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Hennie Blaauw: How Yggdrasil keeps pushing the boundaries on game design

HennieBlaauw-YggdrasilHennie Blaauw, Yggdrasil Gaming’s Creative Art Lead, discusses the process of creating a brand new title for the slot market and the freedom that the team has in the development.

What’s the process for the design of a brand new game at Yggdrasil? How much input do you have? Does the design fit around the mathematics?

Every game starts with the design of features and mathematics in mind. Some games will have a loose concept or theme attached to it when it gets handed over to our team.

We have a lot of input and freedom when it comes to the visual design of each game. We look at the features and find the best way to bring them to life, in the most visually exciting way possible. Our graphics department consists of talented individuals with a wide variety of art styles, so we start by creating concept art in various styles and then we select the final look for each game. Once the static art has been approved, we start the animation process.

Our team in Poland then begins the development process. We are able to play the games while we build them, creating visual effects and seeing those animations in-game just moments later. That allows us to make adjustments and improvements very quickly.

What are you particularly pleased at with Monkey King? Has anything surprised you during its development?

From a visual perspective, Monkey King is one of our most beautiful games to date. We were able to take the Chinese-inspired theme and put our own spin on it, and came up with something that makes our game stand out from others in the industry. The game features a lot of visual effects and both 2D and 3D animation. It was a huge achievement from our development team to incorporate all the FX and animations into the game.

What role does sound play in the game design?

The sound design for Monkey King is our favourite to date. Music contributes heavily to the overall gameplay experience, sound effects convey action, and the music expresses emotion. Monkey King is based on the Chinese legend Journey to the West, and the music contributed to the epic feel of the game.

How do you approach the challenge of designing for different sized screens? Desktop/tablet/mobile?

When we start the design process we take into account that our games will be played on all devices, so we try to design interfaces and game panels that will be able to work in portrait and landscape modes. For the most part, our graphics and animations stay the same. We simply design new control panel elements for mobile devices.

In addition, we try to design visual effects that will be able to run on mobile. Our experienced development team helps us overcome these obstacles.

Do people underestimate the power of a well-designed game?

A successful online slot features amazing gameplay, exciting features and stunning graphics and sound. These should all combine to give the player a fantastic experience. We are only as good as our last game, and the whole team works hard to raise the bar on every one we design.

Our games are getting bigger and bigger and it’s a challenge for our designers, artists and animators. But we embrace this challenge and we keep pushing the boundaries of our HTML5 network. We design games that can rival any type of game, not just slots, so we approach our concept art and animations like we would if we worked on an AAA title.

Monkey King is a game that combines exciting features with stunning visuals and it features an amazing soundtrack. It raised the bar for us, and we hope for the industry in general.


Yggdrasil Gaming is currently recruiting, with many opportunities in the field of graphic design. To discover the current vacancies, click here.