the most important challenge facing the games industry today is making a game that stands out with enough substance to retain popularity longer than the competition. He also noted that the transition from games as a product to games as a service has been a major shift for the industry. Winkler said, “It will be interesting to see how people embrace and innovate on this model in the years to come.”
5th Planet Games responds to the challenge by continuing to build games they enjoy playing themselves. Winkler emphasizes the need to focus on fun, immersive play over everything else.
In the future of the games industry, Winkler foresees greater stress on cross-platform gaming and deeper gaming experience. The focus will be on retaining players for years instead of just months or weeks. 5th Planet Games is already focusing on these areas and just recently launched their first cross-platform game on mobile, Legacy of a Thousand Suns.