The following is the full transcript of our interview with various Quickspin members about their newest video slot release Sakura Fortune. We spoke to CCO Mats Westerlund, Head of Art Richard Hilding, and Developer Marc Bjersbo to give us their own unique spin on Sakura Fortune and what players can expect.
We start with Mats – a driving force behind everything Quickspin have done since their inception, having founded the slot designer alongside others back in 2011.
What is it about Sakura Fortune that makes the game so unique?
Mats: Sakura Fortune, our new game, is kind of unique to us because it’s one of our more volatile games that we’ve produced – so it’s going to have a lot of massive wins and it will be quite interesting to see how that works. Also, what’s really good for Sakura Fortune is that we have a few new features. Basically, every game that we create has new features, but in Sakura’s case there is a mystery nudge function for the wilds that can bring you into respins, free spins and so on. There is a really interesting flow to the game.
Can you tell us about the characters, symbols and theme of the game?
Mats: The theme of Sakura Fortune is very Asian. It has the Sakura Princess as the main character who is a warrior princess, and she is basically an outcast coming in from the outside and trying to take over the land that she’s lost. This inspired the decision for her to be the massive wild in the game, basically taking over the slot. That’s the main story behind it.
The Asian theme came quite easily for us because the math designer for the game, he’s a Chinese guy, came up with some of the functionality – so we wanted to pay tribute to him by producing something that he would enjoy himself. We try to have as much fun as possible creating slots by having everyone as involved as possible, so sometimes we do small things like that to get everyone on board.
What was the biggest challenge with creating Sakura Fortune?
Mats: The biggest challenge producing Sakura was that there was quite a big flow of events tying into each other. Getting all of these just right took a lot of time, as there are many situations that can happen in the game. Tweaking these was the most difficult part.
Next up is the Head of Art Richard, something he says is a lot of fun due to the support-function he offers for his graphical artists. Richard is fairly new to this role, with Sakura Fortune being the first video slot he’s worked on as Quickspin’s Head of Art. However, he’s one of the most experienced employees at the company, having worked at the company for around 5 years in total.
What would you say is unique about the graphics in Sakura Fortune?
Richard: I think what’s unique about the graphics when compared to other games is that they [the arts team] really managed to simplify the graphics, saving the red and gold colours for one special symbol – and that’s what the feature is all about, I think. Most slot companies can run out of colours on the reel area, as it’s always a tricky thing not to do that. We’ve got very little space to tell a story, but we need to do it so the players can start imagining what the princess is all about.
Were you heavily Involved in Deciding the Structure of the Game?
Richard: I’d just started this role when production on Sakura Fortune began, so the involvement from my side was very little then. I don’t think it will be that big going forward – I just make sure that it keeps the quality. If you talk about simplifying things and having a straight message, that is something I really care about. It’s all about these emotions you want the player to feel.
I think it’s a good thing that we kept the princess’s identity open. We are not experts on Asian culture and can’t be expected to be, so it’s good to keep it a bit vague. Dragon Shrine is also a great example of that – gems, gold, a dragon! Having fun with the genre without being too historical or specific is a good thing.
What did you first start working with on Sakura Fortune?
Richard: Well, we always start out with 2 artists per game, and they have a very broad skillset – they can do everything. One starts on a general theme, idea and feeling that the player should have, while the other starts on the symbols – usually the medium, high or special symbols, the wild in Sakura Fortune’s case. Of course, a lot of focus went on what Sakura Fortune’s wild should be. That’s how they started out, as they usually do.
Finally, we sat down with one of Quickspin’s games developers, Marc. He describes being part of the software team as being involved in the majority of a game’s production, with constant liaising with other departments to ensure optimum quality. Let’s see what insights he provided for us regarding Sakura Fortune.
How long did it take in total to code Sakura Fortune?
Marc: Coding Sakura Fortune took about 4 months. In a game’s team we’re usually 2 developers, with each team creating om average 3 games per year. So, it takes around 3 to 4 months for each slot’s development.
Sakura Fortune started using a framework with some basic functionality and a scaled down template. Obviously, we make some prototypes in the early processes, but then every game is custom-built depending on the features going forward.
Is there any new technology within Sakura Fortune?
Marc: Within Sakura Fortune, we used a lot of particles with the petals flying around. We’ve used particles previously but not this extensively. I’m not sure about new technologies, but we used a lot of animations on the princess wild symbol so there was quite a lot of work to have the game perform well with all these different events going on at the same time.
As The game has 5-reels and 4-rows instead of the usual 5×3 structure, does that make it more difficult to design?
Marc: Using the 5-reel, 4-row structure in Sakura Fortune worked pretty well with the tall wild. We have created 5×3 games in the past, but this fit the game’s special symbol perfectly. Previously, we’ve had games going on 6-rows as well. However, the 5×4 was perfect for the princess.