Andres Tallos: Crafting Immersive Experiences in the Warhammer Universe

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Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

About Everguild & Andres

https://everguild.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrestallos/


Andres Tayos, co-founder and CEO of Everguild, is the guest on this episode of the Player Engage podcast. Greg delves into Andres’ dynamic career journey, from his beginnings at McKinsey & Company, the launch of Mint Sprint, and finally to the co-founding of Everguild. They delve into the intricacies of developing and publishing successful games like Dragonlords and The Horus Heresy: Legions, as well as the challenges and rewards of crafting immersive experiences that provide unforgettable journeys for players within the Warhammer universe.

Andres lends a unique perspective as both an industry insider and a passionate gamer, shedding light on the strategic vision that propelled Everguild to its success. The conversation navigates to their highly-anticipated upcoming game, a PC-first release for the popular Warhammer 40,000 IP. This new venture promises not only to delight loyal fans, but also to push the boundaries of immersive gaming experiences even further.

Transcript

00:00 Intro Welcome to the Player Engage podcast where we dive into the biggest challenges, technologies, trends, and best practices for creating unforgettable player experiences. Player Engage is brought to you as a collaboration between Keyword Studios and HelpShift. Here is your host, Greg Posner.

00:16 Greg Posner Hi everybody. Welcome to the Player Engage podcast. Today we’re going to dive into the career journey of Andres Tayos, co-founder and CEO of Everguild. From his early day at McKinsey & Company to co-founding Mint Sprint and eventually Everguild, Andres shares valuable insights and experiences gained along the way. Discover how we navigated development and publishing of acclaimed titles like Dragonlords and The Horse Heresy Legions, and how his strategic vision and passion for customer experience has driven Everguild’s success. Explore the unique challenges and opportunities of creating an immersive experience within the Warhammer universe. Andres, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m excited about our conversation. Anything I have left out that you’d like to touch on about yourself? No, that’s a great intro. Thank you. I’m glad to be here. Yeah, excited to be here. I think creating a player experience around a really well-known IP like Warhammer is going to be a very interesting conversation. But before we even get there, my favorite question to ask is, are you a gamer? And if so, what games are you playing these days?

01:17 Andres Tallos Yes, I think I’m pretty much a gamer, although I must say I don’t play as much since I started working in the industry, because now it’s very hard to play a game without at the same time be like taking notes of how they’ve like solved issues or how they’ve handled like the UI or the monetization or like anything and everything. So I would say, yeah, I don’t play as much as I used to. But yeah.

01:43 Greg Posner That seems common, no matter what industry you’re in, right? I’ve met some people in film and they just go to movies now and critique it. It’s like ripping your hair out trying to go to watch a movie with them. We understand maybe Transformers isn’t accurate, but whatever. Before we get really into our conversation, can you kind of give us the background of what Everguild is, kind of talk about the games?

