Leonardo Montecamozzo (Silent Bay Studios) interview

Categories: Interviews

Silent Bay StudiosI spent a lot of time playing Skyboard, the greatest 3D online game ever released by Silent Bay Studios. I had recently the opportunity to chat with Leonardo Montecamozzo, General Manager of the company, who was nice enough to answer a few questions for FreeGamesNews readers.

FreeGamesNews: Can you give us a short introduction about yourself and tell us a little about Silent Bay Studios?

Leonardo: I’m the general manager of Silent Bay Studios, I’m 39. Silent Bay Studios is an Italian independent game developer, founded in Genoa three years ago by a team of professionals with a long experience with real-time 3D games.

FreeGamesNews: How many people are working at Silent Bay Studios?

Leonardo: A dozen in-house, plus a small number of external professionals, aged from 20 to 40.

FreeGamesNews: Silent Bay Studios is specialized in 3D real time application: where does it come from?

Leonardo: The core of the team develops 3D real-time almost since childhood. We developed some action-adventure and racing PC games for Italian and European market and then we applied our knowledge to web games.

FreeGamesNews: How long does it usually take to develop a web game?

Leonardo: It depends on the game, but an average 3D casual game can take from 2 up to 3 months since game design. Much more when you need new engines. Teams are of course kept small (up to 4 people), but with contribution of very specific skills here and there, from HUD creation to texturing, from soundtrack to design.

FreeGamesNews: Take us through a typical day working on a project.

Leonardo: Everybody thinks that developing games means a combination of creativity and fun, but that’s not the real world. There’s a strict production plan with detailed tasks for each one of us, day by day. The general feeling is always a bit crazy, but the to-do’s are pretty serious.

We start working lazily at nine o’clock, all of us in a big open-plan office. The room is normally silent, but there’s a continuous exchange of whispered chats, e-mails, instant messenger chats, file transfers. That’s all there is to it, apart from some espresso coffee breaks. When you’re near to a project’s closure, or making some extra R&D, a pizza appears magically on your desk and you realize you’ll be working late. Some other times we share a pizza as a reward after the project closure.

FreeGamesNews: How many games have you released so far?

Leonardo: Web games? About twelve action, sport or racing web games, plus some serious, simulation or mobile games we develop for local market.

FreeGamesNews: How do you proceed to develop a new game, from the beginning to the end, and what kind of tools do you use?

Leonardo: The process is not different from a standard PC or console game, just much shorter time. After the design phase, visual is developed and R&D tasks are carried out. Then programmers code core parts – the engine, the tools – and graphic artists create 3D models, textures, animations. Finally the game is integrated and tested: here we get to understand whether the game is tough or not. The closing phase of optimization and fine-tuning is especially important for this kind of games, and it can make the difference.

FreeGamesNews: Could you please introduce your latest creation, Skyboard?

Leonardo: “Skyboards” are a sort of flying skateboards, rode over the rooftops of a futuristic town by a gang of skaters in continuous challenges. The session is a sequence of jumps, tricks, ramps, bonuses and radioactive boxes to crash. I can’t tell you more: you need to play it!

FreeGamesNews: Skyboard is by far the best 3D online game you ever released and one of the best games I played this year. What’s the secret behind this game?

Leonardo: We’re especially proud of Skyboard. We put in it some small features never implemented before in a 3D casual game (such as “surveillance cam”), trying to give “in pills” a mixed flavor of speed, science fiction, dark atmosphere and fun. No secrets behind it, just some hard work.

FreeGamesNews: How much time did it take to develop Skyboard? Did you use specific tools/engines to create Skyboard?

Leonardo: Development took 3 months, plus some R&D preparation work. We worked a lot on animations and the “surveillance cam” effect. Most of our team was involved here and there in the project.

FreeGamesNews: Any chance to see in the future a sequel to this game, a multiplayer version for example?

Leonardo: Why not? Nothing is in the pipeline at the moment, but we love this game and we won’t let down its fans!

FreeGamesNews: Silent Bay Studios develops web games and games for mobile platforms. Do you plan to develop games for other platforms in the future?

Leonardo: We’re currently fully concentrated on web or web-compliant products. It is a fantastic moment for web games: browser games and free-games are constantly increasing in number and quality, offering today things that were pretty unthinkable just a few months ago. There’s a continuous challenge with performance, megabytes and concepts. Console and PC games, on the contrary, are getting always bigger, more costly and less genuine, as well as slow and risky in production: not exactly a piece of cake for independent game developers.

FreeGamesNews: Most of your games are featured at Miniclip or at Shockwave. Why Miniclip and Shockwave? Could you tell us a bit about your licensing program?

Leonardo: We found in Miniclip and Shockwave two serious partners, with a very keen relation with developers. We’ve chosen to produce games with an exclusive license policy, creating a stable relationship with our publishers.

FreeGamesNews: What have you learned since you started working on 3D games?

Leonardo: We had to learn everything again from scratch when we started developing 3D casual games! And every post-mortem review teaches us new things. This is a very special and demanding category of games, it’s also very tricky, because your players come from widely different experiences and have totally different requirements!

FreeGamesNews: What do you think of the state of web games developer today? What do you expect for the upcoming years?

Leonardo: Casual gaming on the web is clearly an increasing market, and this trend won’t change in the mid-term. I think that we will have nice surprises in the next few years to come.

FreeGamesNews: Yep, we agree! And Skyboard is one of the nice surprises of this year! Any advice for other developers wishing to create their own successful web games?

Leonardo: Just think that web gamers want to have fun in a very short time, but they’re at the same time pretty demanding. In a few minutes they should be trained, involved, entertained and excited. Not so easy, isn’t it?

FreeGamesNews: So what can we expect next from Silent Bay Studios?

Leonardo: A lot of new games! Some products are already in the fine-tuning stage and will be launched very soon. Some others are going to be designed now. Stay tuned!

FreeGamesNews: Anything you want to add in closing?

Leonardo: We develop games because we like playing games, such as most game developers. Seeing so many people playing our games and having fun with them is the best reward for us. Thanks to all free games players!

Eric (FreeGamesNews Editor): Thanks a lot Leonardo for your time. Looking forward for your next 3D free online game!


Comments are closed.