A key association to the word ‘casino’ is the city of Las Vegas. And who better to deliver the authentic Vegas charm than Neon Valley Studios, a casino game developer born and based in the city of Las Vegas?
Dear readers, please welcome Neon Valley Studios, an independent studio working closely with Microgaming. Here to answer all our questions today is Tomas Tezak, Market Readiness and Logistics Lead at Neon Valley Studios. We hope you’ll enjoy the interview as much as we did.
It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you guys, thank you for the opportunity. Neon Valley is an independent studio based in Las Vegas, Nevada and our goal is to bring innovative and fresh online gaming content for all types of players onto the Microgaming Platform specifically. We live and breathe Vegas, and having slot games literally everywhere we go, gives us a familiarity and love for gaming that I feel sets us apart. We are all players, and that permeates into everything we do.
I’m Market Readiness and Logistics lead and I wear many hats, but the easiest way to explain what I do is to compare with the typical producer role. I work closely with the game designer, not only to establish and execute a vision or an idea but also to make sure that idea effectively aligns with the market and operator expectations. I work with the team closely to make sure timelines align and that everything is correct all the way through to release, making sure that everything is delivered.
There are quite a lot of things that have to happen, but from the studio side, the main concern is always quality and the stability of the game. We do a considerable amount of testing in all areas of the game and under all different regulatory environments. Rather than wait to the end to start testing, we have QA and development go hand in hand right from the beginning. We only release once we are confident and happy with the state of the game. There are plenty of checklists and things we try to hit at all points in development, especially at the end.
There are a couple of stages. Once we get an idea, it typically takes two or three months to build the game. Following that, certification for markets and any exclusive release windows lead us to the wider network release date. We want to make sure we give a long enough runway for the operators to be able to play the game and do their own marketing preparations to ensure a proper, successful launch.
Well, while there are indeed thousands of games out there competing for players’ attention, I don’t necessarily think of the market as saturated, at least not when it comes to high-quality content. We firmly believe that that there is always room for innovative games that show the passion and commitment of the studio; the players pick up on that. Yes, it is challenging to break away from the crowd, but that’s what makes it fun and what motivates us every day.
For me, it was mainly the inherent potential of the team that was being assembled and the commitment to rely on the team’s brainpower, experience and dedication to really bring a new level of slot games to the market. And I do believe that that initial promise has not only been fulfilled but exceeded in many different ways. Now that – just a few years later – we have several very successful games under our belt, everyone on the team can be very proud of what we’ve accomplished, including myself.
That’s a good question and one that comes up a lot. Now that we’re back working from the office again, it gives us the chance to look back. Our process relies heavily on collaboration among all members of the team; we really work well together when we’re all in the same room. So, the COVID-19 restrictions definitely made it a lot harder for us to do that. Ensuring that everyone is up to date – and everyone is on the same page on short development cycles especially – is definitely challenging when everyone is working remotely and you have to jump on specific calls – it’s harder to communicate.
As the months went by and we realized this was not going to be a short bump in the road, we started having some regular virtual meetings to just gather socially outside of the development of the game, and chat to see what everyone was up to. That gave room to some great, lively and funny conversations and discussions, helping us relax again and recover some of that camaraderie that got strained by months of not seeing each other.
I enjoy playing slot games a lot and make a point to regularly try new games both online and at the casinos – we do have that luxury here in Vegas. In terms of favorites, it is hard to choose because all of them have a distinct element of pride for us. As a player however, I can’t get enough of the collect mechanic in Age of Conquest and Augustus. I do love games with more of an epic feel.
Well, we are working on a few great ideas at the moment that I need to keep close to my chest (sorry!). We recently brought Arctic Enchantress to the market right in time for the winter season. This game brings a new take on the Link&Win™ mechanic that has done so well. We’re adding an amazing Colum boost feature that I know is going to be a hit with players. Plus, the visuals and sounds in that title are just fantastic.
Thanks for your time! We just want to thank everyone for all the support and great reception all our games have had. Seeing our games get so much love from people that, like us, love this industry is our main motivating factor to keep pushing for even better games. Stay tuned for more great content from Neon Valley. We truly believe we are only getting started.
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