02:04 Andres Tallos Absolutely. So Everguild is the studio that, well, my sister Isabel and myself founded together about eight years ago now. We both had some experience by creating an earlier video games studio called Mint Sprint. But that one didn’t work out that well. So we tried again. We managed to get some angel funding. We did the first card game. So just to set up like the, this was the time when Hearthstone had just come out of Vita. And it was not available on mobile yet, but it was obviously a massive success on PC and iPad. And we figured out we like we loved that genre, that type of game. We figured out we’d try to do like our own version of a card game, taking many of the learnings from Hearthstone, but at the same time, making it way more optimized for mobile devices. And so that’s how our first game came along called Dragonlords that helped us secure a licensing agreement with Gains Workshop to do a game based on the Horus Heresy, which is an IP, like part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And that’s the legions that came out about five years ago. It’s been quite successful, has been growing steadily since its release. And now we’ve managed to get another licensing agreement again with Gains Workshop this time for the main Warhammer 40,000 IP. It’s a much bigger game. It’s going to be cross platform, but PC first this time. And yeah, we have a bigger team and a bigger budget this time, and a much more ambitious game. So that one is coming out this year. It’s actually in closed alpha already. So people are already playing like an early version of it. And we are very optimistic and very well. Yeah. I’m thinking a whole bunch of notes here because you’re saying some interesting things that I want to delve into and it’s fascinating. The one you just mentioned, I just want to ask first, that makes no sense in the order of questions is you’re great that you got the bigger IP to Warhammer exactly right. But why PC first? It seems like an interesting choice with the big mobile trend going on. Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, well, with Horus Heresy legions already, we started out on mobile. But after a year or so, we released a PC version on Steam as well. And we put a lot of effort into making it feel as native as possible. So rather than just a port from mobile, right. But there was always this sense that I think there’s there’s two things. One is the kind of stamp of like the credibility and stamp of quality. That you get from like going all out on PC with a game that can stand its own against like obviously the big well known games like Hearthstone or Lens Runeterra or even Magic the Gathering. So we are trying to convey this idea that hey, the quality that we’re putting into the game, the finished production values are up there with the best. And second, one thing which is very important nowadays is if we want to have content creators cover the game like on on Twitch and YouTube making like putting out videos or streaming the game, it’s way easier to convince them to try the game on PC than it is on mobile. Many content creators are nowadays already like covering mobile games, but it’s still, I think just a fraction of all the content creators out there. That’s fascinating. And I completely see where you’re coming from. Right. I mean, when you think AAA games, you think you think PC, you think you think console, right. But we’re in this day where a lot of indie gaming companies that are creating mobile first titles are being acquired by these AAA titles because AAA titles are having trouble creating these mobile games. So it’s like this you want a stamp of quality, you want to build PC, but what the money in the player base is all on the mobile side. So it’s an interesting kind of almost a B test on where you’re seeing more users. Yeah, I mean, in our case, it’s interesting because it depends a lot on the market. I think there are some countries where PC is very big, even if it’s not as big as mobile, but certainly for this genre and for like relatively like hardcore game rather than the more casual genres. I think that like pieces is large enough. So we are not doing this just because like just the as a PR stand. We actually think that the PC will be a very important platform for WarpForge. But at the same time, we want like we know there’s like a lot of players who are very much into card games and into Warhammer who don’t play on PC, they just play on mobile. And we want to make the game available to those as well. And we are fortunate that nowadays the high quality mobiles are like super powerful as well. And they can run like very high quality games and play smoothly. Okay, and it’s becoming more and more affordable. When it comes to your, I want to talk about your journey as an entrepreneur, because it’s interesting, right? Because you did start with Mint Sprint, which you said didn’t quite work out. What what I guess when you look back at that experience, I’m sure there’s many people that learn right, obviously. So what did you learn from Mint Sprint that when you started Everguild, you said, Hey, we got to do this differently this time or I guess lessons learned? Yeah, so well, Mint Sprint, it was set up by three of us. So it was Isabel, my sister, myself, and there was also Joe Waller, a good friend who was more like a technical person. He had actually worked in in PC gaming before at Bullfrog. So he had a lot of industry experience, and then he had become a pretty senior person at another company. And, and he decided he also wanted like to set up a game studio. And so we partner. And I think the biggest mistake we made was to be too innovative. I think this is a lesson. It’s often taught like, there are like this suggestion to people starting out with a new game, say, hey, you have to be very innovative, you have to be do something that no other game has done before. And I think when you are starting out with your first game as a studio with a pretty small team, like we were at the time, obviously, you have to do something different and something unique. But if you are like trying to innovate into many dimensions and into many axes, then it just becomes unmanageable. So in our case, the game we were trying to make was very innovative at the technological level. So it was like streaming, it was running on the server, and it was streaming the game to mobile devices that had never actually been done on iOS. To that point, we were innovating on the gameplay, we were innovating on the monetization, we were innovating on too many fronts, and it just