Interview: Art Director Kaj Verma and PO Amit Samji, speak about our creative process
Our Art Director, Kaj Verma, and one of our Product Owners, Amit Samji, recently spoke with Casino Beatson the creative process behind our big-hit, Razor Shark. The game continues to grow in popularity every month, and they speak about a few of the many reasons as to why this game is so well-loved by players.
Could you tell our readers about Push Gaming to kick things off?
Amit Samji: Push Gaming was founded in 2010, and we boast a diverse portfolio of slots with a serious fanbase, which has helped establish ourselves as one of the industry’s major players – following from our humble beginnings as a rising star.
It’s been a fantastic year for us so far – we’ve obtained our UKGC and MGA licencesfor our platform and we’ve gone live with GVC, William Hill and Wildz, with plenty more to come during the rest of the year.
We’ve both worked on the likes of Wild Swarm, Jammin’ Jars and of course, Razor Shark. We’re a great team and are very proud to be part of what is considered one of the industry’s most creative studios.
You mentioned Razor Shark. Amit, you were heavily involved in the production of this game. What was the idea behind it?
Amit Samji: As everyone probably already knows by now, we pride ourselves on innovation, so we wanted to create a fresh and engaging new game to entertain our loyal players.
We are constantly looking for new narrative ideas and we felt the ocean’s biggest predator with its presence and power was the perfect theme. Sharks offer a type of thrill and we wanted to replicate it in our content. Alongside the pack of sharks, we also included broken diving equipment and other small details so that the game would keep players on the edge.
Kaj Verma: Whether it’s the narrative, number of reels, bonus rounds or features, all of our slots are unique, but it’s important that the quality and engagement levels expected of us are achieved.
For me personally, sharks offer a kind of thrilling excitement and we wanted to create that shark theme for players to immerse themselves in. The story is centred around a herd of sharks, who are led by Razor the great white. These sharks own the seas and wreak havoc on divers who enter their domain.
This creates an interesting balance of edginess and excitement that the razor shark game conveys so well – and I believe it’s safe to say we have successfully created an exciting slot for players to dip their toes in.
What do you see as the most important elements for the success of the game?
Kaj Verma: Having a unique theme and stunning graphics is what attracts players, but exciting gameplay is what keeps them engaged and our new twist on the classic nudging stack mechanic certainly does that.
The nudging stack feature that we are familiar with, is when certain rows or symbols on the reels nudge downwards on every spin. We enhanced this feature by adding some extra anticipation and excitement through the mystery stack symbols.
Here, the symbols are hidden by seaweed, and then all at once, reveal the symbols that are hidden behind them before nudging down and allowing new symbols to come up on the reels at the top. With the possibility of mystery symbols revealing high-paying shark symbols, there’s certainly some great chances of winning big.
Amit Samji: I agree. Every player dreams of winning big from a small outlay and we love nothing more than for that to happen. That’s why we have also added a Golden Shark symbol to the Mystery Stacks. This transforms the mystery symbols into mini-reels that can award the player with instant cash prizes and even scatters creating a way to enter the free spins bonus round.
Razor Shark retains all the classic elements players crave from their favourite slot, but also features a unique innovative twist! This has ultimately led to the game becoming highly popular among players as well as in our key markets.
For any game as part of the Push Gaming portfolio, where do you begin the creative process? How do you move from blank canvas through to concept and game launch?
Kaj Verma: Before design elements begin, we all spend a number of hours researching and engaging with players and media around us to try and catch onto trends and themes. Whether it’s mobile, television, film or even music, we identify these potential avenues to see if we can unearth any gems.
Brainstorming is a big part of what we do between then and creating the art styles. Once that comes to fruition and the direction is created, it’s up to the design team to work their magic and create the kind of mechanics that keep our players playing.
Amit Samji: It’s important that we look to other popular gaming elements at the time for inspiration when it comes to creating our next slot. For example, we have seen a huge popularity in games which take inspiration from super popular mobile games.
These aren’t always that ground-breaking in terms of innovation, but we always focus on putting players first – ensuring they are engaging and easy to play as a form of entertainment. For us, it’s a key element of what we look to achieve with our slots – as nothing is more important for us than the player experience.
How many design iterations do you have to go through before reaching the final concept?
Kaj Verma: It differs from slot to slot as there are always hurdles to jump during the design stage and it just depends how easy it is to tackle them. Some creations are more challenging than others. One thing is certain though and that’s that games will never be rushed out if they aren’t ready.
Our operators have come to expect a certain level of quality from our releases and we ensure that our targets are met to the best of our capabilities. Of course, this is something that we take great pride in and have no plans on changing.
Is there a Push Gaming house style? How would you describe a signature game?
Kaj Verma: If a game is innovative, exciting and engaging for the player, then it has achieved the Push Gaming style – it really is as simple as that. We will never shy away from an idea if we think we can do it justice. Every slot we create represents us and we can honestly say we are proud of all of our creations.
Amit Samji: I’d also say we’re not afraid to take risks. We always challenge ourselves to create a truly innovative offering and we achieved it thanks to a lot of hard work and dedication from our talented teams. We want to create truly memorable gameplay that will stand the test of time, and given the chart-topping popularity of our games, I believe we have achieved exactly that.
And just finally, taking it back to Razor Shark. Do you take a different approach to designing a game such as this, as opposed to games such as Joker Troupe or the Shadow Order?
Amit Samji: It’s all about making every release as unique and enjoyable as possible. We take great pride in creating each of our games from scratch, so each requires a different approach. In such a saturated market, it is important to stand out from the crowd and attract new players as well as keeping your already retained players engaged.
Kaj Verma: It’s not easy, but by putting our heads together, putting a lot of time into researching trends and keeping the quality of our games as high, and diverse, as our players expect them to be, we’re certainly able to stay one step ahead of the rest.