Founded in 2018 by a trio of like-minded mavericks – Luke Taylor, Nathan Howes and Dan Nyman – Black Pudding Games is about thinking differently and doing differently. With a combined experience of over 30 years in the iGaming industry, they remain curious and reflect that curiosity in the types of games they put out!
We had the opportunity to sit down with one of Black Pudding Games’ Co-Founders, Dan Nyman, to talk about his experience and journey of innovating with distinctive gaming formats, his pursuit of building tomorrow’s classics and, of course, the games themselves…
Continue reading this interview to learn what Black Pudding Games has in store for you!
For those that don’t know, how did you end up in the iGaming industry and what has your journey been like until today?
I sort of ended up in this industry quite by chance. I had been working in traditional broadcast entertainment and program development during the 1990s. Those production skills led to an engagement with one of the early European online sportsbooks and casino operators with a studio based in Norwich in the early 2000s. That work then parlayed into creating content for casino affiliates, one of whom was interested in getting into game production. Asked if I could come up with some game ideas, I thought it seemed an interesting new challenge and an opportunity to rekindle my love of maths. The result was four table game formats that were licensed at first pitch to 1x2gaming in 2012 and one that even had some installs in Grosvenor Casino‘s land-based estate. That lit the fire for my subsequent career in this industry, creating new games in all categories that have found homes with several tier-one operators.
What is the best thing about being a part of this industry?
I think it’s an industry that needs new ideas to thrive. That floats my boat since thinking up new entertainment ideas that require a cocktail of subjective creativity and objective maths is my kind of fun. Does that sound weird?
What’s it like being an independent game architect? What does your day look like?
It can be like nailing a jelly to the ceiling. It might look pointless to the casual observer – and indeed it may well be – but I like experimenting with things, and that experiment might prove to be something really entertaining that loads of other people will enjoy too. Mixed in with that freedom to experiment with ideas is also the pleasure of solving specific game design issues for external clients. I don’t have ‘typical’ days – some days it could be working up maths models for a concept, some days it could be pretty free-form research to inspire new ideas, and sometimes I’ve got my (rather fetching) sound-design hat on to compose music and effects for a game.
Has the business affected your friendship with Nathan?
You’d probably best ask him that question, but it’s fair to say that we still make each other laugh a lot and seem more than happy getting in a few pints together. Our roles and talents are very complimentary too. I think we don’t tolerate any corporate nonsense between us, and if a project doesn’t sit well with both of us, we don’t do it.
What advice would you give to people just starting their careers in iGaming? Or those that are still unsure if that’s the right career choice for them?
That’s a tough one. Personally, I’d just recommend being ruthlessly honest about what’s motivating you about the job. Is it the money? Do you enjoy the camaraderie of your present colleagues? Are you fascinated by what makes bettors tick? If you just trot out a well-worn cliché like ‘I’ve got a passion for gaming’, I’d have a word with yourself and dig a bit deeper to see if you can really imagine yourself working in this industry long-term.
Have you encountered any significant challenges during your journey, and how have these affected you?
Oh, loads! The challenges – and abject failures in particular – are where I’ve mined the most valuable lessons across the years. Trying to innovate can be a lonely pursuit as the industry can be pretty risk-averse, so convincing distributors/operators/investors to back a new format that’s not got any history of success (because no one’s released it before) can be an uphill struggle. Innovating can also involve tackling some long and complicated maths work to establish whether a game will deliver a certain performance. The opportunities for errors to creep in are rife! I’ve had a few squeaky bum moments when the inherent volatility of games can trigger concern that a maths model might be ‘broken’ – players seem to be winning too much – but hopefully, a dose of healthy self-doubt means I’m pretty rigorous in crash-testing my work before I hand it on. Players hitting ‘lucky streaks’ on one of your games, despite being mathematically probable, can be an unnerving moment.
And what makes you feel ‘out of your comfort zone?’ How do you handle these types of situations?