became like too much to handle. We would have needed a much bigger team, much more time than we had to really like experiment and do A.D. tests and do focus groups and really learn to get like all these things to a place where it really worked. Are there any things that you took from those learnings that you did implement in Everguild? Maybe it’s all of it, right? But are there like key things that you remember transitioning, for lack of better words? Well, yeah, I guess like one of those was precisely like trying not to innovate too much, and instead say, okay, let’s take something that works, that we like, that we think we want to keep. But let’s change something to target the niche or to offer something which others don’t offer. So in this case, for example, it was taking a lot of the ideas on gameplay and monetization from Hearthstone, but making it really, optimized for mobile. So we changed the game mechanics, we changed the UI, we changed a lot of things in terms of like the game, but with a very clear starting point and a very clear focus of what we were trying to achieve, how we wanted to be better than Hearthstone. Obviously, we couldn’t compete on production values, or we couldn’t compete on having like established fan base for the A.P. But we could compete, for example, on having a way smaller build size for mobile, which is obviously quite important for many players. We could compete on having like much better performance in lower spec devices. We could compete on having a UI that was actually designed for mobile for a more landscape, a more elongated screen versus the PC where you have more space. So we approach it in that way. We say, okay, let’s try to innovate. In one thing, rather than in everything. It’s interesting, and I’m just trying to think of kind of the experience that you’re talking about. And I remember if I look back in my past, when I used to go to camp, we used to play Magic the Gathering. That was the thing that we used to just kind of love sitting around the tables playing Magic. And at that point, after that, I stopped playing card games until a few years ago, I started playing Gwent and now Marvel, Snap, and all these different experiences are coming up. When you’re building the new game, right, and you’re looking at compared to the previous games, right? Like, is mobile a shorter time span? When you create, when you create horror games, you’re going to be like Boris Hersey, right? And you say, Hey, the average game span because it’s users on mobile is probably going to be five minutes compared to the new IP coming out PC, maybe we can make that 15 minutes. Is that something that is real? Or am I making that up in my mind? No, that’s absolutely real. And that was, for example, like one of the things that we changed clearly compared to Hearthstone. So in Hearthstone at the time, the matches could very easily go into the 15 or 20 minutes. And we were very clear that was not fine for mobile. And so we made sure our matches in legions were five to six minutes long on average. And it’s also important. It’s interesting, because it’s both the it’s the predictability of it that matters. So it’s not just the average, but it’s also what’s the maximum time that the match could go on. So if you even if the average is just five minutes, if you know that maybe there’s some deck out there that you can get paired against that it plays very slowly, and then your match going to 15 minutes, maybe you will not start the match because you don’t want to run the risk of having to like, abandon midway just because you run out of time. So it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s a very important thing to consider on mobile. Like offering. And that said, I think some games manage to handle this very nicely, if you want to have gameplay that requires more than, say, five minutes, sometimes there’s a trick of just having something meaningful you can do in the game, which will take less than five minutes. So that maybe you don’t come in and play like a full grade with your friends, and because that’s going to take and not have an hour. But if you have something that you can come in and do, that’s something that mobile games have done really well. So I mean, Clash of Clans, you can come in and just like collect your resources, and maybe you don’t have time to be like playing battles. But there’s an incentive for you to come back to the game when you have a minute or two. Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m trying to think some of the other games I’ve played where they’ve done that they’ve started off with this small premise and then just added and then it almost feels like it’s too much. There’s certain games I just stopped playing because they’ve added so many different mechanics to it where it was this easy game I could pick up and I could start playing. All of a sudden, it’s like homework. Every day I had to go in and I had to do like 15 different tasks. And I think there’s almost this sprawl of too much of that. I like what you’re going. It’s almost like an escape point for certain periods of time, right? Like five minutes, almost like a checkpoint. Save this, come back later and finish it. But some of them I think just, I don’t know, maybe I’m just talking, thinking out loud, like you almost create another game with these mechanics because you’ve turned a match three game into a whole nother monster. Well, I think that’s sort of inevitable. I mean, one thing that I’ve noticed is that one trend that I see happening certainly with like free to play games, whether it’s mobile or PC, I don’t think in this sense it makes a massive difference. It’s really hard nowadays to get players into your game. There’s just too many games out there. And so it’s very important. Like once a player comes in and they like the game and they enjoy playing it, just to make sure that you can keep these players coming back and playing the game for a long time. Very often, you need a lot of depth in the game for that to happen. So if you very quickly just understand everything and then after a month, two months, however long, well, you’ve kind of seen everything there is to the game, right? So having depth in one way or another so that even after months of playing the game, you can understand everything. And then after a month of playing the game, you’re still like enjoying it because you’re discovering new ways to play. Obviously, releasing content regularly helps a lot because like, for example, in our card games, we make regular expansions while having new armies and new cards to play with.

