The Art of Slots

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An Art Directors’ perspective on the creation of online slots.

10 min
07 Apr, 2022


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AI Generated Video Summary

Slot games have life-changing potential and should provide a secure and fun experience. Total immersion in the theme, visual effects, large wins, and celebrations enhance the player's experience. Creating engaging slot games involves using colors and subject matter to indicate value, guiding players through the game with splash screens, keypads, and buttons, and incorporating characters, animations, and themes to add fun and engagement. It is important to celebrate big wins and provide value to the player while considering their perspective and aiming to provide entertainment and value.

1. Introduction to Slot Games as Art Director

Short description:

Slots have life-changing potential and are wonderful entertaining games. The player should feel secure and have fun. Total immersion in the theme is important. Visual effects, large wins, and celebrations enhance the experience. Familiar characters and backgrounds to the genre are crucial. Symbols should have a great silhouette and reflect their value.

Hi, I'm Matt Butler. I'm an art director for Evolution, working with the NetEnt brand. I've worked with slot games for the last seven or eight years and worked on many of NetEnt's titles. So I'm here to tell you a little bit about what I do day to day and my perspective on making slots as an art director.

So let's think about it. Slots can change a person's life with the click of a button, so as artists we should show these games the respect they deserve. They really have life changing potential and are wonderful entertaining games. So in my view, this should be escapism. The player should feel secure and be basically all around fun.

Of course you might prefer westerns, roman, or jungle themes, but all of them are basically the same thing, entertainment at its best. They can be considered as gut-wrenching mini-dramas or even romantic comedies, but that's because you're always so close to your next win and the excitement can really build when you get close to a good win. So we as artists want the players to play, be entertained, in whatever way we can move them. We also want our players to see detail in our games, but we don't want to distract them. We want the players to notice without noticing. Total immersion in the theme, if you know what I mean.

We like to add drama, so how would we do this, how would we add these thrilling experiences? What are the ingredients? Well, what we use is a red thread. We like a storyline, it's great for marketing, great for the art teams, and to really help the players experience that full immersion that I mentioned before. So if you can convey the story to the players through symbols and backgrounds, it really helps. Visual effects, large wins and celebrations for the big wins are also really important. Familiar characters and backgrounds to the genre you're creating is very important. If you're doing a Western or a pirate game, let's say, you really want to hit that cliche, make it as piratey as possible. A good example is Pirates of the Caribbean, really ham it up. Ship's captain is a high symbol. And then you can really, really get the player comfortable with the game because they're familiar with it. So, ship's captain is a high symbol, perhaps gold and booty for the special symbols. The games can have a unique twist but the player, play on the audience's knowledge of the subject. It'll help make the player relaxed and instantly familiar. With the game. Symbols should have a great silhouette so you can see them traveling by recognizable shapes and for the eye to follow as they land, they should reflect their value, as well as steam, right down to the lowest symbol. The player should see immediately if she is onto a good win or he's onto a good win when they land it.

2. Creating Engaging Slot Games

Short description:

To create a great slot game, use colors and subject matter to indicate value. Splash screens, keypads, and buttons guide players through the game. Game themes offer endless possibilities. Characters and animations add fun and engagement. Celebrate big wins and provide value to the player. Always consider the player's perspective and aim to provide entertainment and value.

And so how do you do this? Well, for example, it could be from the color. Cool colors for the lower value symbols, warmer colors for the higher value. Or the subject matter, a lion, as could be the king, the highest value symbol. They are literally king of the jungle. Diamond, silver, all have obvious value to the player and that's what we use most of the time, is the obvious knowledge for the player. We want them to feel comfortable, so use this to your advantage.

Okay, what else do we do? We often use splash screens in the games and they lead us through, and the player through, the adventure and what to be expected within the game. A really good advertising point for the player. And they also let you know what's within the game. Also very important, are keypads and buttons, we need to make these as inviting as possible, this is how the player interacts with the game. They need to be able to click and find all the relevant information, and know where it is. The player also needs to know the key elements within the game, what to look out for, such as multipliers and total amounts that being one. The interaction and animation, the flashes on the screen need to lead the player's eye to the correct part of the screen at the right time, so they don't miss any important information, and really feel part of the action.

Game themes as well, what's great about working within the slot industry, is you get so many different possibilities of themes. You could be working in space with UFOs, Romans, Vikings, Princesses and Dragons, pretty much anything goes. There's some of the old favorites like Egypt, and the old traditional bars and fruits with the lucky sevens, with the old worn-on bondits from the old days. But also we've worked with Netflix and Jumanji on Sony, and they all want piece of the action now because they know how valuable these slots are, and how much entertainment they are for the player. Also loads of musicians like Guns N' Roses, Motorhead, all have a foot in the slot industry, so it's quite exciting, an extraordinary industry to work within.

Now there are some things to remember as well, if you're going to have a character in there you want to make it worthwhile. We were lucky enough, as I mentioned earlier, to work on the Jumanji slot with the guys from Sony, and so we had the monkeys that starred in the film who were kind of evil in the original film, we had them actually move onto the reel, and if I roll here you'll see that the characters actually come onto the board and will help you in your journey to get the best win. And anything like this really makes the team, sells the team, makes the player have more fun and that's what we're all about. So we're just looking all the time to find any benefit from having a brand and really make it useful and make it worthy of having that part of our slot. And of course all the animations are in our slots, they should be fun, bouncy, celebrity, even the text should have movement and bounce depending on the theme and relevance. But if your big win is static it's not so much fun if you're not celebrating. So we want to add as big celebrations as possible to the big wins. Obviously, characters should reflect gameplay, celebrate and encourage the player, clap and jump when the big wins arrive. As you can see the monkeys are happy here that you win, and this character here, he is always happy to see you and always part of the action.

Now, wins and rewards. Obviously, there's a trick to this, you don't want to celebrate too much for a small win or just a win that just returns the bet. It's not about fooling players or anything it's about getting the information to the player when they're doing well. Just a celebration. As slot creators we're always thinking what we'd like to see when we're playing, and as artists we're always on the player's side. If you don't feel good then we've obviously failed in our jobs and we don't want that, we want to have fun making it, we want the player to have double the fun playing it. Okay so as a final note, personally, I like to see it from the player's perspective, if I put a euro in the slot I at least want the value of one euro in every spin. If I put more than that I definitely want a wild entertainment for every spin, so that's our challenge. You buy wine, you want it to taste good, you buy cinematic tickets, you want the film to be entertaining. And that's what we want to give the player, we want to give the player value as artists, we want the players to win, and that's basically what we really really hope for.

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