I get a bit rattled by unnecessary time-wasting and last-minute changes to plans. I’ve discovered that regular meditation has helped me spot those moments and dial down getting wound up by them so easily. Someone much wiser than me switched me on to the practical benefits of mindfulness meditation a few years ago, and it works for me. I’m not some hippy though . . . it’s not all joss sticks, prayer bells and kaftans in my studio space. There is a drum kit, and I’ve found a proper session on that is an excellent therapy for these stressful moments too.
How would you sum up working in this industry?
It’s a bit of a gamble?
Can you tell us more about Black Pudding Games and what makes you stand out from other gaming services?
As our website describes us, we’re a small but perfectly formed team of like-minded mavericks with a combined experience of over 30 years in the casino gaming and entertainment industry. Black Pudding Games was founded in late 2018 with a strategy of not only thinking different, but also doing different. We prefer to avoid describing our enterprise with terms such as ‘disruptive’ or driven by a ‘passion for gaming’, which so many studios claim. We’re just curious. In both senses of the word.
Our interest lies in what might become breakout hits, meaning we’re particularly preoccupied with discovering playful new ideas for the casino curious. Online casino gaming has created a fabulous but, in our view, largely unexplored potential for genuine innovation in real money gaming. With that in mind, Black Pudding are bang up for the challenge of bringing something demonstrably new to the party but without (hopefully) losing the crowd.
Where do you find inspiration for your games?
I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. For me, the trigger for a game idea can be pretty random and often happens when I’m away from my desk – I’ve even woken up with ideas pretty much fully formed – but it is all predicated around the interaction of random number-generating gadgets. Visual themes are (and should be) secondary considerations to the core mechanics, in my opinion. What I resolutely don’t do is closely study what’s been a hit or the latest casino releases for inspiration. The core Black Pudding ethos is to innovate, not imitate. I also have the good fortune of close and trusted collaborators who think very creatively and laterally about game formats.
What should players know about Atomic Reactor? Why is this game worth giving a try?
Players should know that Atomic Reactor is a futuristic, mobile-first vision of slot entertainment that re-engineers traditional slot gameplay into a sensational, new way to play. It’s built on Black Pudding’s original Orbital Reactor™ mechanic, which itself was the product of a very creative collaboration with the co-creator of The Weakest Link gameshow involving a long lunch in a pub and several strips of brightly coloured cardboard . . .
Rather than bang on about what it’s like to play, Black Pudding advocates the sage principle of ‘show don’t tell,’ so I’d urge your readers to take the free demo on our website (https://blackpudding.games/games/atomic-reactor/) for a spin and experience its delights for themselves.
Is there a game you’re particularly proud of?
That’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child! They’re all special to me in their own ways.
Could you shed some light on the upcoming releases and innovations? What can we expect in the near future, and what are you looking forward to the most?
Another sage principle Black Pudding adheres to is ‘don’t give the game away’. Whilst I’d love to tell you what’s in the Pudding’s skunkworks, our commitment to original inventions means we’ve got the intellectual property in prototypes which we’d be mad to reveal in advance of a confirmed production and release schedule. That said, I can tease that we’ve got formats worked up to target slots, instant win, game show and table game categories, all ‘doing different’ in true Black Pudding style.
And steering away from your own games, what is your favourite game and why?
Sudoku. An utterly genius blend of simplicity with elegant logic that can be tailored to all sorts of expertise. It’s a benchmark for me.
Any hobbies not related to iGaming?
Music is the biggie for me. Playing, producing, and listening. I’m particularly geeky around electronic music, with a pointlessly deep knowledge of drum machines and synthesizers of the 1980s.
How do you spend your spare time?
Playing, producing and listening to music features pretty heavily here too, but I also probably devote a fair amount of my domestic downtime to cooking. I love good food, and there’s something deeply satisfying about following a recipe that rewards that investment of time with a delicious outcome. I’d be lying if I also didn’t confess that I’m rather fond of frequenting my local pub to talk nonsense with my friends over pints of foaming, nut-brown ale.
Favourite sport and player?
Extreme Ironing – props to New Zealand’s Matthew Battley for pulling off some crisp manoeuvres on top of an active volcano.
Favourite drink and snack?
This week I’ve been mostly drinking beer (Woodforde’s Wherry) and snacking on black pudding (obviously).