15:06 Greg Posner So it’s a great way to keep players coming back to see what’s new and enjoying it again. But I think there’s this element of saying, hey, once you have players that enjoy your game, there’s so much focus on how do I keep these players engaged and enjoying the game and coming back for more. Yeah, it sounds like what you’re kind of talking through just makes it sound like different seasons to me, right? We see seasons getting games now, right? And I think with a card game, it’s pivotal, right? Because you update cards, you create new cards, there’s new actions that are taken. So I’m curious about the different types of metrics that you measure. We kind of talked about screen time. I’m not sure if you truly measure how long someone’s in a game or how long a match takes. I’m sure it’s all common metrics that exist. But I’m also thinking out loud, right? You can nerf cards, you can buff cards based on actions you’re seeing. Are these things that you measure and what types of tools do you have to help you understand what’s happening? Because it seems like you get quite complex.

15:59 Andres Tallos Yes, well, so I think it’s always a mix of the qualitative feedback that we get through the different channels where we can see what players are saying, whether it’s on the Discord channel, or like the feedback that they sometimes like send us directly through the support channels. Or what we see, like, for example, when content creators are covering the game, so we see the stuff they are saying about the game if they are enjoying it or which parts they are not enjoying the game. We see the comments from their viewers. So we try to get all this qualitative feedback. And then we try to compare that against the quantitative feedback. So we obviously look at the analytics and we say, okay, like how many players are coming back? That’s like the most important metric. How much are they playing? And which game modes they are playing? Because we have multiple different game modes. Some of them are against the AI, so like PBE modes and others are PVP. So we try to keep our… And even though there’s a lot of data and KPIs in there, ultimately, you also need this intuition. And that’s where the qualitative data comes in. I’m saying like, what’s going on here? Also, because the numbers will sometimes lag the problem. So if you, for example, it’s happened before, we release a new army and it has some mechanic that players are not enjoying. They are not liking it and they are complaining about it. It doesn’t necessarily get reflected in the figures straight away. Because like, hey, someone is enjoying the game, suddenly something he doesn’t like doesn’t mean he’ll leave immediately. But if you don’t address that complaint or that issue or that mechanic that players are not enjoying, then probably like a few weeks down the line, you will lose the player. And by then it may be too late to do anything about it. So it’s really a mix of the two things. And ultimately also, you know, a sort of intuition, I guess, of saying, okay, it’s like, because ultimately what we do is to a large extent is just managing players frustration, in a sense, right? Like, there’s a certain level of frustration, which is desirable. If everything is too easy, people get like the everything too fast, they understand all the mechanics immediately. Then there’s no challenge, there’s no fun. But if there’s too much frustration, it’s a bit of a problem, right? So there’s an element of thing of subjective judgment and saying, hey, are we in the right spot? Or do we have a problem that we have to address?

18:42 Greg Posner It’s funny, we get asked that a lot, right? And a lot of times we collect a lot of data, and we have a lot of information and people want more and more and like, it’s one thing to have data, but you have to make insights and understand what this is, right? Like, it doesn’t, doesn’t really help it. And I always like to tell people and everyone blows me off. But like, you have to trust your gut sometimes. And I think that’s kind of where you’re going, like, trust your intuition, trust your gut, like this, something seems off with this. And I can’t quite measure it. I can’t quite tell what’s up. I think what’s important to you say is you mentioned you listened to your feedback on Discord. I saw you also have a very active subreddit as well. Right? So I want to continue on that conversation. But my question is, how are you managing this feedback from all these different noisy channels, right? I imagine there’s like, a sense of fear of, oh, my God, what’s gonna happen on Reddit or Discord today? It’s just nonstop.

19:30 Andres Tallos Yeah, I mean, for the most part, I wouldn’t say there’s fear necessarily. I mean, we’ve had some episodes sometimes when we’ve done something that a lot of players really didn’t like. And then we’ve had some backlash. And then it’s like, well, the important thing there is to really recognize when something like that happens and react as quickly as possible. Because generally, the players who complain the most are also the most engaged. They are also the most, like, they really like in love with the game, or maybe they hate the game, but they still have like, a very active involvement and engagement in the game and in the community. And so it’s important to recognize when you’ve messed up and try to address it as quickly as possible. And it happens. It happens inevitably, because we are releasing new content every Friday. Inevitably, we sometimes get things wrong. And so it’s being able to tell that apart from the more usual situation where there’s always some vocal people who complain about stuff. And it’s fine. Sometimes they have a point, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of players are feeling the same way or that there is a problem you have to address. So, you know, it’s, it does require a filter of saying when when there is a fire versus well, it’s just normal day to day. And I think the way we do that, to some extent is obviously a lot of our team members are also players themselves. And they are also somehow like with the finger on the pulse of what people are saying on the different channels. And the advantage we have is that the different people in the team are engaged in different channels. So we know what’s going on on Reddit, we know what’s going on on Discord, we know what it’s going on, like on the VK, we have like a big Russian speaking community of players as well. We have pretty sizable number of Chinese players as well. We don’t communicate with us as often. And it’s harder to know what they are talking about. But sometimes if something is really problematic, they will actually reach out as well. So sometimes what we do is simply triangulate like, okay, like some people are complaining a lot on on Discord about something, but no, it hasn’t come up on Reddit, or it hasn’t come up in the Russian community or it hasn’t come up with it’s like, well, maybe it’s not so bad, right? It’s not that we don’t pay attention to it. But here’s where that intuition has to come in and say, okay, to what extent is this really a problem versus just a very loud minority? Yeah, it’s one of those things where if there’s smoke, there could be fire, but you don’t want to overreact beforehand. And you mentioned kind of some people might hate the game. And I truly think if people hate the game, it means they actually love it. And they’re just frustrated, right? I mean, if someone takes the time to truly hate something, it means that they spend enough time in it to get to know it and understanding that. And I guess my question is, when you you have different users that are monitoring these different channels, you have like a central repository where you and the Everguild team just kind of sit and share this information. Like I heard this on VK, I heard this on Twitter, I heard this on how do you? No, so we don’t have such a structured process. It’s something that happens a bit more naturally. So I mean, we we have an old hands every day, where every time we release something new, we’ll do we’ll spend like a few minutes saying, okay, like how, how has been the reaction to this? What have you guys seen in the different like social media and the different channels? Have you seen many complaints? And then if we see that, you know, there’s been like problems or complaints in one place and the other say, yeah, I’ve also seen that on this other place, then we’ll obviously dig deeper into that. And then we’ll look at the KPIs as well and say, okay, is this like, for example, if they’re complaining about a certain mechanic or a certain deck or warlord being too like too strong or too toxic? Well, like at first, the first thing we do is go and check how often it has been played. Because if it has suddenly become super popular, and everybody’s playing that toxic deck, then we have a problem. If it’s still like something that’s niche, that’s kind of an edge case, then like, do we really need to address that? Or maybe we do, but not urgently, we just leave it for like the next balance balance patch. So it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, we do have a bit of a process, but

