Darwin Gaming’s Rui Pena Tells Us How They Chase Slot Machine Perfection!

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Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what is your role at Darwin Gaming?

Growing up I was always fascinated by technology. The first time I caught a glimpse of an arcade machine at a local mall I was in love, even though I was too young to go inside, I couldn’t help but stand there, mesmerized by the flashing lights and sounds.

As I grew up, my passion for technology only intensified, and I threw myself into learning everything I could about it. I went on to pursue a degree in Electronics Engineering, eager to develop my skills in electronics, programming, and beyond. My love for technology and games eventually led me to co-found Darwin Gaming.

Teaming up with my friend Nuno Gonçalinho, we founded Darwin Gaming four years ago. It was the perfect opportunity for me to indulge my passion for managing teams, developing games, and creating new features and products. At Darwin Gaming, I get to bring my personal touch and vision to everything we create. It’s a dream come true for me, and it’s what keeps me motivated and engaged every day.

With so many game studios on the market, what do you think is the biggest differentiator for Darwin Gaming?

When we founded Darwin Gaming, we had a clear vision of what we wanted our games to achieve. We didn’t just want to replicate the land-based casino experience on computers – we wanted to create games that could be played comfortably and socially on mobile devices in portrait mode. At the time, this was a novel idea, but we knew it was the way of the future. Over time, the industry has shifted towards our way of thinking, but what sets us apart is our versatility. We can transform any game category into a unique product, as evidenced by our extensive portfolio. We pride ourselves on our ability to adapt quickly and add our personal touch to every project, while still meeting all the necessary requirements. Our creativity and flexibility have been key in developing successful branded games for our partners, and we’re able to offer a wide range of themes that cater to players’ moods. Thanks to our fast development capabilities and unique approach to game design, we’ve been able to fill gaps in the market and meet our partners’ needs. At Darwin Gaming, we’re always pushing the boundaries and striving to bring something new and exciting.

Can you please tell us what is the slot with the Biggest Wins from Darwin Gaming? We are sure our readers would like to give it a spin if they haven’t already.

While we’re proud of all of our slots here at Darwin Gaming, it’s hard to single out just one as our biggest win, since we offer such a wide variety of games across multiple categories. That being said, we have noticed that our Crash games, such as “Crash Evolution,” have been particularly popular among players, with their exciting gameplay and potential for big payouts. These games are just one example of the innovative, high-quality experiences that we’re always striving to create here at Darwin.

What are your top 3 favorite slots from Darwin Gaming? Can you please tell us the reasons behind your choices?

It’s difficult to choose just three slots from our vast array of games across various categories. However, my top three would be Luva Melhor do Mundo, Mine Crash, and Rocket Adventure Bingo.

Luva Melhor do Mundo is not only a tribute to an internet phenomenon, Luva de Pedreiro, but it also captures the essence of his story and what made him famous. The shot mechanics are unique, and it blends traditional casino gameplay with a console video game twist. Mine Crash, has a clever play on words and a fun, thematically engaging experience with its characters. Rocket Adventure Bingo is a breath of fresh air in a category that has been stagnant for a while. We created a new, mobile-friendly vertical game, with synth wave art in a very exciting blend of new and fun.

As for slots specifically, my favorites are Val’s Haunted Party, Judgment of Anubis, and Light of Horus. Each one has its unique charms and features, but all provide a thrilling gaming experience. Val’s Haunted Party has a spooky Halloween theme with fun animations and sound effects. Judgment of Anubis and Light of Horus are the beginning of a collection of games set in ancient Egypt, beautifully designed there’s more to them than what meets the eye. When we release all of them it will all make sense.

Overall, our portfolio offers a diverse selection of games that cater to different preferences and tastes.

What is the most important aspect of a slot from your perspective?

One of the most important aspects of a slot game, from my perspective, is identifying the game loop and all its moments. Within this game loop, it’s crucial to pinpoint the engagement cycles to keep the player engaged and in a state of flow. We define the engagement loop as a bell curve with four moments: trigger, build-up, climax, and cool-down. It’s important to chain the engagement loops in a way that creates rhythmic cadences that keep the player in a state of flow, which is characterized by immersion and hyper-concentration.

Another critical point is identifying key information within the game, having it well highlighted, and at the same time minimizing unimportant details. Everything that can distract the player’s focus on key aspects should be tuned down. For example, a poorly designed game might have constant animations that distract the player’s attention from the reels usually the focal point.

Visual competition for the player’s attention can break their immersion and prevent them from achieving flow. That’s why it’s essential to have a well-designed game loop that keeps the player engaged and in the zone… and a good math model.

Is there any way to predict if a slot is going to be a hit or not?

It’s impossible to say for sure that a slot or a game will be a guaranteed hit. However, we can predict that it won’t be successful if it fails to incorporate key elements such as engagement loops, rhythmic flow, and clear visuals. While it’s not a surefire way to guarantee success, maximizing these elements can increase the chances of creating a good game. Ultimately, it all comes down to luck and good math.

Looking to the future, what is the next big release Darwin Gaming is planning?

We’ve been fortunate to work with strong brands, and we have some branded games coming soon with exciting new mechanics. As for the next big release, we can’t reveal too much yet, but rest assured that we’re always working on new and innovative projects. Stay tuned for updates!

Is there anything you would like to transmit to those who support Darwin Gaming, before we say goodbye?

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported Darwin Gaming, especially during the toughest times. To our partners who believed in us, to our family and friends who have constantly provided support, despite becoming parents and dealing with the challenges of COVID. And of course, to our team who has brought our fantastic creations to life and put up with me. Thank you all for your unwavering support and understanding.

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