Meet The Maker – Creating A Winning Slot With Yggdrasil

Only five years into their pursuit, Yggdrasil has been able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the online slot industry, and it looks like they’re in prime position to be able to compete with the biggest of them. Respected, award-winning and always producing stellar games, we had to hear from the man behind the myth. We spoke to Jonas Strandman, Head of Slots Yggdrasil Gaming, to find out what’s next in store for this industry superstar.

Yggdrasil is a sacred tree, considered to be the centre of the universe. How does this story reflect in your company culture?

In Norse mythology Yggdrasil is a place where gods gather for daily meetings to pass judgement and make important decisions.

That is probably the best reflection of the Yggdrasil company culture – we discuss ways of improving our company and products often. Everybody in the company has the right (and the responsibility) to express their ideas about how to make our existing products even better, or even come up with something completely new! This leaves us with a huge pool of ideas from which we can choose the ones that are good enough to be brought to life. Since the decision making is regular and people can be open and honest, we have the luxury of moving from input, to analysis, to decision, to action in just a couple of hours. This allows us to make bold yet calculated decisions quickly, while a similar process for other providers could take days, if not months. So maybe this is the most direct way the story of this Norse tree of life is reflected in our company culture, as it is also one of the main reasons which has allowed Yggdrasil to rise through the ranks of providers as quickly as we have during the last couple of years and achieve our current standing.

What does it take to keep up to the industry standards?

Our goal is not to keep up with the industry standards, but to raise them! The key to that is having a team of having motivated top level specialists in all fields – from artists to developers, from game producers to designers.

There are indeed examples of top performing games that are not very pretty to look at, but those are the old classics. Good luck coming up with a new, successful game release with ugly art nowadays! Same goes for other parts of the game – with dozens of options to choose from why would anyone play a game that lags, has unfriendly UI or poor mobile support?

Creating a winning slot is about having a team which can deliver starting from creative process to execution to tech support. We have that team and this is what allows us to create AAA-level slots.

What is the craziest thing you thought would never work but did?

Facebook and mobile social slots. I never imagined that it would take off like it has.

Which slot is your absolute favourite and why?

Double Dragons was a new benchmark on graphical and gameplay quality.

I truly enjoy the visuals and sounds of the normal game loop and of course the stunning feature animations. It would be one of the games I would play for real money, if I was allowed to play our games.

Which comic book character would be the most boring to meet in real life? Why?

Garfield the cat. He doesn’t even talk and the comic is boring as hell.

What’s the closest thing to real magic?

Performance magic, of course 🙂

What piece of media (book, movie, TV show, etc.) changed the way you viewed the world? In what way?

After my first year of math degree at university, I was fed up and went to work in Norway for a bit of a break. When trying to find something to read in English at the library, I stumbled upon “Gödel Escher Bach” (Hofstadter, 1979).

One part of the book explains Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, one of the big results of 1900s math. The theorem is proved using basic logic that an undergrad math student can understand, but taken to an extreme level of cleverness and innovation. I would call it “logic hacks”.

It blew my mind. I had never experienced anything that was so cool and clever. It inspired me to stop messing around and instead go back to school, and also later to go into theoretical computer science. I wanted to get my mind blown again.

If you want to check out Gödel’s math, I would recommend Google instead of the mentioned book, since the book is 90% blabber.

Back to the industry, name a job that doesn’t exist but should?

Slot Prototype Developer. Someone to create quick playable proof-of-concepts of slot ideas. Someone who loves making games and has a mathematical mind.

What’s the next big thing in the iGaming industry?

You’ll see in the next 12 months. We have a lot of exciting things coming out!