24:01 Greg Posner superstructure, I guess. And with these channels, you have a IP that has a passionate fan base, and they’re to be very protective of their IP wanting to make sure that no one’s doing it wrong, right? And how do you, how do I ask this question, right? How do you manage the pressure of dealing with the Warhammer IP? Do the fans come after you at all? Do they make recommendations? Do they?

24:29 Andres Tallos Sometimes, yeah, no, absolutely. I think it’s, we’ve never had too much of a problem with that, because we are fans ourselves. Most, the majority of the team is very dedicated to Warhammer. And obviously, we’ve been doing Warhammer games for years now. So that there’s a bit of self selection when it comes to applying to work with us. Like, obviously, we attract people who like the Warhammer universe themselves. So that’s not really too much of a problem. And I think what really matters is to show that appreciation for the IP yourself. So there are and that very often comes down to details, which you didn’t need to put effort into, but you’ve done nevertheless. Like one example, for example, like that we have in legions is that all the characters have these voiceovers, right? When they come into the match, they have like some lines you can use. And we created some Easter eggs, which is that certain matches, certain pairs of characters, if they have an interesting backstory in the novels, then we created a special introductory line for those two characters that you can only hear when they happen to be much against each other. So when you do things like that, where you go that extra mile in showing that, hey, like, we care about this as well. We’ve read these novels, we like these characters. And so we want to convey that. I think that gives you a lot of credibility with the community doesn’t keep them from telling you every time you get something wrong. And, you know, we do our best not to like to get everything right. But sometimes we’ve made some mistakes, like maybe I know we’ve put the wrong helmet with certain armor. And, you know, we’ve missed that and games workshop who reviews all these they’ve missed that too, somehow. And then players tell us like within a minute of the new content coming up, we just fix it. I think we this is again, something that is easy to say, but I think you have to prove it every day that when you make some mistake, or to just go in and fix it as quick as possible. That’s what we try to do. It’s fun. It sounds like it’s like little Easter eggs in the game when you find the right two people to match and you get that fun, fun thing. It’s kind of as a fan, you’d be like, oh, that’s awesome. But kind of that’s fun. And when you talk about you created dragon lords, right? And then from that point, you said you heard from the Warhammer IP, do you reach out to them? Do they reach out to you? How does that conversation actually happen? So in this case, it wasn’t so difficult because Games Workshop has the licensing team that they’ve set up like long ago, they’ve been doing licensed video games for many years. And they tend to go to a lot of the conferences like games conferences and licensing conferences around the world, but especially in Europe, especially in the UK. So so yeah, we just met them at one of these conferences, we actually met them when we were developing dragon lords to see if we could and we pitch like using one of their IPs. But but it didn’t fly at that time. But then after we had released the first car game, and we have proven that, you know, we could make a game of that genre of decent quality, then that gave them I think more confidence to partner with us to do another car game. I want to think back to something you said a little earlier, right? With you and your co founder Isabella, you guys were you guys make all these games. And I’m just curious, like, two of you sit down and actually play these card games. So you guys pick up other competitor games and a competitor games or other similar games like snap and the other ones and talk about the mechanics that you like and you don’t like? Absolutely, yeah, that we have to do. I mean, I’ve been playing a lot of snap as well. Lately. I mean, it’s not it’s again, both for work purposes, because we need to understand every time like one of these new games, it’s not is a great example. They always innovate, they always bring something new to the table. And I think, understanding how that works and understanding how that makes you feel as a player, like what’s experience of going through it, it’s quite important. But even more than that, we love these kind of games. I’ve used to play a lot of Magic the Gathering and many other physical card games like vampire, spell hammer, Doomtrooper back in the day many years ago. So yeah, it’s it’s obviously a type of game that we enjoy. So it’s easy to play these new games when they come up.

29:08 Greg Posner Who who’s better between you and Isabella who gets more of the wins? I think that’s a good landmine travel. So fair enough. I’m gonna ask this next question. If I can’t ask this, I’ll edit all this out. But you are a part of the still front group. A lot of the indie companies we work with dream of being acquired or want to work with a larger company for better or worse, we don’t need to go into that. But has being part of the still front group restricted what you have the ability to do? Does it open up more doors for you? Does it add a level of reporting structure? All the above?

