Interview Spotlight: Terence Igesund, Executive Producer at StormCraft Studios
Terence Igesund shares some behind the scenes details on their latest release Wild Catch. It also has been shared with SC that we will be seeing some serious network progressive jackpot action from Stormcraft in the near future!
Terence Igesund, Executive Producer at StormCraft Studios
Welcome Terence, we’re glad you’ve given us the opportunity to pick your brain around a couple of topics. First off, could you introduce yourself and Stormcraft Studios to our readers?
Hi there, thank you for this opportunity! I’m Terence Igesund, the Executive Producer of Stormcraft Studios. We are a relatively new game dev studio, but most of the team have decades of online gaming experience and I’ve been in the industry from the very beginning. Would you believe I designed the first online slot game back in 1996? Wow that makes me feel really old!
Over the past 24 years I have produced quite a few slot games, some of which you may have heard of… Avalon, Thunderstruck, Immortal Romance, Mega Moolah. I have also had the privilege to work with some incredible licensed brands like Tomb Raider, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones to name a few. Some of those titles also won Digital Product of the Year awards.
Stormcraft Studios was founded in 2016 as an exclusive provider of slot content for Microgaming, and we have exhibited our games on their stand at the ICE trade show for the past 2 years. The studio is located in Durban, on the east coast of South Africa, and is made up of a bunch of very talented gaming enthusiasts and tech geeks. The team is multi-disciplined with skills ranging from illustration and 3D design to development and testing. Many of us have been working together for more than a decade so we are more of a Tribe than a team!
Our first official game, Fortunium went live in June 2018 and has been a great success for us. Microgaming did an amazing job of launching the game at ICE that year, which helped to raise the commercial profile of the studio in the industry. The visual fidelity and innovative features resulted in the game becoming a favourite with players which set a high standard of expectation for our future games.
What’s the Stormcraft Studios vision and how is it embedded in your company culture?
So, if Vision is the goal, then Culture is how we get there. Our goal and vision at Stormcraft are to consistently create legendary gaming experiences, for players as well as operators. How we achieve this, is by building confident and empowered teams that understand the importance of quality and commerciality.
Craftsmanship and Entertainment are at the core of everything we do. From the storytelling to the sound design, from the mathematics to the code that drives the animations. To be a Stormcrafter means you need a high attention to detail as well as a strong dedication to the quality and fidelity of our products.
At the end of the day, what sets us apart from our competition is our people. Working with such passionate and talented people is an absolute privilege and we never take each other or this business opportunity for granted. I firmly believe that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
To be able to make and play games all day and call it your profession… really is living the dream. But with the rate at which technology moves there is no time for complacency, and we always need to stay sharp, hungry and keep our eye on the goal.
Your latest release, Wild Catch seems to have had great success during the preview at ICE. Could you give us a brief glance at how you came up with the game concept, selected features and attributes of the game?
Firstly, let me say thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review of our game on your site. That saves me from having to describe all the technical features again in this answer.
At the start of the project there were many questions around why we chose a fishing theme for this game. Fact is that fishing themes have been popular in the slot and arcade industries for decades, with many of these games having been designed in a whimsical cartoon style. We however chose to explore an illustrative visual style with a high level of realism, that would be evocative of a cherished memory or an aspirational travel destination. The response to the graphic fidelity of the game has been exceptionally positive with queries about whether we had licensed a reality tv show brand for the game.
Fly fishing has grown in popularity in recent years, with more and more women being hooked into what has historically been a male dominated hobby. There are many tv shows and magazine publications dedicated to the pastime, with the competitive side of the sport also growing in popularity. It was therefore important to show both male and female characters in the game, and they were depicted proudly holding up their prize catch to the camera. We even went so far as to ensure that the fish looked pleased to be in the picture.
What really sets the game apart is the immersive user experience. The visuals are beautifully rendered, especially the art for the different locations, which really celebrates the incredible beauty of nature. The music for the game is transportive and reminiscent of a childhood memory or a holiday destination. Every now and again, you will hear the “sparkle”, generated by arpeggiated instruments to give you a sense of sunlight reflecting off the water.
The game is performing very well for us and we hope that players are enjoying playing it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Looking at your game portfolio in general, it’s clear that you have a rather small, but very qualitative collection of games. What would you say are the main aspects in where your releases stand out?
For Stormcraft it’s very much quality over quantity. We have years of experience in crafting commercially successful blockbuster games and understand that a strong brand and portfolio is built steadily on a foundation of quality and reliability.
We are currently investing a lot of energy into our technology which will give us the flexibility and resilience we need to grow our future game portfolio in any direction. We believe that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing properly.
Our slots are more than just games, they are character-based brands supported by engaging narratives with entertaining cinematics and audio clips. Take Agent Jane Blonde Returns for example, we created a fun back story as to why she was asked to come out of retirement and recorded quirky dialogue to make the player feel like she was right there supporting them. The new retro wave soundtrack for that game is awesome and helps to create a really immersive gaming experience.
What makes our games stand out is not just the visual fidelity and craftsmanship. A great deal of work goes into ensuring that everything under the hood has been meticulously engineered and triple tested to meet our quality standards. Our brand and our reputation rides on our ability to consistently deliver quality games into the marketplace.
