Series Spotlight: The Keepers

Posted by Conor Murphy on February 25, 2013 in Game Art, Game Development -- Share:

In this week’s Series Spotlight, I was able to chat with Andrew Tsyganov, (the CEO of Blam! Games Studio) about his Keepers series of games. After you take a look at the amazing game art below, make sure to try out the newest addition to the series; The Keepers – The Orders Last Secret !

Please introduce yourself/development team

Hello, Big Fish! My name is Andrew Tsyganov, and I’m the owner and CEO of Blam! Games Studio. We create casual games for you!

How did you come up with the The Keepers game series?

Our main goal was to create an exciting adventure with a spirit of mystery, a thriller that would keep suspense and surprise throughout the whole game. We wanted to stay away from clichéd themes and gloomy stories about cemeteries and estates with ghosts. And we really wanted to create a recognizable villain who would be interesting to our players. After a lot of thought and research, we decided on a young demon boy – Vlad. Players seemed to like him. For us, the most unexpected moment was when we started to receive positive reviews from players. To create a unique villain character, one who we had always wanted to see in other games, was tough… but we did it!

What made you want to be a game developer?

Our love of games, the chance to look at our own ideas and compare them to other games, the ability to grow, evolve, and take risks…

How do you get inspiration for a game?

I discuss all aspects of the game-creation cycle, from idea to final product, with my game designers. We look at interesting stories, books, movies, and events and discuss whether we can transform or combine them into something that will work in our games. A lot of my ideas come from the most unusual and unexpected situations – on my way home, while reading a book, things that don’t even match the idea of our game. What’s most interesting is that many of our game ideas are born when we aren’t even planning or discussing them! We often realize that the idea for one game has turned into the concept for another game with a completely different genre and setting.

How long does it take for you to design a game from start to finish?

Every game we create is like our baby – it hatches after about nine long months.

What are the biggest technical challenges when you develop a game?

There are no real technical issues that we can’t handle. I have a team of qualified professionals who I can always rely on.

What does your development team do that’s different?

We create unique games – none of them looks the same. Our aim is to give something new to our players, something that they have never seen before. We pay huge attention to visual components. If you play our games, you’ll see that they’re all different.

Any advice for new developers?

Just don’t forget that the game market changes all the time. If you don’t keep that in mind and monitor the changes, you could be creating a great game that will seem outdated to the audience.

What is your favorite game at the moment and why?

I love Skyrim. It’s a game you can play again and again without getting bored – open world, lots of tasks, great graphics, and full freedom.
As far as Hidden Objects games… Mystery Case Files and the first game of the PuppetShow series – those are the best games for me.

If you could remove one cliché from the Video Game industry, what would it be?

Estates, ravens, car accidents, saving children, and endless missing relatives.

What do you find is the best approach for starting a new project?

Thoughtful preproduction. Find a unique story that’s aimed at the audience in the right way, and then do detailed work on the game world and locations, create plot twists, and find a carefully tuned graphic style.

After shipping a game, do you enjoy playing it just as much as you enjoyed making it?

Unfortunately, I don’t play the game after it ships. But during production, I play it a hundred times at each step of the process. After this interview, I’m going to go play The Keepers: The Order’s Last Secret one last time before release. Then I’ll look through forums and reviews for the game. I plan to look at any mistakes we might have made and do my best to make sure we don’t repeat them in the future.

Have you ever had to sacrifice a feature you really didn’t want to give up to keep a game in budget or meet a deadline?

Oh, yes! The word ‘deadline’ sounds different to game developers. When we work on lots of projects, we try to stretch out this word when we say it! But we always try to incorporate all of the features we plan, because they can really emphasize the uniqueness of our individual games.

What do you find is the best approach for starting a new project?

Every game starts with a story, character development, and a game world. Preproduction is one of the most important stages in game development.

Do you ever realize that the game you’re making needs a major overhaul? If so, is there a process to improving a game in the latter stages of development?

It’s my job to manage the studio and all its products. I always play our games at every stage of development. Major changes can arise at any phase, which is easily explained: a game written on paper can differ greatly from what the production build of the game becomes – anything can come up.

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Conor is a Marketing Manager with Big Fish, working out of the Seattle office. In his spare time he enjoys watching science documentaries and playing old school adventure games. Get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+