The Baltic video game scene is quite large, given the smallness of the region. Three countries can boast their own gaming convention awards – Game Industry Conference in Lithuania, GameDevelopersConference Baltics in Latvia and GameX in Estonia. Two regional organisations are also working to help local developers get noticed by publishers all around Europe. The Nordic Game Discovery Contest aims to provide a springboard for aspiring developers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden while the E-Slate Video Games award works with games made by teams from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The latter one has been going on for 9 years now and supports indie developers from the Baltic States through an annual contest for digital games.
In order to have more insight into this growing industry and to learn more about the people involved in it, I interviewed two developers from each country. The selected companies (Oculus Rift and Playit Technologies) were picked based on their previous work and current performance, I believe that both of them are creating games with high enough quality to be featured in this article.
The first company we’ll be examining is Oculus Rift, a video game developer which has so far released 2 mobile games and 3 browser-based titles and one recently announced PC game: The Confrontation. As stated by the CEO, their team consists of 10 people who have been working together for over 5 years now. They currently employ artists, programmers and QA Engineers out of which work full time as producers, ensuring that everyone is on track.
Having finished their previous project, they’re currently working on a game that will soon be announced – it is the one that was stated to be ” PC “. I’m not at liberty to say much about it but I can quote some of the CEO’s words: ” Basically you are an alien race and you invade Earth…it’s basically like Risk where you invade continents, armies fight each other. You get more resources if you win so there is more strategy involved.” When asked why they chose to release something for PC after making browser-based games he replied by saying that “browser games are dying”, which was also confirmed by another developer.
The second company we’ll cover in this article is Playit Technologies, which, unlike Oculus Rift, has not yet released any titles. They’re currently working on several projects, some of which might end up as browser-based games and others that will be available for mobile devices and lastly, they announced one PC game: History World War 1 – The Great War.
The CEO was quite positive about the situation with local gaming companies: “We have great guys working in the industry…For example, we have Game Developers Conference 2012 here in Riga (Latvia) where all world-known people such as Ian Livingstone or Charles Cecil came to inspire us.” However, he admitted that if there were no video game schools then probably only 20% of their team would have been able to work in this field today.
The most interesting part of the interview was actually about how people who want to get into game design should approach it. He mentioned that having a good idea is not enough, you need to have skills in programming or art otherwise there’s no chance for you to get noticed by the industry – making games is not like making music where everyone can record something and upload it online without needing too many resources.Seeing such great companies and brands including Nutz in Europe makes us wonder if we’ll be seeing more events like E-Slate Video Games award since they truly help promote local talent and create a sustainable environment for indie game makers.