Founder and CEO of tinyBuild Alex Nichiporchik said how the outgoing year has passed for him and his company.

How was 2018 for you personally?

I finally found a balance of life and work. Snowboarding, kickboxing, sailing, motorcycle — all these hobbies help not to go crazy and take a break from the crazy work rhythm. This is possible thanks to moving to the USA, where I now spend most of my time.

You get up early, Europe is still working — and before 15:00, after an 8-10-hour working day, everything is usually done. Then there is time for yourself.

Happy with the Z650
I was very amazed that in the USA you can get a motorcycle license in two days.

I was a biker and a scooter rider in my youth, up to a completely irrational tuning. The rights to the motorcycle were not transferred with the move to Holland, where the hobby ended. And then in two days I passed the license with all the courses. I bought myself a Kawasaki Z650. There is also a buzz and a practical reason — on a motorcycle in Washington state, you can use a lane for “cars with 2+ people” (HOV Lane is called). You can move through traffic jams much faster by yourself.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, this year was spent on a grand master plan for team building and company growth. In September, we gathered all the studios that are working on the brand “Hello Neighbor” (so, in theory, this picture is a mega spoiler) and spent four days boating, biking, eating kebabs and doing other sober activities. It was very cool. Plus, it was an interesting experience for me in terms of organizing such events (to gather and organize 40+ people).

Afterparty in my Dutch courtyard
Also, while in Amsterdam, you can easily fly on micro-passes for the weekend.

Then to Greece, then to the Canaries. With this kind of lifestyle, you begin to appreciate different things, depending on the location. When you are not sitting still, you begin to understand that you always need to move and not look for excuses to do nothing. To console yourself that “maybe next time” is to let life take its course. We need to do it now. There is an opportunity — do it. Try new things. Push yourself. So there will be no time for depression.

There were crunches and accidents. At the end of August at PAXWest, I twisted my leg so badly that I couldn’t walk for two weeks and couldn’t exercise for three months. As soon as I turned 30 in July, I immediately fall apart. I will be more careful to monitor my health. And when you don’t have the opportunity to play sports and there are endless crunches — obviously, there will be burnout and inefficient work.

Here we have to thank our growing team of producers, without them everything would have turned out. Last year, Andrey Podoprigora took the load off me as our executive producer, and in August Mike Raffienko started — both are very cool producers. I can finally focus on other things related to the growth of the company.

But I think the coolest moment of the year for me was DevGAMM Moscow 2018, where I was carried in a coffin to the stage to “bury” Game Lynch (video of the coffin removal).

You have no idea how scary it is to be in a coffin that is not designed for my height and weight, and when you need to get into it quickly. At this moment, six people in a coordinated manner lift you up, carry you to the stage, there is no air. We rehearsed four times. I was sure that I would be dropped in the middle. Lerica’s face was priceless when I asked: “Can I find a coffin in Moscow in May? For rent?”

And I also shot a musical.

I really wanted to do a press conference at E3, during which we would announce a new game under the brand “Neighbor”. We contacted YouTubers who were making fan songs and music videos — and three months later we were in a real Hollywood studio, filming a musical and a press conference with the actors. It was very interesting to learn this business from the inside, and now I’m burning with the idea of doing more with cinema and animation in general.

And Musk himself responded to my tweet this year!

1) Growth

At the end of last year, I think there were about 12 of us. Now, according to various estimates, we are around 25. We have expanded the Dutch office, and in December we are moving the American office from the center of Seattle to the center of Bellevue. The Valve office will be visible from our window.

2) Project focus

A year ago, we launched the Hello Neighbor game, and everyone went crazy. At E3, we announced a multiplayer spin-off Secret Neighbor, then a prequel Hide & Seek. Now we are building a franchise. It’s very cool to see a bunch of toys in stores for it. One of our books on the game has sold almost a million copies.

Toy by Hello Neighbor 
We also started launching the “second” generation of games with developers who have been with us since the early days.

The launch of Graveyard Keeper from LazyBearGames went very well. The direct sequel to Party Hard 2 from Pinokl went much better than the first one.

Now we clearly see our target audiences, work with them and understand who likes what games. This means that we very carefully select new projects for publishing.

We also made some big bets at the beginning of the year, which are already beginning to show potential. Some of them might have seemed like April Fools’ jokes.

3) Porting

We have put internal porting “on rails”. There are processes thanks to which we can quickly and efficiently port games to the console.

4) Continuation of chaos

There are still a lot of stressful moments and work to build processes that often need to be destroyed. It is very important for me to maintain chaotic entrepreneurship and always make the right decisions for products, even if it means continuing the crazy work rhythm. The industry is based on hits, and this means that you need to constantly adapt. You can’t just take a business, build a template and put it on track — not in the gaming industry. You need to constantly adapt and reinvent yourself.

Comfort is the enemy of innovation.

What event of 2018 do you consider the most important for the industry?

Fortnite dominance. Who would have thought that in one year PUBG would lose its position and give way to a free battle royale with a focus on a younger audience.

This is not so much an event as a trend: Epic Games were able to make the biggest game in the world out of an average successful project. We need more such stories.

What trends of the outgoing year would you note?

Everyone is chasing battle royals. This is an obvious trend of the year.

But I would like to note a slightly different trend with games that build communities around themselves. When small teams successfully create communities of loyal fans outside the platforms, on their websites, and develop their projects together with them. It seems to me that next year it will be even more important to gather fans early, share development progress with them and eventually make releases with their support. Now there are enough tools for this.

Also this year, the importance of Discord as a social tool has greatly increased. Suddenly, a new, important social network for gamers has appeared, in which you build your own community. This goes along with the previous trend and, it seems to me, will also become more important in 2019.

What are the third-party projects of this year that you liked the most?

  • Frostpunk — 11bit could. Well done. A very cool toy.
  • God of War — remakes can work when it’s done so well.
  • Spider-Man is insanely cool.
  • They Are Billions (technically released at the end of 2017, but played in 2018) is an amazing strategy in which a small mistake entails a complete failure.
  • Breathedge is a pleasant surprise from domestic developers who were able to pull out humor at the Deadpool level.
  • We Are Happy Few — I really liked the world and the styling.
  • Goose Game — played on PAX, a very interesting concept and execution.