Series G PodcastApr 14, 2021
Stephen Lim (Raid Base) | Building a flexible global game vision, effective pre-work for hiring top talent, managing creative expectations
Stephen Lim (Slim) is the Co-Founder and Product Director of Raid Base, a studio working on an ambitious sandbox-style multiplayer game. Slim is a 20+ year games industry veteran and has worked at top global studios including Blizzard, EA, Insomniac, and Riot Games. Slim is best known for being the co-creator of Valorant, Riot's highly celebrated tactical FPS.
- How to take a differentiated approach to hiring, evolving the traditional interview process into a soft onboarding mindset
- How to manage creative expectations and competencies within a team
- The importance of creating a durable and flexible global game vision that guides decision decisions throughout the course of development
Jeff Gardiner (Something Wicked Games) | Exploring the art of immersion, how to effectively scope a project, and how to leave time for "found work"
Jeff Gardiner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Something Wicked Games, a new studio of ex-Bethesda, Obsidian, and Bioware veterans that are building a brand new open-world RPG, WYRDSONG. Jeff has been in the games industry for 20+ years, the vast majority of which have been spent at Bethesda working on staple RPG titles such as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76.
- What is the art of immersion and how does intelligent game design enable player agency and choice for a unique game experience
- How to scope a project, systematically integrate the core game disciplines, and achieve team buy-in on the creative vision
- The importance of leaving time within your scope and budget for "found work" - discoveries that can become the secret sauce for why a game works
Something Wicked Games
Tim Morten (Frost Giant Studios) | Creating community driven feedback loops, the evolution of game design docs, and creating balance for different skill types
Tim Morten is the Co-Founder and CEO of Frost Giant Studios, the developers behind Stormgate - a new-age RTS that brings the best of competitive and social gaming from the last 10 years into a new RTS package. Tim is a games industry veteran of 28+ years, having worked at some of the world's largest studios including Activision, EA, Santa Monica Studio, and Blizzard. In building Frost Giant, his goal is to revitalize the RTS genre for the modern age of competitive gaming and introduce new players into the space.
- With regards to players, we discuss how to create space for community-driven feedback within your development process, how to deal with bias from early testers, and how to be thoughtful about designing a competitive experience for all skill types.
- How the Game Design Document (GDD) has evolved from static to dynamic
- The importance of finding innovative games for player onboarding, especially for multiplayer games.
- Website: https://www.frostgiant.com/
Ian Proulx (1047 Games) | Importance of Having a Support Circle as a Founder, Process of Team Construction, and Listening to Community Feedback
Ian Proulx is the Co-Founder and CEO of 1047 Games, the creators of Splitgate - an FPS that combines satisfying gunplay with a portal mechanic for endless gameplay possibilities. Ian had the idea of Splitgate for many years before it came to materialization while studying at Standford. To date, the company has raised multiple rounds of venture financing to fuel an ambitious vision toward building a new-age AAA FPS studio.
- We unpack the importance of having a support circle as a founder. It's often very lonely running an organization, so pick the right co-founder(s) who can go through the inevitable highs and lows with you, and more importantly provide complementary skillsets you can trust.
- Talent acquisition and team construction are everything. Achieving synergies between teammates wins out over having raw talent that does not organically connect with each other.
- Community feedback is important but must be taken in stride with data insights and intuition.
Matt Schembari (Lightforge Games) | Why a Deep Understanding of Player Empathy is Core to Modern Game Design
Matt Schembari is a 15+ year industry veteran who has previously worked at Blizzard (Battle.net) and Epic Games (Fortnite Platform Team). Throughout his tenure, he has developed immense expertise as a platform and UI specialist - and truly honed his skills in the 'art' of creating a game. Now he has launched his new games studio, Lightforge Games. In this episode, Matt shares his insights on how his technical experience has shaped the way he builds games and how player empathy is the central design pillar through which any virtual experience should be created.
- Guest Twitter: @MattSchembari
- Company Twitter: @LightforgeGames
- Company Website: www.lightforge.gg
Kalle Kaivola (Lightheart Entertainment) | How to Build a Flat Organization that Works For You
In this episode of Series G, we catch up with Kalle Kaivola, the CEO and Co-Founder of Lightheart Entertainment, a mobile free-to-play studio based out of Finland. Kalle has built a wealth of experience within the Finnish games community as an investor at Sisu Game Ventures, an operator at Rovio, and now an entrepreneur at Lightheart. We discuss the nuances of flat organizations and how modern gaming teams today can accomplish great things by implementing processes that work for them, not against them.
Information on Kalle and Lightheart Studios:
- Kalle Kaivola - LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kallekaivola/
- Lightheart Studios: https://www.lightheart.games/
- Mr. AutoFire: https://apple.co/3g96gEc
Books/Games Mentioned in this Episode:
- (Book) Reinventing Organizations: https://amzn.to/32eMlLY
- (Game) Satisfactory: https://bit.ly/2QqeJYP
Shib Hussain (UNRD) | Advice for First Time Founders on how to Sell Your Vision, Raise Venture Capital, and Manage Investor Expectations
In this week's Series G episode we catch up with Shib Hussain, the Founder and CEO of UNRD (pronounced "Unread"). In this episode, we cover how to, as a first-time founder, learn about venture capital, the importance of controlling your fundraising narrative, and how to manage investor expectations after successfully raising money.
Sam Huber (Admix) | How Brands Can Engage With Gamers Through Advertising, The Challenges with Traditional Mobile Ads, and How Spatial Computing Will Impact Advertising
In this week's Series G episode, we catch up with Samuel Huber, founder and CEO of Admix - an ad-based monetization platform for games that has raised over $9M in venture funding. Sam shares his insights into the world of games advertising, how brands can effectively engage with gamers, the challenges with current mobile ad structures, and why spatial computing will be the next big wave for advertising.
Jake Perlman-Garr (Kanga) | The Problem with Esports and Streaming Monetization Channels, Evolution of Game Launches, and Unlocking Diverse Audiences
Tara Reddy (Love Shark) | How to Build Products for Gen Z and The Future of AR Content and Adoption
Matt Frenchman (Sugar) | How Founders Can Efficiently Set Up Their Capital Structure And The Future Of UA Games Financing with Matt Frenchman
In this episode, we catch up with Matt Frenchman, Co-Founder and CEO of Sugar. An ex-investment banker turned venture debt/UA financing specialist, Matt shares his insights into how founders should consider striking a balance within their equity vs. debt capital structure, what steps to take in order to set up your new game for success, and how the venture ecosystem can evolve to better embrace the venture debt/UA financing channels.
Salone Sehgal (Lumikai Ventures) | Women in Tech, How to Build Acquirer Relationships, and The Future of Interactive Media in India
Roblox Series G and Embracer Group's Acquisition of Saber Interactive
Games M&A Decade in Review - Looking at Some of the Top Games Exits and What it Means For Games Companies
A review of the 2010s top games M&A transactions and the impact it has on future exit opportunities for gaming studios.
Jon Bellamy (Huuuge Games) | GaaS, M&A, and Succeeding as a Mobile Games Startup
The Next Big Shift In Gaming Is Here
In this episode, we talk about the incredible shift occurring right now within the games ecosystem. As gaming has become more mainstream, the tech giants of the world (Google, Apple, etc.) have taken notice and want a piece of the action. How does this increased attention and capital flow benefit developers (and games venture investors)? Tune in to find out!