Interview with Abhishek Radhakrishnan, Co-Founder of LambdaMu games

This week’s edition of RealLeaders.tv is an interview with the founder of a promising mobile gaming start-up. Very few mobile gaming start-ups actually succeed in generating revenues and I was keen to hear from Abhishek Radhakrishnan as to how they managed to crack the code. The other important detail here is that Abhishek is a friend of mine from university and I was keen to understand how he made the transition from a creative Mechanical Engineer to Game Designer.

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About Abhishek – Abhishek Radhakrishan started his career at Logic Mills where he grasped the fundamentals of building games and developing games. Aside from collecting game XP (experience, in Abhishek’s lingo) at work, he gathered it by playing games and teaching rules of games to anyone who’d listen. He then co-founded Lambda Mu games and now, he designs games for a living with his team at Lambda Mu. Lambda Mu’s game, Pixel people, was released to critical acclaim and was released in partnership with Chilingo, EA’s mobile games division. Chilingo has previously released world famous games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.

My favorite quotes as always –

“I think what was really valuable for me, which I think maybe is not something that a lot of people experience, was my ability to teach people how to play games.”

“If the people can’t understand how the game works, then it’s not a well-designed game.”

(Skills of a good game designer) “exposure to as many games as possible matters.  You need to know what’s out there.  I did this by reading lots of books just to see the different styles that are out there, to broaden my horizons, to see what are the different elements I can use and combine, and to find inspiration. That’s one of the most obvious ones.  It’s necessary but not sufficient.

The next thing you need is to realize that a game is an experience.  You’re creating an experience for a person and it’s very hard to create an experience for other people if you haven’t had experiences yourself.   You need to go out there and try to do as many things as possible, see as many things as possible, and read as many things as possible.  Watch TV, movies, try things.  Read about history and literature.  Inspiration for a game can come from anywhere.  Psychology is an important field to be well-versed in because they understand behavior.  A really broad exposure to as many subjects and experiences as possible really helps the design angle.

From the practical angle, you need really good communication skills.”

“Every time there’s a crisis, or failure, or something has gone wrong it’s not about hindsight.  It’s about finding out what went wrong.  We just lost 10,000 dollars on this screw up, let’s get 10,000 dollars’ worth of education out of it.”

“In most role-playing games, one of the main goals is to get as much XP as possible, or experience.  That’s the thing for life also.  You have some unknown number of years to play this game.  We don’t know where the endpoint is, but you know that there is an end and the object of the game is not necessarily to see how much that coin balances at the end because that’s not the score that’s recorded.  It’s not even what high score is pulled out but it’s how much XP your character can get by the end. That’s how I try to look at life as well.  What can I do today to up my XP?  Every day little by little make sure you’ve done something to increase that XP bar.”

Full transcript, as always, on RealLeaders.tv. Thanks Abhishek, for taking the time!