«The key to players’ hearts is the synergy of graphics and mathematics that plays like an orchestra and moves you» ― Interview with BGaming’s Backend Team Lead
We continue our series of interview with famous people from gambling world. Alexander Krivetsky, BGaming’s Backend Team Lead, was our today’s interlocutor. The speaker told about which slots catch an eye of a modern player and how the spin mathematics is determined. Alexander shared the company’s success in the sphere of responsible gaming and named his most favorite slots.
― Hello, Alexander! Please tell us a few words about what you do at BGaming.
― Hello! I am a Ruby Developer and Team Lead of one of the backend teams at BGaming. BGaming is a game development studio in the iGaming industry. Together with my team, we work on the backend part of the company’s games.
― Tell us how you got into iGaming. Were you concerned about joining a company that develops slot machines? There are still many prejudices associated with gambling out there.
― I think anyone going into iGaming from the CIS countries has their concerns. I didn’t know anything about the industry at all and decided that I would try to study it, and if I wouldn’t like it, I would move on. As it turned out, everything here is as transparent and regulated as it gets. To cooperate with large online casinos, your business and games must obtain a bunch of licenses and certificates in different countries, and there are professional laboratories involved in testing the games for compliance with different countries’ standards. Passing the certifications and obtaining the licenses requires a high level of professionalism from the development team and clear processes within the studio. I was pleasantly surprised, and for almost 3 years I have been happily working in iGaming.
― Let’s continue on the topic of prejudice. Programmers, in lay beliefs, are closed-off people who are difficult to communicate with. Strange people living inside their programming code. Do you see yourself or your colleagues in this description? Tell us how these stereotypes correspond to reality
― Although there may be some truth in this stereotype, I would not generalize. There are closed-off people in any field. I can only speak for my team ― they are talented, positive, and sociable guys who have a life and hobbies outside of writing code.
― How difficult is it to build up communications with your subordinates? After all, writing code is a creative profession, and it’s often not easy to approach creative people. Which one’s more effective ― the stick or the carrot?
― Hearing «subordinates» is like nails on a chalkboard. We have no subordinates, we are one team, I just have my additional tasks and responsibilities. Everyone can offer an idea for discussion and decisions are made by the whole team. I believe this is the best approach; when every member of the team knows that they are important and can affect the result.
― You have 4 offices ― in Malta, Belarus, Poland, and Georgia. It is common for companies to please their programmers, starting from cookies in the office, and ending with PlayStations and «personal chillout lounges». At the same time, some of your employees work remotely. What special perks do you have for remote developers? Also, how do you retain talented employees?
― It seems to me that some companies go too far in their desire to «please» programmers. Sure, today the demand for programmers is high and each company is trying to attract best staff in its own way. At BGaming, there’s an extensive and useful benefits package. I can name quite a few nice «goodies» that I’m sure any developer would enjoy:
- Relocation. The company is very interested in actively helping new and existing employees with relocation. The company pays part of the renting cost for the first year after your relocation. In countries with offline offices, we have corporate apartments where you can stay and get help from realtors in finding housing for the long term.
- Equipment. We understand that proper gear is a very important part of the workflow, so, no matter where you are, upon request, you are allocated money to purchase any necessary equipment: the latest iMac, a new monitor, headphones or other peripherals — everything’s at your discretion. This is done very quickly and very conveniently.
- Courses. Do you want to improve your English? Learn a new programming language? There are some courses already available within the company and you can simply join that group, or you can request a specific course, explain how it will help you in your work, and the company will pay for it.
- Medical insurance, monetary compensation for sports equipment or memberships, and another plus is — we’re currently working on and will soon launch a bonus system.
- Free Fridays. Fridays for developers at our company are free from meetings, and the team can self-educate or complete small tasks that they had been putting off during the week at their discretion. Some of us will be fixing their code, some will be tinkering with unexplored parts of the project, some will be reading books or watching training videos, and some will just be taking a breather between complex tasks to avoid burnout.
I have not mentioned all the benefits, but it seems to me that even this list shows how important the employees are for BGaming.
― We know that each combination of symbols in a slot machine is determined by mathematical calculations. Can you explain how it works?
