Making IT: Joe Russano

Posted on November 5, 2018 at 9:30 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.

Joe Russano, Senior Resource Artist

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

A: 8 years at IT, and just about 2 months in this role.

Q: What are some of your new responsibilities and duties as Senior Resource Artist?

A: I help to ensure art content of our games is meeting or exceeding our company standards, to help steer the direction of our art development tools, and of course — still developing art for team Super Special!

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

A: The people mostly – many of whom I’ve known for my entire time here and are like family. But I also enjoy the quick development cycle that shifts what kind of art I’m working on every few months which keeps me on my toes.

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

A: My brother was already working at IT, they were looking to expand, and I was looking for a job. So naturally...

Q: What role do you play in the design and development of slot machines?

A: Mostly I create art on team Super Special, but also I provide a lot of assistance and feedback to other artists across the company. And then I make a ton of noise to people way smarter than I am to get new art-related features in our game engine. So my job ranges from highly subjective, to highly technical.

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

A: I get the most out of assisting others. If I can impart some bit of wisdom to help other artists realize their ideas, or help clear some sort of technical hurdle, that is by far the most rewarding thing for me.

Q: What’s the most memorable feedback (can be good or bad) you’ve ever heard about a game you’ve helped develop?

A: It’s always nice when people compliment the art! I also find it immensely amusing when players make up weird impromptu descriptions for a symbol, or just completely misinterpret the art in comically unflattering ways.

Q: Favorite game(s) you’ve worked on?

I like any game that has a lot of love put into the art. My favorite game that I ever worked on is one that was basically never sold called “Squishy Blobs.” It featured a bunch of cute little blob characters that were just a ton of fun to animate, and it made me smile. Big Prize Bubblegum was another fun one to work on that just “clicked” really well.

Q: What’s something you wish slot players knew about slot machines in general?

A: No, I don’t have secret developer codes to win all the games.

Q: Have you learned anything about the gaming industry that surprised you or struck you as interesting?

A: I guess the most surprising thing to me has always been how big it is—considering I was never really aware of the existence of the industry before working in it.

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

A: Not at all. It’s not really an industry I was ever aware of. Before I worked here, I still thought of all slot machines as the typical, old 3 by 3 one-armed-bandits. The last time I had been in anything like a casino was when I was 6 on a cruise. I did go to school for digital art however, so in a way I’m doing exactly what I set out to do, just the end product isn’t something I imagined ever creating.

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 always lean toward entertainment over volatility, so it would have to be something new that breaks the typical conventions of what a slot machine is. I’m interested to see if slot machines can ever intersect story-telling in any meaningful way, or if they can strengthen my connection to the game in a way that makes the experience feel player-driven.