29:40 Andres Tallos All of the above. I mean, all of it has. So yeah, just to give a bit of background on that. So we joined still front group in the middle of the of the lockdowns during the pandemic. And well, it was a difficult decision. But I think we found a company where we could really fit in. And by that, I mean, one thing that really sets still from the part is that it’s very decentralized. And each studio has a lot of autonomy. So it allowed us to keep doing what we wanted to do. But with with more resources, like, for example, when it comes to scaling the game via marketing, rather than doing the marketing ourselves, which is is quite the both an art and a science. And it’s it’s hard. And it’s something where if you’re a small studio, it’s very hard to compete with big players. So while being part of still front allows us to leverage a lot of their expertise, and there’s a marketing hub that can either take over these activities for us or just give us advice on how to do it. And it’s also it also gives you a credibility. And like when, for example, like coming up with this bigger deal with games workshop, obviously having the backing of a large company helps a lot. So I would say generally, we’ve been quite happy with with, you know, joining still front.

31:08 Greg Posner Yeah, it’s good to know. I think a lot of companies want to look at that, right. And you hear about different stories about different parent organizations, right, whether it be an Electronic Arts or Microsoft or something else, how to handle it, I guess. There’s positives to both sides, right? decentralization, you’re still able to do whatever you want to do rather than use this tool, use that technology, use this right, then you’re kind of forced into a square hole. Yeah, but but you sounds like you still have that freedom to do what you want to do with that safety net behind you.

31:37 Andres Tallos I mean, it inevitably adds a bit of extra overhead, extra reporting, extra I mean, still from this. It’s like a traded company, it’s in the stock exchange. So it has some like, additional like accounting becomes more important, you have to do it faster and better. And obviously, there’s some reporting lines. But generally, certainly for us, it hasn’t been much of a draw. That’s great. It’s good to hear. And let’s talk more about kind of this new IP or the new project you’re working on. We don’t have to go too much into details about it. But when you start alpha testing, beta testing these games, you take a look at games like Legion to see who your top players are, and either the ones you want to invite to the alpha or you go about a different way that kind of approach how you want to do that. Yeah, it’s a mix. It’s a mix. So we’ve obviously with warports, we have many of the I would say most of the long term players of Horus Heresy legions, they are also very interested in playing warports as well. Because they love the IP, they see it’s going to be a I would say certainly when it comes to production values, it’s going to be a better game than legions. There are things which are great about legions. And we certainly plan to keep supporting that game, because we think it’s in many ways, it’s quite unique, and warports will not necessarily replicate a lot of the things that make it unique. And we are aiming to create two games which can live in parallel and even have like players playing both and enjoying them for different reasons. So we don’t want to completely cannibalize legions when we release warports. But yeah, so we’ve had a lot of players obviously been very interested in taking part in the alpha and the demos that we’ve done before. But at the same time, we want to make sure that we reach out to other audiences. We are making a very conscious effort, both the Warhammer fans who may not have played legions before. But even beyond that, we want to reach players of Magic, of Gwent or Runeterra and show them, hey, this is this is a card game, that actually brings a lot of new things to the table. And even if you’re not a fan of Warhammer, you’ll probably become one. But you know, coming for the card game, not only for the Warhammer brand, because we think you’ll enjoy it. It’s interesting, I didn’t really think about the cannibalization of kind of your player base by offering a new game, right? It’s a lot of times you think of like, Call of Duty versus the next iteration of Call of Duty, and you want that player base to migrate to the newer game and keep that. But in this case, you probably still want people to play both games. So if you send too many people the invite to the new game that play the old game, it might just completely diminish that player base. It may or may not happen. So what our expectation is that there are players who are super engaged, trying to compete to be the best in the game, and they are playing eight hours a day. Obviously, it’s very hard to do that on more than one game at a time. But that is not the majority of players, the majority of players play a bit more casually, they may play one hour a day, half an hour, two hours, it depends. But I think the majority of our players play other games as well. It’s not only legions, some of them play Marvel’s snap, or they play many other not only card games, other genres as well. So we don’t see why, like these players, if they’re playing four or five games, two of them could be Warpforge and legions, because they will offer somewhat different things. When you are building it, are you, you said multi platform, do you think about console? Because now I think out loud as well, like, do I want to play a card game on a console? I don’t know. But like, PC makes sense. So you’re looking at console, you’re looking at is it still being built in unity? I guess there’s a whole bunch of different questions there. Yeah, so consoles is an interesting world that we haven’t really explored much. We have checked a couple times about like the idea of launching legions on the Switch. Because it does feel like the more natural fit like playing on the screen, it’s a bit like a tablet in that sense. And that would run really well. But console does pose like a serious challenge that we are not used to. And it’s like the approval times of getting updates. It’s even if you just distribute digitally, even leaving aside the all the challenges of actually like creating disks, or, or cartridges with your game, but even if you distribute digitally, the speed that we are used to on mobile and on PC, where we can like compile a new plan, new update, and have it in players hands in a day or two, that’s not something you can do on console. And so that’s something that we have to be very, very careful of. Because if we release, for example, like we are, we are a very dynamic company, we have like a very dynamic games, we release content all the time. And we sometimes make mistakes or have bugs or even a mechanic that is not playing out as we expect it. And we’re used to being able to react very quickly. So console in that sense poses a big challenge. And that’s been the main thing that’s been keeping us or holding us back.