― Sure. For me, it was one of the shocking discoveries in my first months of working here. In short, we have our own licensed random number generator (RNG), and there is the mathematical configuration of the game. When we press the spin button in the game, the RNG gives us positions on the reels, and, based on these positions, we display the screen that you check to see if there is a winning combination on it. In addition to testing and licensing the random number generator itself, each of our games is also certified. This means we can assure the players that nothing but luck and chance affect the combinations.
― Your company strives to increase the level of trust in gambling, so you added the Provably Fair cryptographic hash function to your slots so that players won’t have any doubts about fair play in BGaming’s slots. Please tell us how it works.
― When answering your previous question, I mentioned how the slots generate the results screen after each spin. When the Provably Fair function is enabled, we also calculate the result of the next spin, encrypt it using cryptography and return it to the player in response. So, any player, if they wish, can ask us to prove that the next spin will be exactly what we told them. We do this to show that the result of the spin is actually random and does not depend on other factors. The player will get the same result, no matter what bet they place on that next spin — 1 dollar or 100. That is, we prove that the whole random process is fair and we do not influence it in any way.
― You were the first of the providers to offer the option to pay in crypto. Tell us how you managed to foresee the growing popularity
of cryptocurrencies. Did you involve any financial analysts?
― Yes, we were one of the first game providers to notice and address the customers’ need for games that worked with cryptocurrencies. The customers’ pain grew by the day and when the number of these requests became large enough, our team correctly set our priorities, providing the market with the necessary solution. This served as a good boost to the company’s growth.
― BGaming releases high-quality games with catchy graphics, constantly improving its products. For example, you recently accelerated your slots’ loading speed by compressing the images without affecting their quality. Please share how your development team has managed this.
― The development of the image compression algorithm is entirely the merit of our Frontend and Design teams. The team took the path less travelled and it paid off. Now our gaming portfolio takes up twice as little space, which has significantly increased loading speed.
Optimizing our games’ performance is a constant work for our development team. This is the direction where we strive to be the best, so we constantly improve.
― Based on your experience, please tell us what features in games players like the most.
― There is no single answer to this question. Some players like the MEGAWAYS mechanics, while others like cascading mechanics. Some players like highly volatile games, and some don’t. Every good game has its audience. The thing that always increases players’ interest are purchasable features — that is, players can see what the slot is capable of without having to go though thousands of spins, but by simply paying to activate bonus features.
— What is the most difficult thing in developing a slot?
― If we take the whole process of creating a slot, then the most difficult thing, in my opinion, is finding the key to players’ hearts. This is a synergy of graphics, mathematics, and a bunch of functions that should all play like an orchestra and move you on every level.
― You develop interactive games at the intersection of gambling and gaming, focusing on innovation. Do you think that players are bored of the classic fruits and remakes of «Books», do players need something fundamentally new?
― As far as we can see, the audience is interested in new mechanics, but it is very difficult to come up with something fundamentally new, the market has not «exploded» with innovations for some time now. However, we are certainly trying to move in this direction.
― Please tell us about the game from BGaming that you personally like best.
― My favorites are volatile games with beautiful designs and interesting mathematics. I really like our latest Japanese style release — Maneki 88 Gold, another one is the collab with comedian Vadim Galygin — Big Atlantis Frenzy, also Foxy Wild Heart, and, of course, one of our biggest hits — Aloha King Elvis.
― Imagine the gambling industry in a few decades from now. How do you imagine the slots of the future? Will it be an intangible panel floating in the air, emitting a bluish light, like in sci-fi films? Or will they just have more crazy features? Or will the usual 3D graphics be replaced by something like 33D?
― It’s hard to imagine where it will all go. The industry’s intense competition is forcing studios to develop very rapidly while testing new approaches. As long as the audience is ready for it and likes it, anything will do. I like the idea of an intangible panel hanging in the air, but at the same time, I would add a critical component — next to you there’s a hologram of your friend playing slots with you in real-time. Still, watching the market, there is a feeling that slots should stay simple. After all, it’s a form of recreation, like playing football or watching a movie.
— Thank you, Alexander, for your insight!