Meet the Slots Creators – Leap Gaming’s Chris Whittle Interview

Posted by: John
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Hello Chris! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your history with Leap Gaming.

Chris Whittle: Hi SC, thanks for the opportunity to talk with you. 

I was contacted by Yariv Lissauer our industrious CEO, just over 9 months ago. I was previously aware of Leap Gaming impressive virtual sports offering after visiting there stand at ICE a few years previously and was bought onboard to help them to improve their slots offering. During the past six months I have been clearing the product backlog and have also introduced a few key changes. These changes cover the creation of a brand-new UI, which now includes portrait mode and a renewed staking system, since previously we had a coin betting system. Now we have a cash only betting system which aids transparency for the player, a key ingredient for a successful slot. 

It has also been my pleasure to work closely with internal stakeholders and we have created the game development roadmap for the next 12 months, placing Leap on a secure footing to release 10 brand new games over the course of 2021. Leap have been very responsive to the changes I have introduced and have warmly embraced the new roadmap with a high level of passion and interest. We are currently producing x3 brand new slot games which will be released in Q1 of 2021.

 You have an impressive slots portfolio, can you name the best three slots ever released by Leap Gaming?

Our best slots to date are “Santa’s Gifts”, “Secrets of the Nile” and “Hercules Do Or Die.

What are your hobbies?

When I’m not working, I love the great outdoors and enjoy long leisurely walks through the British countryside with my German Shepherd Toby. I am also fortunate in that my work is my hobby and I love all things casino and often patronize many of our competitor’s content. Playing slots is also a great way to pass the time.

Can you please describe your daily routine in the workplace?

My working day varies from day to day. Though my key role is a supportive one, it is my duty and pleasure to nurture and support the people I work with and help them to become the best they can be at what they do. At times this means taking people out of there comfort zone and supporting them by giving them the tools, the time, and the confidence they need to be the best in the business. Overseeing the product from its conception through to completion requires constant communication between multidisciplinary teams. This often means lengthy discussions and team meetings be that with engineering, game logic, art, marketing, or mathematics, always being ready with the answers to the questions anyone may have at any time. So, I am a central point of reference for all things slots related in the company.

Creating compelling and easy to understand GDD’s game design documents, with supporting wireframes and game flows to sustain the content we design is another aspect of my daily routine. These documents form the foundation of all games and game features. Discussing these products with key stakeholders across multiple global locations is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role this is facilitated through our in-house chat platform.

Please tell us a bit about the challenges a studio is facing when creating a new slot game.

The challenges we face as a Studio are the same as any other studio, the key is to remain focused on the needs of the end user, and to ensure that the players have a compelling and engaging escape through the games we create, which at times can be hugely rewarding. 

Engineering new and exciting game mechanics is always a challenge, yet this challenge is being met with a brand-new range of products which are currently in development and will be released throughout 2021 and beyond. It has become clear to me that LEAP Gaming always strive for excellence in everything they do, and meet the challenges of each new game with passion and determination to meet only the highest expectations of our players.

What game-mechanics do you like the most in an online slot machine?

I love incrementing and progressive win and wild multipliers, especially when they are linked to multiple winning and incrementing mechanics. The lightening links game mechanic from IGT is a typical example of this. 

I also love recursive game mechanics which host multiple random outcomes, and high volatility games in general.  Games with a high degree of potential excite me and always keep me coming back for more.  Show me the money

Movies with scenes featuring a casino – did you watch any? Have you got a favourite scene?

Casino Royale: 007 licensed to die and come back to bring down a tyrant, we all love a hero.

Speaking about casinos, do you have any stories to share from a “brick-and-mortar” venue?

William Lee Bergstrom Was known in Vegas as the ‘suitcase man’ and the ‘phantom gambler’ this guy was a legend! He would walk into a casino with a suitcase crammed with cash and lay down an epic single bet! One of the largest bets was over 700k he won over 2.3 million! That day he simply walked out of the casino with hardly any reaction at all. 

William Lee Bergstrom did this more than once and is in my opinion a guy who is one of the coolest gamblers I have ever heard of. 

What is the amount of workforce involved in the creation process of an online slot?

In general a slot requires more people than you may think! Each of our games goes through a lengthy creative and technical process, which begins at the documentation and ideation stage, then the game design needs a PAR sheet which is designed by our mathematician. We then move onto the prototyping stage which involves the creation of a slot simulator for us to test the math and runs millions of simulations to ensure the math stands up to scrutiny and to ensure we offer our players a fair gaming experience.

The next stage of the process involves the creations of visuals done by four artists (or more), and one art director. This is where the game really begins to take shape. We begin with a sketch process and then move onto the full colour treatment. When that part of the process has been signed off, and all artworks has been completed – then it is transferred to our animation team which consists of four very talented animators, to add animated effects. The next stage is the creation of the game client and the creation of the games audio which includes a team of around 4 software engineers, a sound engineer, and a project manager.  The integration process then begins, and the game is now ready to be launched.

When the entire package this has been completed and the game is ready to run, after passing through certification process, the marketing and CRM team begin the process of selling the game to our clients.

So each game goes through a team of around 20+ very talented and passionate individuals.

Any advice for youngsters looking to pursue a career in the iGaming industry?

Pick your boss carefully! He/she will steer the course of your career, always consider who you want to work for and why, then set yourself to the task of becoming their most valuable asset, work hard and you will succeed. The gambling industry has an array of interesting and exciting roles, you can be anything from a data scientist to a program engineer or an artist. There are very few industries where creativity and ingenuity are more sort after, or where you are likely to meet so many diverse and interesting characters. 

After what is now 17 years in the industry I learn something new each and every day! 

Any future releases our readers (players) should look forward to trying?

Look out for Wild Gods, Aztec Stargems and C-Punk-5K, oodles of creativity in the next batch of releases with some genuinely fantastic game mechanics.