IAG November 2014 - page 11

November2014
inside
asiangaming
11
People-Watching
ASPECTGAMING
Cover Story
Not many slot-makers
would theme a game around Eric
Tsang, a Hong Kong actor and comedian best-known as the
host of a TV variety show that ran in the city for years. The fact
thatAspectGamingdidpointsup thedistinctMacau focus that
is driving game development at this still fairly young company.
China-specific themes predominate among the more than
20 titles Aspect has created to date, a list that numbers two
standout 50-line performers, Fortune Cats and Backyard Gold,
with apipeline behind thembulgingwith severalmore.
CEO Justin Nguyen is a California-educated software
engineer whose background in IT led him into the industry by
way of Silicon Gaming, a Palo Alto upstart whose innovative
mid-’90s slot conceptswere fated tobe aheadof their time.
Tony Payne, his executive vice president-Product
Development, led Silicon’s game studio and would parlay a
degree in film and television to become a producer for video
game innovatorRocketScienceGames.He’sbeen involvedalso
in thecreationofdozensof games for theUSClass II, charitable
games and lotterymarkets.
Quite a combined pedigree, and it hasn’t been easy
replicating it inShanghai, whereAspect was founded in 2008.
“We’ve got some extraordinary people who have come to
us from themobile and console game industries and bring a
wealth of knowledge and alternative perspectives with them,”
says Mr Nguyen. “However, because casino gaming is not
allowed inChina, thevastmajorityof themhavenever set foot
in a casino, let alone had any experience with slot machines
prior to joining us. So of course this was frustrating in the
beginning. I mean, how do you explain the subtleties of a
reel spin?”
The team has come a long way since, and with its 22-
inch Ruby and 37-inch Super Ruby cabinets Aspect has a
robust hardware platform that will be turning heads at this
month’s Macao Gaming Show with the unveiling of OneWall:
an extended bank of Super Ruby’s transformed into what is
essentially a high-definition movie screen with game and top
screens synchronized tomove content across the bank.
OneWall will launch in tandem with a new four-level
progressive jackpot game called Sheng Xiao Chuan Qi, a
Chinese Zodiac-themed offering that speaks a few volumes
more to Aspect’s unique approach to design. Players get to
choose a personal “Wild” symbol from any of the 12 animals of
theZodiac, and the interactivity extends to a feature calledWin
Track, a win-loss history indicator that encourages players to
followhunches to alter their bets upor down. Five-reel winning
combinations are sweetened with payouts from a special “6th
reel”. There’s also a mystery called “Neighbor Jackpot” that
kicks in during the jackpot round to pay a random prize to
another luckymachineon the link.
Aspect ismovingaggressively into the remote spaceaswell
with a social gaming app calledGrandOrient Casino available
onFacebook, Android and iOS.
“We pride ourselves on spending a lot of time hanging out
in casinos just people-watching,” saysMrNguyen. “Of course,
we’re interested in what players are playing, but we’re equally
interested inwhat they’re looking at, where they’re having their
picture taken, what they are eating, buying, etc. And when we
see folks playing a casual game on their phone with one hand
while tappingaway at a slotmachinewith theother, you canbet
that’s going to influenceour gamedesign.”
ShengXiaoChuanQi
(center) takesAspect’s innovative thinking into linkedprogressives.
1...,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,...48
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