“To me, there is three really big things that are forgotten when you want to launch a game around the world: localization, testing, and live operations,” Mitch Zamara explained during Casual Connect USA 2014.
Mitch Zamara, game design lead at FunPlus Game, says that for him, the greatest fun in the games industry comes from seeing his ideas become reality and knowing he is creating entertainment for millions of people.
It All Started At School
While at school working on a degree in computer science, Zamara decided he wanted to be a game designer. He decided the first step towards this goal would be taking the Game Design Workshop which was offered at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the workshop was held the same week as his finals at school; he was left with an incredibly difficult decision. He chose to attend the workshop and the rest of the conference, which meant he had to drop out of school. But only two weeks later, he was offered a job with Zynga, and two months after that, he was officially a game designer.
Zamara has now been with FunPlus Game for 11 months. They offered him the opportunity to go to China to build the next generation of social mobile games and lead the creative vision of the projects he works on. And there would be no holiday crunch time. The year-and-a-half he spent with Storm8 working on mobile games has been a definite help in his role with FunPlus. It has also been an advantage to have his close friend, Steven Johnson, who worked with him at Storm8, join the team to work with him at FunPlus. Zamara has also been helped by the experience he gained at Zynga in understanding the value of metrics and analysis.
The biggest challenge the game industry is currently facing, in Zamara’s opinion, is the negative stigma mobile and social games have acquired as a result of the tactics used in gaining virality. Although there are people who are happy to receive requests and notifications, the majority of people are not. He says, “Making these channels more approachable, without feeling like spam, will help a great deal.” He also sees mobile repeating some of the same mistakes of the first few generations of Facebook games, with lack of innovation and too much drive to clone competitors.
Grow The Community
At FunPlus, they are confronting this problem by creating games that are about more than sending requests to friends. They are making it about creating a global community of people who enjoy playing games. Zamara is also innovating in every way possible in the projects he is working on.
The next important trend he expects to come to the games industry is multiple platform play. He notes that a few games, like Candy Crush and Zynga Poker, have already shown the power of being able to play on almost any device and platform. So he expects AAA games to be launched with companion apps that extend and support the play experience. He emphasizes, “People already want to continue their gaming experience on whatever app they are using at the time. Hopefully, anyone making games today recognizes there is an audience growing that wants more than they are being offered now.”
Zamara says his two biggest passions are travel and food. In fact, he claims if he were not a game designer, he would be a chef because he loves to cook and eat all kinds of food. He also loves travel and has recently returned from his honeymoon in South Africa and Mozambique.
Lately, his gaming has consisted of playing Diablo 3, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and TitanFall; his platform of choice is PC. He also owns consoles, including 3DS for on-the-go gaming and an Xbox to play Rock Band with friends. And he feels the iPad and iPhone are the biggest consoles out there right now.