Mihai Alexandru Lazar, Flying Wild Hog: Games will continuously evolve

Mihai Alexandru Lazar is Senior Monetization Designer at Flying Wild Hog. He has 17 years of experience working in game development. He started as a game tester and then joined the design team as a game & level designer. He spent the last 6 years focusing on game economy and monetization systems.

As a game & level designer, Mihai worked on a handful of mobile games, among which we can mention N.O.V.A. 2, N.O.V.A. 3, and Modern Combat 5: Blackout.

After specializing in game economy design, Mihai balanced the players’ experience for titles such as Sniper Fury or Sniper Champions.

His teaching experience includes several years of collaboration with Bucharest Politehnica University, as well as leading the economy design internship program at Gameloft Bucharest. On 7. December he’ll lead the online Masterclass: Game Economy Design and Monetization on 7. December from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The event is free. Join it by registering here

How and when did you decide to start a career in the game industry?

During my second year of college, I was looking for a job. I found an ad for a Quality Assurance tester position at Gameloft, and I said to myself “Holy Kratos, a job where I get paid to do what I like?”. I went to an interview in which I firmly stated that I play games, I was told “where have you been all our lives, you are exactly what we were looking for” and I ended up being part of an awesome team.

After some time, I realized that testing games has nothing to do with playing them, because it’s no fun to play the same level 800 times and expect bugs to be magically fixed, and who says “it’s fun to test games, you get paid to do what you like” deserves to be barked at by all the dogs while standing in line at the city hall.

But while I was working as a game tester, I had more and more contact with the production teams and only then did I realize that creating games is what I actually want to do. And this has not changed to this day.

How is the game industry in Romania developing?

The last decade has been interesting for the Romanian game industry. Aside from having a few established and well-known studios (Gameloft, Ubisoft, EA), quite a few other studios have consolidated their grounds – some newer studios have really grown, while the indie studios proved their value. This creates a very healthy competition (usually for companies when trying to hire new talents), but also a very solid environment for learning (every company has its own flow and approach to doing things).

I feel this is the case for the Eastern European industry in general and the only thing we’re missing are academies focused on game development. This is one of the main reasons why I’m hyped about ARC Academy. I never had the chance to learn these things in school – and trust me, there is a lot of interesting stuff to learn – so I can’t stress enough how important it is for anyone interested to take advantage of this opportunity. 

What is it like working in a big studio like Flying Wild Hog?

Honestly, it’s way less stressful than I was expecting (please don’t ask me why I ever thought it would be stressful, because I have no idea :)). There are people from all over the world working here and all of them have really awesome backgrounds (for example, when I learned that some of my colleagues worked on Cyberpunk 2077, I couldn’t stop asking them stuff, while they ran out of places to hide from my questions).

This contributes to creating a general atmosphere that is friendly, respectful, and relaxed. Any feedback is valuable, every mistake can lead to something great and any problem we face, we face it together. I know this sounds like a cheesy line from a Phase 4 Marvel movie, but I really can’t put it any other way 🙂

What games do you play in your free time?

I’m currently fully focused on God of War Ragnarok. I’ve been a fan of the series, the 2018 release made me rethink my professional life choices and now I’m staying up until 03:00 in the morning, being super confident in my incorrect belief that I’m young and don’t need coffee the next day.

But in general, I try to play everything I can, be it PC, console or mobile, premium or freemium. Not only because it’s important and relevant for what I’m doing (keeping up with the trends, analyzing the new things and whatnot), but also because, even after all this time, I still love playing video games.

How do you see the future of the industry? What would you say to people who want to join it?

As we’ve seen so far, games will continuously evolve. And so will their development. New technologies appear every now and then and it’s a matter of (a shorter and shorter) time until they become mainstream. Take the VR, for example – even if the technology is still being perfected, we already have a few games that show us the potential this kind of experience has (Valve’s Alyx, for example). This, plus the amount of innovation in terms of gameplay mechanics or features will constantly keep things fresh and interesting.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, for anyone who wants to join in (and not only), to just keep an open mind and not let yourself be limited by your comfort zone. Try new things and deconstruct them, make mistakes and learn from them, listen to other perspectives and accept them as such. But most important, play games and ask questions.

Join our online masterclass with Mihai Alexandru Lazar on Wednesday by registering HERE.