In the penultimate episode of SlotBeats Spotlight’s look into slot design, we asked our experts if, when it comes to slot development, is maths king or does design reign supreme?

SlotBeats: When it comes to design over mathematics – which is more key? Which should lead which? 

Rob Procter, SG Digital: It’s never the same process. With our recent hit Invaders Megaways, we knew we wanted to create a space-themed game with lots of features, so the design was the first thought with the mechanics following. 

It was the opposite case with Cluedo Cash Mystery, where the mechanics of the gameplay were devised first and then we soon realised the potential of fitting the board game’s theme to the math model. 

A big part of the casual and light-hearted games that are available in the marketplace are driven by the design. With our upcoming title Dave Lame Bad Magician, we wanted to inject some fun into our content portfolio and created a character who is absolutely terrible at magic, but his mishaps actually award players in their favour. 

The mathematics are still important, however, which is why we have created multiple bonus rounds that are traditionally popular with the casual customer base. 

Kenny Dahlsjö, Lady Luck Games: Neither is more important than the other. In fact, both are just as important when it comes to creating a great game. Good design is obviously what makes players want to try the game in the first place, but it is the maths that makes the games sticky, so they want to come back. 

It’s all about teamwork, combining the inputs from the graphical designers, mathematicians and product owners. We are all committed to building the best games possible and this can only be done when all creative forces work together. If one is prioritised over the other the balance is wrong – and it doesn’t work.

Marcus Honney, AvatarUX: They go hand in hand. The visual part is very important as it is giving that first impression of a game, and nobody likes to play visually unappealing games. Equally, no player wants to play boring games – so good math is needed to ensure that the game is offering that thrill and excitement everyone is chasing. 

Good game creation is very much a harmony of lots of different aspects, so it is important to value each component of a game.

Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay: For me, design and mathematics exist in a state of symbiosis, since without one or the other, it is impossible to design a complex entertainment experience. Both have different purposes, so they cannot be compared or contrasted. 

The design and visual component of a slot is what attracts the player and inspires them to play, while mathematics is the factor that keeps them in the game. When a player presses the ‘Start’ button, he or she does not know what maths have gone into the design of a game – this decision is usually made out of curiosity. 

This is where the maths comes in – and it defines how much the player likes the game, and what impressions they will have from playing the game, which also impacts whether they return to the game or not.

Therefore, there is no winner, rather two fully-fledged components that complement each other.

Arcangelo Lonoce, Habanero: Visual aesthetics always play a key role in game design, but they are not the most important factor in determining the performance of a given slot. I once read a statement made by one of my industry colleagues that I wholeheartedly agree with, that in slot design, 40 per cent of the focus should be on visuals and 60 per cent on mathematical modelling.

Of course, there are no fixed set of rules as to how a game should be produced. However, my view is that, while it’s crucial for games to look good, even the most attractive design in the world cannot compensate for a game that utilises a weak maths model.
From a design perspective, the aesthetic is essential to ensure that a product is on par with the digital quality we have become accustomed to in recent years, however, these are not a game’s defining characteristics.
As we’ve discussed, it’s essential to strike the right balance between how a game looks from a player’s point of view, and the quality of the mathematics behind it. Having said that, there is no singular, definitive framework when it comes to creating great experiences.

The industry needs to promote organic ideas, since assuming that you can apply a checklist of game elements to ensure success will get you nowhere.