November 13, 2023
Games Lift: Nenad Slavujevic on calculating chaos
His game idea looks like a well-tuned formula. And he can explain it like a pro. Nenad Slavujevic impresses us in the incubator with strong credentials and a clear plan.
After having worked in Hamburg’s gaming industry for years, solo dev Nenad Slavujevic is now putting his experience into his new concept: “Chaos Royale” is a mix of auto shooters like “Vampire Survivors” and battle royale style titles like “Fortnite”, with a dash of “Binding of Isaac”. It's an automatic top-down shooter with competitive multiplayer gameplay.
Isn't that a bit obvious? “Sure,” says Slavujevic, looking content. He has thought this through. That much is evident in every answer. He knows exactly why he is starting with a “proven concept” – it is not about copying others. He has specifically developed an idea that fits his strengths and goals.
Making a multiplayer game is a central part of the plan, because Slavujevic wants to work “sustainably”. He doesn't want to survive from title to title with a best case scenario of “recouping the costs” so that his next title can be created under the same precarious conditions. And he shows a deeper understanding of the genre he is working in; not only multiplayer games, but auto shooters or bullet heaven games in the spirit of “Vampire Survivors”. He can explain in detail what is supposed to be fun here: It's about the power fantasy of becoming stronger, being “almost overpowering” to the opposition, and finally facing opponents who have built themselves up in the same way.
The fact that Slavujevic knows how studios work is owed to his career. He has years of experience in the industry. After completing his bachelor's degree at HAW Hamburg, he quickly found employment. Working long days at a start-up was his first gig, before he landed at established indie studio Tiny Roar. Here, he found “a lot of fun” developing and supporting multiplayer games for mobile.
As a programmer, he felt well integrated into the studio. But even though he was able to outgrow his role there somewhat, he wanted more. “My plan has always been to take on more responsibility,” Slavujevic explains. He thinks himself “quite good” at coding, but it is ultimately “not that fulfilling” to him.
Now Slavujevic has taken on full responsibility. He is implementing the techical side of his project by himself for now, but he definitely doesn't want to stay alone. He has enlisted professional help from day one. “I'm not an artist,” he clarifies. Freelancers he has “known for a long time” and whom he “absolutely trusts” are on board already.
Slavujevic wants to build a live-service game that he and his studio will keep supporting and developing. “There's no world in which I would do it alone,” he clarifies. The search for a strong partner is already baked into his plans. Early next year, he hopes to make his first hire. Internal tests of a first playable version are planned even earlier. If it is found to be working as planned, Slavujevic will quickly start “approaching mobile publishers” to test the waters.
Slavujevic is putting an emphasis on building up his network and looking for advice. To him, it’s a main reason for getting into the Games Lift Incubator. He has special praise for Steffen Rühl's pitching workshop: The advice was crucial to him and helped him turn a presentation that is “almost embarrassing” to him now into a much better one. Now, he knows exactly what he is trying to sell and how he’s doing it.
Slavujevic has also adjusted when it comes to the core question of his platform. He originally pitched “Chaos Royale” as a mobile-only title, but now he's also looking into pitching a PC version. During the conversation, one thing becomes clear: Slavujevic does not conflate a good idea with a successful one. He stays open to good advice and plans ahead further.