How Anthony Giovannetti Makes Games

– Tell us about yourself – Who are you? What do you do? My name is Anthony Giovannetti and I am a co-founder of Mega Crit Games. We are a very small studio that made the game Slay the Spire. I worked many hats, but primarily did development and design. 

– If I’ve never played your games before, what’s the first one I should try? Slay the Spire is my first professional game. 

– One fact that we probably don’t know about you: If computers didn’t exist I would have likely gone into Philosophy or History. I maxed out on Philosophy elective classes in college because I had the most fun with them. 

– What games are you playing most right now? Honestly, Slay The Spire. 😉 I have very little time these days, and nothing stands out as I have not really gotten hooked on anything. I would say various tabletop roleplaying games as I still try and make time for them. 

– What are your all-time favorite games? In general I rather dislike trying to think of favorites. For instance, I usually think of Planescape Torment as a game that had a large impact on me, but it’s almost the exact opposite of how I think about and play games today. I suspect that card games like Magic: The Gathering and Netrunner are some of the games that had the most staying power as “favorites”. 

– What draws you to make games? Games are fun! I think many kids that grew up loving games have at least thought about making their own. For me, I am also incredibly picky and always see things that I want to change in other media – so trying this out for myself just made sense.

– How did you get started making games? I met Casey (my co-founder) in college and we started making some simple hobbyist games while attending classes. After we graduated we went our separate ways and got “real” jobs in the software industry. After working for several years and saving up money, we reconnected and decided to try out this independent game development thing for real this time. We left our industry jobs behind to strike out on our own. 

– Describe your process (or lack thereof) when making games. How do you reach your final product? The process is basically generate a hypothesis game idea, sketch out a loose document for it, and then iterate like mad on the concept to see if it is any good. At each step along the way, iterate and test and challenge your assumptions. 

– How do you market your games? Poorly? We relied on Twitch/Youtube as vectors of marketing, and that was successful for us. It was more about making a great marketable game that saw constant updates. We did not pursue much “active” marketing efforts. 

– What game-related or game business-related media do you consume on a regular basis? I frequently play new games to see if there is anything I like about them. I like to analyze a game after trying it to see what I liked or did not. I also just consume all kinds of media though, as ideas can come from anywhere. 

– What are some tool/programs/supplies that you wouldn’t work without? Git is of course invaluable for anyone in software. Slack/Discord are also vital tools that we make use of in our day to day. 

– What’s your playtesting philosophy? How often/early do you playtest? How do you find playtesters? Playtest as early as possible, and try and get data on it if you can. Finding people is hard, so ask everyone you know, and have them ask people as well. Go to events to find even more people. Set up a Slack or Discord for your playtesters. 

– What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work, and how have you overcome them? No good answer, things went really well for us. 

– How do you handle life/family/work balance? Work is OP. Devs plz nerf. 

– What one piece of advice would you give aspiring game designers? “Good” advice is more optimized for sounding nice than really delivering insight. Don’t look to advice, just go get experience. 

– Who would you like to see answer these questions? Jonathan Blow. Derek Yu. 

What’s the best advice about life that you’ve ever received? Nothing. Advice is usually surface level stuff, and often times contradictory or requiring caveats. See my previous answer on advice. 

Thanks for your time, Anthony! Check out more details about his work on megacrit.com, and follow Mega Crit Games on Facebook and Twitter!

If you’re interested in how tabletop games are made as well, check out out tabletop Game Dev interviews at AndHeGames

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