Daniel (BWB): Hi Terence, thanks for speaking with me today! We spoke earlier this year to discuss and reminisce over the 10-year anniversary of Immortal Romance. Can you give our readers a recap about yourself, your game studio and what you been up to over the past 6 months?
Terence (SCS): Thank you Daniel, good to be chatting with you again. Some background on me… I am the founder and Executive Producer for Stormcraft Studios, who supply online slot gaming content exclusively to Games Global. Our studio HQ is in South Africa, but we also have specialists located around the world, supporting our projects and strategies.
I was very fortunate to be in the room at the birth of the online gaming industry back in 1996 and have been creating and producing games for the market for 26 years. Wow, saying that number out loud totally blows my mind! So, in that time, together with my amazingly talented teams, I have manifested quite a few slot games, with many of them being industry firsts; Fantastic Sevens: (first online slot ever), Cash Splash (first online progressive jackpot), Winning Wizards (first online five reel video slot), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider™ (first licensed brand slot), Thunderstruck (first online slot with free spins), Thunderstruck 2 (first online slot where player progression could be saved), Mega Moolah (first progressive with a €1 million top tier seed), and Immortal Romance (first online slot with a multitrack original soundtrack). I have also had the privilege to work with many well-known production companies in the movie and entertainment industry, our most recent being NBC Universal, who we collaborated with on our third Jurassic Park™ themed game, Jurassic Park Gold, which went live at the beginning of the year.
The last 6 months have been exciting for Stormcraft. The best part has been having the team return to the office again and what made that even more special is that we relocated our studio to new purpose-built premises. We have dedicated a lot of energy and effort into branding and decorating the space to reflect the values and personality of our studio. I am a strong believer in the conscious and subconscious influence your environment has on your ability to consistently achieve excellence.
Speaking of… the Stormcraft teams have been hammering away at several exciting projects which we can discuss in more detail during this interview. The one project that I would like to mention now though is related to our technology. We have developed our own bespoke technology stack which would be able to support all our crazy ideas as well as meet and exceed the demands of the business and industry. We are busy testing a real-world scenario currently, and the results have been amazing, with huge improvements in stability, flexibility, and game load speed. Shoutout to our Tech Team; you guys have done a phenomenal job!
Daniel (BWB): Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the Thunderstruck franchise (wow, where has this time gone?!). Can you give us some background into its creation and why the franchise has been so successful?
“I am a strong believer in the conscious and subconscious influence your environment has on your ability to consistently achieve excellence”
Terence (SCS): It’s incredible to think that it’s been two decades since we launched Thunderstruck. I remember working on the game like it was yesterday. Little did we know back then that we were busy creating a brand that would evolve into an industry blockbuster which would still be popular twenty years later.
As already mentioned, the business intention behind the game was to introduce a slot into the online gaming industry which had a free spins feature, which had yet to be done. We spent many hours playing and researching before settling on the feature set. Regarding the choice of theme, I wanted this first-of-its-kind slot to be bold and dynamic with a powerful character as the wild symbol. So, I went back to my Scandinavian roots and designed the game around Norse mythology with Thor as the multiplying wild. The game was a smash success right out of the blocks, which resulted in reutilising the engine and mechanics in several titles. None of those games ever came close to emulating the performance and success of the original though. The game dominated the commercial charts for over six years – we always knew a sequel for this game was in the stars, and we knew when to strike.
Multi bonus games had become all the rage at the time, so I knew that was going to be the direction the game would be taking. However, I wanted to introduce once again something innovative and unique to the online industry. We worked on this game for over eighteen months before we settled on the direction of the game, as each of the four free spin bonuses had unique features that needed to be integrated and balanced. What set this game apart from any other of its kind was that these features had to be unlocked sequentially by triggering the bonus feature. For this to work as intended, we also had to solve the challenge of saving each player’s state of play in the game, so that they could return to where they left off and not lose their progression. This functionality did not even exist in the land-based industry, so was truly ground-breaking when we launched it in Thunderstruck II back in 2010.
The popularity and success of Thunderstruck II was phenomenal and helped push the industry forward by being the first of its kind and raising the bar on what could be achieved with server-based technology. Within a few years, the industry was flooded with Norse mythology slots, and I’m proud to say we were the pioneers of this trend! A successful slot game is so much more than just a popular theme, as there are many components that need to be integrated and carefully balanced. And of course… timing is everything!
Daniel (BWB): It’s only been a year since Thunderstruck® Wild Lightning was released and you’re onto the next Thunderstruck adventure – what can you tell us about Stormchaser? Any teasers on mechanics and features you can share with our readers?
Terence (SCS): So, Thunderstruck® Stormchaser is the next chapter in the Thunderstruck® franchise and is a beautifully crafted 1024 ways slot with Rolling Reels™ in both base game and free spins. Thor is wild and substitutes for all symbols except scatters and the new multiplier symbols, which can be accumulated to enhance the total win at the end of a spin. We have branded this the Multi-Chase™ feature, and with a 20x multiplier in the bag, there is a decent chance for some big win potential. Speaking of win potential, the popular Wildstorm feature is back and can trigger randomly in the base game, turning up to five reels wild for wins of up to 10,000x.
Landing 3 or more Scatter Hammer symbols will activate the Asgardian Wheel of Fortune. Spinning this golden device will determine your number of free spins, your starting multiplier, as well as a mystery number of Wildstorm tokens. Triggering this event with 4 or 5 scatters will improve the numbers on the wheel, with the best result being 25 spins with a starting multiplier of 12x. Using his recently acquired powers as Lord of Asgard, Thor transports you to the dark world of Svartalfheim to play out your free spins. As in the base game, multipliers symbols are scattered across the reels and can be accumulated and banked to massively improve your wins.
