Borislav Bogdanov, art director at Snapshot Games, on the pleasure of sharing experience and knowledge
Borislav Bogdanov has over 15 years of experience in video game development. He has participated in the creation of over 10 titles – both AAA games and crowdfunded projects. As Program Director at ARC Academy, he is among the Academy’s driving forces. We talk with him about his work as an art director at Snapshot Games, trends in the game industry, and the motivation to help young talent realize their potential.
Tell us about yourself – where did your professional journey start, how did you get into gaming, and how long have you been at Snapshot Games?
I studied industrial design, but the game industry has always been interesting and challenging for me. Not only because I played many games, but also because it’s probably the industry with the most diverse set of disciplines, artistic, design, and technical. And so, more than 15 years ago, I started my career in one of the big game companies that established a studio in Sofia, where I had the opportunity to develop as a Lead Artist and Art Director.
After spending enough time in the AAA industry, I got the opportunity to be involved in building a company from the ground up, namely Snapshot Games, which was founded in 2014.
What are your most enjoyable and challenging moments as an art director?
The most pleasant moment for me is when we start the project and have to orient ourselves as quickly as possible in the right direction – artistically and as a technology.
All the ambiguity around every single beginning (which I’ve found scares many people) is what gives the industry its true freedom.
I think the most challenging is the responsibility of forming the right teams.
What projects have you worked on so far? Do you have a favorite among them?
I’ve worked on AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed (Liberation, Black Flag, Rogue) and successful Crowdfund projects like Chaos Reborn and Phoenix Point. I have over 10 games under my belt and it’s hard to pick a favorite out of them. I think I learned something new from each project, which helped me do the next one.
If I had to choose, I’d go with Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. This was my first project as a Lead Artist. The challenge there was that it was a launch title for one of the new generations of Nintendo consoles – the Nintendo 3DS, and that it was the first and only stereoscopic project for me. We were a small and very enthusiastic team, fighting to be the highest-rated launch game on the console, Street Fighter beat us to it. Fun fact, we got a BAFTA nomination for the game.
Do you play for fun? What are your favorite games right now?
For pleasure – yes :). The time for this is less and less when the children appear, so the titles in which I “invest” my time for pleasure are games like Minecraft, Minecraft: Dungeons, Unravel Two, It Takes Two, and others that I can I play with my children. I’ve been trying to finish God of War 4 for quite some time. I’m playing Hollow Knight on the Nintendo Switch. Classic strategies like StarCraft, turn-based Civilization, Heroes of Might, and Magic III still lie close to my heart. I often return to the Fallout and Diablo universes as well.
In what direction do you think the game industry will develop in the next 5-10 years?
Making games has become so affordable that the market has been saturated with all kinds of games for quite some time now. The industry needs a new concept to diversify the well-known and well-trodden reuse and mash-up of genres to move forward.
I think the social element will continue to be developed and reach new and interesting dimensions.
I have been closely watching all the euphoria surrounding the infamous Blockchain projects. Speculation and get-rich-quick and impoverishment aside, one of the strong concepts in this space is for the user to be the creator and owner of the content in the game, to be able to provide that content to other players, and for it to be part of the gameplay. Actually, this is not something new, but it has gained more visibility and practical implementation through Blockchain.
Another example of a similar blend of Social Gaming and User Generated Content is the Roblox platform. Not only do kids play socially oriented games there, but it’s so easy to reach into the editor and start creating their own game to share with others.
What motivated you to be a Program Director at ARC Academy? What is the most important thing you would like to teach students?
The idea of a training program for game dev is something I’ve wanted to tackle many times. As a lead artist who has been actively involved in building several teams, I know how difficult it is to find well-prepared staff or people with the right attitude and development potential. ARC Academy offered a short path to the realization of these plans.
With many studios involved in the project, there is a natural influx of talent who are still unsure where to realize their potential. However, with the teachers’ right guidance, they gradually become promising artists, designers and programmers.
This is much more difficult to do in terms of game companies. It’s just that their main purpose is to create games. While that of the academy is to develop talents.
On the other hand, there is also the purely personal moment of pleasure of sharing your experience and knowledge, thus helping the new generation.
If you want to be a student at ARC Academy and meet more speakers like Borislav Bogdanov, join our scholarship contest with Chibi Phoenix studio. You will find more information about the terms and conditions at the link.