Following the company’s participation in the recent CasinoBeats Summit, we spoke to Andy Sekula, Head of Games at Kalamba Games, for a fascinating insight into the game development process.
What’s your background in game development?
“I have worked as a game designer and a product specialist for the last 10 years, but I’ve played games ever since I can remember.
“I have worked within social casino and mobile games for most of my career and joined Kalamba Games six months ago.
“Entering the igaming industry opened a new and exciting chapter in my life and I can already tell you that I genuinely love working on video slots!
“That’s mainly because they combine elements of ‘regular’ mobile games, plus they have relatively short production timelines, meaning we get more creative content work, more often.”
What are the first steps in the game creation process at Kalamba?
“We brainstorm the math profile to figure out what kind of features would create an exciting experience. In the early stages, we also discuss possible ways of how to embody the math using artistic expression and good UX practices to make sure that features are rewarding and self-explanatory.
“During brainstorm sessions, involving artists, designers and marketing guys, we come up with lots of crazy ideas on how to merge different themes and create something unique, but also making sure it will resonate with various player segments. For me, that’s one of the most interesting parts of game creation.
“It’s fun and involves a lot of work when it comes to getting into details, like defining references and the direction for every symbol, describing art and mechanic interaction, the User Interface, or finding the best title.”
How do you transform a game from the initial concept to a live end-product?
“After having the game design documentation and visual references in place, we plan the work that needs to be done to deliver a fully functional game. We estimate the work needed to be done on the server, within the client, and all the stuff related to the graphics and animations.
“The more new features we introduce, the more work is needed in every department. There’s a lot of other work that needs to be done such as translations and certification.”
“people, with their unique experiences, are the most valuable source of inspiration“
What takes priority, the math or the artwork?
“That’s an interesting and recurring topic. It depends on who you ask. A math designer will probably tell you that your job is not to disrupt the experience of the player with long animations, sounds etc that stand in the way of experiencing the math in its full glory.
“An artist may say that all the companies just utilise the same set of features and the only way to make it feel fresh and unique is to give it a new shape. I’d say they both need to create a synergy. When good math is expressed via well-designed artwork, music, and sound effects; the game has the potential to deliver a great overall experience.
“Animation timings, jingles, characters, symbols and many other details all have a role in determining how easy it is to grasp a game, and whether it’s rewarding to play.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“Inspiration comes from various sources. We play slot games, mobile games, core games, watch movies, read books and comics so our expertise can be channelled into creative brainstorming sessions.
“We discuss possible themes, game titles and how to tie it seamlessly to game mechanics so it all feels organic. So, I’d say that people, with their unique experiences, are the most valuable source of inspiration.”
How much consideration do you give to your monetisation tools such as HyperBet and HyperBonus in the initial stages of game development?
“HyperBet is something that adds a unique flavour to Kalamba Games. It defines the potential payouts from winning combinations and is a core mechanic that customises the volatility profile of the game.
“That’s why it’s taken into consideration at the initial stages of the design. Later, we give it a proper form and shape and implement it in the user interface, so it’s easy to access and gives proper feedback to players about the selection.
“When it comes to HyperBonus, which gives you an ability to trigger free spins bonus instantly, it’s something that’s easier to balance than HyperBet. Free rounds are already there in the game, so the case here is to adjust the price for HyperBonus options. It’s a pretty straightforward mechanic, that gives you the option to bet higher in exchange for bigger potential wins.”
There are lots of good quality slot games on the market. What makes Kalamba titles stand out?
“That’s true and it’s a really good thing. We get inspired a lot by many slot games in terms of both the math and the artwork and we’re always trying to raise the bar. One of the main things we do differently right now is give players the ability to engage with games on their own terms, which accommodates varying play styles for different segments.
“For example, we allow to adjust their preferred volatility profile via HyperBet, but we are also adding innovative meta layers to our games that allow players to build up to a big potential win; such as jackpots, missions and random walking wilds, all of which put the player experience front and centre.
“We think all this gives us a pretty distinctive offering in the market.”