As seen on CasinoBeats
Mert Mazmanci, Game Producer at Wizard Games, pulls back the curtain to provide an insight into the creative process at the studio.
How does a studio like Wizard Games generate original concepts for new slots?
Player behaviours are the most important aspect here. We are always looking to try to catch the feelings of players. At Wizard Games, we have perfect tools to analyse the data to find out what players are doing – what they are clicking on and which types of games have proven appeal. It’s also very important to conduct a competitor and market analysis.
With that data in hand, our focus is on combining it with the producer’s imagination. We than aim to create games that are entertaining, above all. While we start out with a scientific approach, ultimately it’s about finding a way to produce fun, engaging titles that have brilliant mechanics and artwork that fully immerses players.
Could you tell us the story behind the creation of Princess Celina and the Frog, which was released earlier this year?
It is never easy to come up with new concepts around game creation, but the saying goes that the furthest thing away from any human is his or her own back. The key to this idea is that there is often great inspiration to be taken from the elements that live in and around you.
In this case, we were working on an idea that was almost ready, but with a mechanic that needed some further tweaking, when I found some inspiration of the heart and came up with the idea of dedicating this game to my girlfriend Selin. At that point we had half of the story – but where was the frog? Naturally, that’s me! Thankfully, I got the kiss and like to think I turned into the prince.
Sound design is a vital aspect of any slot. How did you come up with the atmospheric, multi-layered sound for Sultan’s Palace Fortune?
This is one of the most important aspects, creating and implementing suitable sound design that perfectly complements events within the game and relays a sense of passion.
I live in Turkey and it’s a country that, geographically speaking, is in the middle of a wide range of cultures. As a transcontinental nation, we straddle Europe and Western Asia and we have many different influences that as a game designer, we can draw from. In this instance, we wanted to use the theme of Sultans, taking in both Arabic and Ottoman culture.
We discussed it with our sound engineer George Vougioukas and we aimed to find a piece of music that would prove inspirational as a reference point and appropriate for the theme. And the magic happened unexpectedly on a Saturday night. While we were on a remote call, a captivating melody resonated in the background, infusing the atmosphere with its distinctive style. The composition blended cultural influences, evoking passion and energy that got us dancing and laughing with our loved ones. It was the perfect musical inspiration, fueling George’s creativity to craft the sound for Sultan’s Palace Fortune. Still, sometimes even to this day, I will open the game just to listen to the sound that he created for us.
What aspects of the creative process behind a successful slot do you think are under-appreciated?
I would argue there are three main areas to cover here. First, the mathematical model and the precise details of how it operates. As the reels are spinning, mathematicians have worked very hard to find the precise balance that makes the game appealing. If a player keeps on playing the game, then very often that is down to the secret of mathematics. So I can admit that we are very luck to work with our Mathematician Jack Sergison and Head of Game Design Simon Jagdhar.
The second thing I would highlight is the artwork. As a player, I’m always looking at this aspect of design and even the smallest details make a big difference – it can be the way the light falls or the expressions on the characters’ faces, for example. Our team, with the lead of Raja Thevar and Prakash Ragavan for Art and Frontend teams respectively, works very hard on this. In The Funky Boombox, we aimed for a retro 1980s style with neon lights and cassette tapes and we got it right, thanks to a group of people who lived their formative years at that time. Some players might miss those tiny little design aspects that add to the authenticity, but it’s certainly worth including them for players that do notice.
Thirdly, there is the sound design aspect. Sometimes, as a player I will as a matter of routine turn off the sound when I play a particular game. But when it’s done well, it adds an extra dimension. For our Magic Baccarat game, for example, when I was testing it, I never once close down the sound. My laptop was open too and people passing by heard the melody and asked about it. Sound can play a big role in keeping a player engrossed in a game.
Finally, what are the game creation trends that particularly excite you?
Looking back at the pandemic and the closure of casinos, I have felt that the industry is crying out for an alternative way to enjoy that experience and virtual and augmented reality could provide exactly that. You could put on a pair of glasses and immediately be transported to the middle of a fantasy landscape with dragons flying around at the same time that you are trying to secure an epic win. We talk a lot about putting the player in the centre of the action and augmented reality could do exactly that.
Ultimately, I also believe artificial intelligence will have a big part to play in our industry. Within live games in particular, if we can integrate artificial intelligence with augmented reality, it will help players to feel they are part of the game. I can also see certain elements being banned – it could get to the point that developers could be creating games that are simply too adrenaline-inducing. Overall, though, AI can have a very positive impact on the industry and I’m excited to see where it takes us.