Interview: Game Producer Toby Woolhouse, speaks to NewSlotGames on our latest release, Land of Zenith
Following the release of our latest game, Land of Zenith, one of our Game Producers Toby Woolhouse, recently spoke with NewSlotGames to give more information on what went on behind the scenes when creating the game.
Read on to find out where the inspiration came from, as well as what makes the game so unique, and all that players have to look forward to.
Tell us about your inspiration behind Land of Zenith – what’s the overall theme and what can players expect?
We came at this game from a different perspective to other titles we’ve produced and, on this occasion, it was led by the art direction. Starting with the theme and mechanics already in place is something we often do with other games, such as Fat Rabbit, where that progression works well, but we’re not committed to any one singular approach. If a departure from that works well and feels right, then we run with that process.
For Land of Zenith, we had the preliminary art style on paper already and from that, the theme and mechanics progressed naturally. It was a real result from our illustrators and art team to bring something to the table that really worked for everyone else.
From an art perspective, the main idea for the game theme came about from the book, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. From here, we drew inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki’s famous Castle in the Sky, as well as the flying island of Laputa for our floating islands with advanced technology. In the game, these islands contain hidden treasures that players get to see with our brave explorer characters.
To give our readers a bit of a snapshot of the Push Gaming creative process – can you take us through the initial process from idea to development?
Internally, we have a mixture of concept/event workshop days where we book out the whole afternoon for a pitch session. It’s where we bounce ideas off each other for game design ideas that would be really cool to make.
During these meetings we all present different mechanics, themes, or entire game concepts. We want to encourage people to be really creative in the business and that if they have something to offer, then they have a platform to come forward and present that and be listened to, considered and taken seriously. Rather than just reacting to a brief, we actually preempt it and work proactively and it works really well for us.
I think this is one of the aspects that make us such an effective group; we’re enabling our teams to come up with their own creative briefs. Land of Zenith was born from one of these sessions - a really cool theme that everyone responded well to. That response was replicated with the playersof Wildz, Caxino and Wheelz casinos who were our beta partners and ran it a couple of weeks earlier from launch - players absolutely loved it! The same positivity has been enjoyed since the game’s network release earlier this month, so it’s been really pleasing.
Diving deep on the game’s mechanisms and features – what makes Land of Zenith special for you as a game?
It’s got to be the Disc mechanism. It was something completely different when it came to triggering a feature. Push is always looking for new ways to innovate and engage players and this is the latest result of that.
In the past we’ve used scatter triggers, progressive triggers and other features like swarm mode which have worked well, but we wanted something new. We were exploring innovative ways of triggering free spins because in other games, as soon as you don’t see a scatter land on one of the reels, you know your luck is out. We wanted to change that.This Disc offers a new method and a varied experience for initiating free spins.
At any moment you can activate the mechanism and players will start to notice their progress as to how close they are achieving it. The difference with this is that it comes a changeable, gamified journey throughout the base game to take them to the free spins mode, so it engages players more because they have to pay attention to get to where they want to be. The base game isn’t simply a vehicle to get into the bonus round, it also provides a great level of engagement and playability.
Of course that’s not to mention the level of dynamics that results in a completely varied style of play, which makes players feel they are approaching something, and really drives engagement.
This is the second game to feature Hypermode™ – can you tell us about what it does? How different is it to the way it is used in Joker Troupe?
Joker Troupe was the first game to launch on our own Push Gaming platform and we wanted to create a new way of using it this year. The thing that stuck with us is how Hypermode™ in Joker Troupe can really explode in terms of speed and action, which is a type of gameplay you don’t get with slots often. It’s a really unique experience, playing at 500 miles an hour!
When it came to making Land of Zenith, we wanted to provide an enhanced experience on the UX side and gameplayofHypermode™. One aspect of this involved upgrading the interface designs. The new circular look for the retrigger meter and timer captures the feeling of a stopwatch or clock face, punctuating the time based nature of the Free Spins
We also wanted to make the early stages of the game feel like progress is being made, so we added in a ‘remove low pay’ feature, which leaves players with mids and highs. This means when you accelerate the speed, the visual presentation of the symbols makes the early triggers feel a lot more impactful. Each one feels like a real step closer to a big win and really generates excitement.
This is especially the case when it comes to free spins and so with our games, we can incorporate the two things needed: easier to earn wins and higher potential. We also wanted to make the player feel like the free spins could keep going and this makes them feel like they’re really part of the action and it’s all still to play for. This is especially the case when it comes to games where players believe they’re at the point at which they’ve seen everything the game has to offer already.
Last but not least, any tips or tricks for our readers when it comes to playing Land of Zenith?
I like games where you anticipate the next cascade, or re-spin type games such as Reel Rush as they keep you constantly engaged and Land of Zenith leverages this. It’s constantly unpredictable, so the key is to focus on the game at all times. Keep an eye on the gameplay meter and other signs of progress this game is really for players that want to get properly involved in each spin.
It’s a game for people who want to be engaged, focused and locked into that gameplay all the way from the base game to the Free Spins. It’s entertainment from the moment you start playing, rather than in fits and bursts and I think the players will feel that too. We’re really proud of it and the whole team can’t wait for players to get their hands on it!