We are also really excited about how we have engineered the Wildstorm feature into free spins. You will need to collect Wildstorm tokens from the wheel as well as from landing scatter symbols during free spins. Collecting enough tokens can award lucky players up to 3 Wildstorm features at the end of free spins, where Thyra the goddess of Wildstorms can turn up to five reels wild. As part of our marketing campaign, we have released the Thunderstruck® Stormchaser Teaser on YouTube which can be watched here.
Daniel (BWB): We all remember the epic Thunderstruck® Wild Lightning soundtrack (thank you for my awesome vinyl record – that was a gift to remember!). I hope we’ll be lucky enough to hear more legendary tracks from the studios talented musicians.
Terence (SCS): Thanks Daniel, we’re glad you enjoyed the vinyl! There were 10 tracks on that album, all of them originally composed and produced in house, with lyrics written by yours truly! The feedback on this initiative was very positive and our analytics show that players regularly used the playlist feature in game to change the background music tracks. So for Thunderstruck® Stormchaser, we have also composed and written a number of new songs to accompany the narrative and support the different parts of the game. Our male vocalist from the previous album returns to lend his amazing voice to our new songs. Sadly however, we lost our female vocalist during the pandemic, so we needed to find a new singer to be the voice of Thyra. The Stormchaser album is dedicated to Yvette, our rock ‘n roll goddess that is sorely missed and fondly remembered.
The title track in the base game playlist is called Ascension, I wrote this song from Thor’s perspective, and it tells the story of how he came to ascend the throne of Asgard. The second base game track is called Belonging and tells the tale of Thyra, the powerful Goddess of Wildstorms. Both songs are evocative rock ballads designed to support and not distract from gameplay. That said, we have also included instrumental versions of both songs in the playlist for those that would prefer a more subdued media experience. We had a lot of fun writing the track for free spins, which evolved into more of a hype song with a pop-rock feel. It’s all about excitement and the thrill of the chase, because after all, the game is called Stormchaser and so is this track.
As with all the music we produced for Thunderstruck® Wild Lightning, the songs from Thunderstruck® Stormchaser will be made available on Spotify. We are planning an early release of the soundtrack as part of the lead-up to the game’s launch, as well as a hand-drawn animated trailer which describes the narrative of this chapter of the series. So be sure to follow us on Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn to stay up to date with our social media launch campaign.
“The interactions we have had with our new Games Global leadership team have been brilliant, with regular visits to our offices ensuring that the Stormcraft team remain informed, inspired, and super motivated for the future”
Daniel (BWB): Are you planning on continuing with the Thunderstruck® series (please say yes!)?
Terence (SCS): Ha ha… that’s an easy question to answer. Yes!! I have conceptualized the narrative in my head already and plan to introduce a new character into the Thunderstruck universe with each new game/chapter that we launch. It’s going to be epic!!
Terence (SCS): So Daniel if I could ask you… what kind of features or functionalities that you would love to see in future Thunderstruck games?
Daniel (BWB): Interesting question, and a hard one too! I’ve personally always been a fan of sticky wilds, and I love the combination of sticky wilds and multipliers. Maybe you could have Thor shoot lightning bolts at the game board to add sticky wilds? Just thinking out loud here. I’m a big fan of the wild reel feature used in both Immortal Romance and Thunderstruck II, and I imagine it could get really interesting evolving those by boosting them with multipliers. Maybe you can even go really crazy and try a cluster paying version with a progressive feature in which Thor’s hammer is used as a growing wild, going from 1×1 to 2×2, 3×3, and so on. But whatever you choose to do, I am sure it will be fantastic Terence. You’re a true legend in this industry, and I have the greatest respect for your creative abilities.
Daniel (BWB) Recently Games Global completed the acquisition of Microgaming’s distribution business, game IP and progressive jackpot network. They also acquired interest in a number of game studios (including Stormcraft Studios). How has your collaboration with Games Global been since the acquisition?
Terence (SCS): Yes indeed. 2022 has brought a lot of exciting changes to our world as we transitioned to supplying exclusive content through Games Global. Some people find change scary, but when you have been in the industry as long as I have, you know that change is inevitable, so you learn to not resist it but rather embrace it. The interactions we have had with our new Games Global leadership team have been brilliant, with regular visits to our offices ensuring that the Stormcraft team remain informed, inspired, and super motivated for the future.
Daniel (BWB): Before we sign off, you left us on a HUGE cliffhanger in our last conversation, can you give us any teases to what else we should be expecting from Stormcraft Studios in the coming 12 months?
Terence (SCS): So I assume you are referring to Immortal Romance II? I can absolutely confirm that we have been hard at work on the game and that it is looking beautiful, sounding incredible, and the user flows and feature mechanics are very compelling. The question I get all the time is, “When are we getting the next Immortal Romance?” and my answer is always the same, “When it is ready!”. It’s that simple. I am committed to delivering the best possible sequel game to the marketplace that will attempt to meet and hopefully exceed the high expectations of the loyal fan base of the game… which I know you are one of. So Daniel, if you play your cards right, we might consider giving you an exclusive preview interview into the game closer to its launch.
Daniel (BWB): Honestly, I almost fell off my chair hearing this Terence. As you know, I’m a massive fan of Immortal Romance and personally consider it one of the best online slots ever made. I just played it the other day, and it’s still as great as ever before. This is quite an achievement Terence, given the fact that most new slots these days only have a shelf life spanning a couple of months. Thank you so much for sharing this news with the Bigwinboard community and me!