If you were to be stranded on an island which one of your game characters would you choose to be stranded with and why?
Oh, that’s an easy one, I would choose Jungle Jim for sure! He’s our intrepid explorer and is super resourceful thanks to his military grade survival training, so we would have shelter and a hot meal in no time. LoL!
Jim would see this as a great adventure and would be off exploring the island, in search for long lost loot. He never leaves home without this trusty selfie stick. You see he fancies himself a bit of an online celebrity and is raising the coolness factor of archaeology with the internet generation, by sharing quirky selfies taken in extraordinary locations around the world.
Did you know that Jim has his own social media account? Check out what he has been up to and follow him @ jim.ofthe.jungle on Instagram.
If you could only play titles from one other Microgaming studio which one would it be?
I was super excited by the preview of Game of Thrones presented by Slingshot Studios at ICE earlier this year. What they’ve done with the brand really blew me away. Being no stranger to working with licenses, I appreciate how much work goes into meeting the expectations of stakeholders and of most importantly, the fans of the brand.
I am also a big fan of the work being done by Triple Edge Studios. I played their Absolootly Mad Mega Moolah slot at ICE and I found it beautifully executed and very engaging. I hope it does well for them.
We’re always keen to hear about upcoming titles. Would you share any details of your next upcoming releases?
We are currently in the final stages of completing our first network progressive slot, which we are very excited about launching in the upcoming months. Fortunium Gold Mega Moolah is a supercharged sequel which is loaded with the win potential of the hugely successful Mega Moolah Progressive Jackpot.
Fortunium was a big hit when we released it in 2018, and we’re thrilled to be taking the brand to a whole new level this year. Players will be reunited with Victoria and Maximillian, who have been hard at work constructing a gigantic jackpot wheel at the centre of their city. The public unveiling of this mechanical marvel, which is powered by liquid gold and lightning, also called for a fabulous wardrobe change!
Fortunium Gold brings all the popular features from the original game, with the 40 line, 5x5 format showcasing towering stacks of Mystery Symbols which can fill the reels and transform into any of the available symbols. 10 Free Spins that can be triggered with up to three Mystery Reels™ and can also be extended by landing Scatters during the feature.
The main attraction of this game is without a doubt the four-tiered Mega Moolah Jackpot Bonus Wheel, which can be activated during the base game as well as during Free Spins.An extra layer of excitement has been introduced by hiding the Jackpot trigger symbol behind the Mystery Symbols stacks.
Triggering the Jackpot feature in both base game and Free Spins, means you are never far away from Mega potential! Powering up the game with the Win Booster™ brings more Mystery Symbols into the mix with more win potential and more opportunity to trigger the Mega Moolah Progressive Jackpot Bonus.
Another game brand that we are busy hammering into shape for an upcoming release is Thunderstruck. We have been hard at work building our new Thor in 3D and he is looking really badass. At this stage I can’t reveal anything more other than to say there will be lots of thunder and loads of lightning. After all, we are Stormcraft!!
Do you have a unique story behind the scenes of one of your productions that you could share with us?
Actually, we often produce Behind the Scenes videos of our titles so you should check out our website at www.stormcraftstudios.com and watch the Jungle Jim and Fortunium ‘making of’ videos.
There are so many stories I could share, but the one that I get asked about the most is always Immortal Romance. It is amazing to meet fans of the game at tradeshows, who are still so enthusiastic about the brand and want to know more about its creation, and of course when the sequel is coming out?
I remember walking into my favourite cult megastore in London back in February of 2011, excited about what new graphic novels and books would be waiting for me down the stairs. With my arms already laden with comics and collectibles, I made my way over to the fantasy art section, only to find it has been replaced by an entire wall of Paranormal Romance books. WTF? I realised there and then that this trend was going to be huge, so I bought my first vampire romance novel and finished reading it on the flight home. I was hooked.
Over the next few months I worked on the character narratives and back stories while collaborating with my creative teams on the interface and design. Strategically we wanted to secure a December launch to coincide with the release of a hugely popular paranormal romance Hollywood movie. So to expedite the production, we decided to base the game on our successful Thunderstruck 2 engine, with a few updates to the features and mechanics.
I always knew that music needed to be a huge part of the Immortal Romance experience and wanted each character to have their own track. Collaborating with my sound designers on composing the music and writing the lyrics, was the highlight of the project for me. We brought in professional musicians and singers to record the tracks for Amber, Troy and Sarah. We were thrilled at how much attention the music received from players once the game went live. There were debates on forums around which bands we got to perform the tracks, which confirmed for us that we had created something special. BTW all the music from the game is available to listen to on Spotify.
Regarding the sequel… I can neither confirm nor deny that Sarah’s Secret will be revealed in the not too distant future.
This interview is coming to an end. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers before we say goodbye?
I’d firstly just like to say thank you for the opportunity to take a nostalgic look back at my career as well as share some insights into how we make games at Stormcraft Studios. The next 12 months are going to be really huge for us so watch this space.
I guess the only thing left to say is … The Thunder is coming!!