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Belgrade 2014Video Coverage

Alina Brazdeikene: Look at the Fun Over the Profit | Casual Connect Video

November 11, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Alina Brazdeikene focused on how you can use narrative and game design to build a world within a game during Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014. “There’s no point in writing a brilliant story when nobody can read it,” she expressed.

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Alina Brazdeikene, Narrative and Game Designer, Signus Labs

Prior to working at Signus Labs as a game designer and producer, Alina Brazdeikene began her career as a film maker. She held positions as lead writer and editor at Kikoriki, Movie Industry with Rhapsody Games, and at Odessa National Television. Her passion for games led her to change the direction of her career and become a narrative designer. She has now been a narrative game designer and cinematic script writer for more than three years.

Brazdeikene emphasizes the importance of experience, “There is a universal truth: every experience you have and all the knowledge you gain makes you a better designer.”

Play is Work

For her, the fun of being in the games industry comes from the opportunity to play games every day and call it work, feeling the greatest satisfaction was when her first game was released. When she was creating the game, she believed the sky was the limit, and found the real difficulty came in deciding when to stop! “After the game is released, you have to be prepared for anything,” she explains. “The big challenge is seeing what the players’ reactions will be.”

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For Brazdeikene, the fun of being in the games industry comes from the opportunity to play games every day and call it work.

For her own gaming, Brazdeikene prefers to use a PC because it is also the tool she uses for work. Currently, she is trying out The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, enjoying it despite its six-hour length because it is a solid, narrative-driven game. She insists, “I think small games have the same right to be a hit as the big games.”

Fun Over Profit

Brazdeikene strongly believes the vital problem in the games industry today is keeping the focus on making games for players, instead of making them solely to increase profit. She maintains that an enormous number of games released today are made simply to generate revenue and have little to do with the fun players expect. So we see tough monetization, aggressive marketing campaigns, never-ending games, and huge numbers of clones.

At Signus Labs, the primary focus is making games that will be fun for the players. Since every member of the team was first a game player, this is a natural orientation for them. “We should always remember,” Brazdeikene explains, “Games deal not with business only, but also with art.”

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At Signus Labs, the primary focus is making games that will be fun for the players.

She believes the most important trend now developing in the games industry is the story-driven game. “People are tired of just pushing the button,” she says. “They want the story; they want to know what it’s all about.” For the future, Signus will continue focusing on this aspect of game development.

 

USA 2014Video Coverage

Arseny Lebedev is Reducing Stress | Casual Connect Video

August 23, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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Arseny Lebedev went over elements a game should have to be fun during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “I initially thought that fun is a risk-reward thing, that fun is all about how much you are rewarded,” he explained. “But we’ll figure out that’s not really the case.”

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When Arseny Lebedev, co-founder of Signus Labs, spoke the first time at Casual Connect, he realized that this industry was right for him.

After that, he went on to co-found a development studio together with Ivan Tkachenko who already spent 10 years in game industry. “We have been creating amazing stuff with the talent and energy of our team,” indicates Lebedev, proud of the growth that the studio has experience in the last years, from 2 to over 35 members. “Our team has developed the biggest games and IPS in the world, making us feel proud.”

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Lebedev is proud of the growth that the studio has experience in the last years’ growth from two people to over 35.

A Cancelled Dream

But the progress of the company has not been continuously smooth. Over a year ago, they were given what seemed a dream project, a large mobile game with a large publisher. He claims the IP was his favorite of all time. However, a series of unfortunate events, including delays and corporate changes, led to cancellation of the project. He remembers, “I couldn’t sleep for weeks.”

Finally on one evening, he rationalized the situation and woke up the next morning feeling great. He feels this experience changed the way he makes decisions at Signus, simply because there are sometimes too many uncontrollable factors. He admits, “Now I’ve loosened up, and I think the team feels it.”

Lebedev at Casual Connect USA.
Lebedev at Casual Connect USA.

Relaxation Found in Games

For Lebedev, his idea of relaxing includes philosophy in seclusion, traveling the world, and of course, playing awesome games. Hungry Shark, Bubble Witch 2, and internal Signus projects are his current mobile favorites.

He is also an Xbox controller fan, following controller evolution closely since Sega Dreamcast. He is impatiently waiting for Witcher 3 because he also loves AAA games, especially those with strong story elements.

Finally, he seems excited about new platforms, especially tablets. “The iPad Mini is an incredible device! I’m still amazed something so small and light can exist!” he declares.

Neither Superior Nor Inferior

When it comes to business models for games, Arseny owns his strong opinions affirming that Free to Play (F2P) and Premium games should not be compared with the same criteria.

“F2P can provide amazing short bursts of fulfillment and joy over a game’s lifetime,” adding also “premium can give the same joy for a longer burst, but likely for a shorter total period.” “Neither design is superior nor inferior,” he concludes. Additionally, he points out the F2P empowers a title to reach a huge audience. His challenge is to create a substantial storytelling method within F2P design.

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Signus Labs’ Hidden Fortune, released July 2014

Because indies can develop a hit for almost nothing, on a profit margin basis, they can exceed the success of an AAA publisher. He expects console developers will also try to allow indies to develop content more easily. He claims, “We will see the return of the mods from the PC days.”

In July 2014, Signus Labs launched Hidden Fortune, which is its first hidden object game on iOS that allows play for real-life currency in the United States, thanks to B-Spot. By discovering and unlocking the objects, Hidden Fortune gamers can play just for fun or by wagering real money.

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