36:59 Greg Posner It’s funny, I’m sitting here thinking like, do I really want to use my controller to play a card game? And it didn’t even come to me. Like I’ve heard people complain about the approval times from Microsoft or from Sony to be able to push updates. And yeah, I mean, the amount of times that you don’t even realize you release an update with a card that’s just not balanced properly. And all of a sudden, if you have to wait on console, that’s gonna be a terrible experience for the player itself. I mean, there are there are card games on console, there’s like when there’s a Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, there are card games which are doing relatively well. So it’s not that I think that obviously the controllers are something we haven’t really figured out. But I think there’s probably a solution for that. But the more the behind the scenes part of getting the updates, that’s what for us so far has like really held us back. If you could go back to Andres in 2000, so 23 years ago, and give yourself some advice of things that you’ve learned over the years, is there something specific you would tell yourself then?

37:59 Andres Tallos Or? Yeah, Oh, it’s a good one. So first of all, back when I finished 23 years ago, I was at university, I never really considered gaming as a career prospect. Which is strange, because it’s not like the industry in Spain is not huge, but it’s not that small. And I had even some friends working there. But I was quite keen to become an entrepreneur. And you know, gaming was my hobby, but never really thought of that as a career path. And so I went to consulting to learn a bit more about like business in general, did my MBA. And I think, you know, in a way, I probably came into the industry at the right time, where I could bring together not just my passion about games, but also my learnings about business in general, because with free to play, you really have to merge the two into the game. Like before, you could just develop a great game without having to worry too much about the economics. It was like there was a publisher who cared about doing the marketing and just trying to sell as many units as possible. But now with free to play, like the game itself, you have to, to worry about how the economy is balanced, how did you manage it long term? Even the marketing becomes very integrated with the game development itself. So you do the marketing, not just at launch to get as many players to try it as possible. But you do marketing throughout the lifetime, whenever you have a big update, or whenever you release a new feature. Many marketing campaigns are focused on like, re-engagement, like bringing back players who have played and enjoyed your game for a while, but then they disengage at some point. And very often, not because they wanted to stop playing, not because they decided that they no longer want to play the game. Very often, like players stop playing simply because they start trying a new game or a new Netflix show comes up or like anything, or they just won’t go on holidays and they come back and they kind of, it’s for some reason, it stops being part of their daily routine. And so very often, just letting them know that, hey, there’s a new army that just came into the game and it’s enough to bring them back and to like, re-engage them. So, you know, all the business elements, the marketing, the monetization, the economy are now very integrated with the core game.

40:34 Greg Posner Yeah, it’s interesting how, I mean, it’s 2000s, right? We’re talking Dreamcast and PS2 era. And that’s like the first kick of online gaming, I remember, because I had the Dreamcast. And, I mean, then we had the rise of mobile, which changed gaming forever, right? Then we started seeing the free to play, like you said, right? Where it’s less about creating the game. Well, it’s less about creating the perfect game and just getting something enjoyable to the market, then fix it once it’s launched. And for better or worse, that’s where we are today. It seems like a pivotal time in history for us. Yeah, I think the expectations have been rising steadily on what people expect even on mobile games on release. But yeah, there’s certainly, I see it much more as a service nowadays. Like, it’s not enough to just release the best possible game. You have to think, hey, you’re going to be providing a service, hopefully for many years. And so you have to have this like long-term plan in place of how you plan to grow and keep your game. I think it’s a mix between the two, or a balance. You have to understand what you’re creating. And I go back to the game Redfall, because I was very excited about Redfall, which didn’t want to be a game as a service, right? Like, Arcane was known for their single player for their immersive experience, but they were kind of forced to go down a route that just didn’t fit. So if you look at a single player game, maybe you do want to create that immersive experience. You don’t care about the service side of it. Just know what you’re building. Don’t try and conquer the whole world, I guess, with a single game. Yeah, well, I mean, we’ve chosen the genre, which is, like, in a way, the path was set for us, because obviously, Magic had created the genre and also showed how to manage it long term. And like one anecdote, I remember that surprised me initially, but then I completely understand. When we were releasing our first game, Dragon Lord, our first card game, and we were showing it to players, like we did the pre-release, where we like,

