Making IT: Ilana Rudnik

Posted on July 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM UTC


Making IT is a monthly Question and Answer article featuring the people who make IT games possible. From game designers, to sound engineers, to programmers, each role is vital to the production and success of each slot Incredible Technologies produces. Players and customers see the polished, finished product, but rarely have a chance to peek behind the curtain and understand the people or the process that make their favorite games happen. Making IT is the spotlight on the creative minds that make IT games incredible.

Ilana Rudnik, Game Designer, Sr. Software Engineer & Project Manager

Q: How long have you been at IT? In this role?

A: I’ve been at IT for 23 years. I've been working on gaming for about 12 years, and as a studio head for 2 years.

Q: What’s your favorite part of working at IT?

A: My favorite part of working at IT is the collaboration between everyone on the team when working on the games. Everyone contributes and obviously cares about each project and each team member. It’s a great, creative environment.

Q: How did you get into Class III game design?

A: I sort of gradually meandered into game design. I started off in gaming, working with the ticket printer! I did the ticket layouts and set up the basic printing and validation. Then I moved on to metering, circuit breakers and SAS. Which took my OCD side to another level when dealing with all of the compliance requirements! From there I started working on the games, and began having more and more input with their design.

Q: Where do you find inspiration for games?

A: I get inspiration from a lot of sources. I try to follow what people are currently or generally obsessed with, and often something there will spark an idea. Sometimes, I’ll start with the intention of doing a derivative of another studio’s game. At that point, I’ll look for a theme that is a bit different from what’s already been done; I try to fill a missing gap and round out the offerings for that game family. Our studio also has brainstorming meetings where everyone presents ideas. Often, bits and pieces from many ideas will come together to give us a strong foundation for a new game.

Q: What’s a rough outline of your “creative process”?
A: I do a lot of visualization to start. I will download a lot of pictures from the web to help guide the visual direction of what I’m imagining. Then I will start sketching general layouts, and figure how features will fit in. At his point, I have a fairly good idea of what I want to do and how it will look. I’ll share with the team and get feedback, then we start the process of seeing if the math is feasible and the game is fun and enticing.

Q: What comes first for you, generally; slot theme or feature idea?

A: That’s a hard question to answer. I feel like I develop them both simultaneously. Maybe the rough theme idea does come first. But the specifics gel as I come up with features.

Q: What’s your favorite part of designing a game?

A: Making a feature come to life in the most creative and exciting way possible. If I can see a player go “Wow!” when something happens, that’s the best!

Q: Most memorable feedback (can be good or bad) you’ve ever received on a game?

A: During play testing, a woman described the start of a bonus level as, “It looks like an octopus is giving birth!” I think we were all laughing until we cried at that one.

Q: What was the inspiration for your studio name?
A: Byte Sized Studio- I’m a 5’ 1” tall programmer. Enough said.

Q: Favorite game(s) you’ve worked on?

A: This goes back a few years, but I worked on a game called Goat Cheese. It was immensely silly- right up my alley. The bonus game had goats standing on a steep hill, while giant cheese wheels bounced down and either missed or smacked into the goats. The goat sounds and expressions were priceless. The game didn’t do well at all, but it made me laugh every time I played it.

Q: Something you wish slot players knew about slot machines in general?

A: As much as you would like it, we can’t make a game that pays out all the time. I don’t think the casinos would like that very much! So we’re really selling entertainment. If you are having a great time playing the game, and feel you’re on the game for a good length of time for the money you put in, and you want to play it again, then I believe the game is a success.

Q: Did you play slot machines or gamble before you started working here?
A: Yes, I gambled before working in gaming. I did play table games more often than slots, so that behavior has changed. I definitely check out slots way more than playing black jack now.

Q: Have you learned anything about the gaming industry that surprised you or struck you as interesting?
A: I hadn’t realized just how critical the math is to having a successful game. You can have amazing graphics and sound, and creative features, but it takes good underlying math to make the game feel right.

Q: Did you ever think you’d be working in this industry or have this job?

A: No, I never thought IT would go in this direction, or that I would be in the position to contribute this much. IT diving into the casino gaming industry has been a tremendous amount of work over the years, for the whole company. But it has definitely proven that it was a good decision. As far as my job, I’m still surprised that I’ve landed where I am! I think it will take a little more time for it to completely sink in.

Q: What’s your dream slot machine? Maybe a theme or feature that wouldn’t appeal to anyone else, but you’d play the heck out of it. (No, one that only produces wins is not a valid answer.)

A: I don’t know if this is my dream slot game, but it’s one that I’ve been dying to make. I don’t see it happening any time soon, if ever, so I’ll share! I wanted to make a game called If I Fits I Sits. It’s all about how cats stuff themselves into the most ridiculous places. Seeing cats spin by that are overflowing from a tiny box, or peeking out from inside a jar, etc. would be a scream. I’d spend a lot of time playing that game! 

Tags: Making IT