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How to join the bickering, passionate, effective family that is Madfinger Games

How to join the bickering, passionate, effective family that is Madfinger Games

In May 2016, Czech mobile developer Madfinger celebrated its sixth birthday.

It also announced that its nine games so far - from 2010's Samurai: Dojo to 2015's Unkilled - have achieved an acculumative total of 150 million downloads.

However, keen not to get too preoccupied with misty-eyed nostalgia, the firm continues to push forward.

Just days after the anniversary, former Funcom and Behaviour Interactive man Miguel Caron was announced as the new Studio Head.

His appointment is just the start of a hiring drive at the studio, as it prepares to unveil its next game later in 2016 - "an FPS where you can actually immerse yourself," as Caron somewhat cryptically hinted to PocketGamer.biz.

To learn more about the firm's unique - or, to remain on-brand, "mad" - company culture, PocketGamer.biz reached out to Recruiter Honza Stafa.

PocketGamer.biz: Could you give us some background on Madfinger and what you do?

Honza Stafa: Four game industry vets on the verge of corporate burnout started Madfinger in 2010 with one goal: make the type of mobile games that we want to play.

This meant better graphics, faster gameplay, deeper storylines, and higher production values all around. This also meant a destruction of what we like to call the “vertical hierarchy” that plagues so many projects.

Six years, 150 million downloads, and fistfuls of awards later, Madfinger is still here.
Honza Stafa

We’re all gamers here. We all have something to contribute. We took that vertical hierarchy and made it lateral. We busted our asses. We made some mistakes. We learned from those mistakes.

And we kept asking ourselves: are we making the type of game that we’d want to play?

Six years, 150 million downloads, and fistfuls of awards later, Madfinger is still here.

And that all-important question - would we play the type of games we’re making? - is still embedded in our culture.

Every employee is crucial to our games’ success. Businesses are fond of using the word “family” to describe their work culture, and it’s become such a trite concept because it implies this all-smiling, all-loving atmosphere, blah blah blah.

But our family is a family in the truest sense of the word: we’re all a little mad. We bicker, we argue, we find common ground, and we remain loyal to that original goal: make the type of games that we want to play. Full stop.

What specific areas/disciplines are you currently hiring in?

The short answer: experienced senior people in every area of game production: 3D artists, game designers, animators, game programmers, backend coders and multiplayer programmers.

As you're overseeing recruitment at Madfinger, what do you look for in candidates?

A little madness.

Look: we can try to sound all official but really we’re just a bunch of people trying to create amazing games. We want to work with professionals who understand the importance of having fun. If you have fun, you create fun.

Miguel Caron and Influencer Relations Manager Zbyněk Bašník enjoy some downtime

Cut through the bullshit and get back to why we chose this awesome, ridiculous, infuriating, inspiring industry: because we love it.

If you have fun, you create fun.
Honza Stafa

We’ve built that culture at Madfinger, and we want to keep it that way.

Why do you think Madfinger/Brno is a good place to work?

I can’t say Madfinger is a good place or a bad place or the right place or the wrong place to work; I can only say it’s the perfect place for us.

We keep our team small. We say to hell with market research, we say to hell with useless meetings and obsolete management.

This is why most of our team left their work at AAA console/PC games and moved to our company. They want to be a part of the entire process, they thrive under pressure, they want to make as many games in as little time as possible.

The Madfinger studio

Tech improves so quickly that confining yourself to a four-year project for one game usually means that the hardware and software is much different by game launch than it was at the start.

We avoid that problem by keeping our production fast, flexible, and efficient.

You like live music and theatre? We got it. You like excellent beer? We got it. A lot of it.
Honza Stafa

And what can I say about Brno without sounding like the tourism board? Brno has clean air, beautiful architecture, and it’s close to major cities like Prague and Vienna.

Brno is a city of students which means hundreds of subcultures. You like live music and theatre? We got it. You like hang-out culture? We got it. You like excellent beer? We got it. A lot of it.

The cost of living is cheap. Public transport can take you just about everywhere you’d want to go. The city is safe. Brno is called “the Silicon Valley of Central Europe” - and yeah, it might be a clunky title, but it’s the truth.

What advice would you have for someone trying to get into the games industry?

Call me! And always make games that you´d like to play yourself. Unless you have bad taste, in which case keep making those games but don’t call me.

There’s no secret to becoming a game industry professional. It’s like every other industry in that the hardest, most passionate, most flexible, most dedicated,and most talented workers will rise to the top.

Easy enough, right? Of course it isn’t. But what is?

Never stop improving your skills. Be nice. Don’t be a dick. Don’t whine. Experiment, learn, adjust, repeat.

Never stop improving your skills... don't quit.
Honza Stafa

Ask a lot of questions. Emulate the professionals you most admire. It will be hard in the beginning. But don’t quit.

If you love gaming and if you’re ready to put in the time, the right people will find you. Every industry needs talent, and “talent” doesn’t mean any one skill - it’s simply the thing you are best at.

Also: you might not be the best artist or the best writer or the best whatever, but the one quality you have 100% control over is how hard you work. Never underestimate the value and rarity of hard work.

You can view all current vacancies at Madfinger Games on its jobs page.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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