We continue to summarize the results of 2021 together with top managers and experts of the gaming industry (and related ones). Next up is an interview with Kirill Zolovkin, an indie developer and founder of the Heart Core studio.

How did 2021 go for the company?

This is the first year of life for our Heart Core studio, which cannot be said about Gripper, its headliner.

A whirlwind of emotions: the return of IP, leaving the cool AAA in MY.GAMES, search and selection of a new team. It was scary to rush headlong into the unknown, but we did it: now there are 17 of us.

For some, these are not numbers, but, believe me, in a turbulent market, finding cool specialists and assembling a team in three months (in parallel with development) is not the easiest task. I think this is a success.

And we also passed the MVP with new controls and a hero on a bike. Completely redesigned art. They reached the final of the international Unreal Contest (over 300 participants), were nominated for the “Best Game” from Vizor and took the prize for the “Best Art” from Happy Fox.

Finally, we got an offer from a cool publisher. We are armed with previous experience and ready for new challenges, even with a hook (pun intended) per year. The release of the game is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023.

What event or trend of 2021 do you consider central within your niche?

Certainly not NFT and not metaverses. Just three years ago, Sasha Khoroshavin and I reasoned: we need to make ethnic games with local folklore. And here is the chic narrative of the Black Book, the setting of Atomic Heart, references to Tarkovsky in Torn Away, the phantasmagoria of the Militsioner, the color of the “Kuzhlevka” and the warmth of the “League of Outstanding Losers” with an amazing, unlike anything, our view of the world.

I’m waiting for more “naive” indie games without violent mechanics. There are more local cultures — Brazilian and African, for example.

An important trend of the year is the announcement of many funds, including those specializing in PC and console projects. For indie, this is an opportunity to make cool games further. I want more teams with founders whose eyes are burning to realize a dream.

The sensational performance of Anton Volkov at DevGAMM, Maxim Fomichev‘s round table at Talents in Games — more and more talk about what we love, what we grew up on. Now there is money to develop dream games.

If the current indies have a pack of bills out of their pocket, it feels like they won’t even bend down to pick it up. This is an amazing, short-lived trend. I hope a couple of new serious studios, like Owlcat Games, will grow on it.

What will be the stake in the development of the company in 2022?

We want to complete the production of Gripper and the pre-production of an unannounced project. Develop expertise in producing and publishing games, your own marketing direction. To help talented developers grope the market. To build the Russian Annapurna Interactive, to repurpose film professionals — cool screenwriters, composers, actors, cameramen — for the needs of the games market. We will continue to fulfill our mission: to make heartfelt hardcore games about the main thing. It is no coincidence that the name of the studio is Heart Core.