With 2023 having drawn to a close, we’ve decided to take a look back at the past year’s Beyond the Reels episodes, taking another deep dive into some of its most interesting slot titles.
Elvis Frog: Trueways – BGaming
The first episode of 2023 saw Alex Baliukonis, Game Designer at BGaming, discuss the return of the studio’s hound frog in Elvis Frog Trueways.
Elvis Frog Trueways is a six reel slot with up to eight rows, using the studio’s Trueways mechanic to offer up to 262,144 ways to win. The game has special futures including free spins and a coin respin game mode, which gives players the chance to win a mega jackpot prize.
This slot sees the return of the amphibious rock and roll star, which Baliukonis stated is a key component in the success of this game as players “like to play with someone”.
He continued: “It’s always great when you get that big win and somebody can celebrate it with you. So Elvis Frog is about emotional design and retention. Above that, he’s also part of the game and all the greatest features are triggered by him.”
“He can bring you a multiplier. He can bring you free spins. So he’s like your buddy who’s helping you to win.”
When explaining the game’s features, Baliukonis said: “The main character, Elvis Frog, plays the role of the wild and can replace any symbol in a winning combination. In free spins, he has a wild multiplier which gives the ability to increase the winnings.”
He continued: “Also, in the mechanics of Trueways, we have got the hold and spin mechanic, which is very popular amongst players. If you get six or more scatters, you are going to get from 12 to 20 free spins.”
Check out the above video to hear Baliukonis discuss the different jackpot prizes on offer in the title and how the free spins feature impacts gameplay.
Wild Dragon’s Fortune – Tom Horn Gaming
In the spring, SlotBeats took a trip to East Asia as Mykhailo Pushnia, Game Producer at Tom Horn Gaming, took the stage to run through Wild Dragon’s Fortune.
Pushnia was eager to dive into the inspiration behind Wild Dragon’s Fortune, a 5×4 reel slot with four base game mode options for the player to choose from. These game modes vary from 20-winlines up to 1,024-ways to win through Tom Horn Gaming’s Gifts of Fortune mechanic.
Looking into the initial design process behind the slot, Pushnia explained: “With this game we decided that we can increase the payouts for the symbols, or we can use higher multipliers, but what actually makes these features outstanding for the players?
“We decided to come up with different winline sets for these base game levels, so while you’re playing on the first level you’re having just 20 winlines, wild multipliers from x1 to x5 and you’re playing low volatility games, slowly getting some nice wins.
“Then, you have the second level which already has 40-winlines, higher wild multipliers and so on, so you actually can receive bigger wins. With the third one you have 100-winlines.”
He continued: “As the biggest feature, we have this 1,024-ways and maximum wild multipliers, so on the last level, with four upgraded symbols, players can get wilds with multipliers up to x8 and there are very big wins.”
While players select what number of high value symbols they want to become enhanced as a Gift of Fortune, the game also offers players the choice of four game modes when triggering the free spins feature from landing blossom tree scatters.
Commenting on the range of bonus game options, Pushnia said: “In regular free spins game modes, you’re waiting for it and it appears in, let’s say, 200 spins right?
“But, with Wild Dragon’s Fortune, we decided we wanted to bring something new to the free spins to have players actually experience different game plays, in the same way that we have that in the base game.”
Watch the video above to hear why Pushnia believes the East Asian theme “fits slots perfectly” and what players are able to access using Tom Horn Gaming’s proprietary bonus buy feature – QuickX.
Treasures of the Count – Wizard Games
With Halloween representing an opportune time for slot studios, October saw SlotBeats cover one of Wizard Games’ spooky slot titles – Treasures of the Count – as the studio’s Director of Game Studio, Simon Jagdhar, shed light on the vampire-themed release.
After detailing his role within Wizard Games’ slot production, Jagdhar began to dive into the slot release, which offers a 5×4 reel grid, 40-paylines and a maximum win of up to x2,919 the player’s stake. While presenting several base game and bonus features, the slot uses low volatility with an RTP range of 88.08 to 96.06 per cent.
Explaining why the industry witnesses an abundance of Halloween-themed games at this time of year, Jagdhar said: “Seasonal slots present a great opportunity because of a lot of the work and effort that goes into the seasonal preparation by casinos.
“It’s a very strong period of promotion, emails, text messages, some casinos might go as far as etching out a specific area on the casino homepage just for the seasonal games. Knowing this, providers have an opportunity to feature in all of that promotional activity by making and delivering an on-season game.”
Looking at the slot’s base gameplay, Jagdhar continued: “A good base game is critical to any game. When we make our base game, we always aim to make it as entertaining as possible.
“We want to have good base game features that happen at a good frequency and have a reasonably good average pay to sustain the player’s balance over time. The last thing you want to see is your balance dwindle away in a couple hundred spins. Something needs to happen to boost it back up again.
“So, since our main feature in Treasures of the Count is a hold and spin with cash symbols, we also use cash symbols in the base game to hint at what is going to come later in your bigger feature.”
Delving further into the slot’s main bonus feature, the Count Respins game mode, Jagdhar explained: “It’s a hold and spin but we’ve added a multiplier element to it. It works like a classic hold and spin, you get your three spins to get as many cash symbols as you possibly can.
“The way the multiplier element of the game works is if you fill up a column with cash symbols then there’s going to be a multiplier applied to that column. This multiplier can go as high as x20.”
To listen to Jagdhar detail how Halloween slots can outlive the short holiday to perform well during other seasons, click the video above.
Donkey & the GOATS – AvatarUX
Bringing the year to a close was AvatarUX, with the company’s Head of Studio, Hubert Spala, appearing on his second Beyond the Reels episode of the year to run through boxing-themed slot release Donkey & the GOATS.
Looking back at what inspired the slot, Spala stated: “This game is very unique. We are well known for our PopWins games, and this is not a PopWins game. This is a big reach for us in some completely new ground.
“We wanted to have a completely new set of features to work with one another. It’s a foray into a completely new style for us on every level, the visuals, the audio, how they play, how they feel. They are just completely new entities.
“We want to make a whole family of games like this, we want to expand on this idea. It took a lot of work to get all those features to work together in this fashion, so this is a very new project for AvatarUX.”
Explaining why the studio chose to focus on the sport of boxing for this title, Spala said: “We always look into our portfolio and check what we are missing. You might have an Irish game, an Egyptian game, classics so to speak, but we never really tackled a sport game, and we have some sport enthusiasts inside the studio.
“We have some people with some expertise in boxing, which actually helped us to figure out what we actually wanted to show, what kind of fights, what kind of scene, what kind of battles, who is going to be our greatest of all time, the ‘GOATs’.”
“It’s all twisted to be a little bit of a parody, but it’s still boxing. You can recognise some famous hits, famous attacks and bouts but it’s all overdone to be a little cheeky, which is of course most visible in our Donkey character – based on the legendary Dom King.”
To watch Spala guide viewers through the many features on offer in Donkey & the GOATS, while providing insights into the studio’s plans for the title to kick-start a new slot series, watch the video above.