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"Behind the Games" - Lead Game Designer

08 Nov 2020

"Behind the Games" - Lead Game Designer

Hi Boris, before we get straight into it - tell us as little bit about yourself.

Name: Boris Conrad Heisserer

Job Title: Lead Game Designer

Company Working For: Kolibri Games

Years of experience: 7 years in Mobile Games


Let's get straight into it!


Q. Is there any particular game you've worked on that you'd like to mention?

A. My first commercial title I worked on was Angry Birds Epic, a casual turn based mobile RPG, with over 90 Million downloads. During the production and later live ops, I collaborated with Rovio. What a wild ride working on such a big brand, with international partners and great talents.

Currently I’m working on Idle Miner Tycoon, a mining simulation and one of the most successful idle games out there.


Q. How did you first get into the industry?

A. As a kid I tried to play as many games as possible, on as many platforms as possible. I always loved making games, drawing, coming up with game rules and mechanics. At some point I just started making my own board game prototypes and later turned to make my own mods with Game Editors. After a while I realized that on the one hand there will always be someone who can draw better or programme better, but on the other hand I know both worlds and am a good communicator – a good starting point for becoming a Game Designer.

Being a Game Designer and vision keeper is a very creative process. I feel a lot of passion working with so many different talents, artists, developers, testers, with so many different backgrounds.


Q. Did you complete any courses or get any particular qualifications relative to the role?

A. I attended the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany, and got my Bachelor and Master of Arts (Interactive Media Systems). The various courses laid down my foundation on practical design and programming work and in later semesters I focussed on mobile games.


Q. Is there any particular software/hardware/systems that you use?

A. Over the years I switched between PC and Mac and there is no real preference.

The real butter and bread are Excel for Balancing and Confluence for writing documentation. Adobe products, like Photoshop or Illustrator for mock-ups, and PowerPoint for pitches. Those are the friends that stick around.


Q. How large is the team you work with?

A. The design team of Idle Miner Tycoon is 5 members strong, formed by Game Designers, UX Designers and UX Writer/Localization Manager. The whole Idle Miner Tycoon team is 40+ members.


Q. Have you had any opportunities to travel with the role? If so, what's your best experience?

A. My best travel experience as a Game Designer was probably my trip to Helsinki, Finland. The idea was to present Angry Birds Epic to our Chinese partners. The flight was nice and it’s always a pleasure to meet the Rovians. Due to the nature of needing a translator (English/Chinese) my 1-hour presentation took twice as long, with all the back and forth. Afterwards we all went for a fantastic dinner and enjoyed the nightlife of Helsinki.

Q. How would you describe an average working day?

A. Here at Kolibri Games our core hours are from 9 am to 4 pm. With our Earlybird rule, you can start up to 2 hours earlier so that you can also leave earlier and enjoy your afternoon.

My day usually starts at 9 am with a few short daily syncs to get up to speed with what the team is working on, if they ran into any issues. Alignment and management on the designer’s tasks are important to get the sprint related tasks done in time.

After that I use my few time slots without any planned meetings to work on operational tasks, like performance research on our games, preparing 1on1s, the next big brainstorming session, or optimising existing processes.

Generally, my work is divided into design and management tasks. Some days focus more on supporting the team (e.g. brainstorming, design reviews), and other days focus more on management tasks, like having 1on1s, hiring, performance reviews. As a Lead Game Designer, I need to find the balance between operational design tasks and supporting my design team.


Q. What advice would you give someone looking to get into the industry?

A. Play! Play as many relevant games on the platform and genre you want to work on. Add to your user perspective a business perspective by learning more about how those games are performing, check KPIs, do a competitor analysis. There are many industry meetups, where you can talk and share your knowledge with other game enthusiasts and create your first connections. After that it is up to you to find the right project and company you want to work with.

Q. What would you say is the best part of working at your company?

A. For such a young company, we already have a fair amount of processes to optimise and professionalise work. At the same time, we are not afraid to question already installed processes and further optimise or ultimately kill those if necessary. It may sound like a dull affair, but in fact it gives you a voice in matters that affect your daily work greatly.


Q. And finally, is there anything up and coming in your business that you would like to let us know about/promote?

A. Last quarter we pushed hard to become a more data driven company with our so-called data 2020 initiative. This is a big deal for us, getting away from decisions only made by experience and gut feeling to decisions backed by data.

Right now, we are looking for a Senior Game Designer to further expand our team.


For more jobs from Kolibri, visit their Job Page here


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