42:31 Andres Tallos showed it at a trade fair in person. And a lot of players were asking us, like before it was released, what the long term plan was. They wanted to know, hey, how often are you going to do expansions? How certain can I be basically that you will not just like die out in a few months? And how are you planning to do like rotations and things like that? And I think that comes from the fact that, you know, after the success of Magic, for a while, there were lots of card games being launched, physical card games. And lots of players, myself included sometimes, getting very excited about the new card game. I remember buying a lot of Star Wars, like CCG cards. And then there was only like one expansion. And then they stopped releasing more expansions. And suddenly, it’s like, okay, I enjoyed this game, I invested a lot of time and money in playing this game. And suddenly, the moment it stops being supported, then there’s no more tournaments and people stop playing. And, you know, I think a lot of long term or old card game players have been burned by that. And so they really care about how you’re planning to run the game in the long term. Yeah, right. If you’re going to make an investment, you want to make sure it’s a fairly sound investment. It’s probably intimidating questions to be asked before you even launch. Like, hoping we’re here forever. But it’s up to you guys. Does having your sister Isabella as a co-founder help you in that case where you could bounce ideas between each other? Yeah, absolutely. I think in our case in particular, we also have a very, very different perspective. I’m way more analytical and kind of pragmatic. And I’m more concerned about just the mechanics at the very abstract level. And she’s more of an artist. I mean, she was an artist before doing artistic photography. And so she brings a very different perspective, much more about, hey, how does this actually feel when you play? What impression do you convey? How do we make this look good? Good. And so when it comes to the UI, to the UX, to the artistic part, but also to the game mechanics, I think she sees them differently. And so we argue a lot. But I think that’s for the better. I have one last question because I just want to be conscious of your time today. And I think we could talk forever. I’m really enjoying this conversation. But my last question I’d like to ask all my guests are what current technologies are out there that you see that you’re excited about? Yeah, I mean, AI, I think is the answer. It’s been the common answer. Yeah, it’s hard. Like once you start dipping your toes into it, it’s hard not to be both, I think, excited and scared at the same time. I’m both excited at the things I see it doing. I mean, in our case, we are not using it, for example, to generate art or text assets for the games because we use like the game’s worship license. And all the copyright and the intellectual property issues around AI are still extremely unclear how that works. So obviously, that’s something we are not even exploring at the professional level. But at the personal level, I’m really looking into this because I think this is going to change our industry and our world.

46:02 Greg Posner Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. I understand. Obviously, your game is very big about artwork, right? Because it’s card game. And you want to make that original, you want to make that yours. But it’s curious on where you can use the different parts of AI. I mean, even just analyzing data like we talked about in the beginning of the podcast, like what trends do you see? It’d be interesting to see what types of thoughts AI can come up with before we can actually see. And I don’t know if we can do that. Yeah, I think certainly for gaming, I see some ideas been floating around. I don’t know if I mean, there’s the obvious, very basic ones of saying, hey, let’s try to save costs by using the AI that we have. And I think that’s a very interesting thing.

46:36 Andres Tallos But I’m way more interested in the things that you simply couldn’t do before. And you can suddenly do now. Like, for example, I think it’s a very interesting thing to see what kind of things you can do with AI. And I think that’s something that’s really interesting. I think obviously very, something very obvious. And I think some games are doing that. But I’m way more interested in the things that you simply couldn’t do before. And you can suddenly do now. Like, for example, like just having the NPCs controlled by AI. And you’re having to program all the possible interactions. If you could bring that level of intelligence into the game, suddenly, it opens up possibilities that didn’t exist before. And that’s why I’m much more interested in is that what new games we could do that didn’t exist.

47:31 Greg Posner I’m excited about playing a game one day and just talking to an NPC for hours and having just a unique conversation that’s generating on the fly. I think it’s gonna be amazingly immersive as a technology that really helped pull you into it, especially when it knows who your character is, it knows what your stats are, it knows, like, it will know who you are. It’s a cool thought about what the future can be of video games. Yeah, no, absolutely. A bit scary as well. Yeah, that’s my kid’s problem. That’s what I like to think. But Andres, thank you so much. I think this was a great conversation. As I said, I think we can keep talking. But before you go, is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience or anything in general? No, I mean, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me. I think, well, just a reminder that we have Warforge coming up, and it’s going to be a great card game based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And it’s already in closed alpha. So we do invite anyone who could be interested to join the waitlist to sign up for the closed alpha. And we’re distributing keys gradually, hopefully launching the game before the end of the year. Cool. And we’ll post all of Andres and Warforge and Hersey, Horsey, sorry, on our player engage website. So we’ll have all that information. Again, Andres, thank you so much for that. And I hope you have a good rest of your day. Thank you very much. You did great. Sorry, don’t actually leave yet.

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Episode 9