Alisa Chumachenko is the CEO of GOSU.AI, an AI assistant that helps gamers to become better players. GOSU.AI improve your skills through the detailed analysis of matches.
When did you initially fall in love with gaming?
I think it all started when I was 5 years old and was still living in the USA. My mom got me a Nintendo and since then gaming has been a big part of my life. I used to spend a lot of time playing MMO games like World of Warcraft or Lineage 2, loads of mobile games and now I am testing various games for kids since I have a little daughter myself.
You have quite the entrepreneurial streak having founded Game Insight, a leading innovator of mobile and social games in 2009. What inspired you to launch your own gaming studio?
Originally, I have studied to be a theatre director and worked as an ice artist in a circus for around 10 years. At some point while playing an online game I met a popular russian singer Sergey Zhukov. At that time Sergey has also been a shareholder in the company “Territory” where I have been offered a job.
A bit later the company was renamed into ASTRUM Online Entertainment and in 2009 was merged with Mail.ru forming a holding company Mail.ru Group.
The merger was conflicting and difficult, hence, I decided to quit. Immediately after quitting I have received a lot of offers from multiple developers which lead me to an idea of making a game incubator. That is how Game Insight has started.
We were the pioneers of the social and mobile market. It turned out that our experience in game development, marketing and free-to-play model was very relevant in the new industry. Game Insight has been in the top 20 mobile game developers worldwide and was the first company in the world to launch a microtransaction on Google prior to Google Play being a thing. We were also first to introduce a city-building idea with the launch of a game called Paradise Island. It is amazing to innovate a new emerging industry. It inspired us a lot.
What were some of the games that were launched on Game Insight and what did you learn from the experience?
In total we have launched over 45 games with over 200 releases on different platforms like Facebook, VKontakte, iOS, Android or Windows. Most notable games were Paradise Island, Airport-City and Dragon Eternity.
It would be hard to emphasize one or a few specific experiences while being with Game Insight. It was a very fast paced environment that demanded us to be agile, versatile and creative.
In 2017, you went on to launch GOSU.AI. What was the inspiration behind this startup?
I personally am a big fan of real-time in-game AI personalization. I believe that it is the future that is being built right now. AI can help to understand user habits and preferences and even do some little adjustments that would lead to a much better user experience.
Here in GOSU Data Lab we are dealing with AI in different games. What technology can already do fits the definition of fiction, hence, technology is the new magic.
What are some of the games that are currently offered on the platform, and are there plans on adding additional games to the network?
Currently our tool is compatible with both leading MOBA franchises in the world – Dota 2 and League of Legends. In the long run we are definitely looking to expand the list of games that we support, however, that might take some time since we are a start-up company and our team is considerably small for a very fast expansion.
GOSU.AI enables players to play smarter and improve their skills through the detailed analysis of matches and to get personal recommendations. Could you describe some of the artificial intelligence technologies that are used to help gamers improve their gameplay?
Using classical ML algorithms such as Random Forest or Gradient Boosting, and Rule-Based models, GOSU Data Platform fire triggers like “User starts fighting”, “User has learned ability Q”, etc. As a result, the user gets predefined messages like “Use Q and W before the ultimate, to boost your damage”, “When Ahri uses Q it sends out and pulls back her orb …”, etc
What type of recommendations should players expect?
Our experience shows that usually users are most interested in in-game items and skill builds, laning advice or some technical questions that are related to the game. E.g. “What items to buy?”, “What should I do in my lane”, “What is the cooldown of Pudge’s Meat Hook skill”?, etc. With this information we have built a tool that is predicting most of the questions players can have and we are proactively giving advice based on real time in-game situations. GOSU.AI is a second screen gaming buddy that contains everything that a player might need.
How will AI aid the development of a user’s skill set in the future?
Currently our assistant is pretty simple. It provides tips and voice guides for 2 specific games. In the near future future GOSU Voice Assistant will have more functionality:
- In-game tutorial: a basic introduction to the game for beginners.
- Wiki knowledge base: AI will be able to provide detailed information about game related questions.
- Team Play: a feature allowing users to share GOSU Assistant to their friends that are not using our service.
- Data based information: personal statistics, infographics, etc.
This is just a part of ideas that we have for our tool development. There is plenty more that we are testing or gathering more information about. Some ideas are fairly crazy – what if AI would offer you to get or even order some food for you? Or suggest to take a quick stretch after a lengthy gaming session? We are a company that is making a tool for gamers that is made by gamers, thus, you can definitely expect some interesting functionality in the future.
What is the GOSU Club and what benefits will players receive?
GOSU Club is our opportunity to say thank you to our loyal users. First of all, of course, absence of advertisements while using the application. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to participate in product development. GOSU Club members have access to a private discord channel where they can chat with developers and high skill and rank players. Club members can directly ask for advice or even request a demo review and be given personalized advice. We are very grateful to all GOSU Club members, because we feel their support and they motivate us to make a really high-quality product.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about GOSU.AI?
AI and deep learning help our assistant to turn the gaming experience to the angle that the players like the best. And do it in real-time. Real-time AI personalization is the future of the games and this is the magic that our assistant can do now and will do much better in the future. There is a lot of talk about AI right now – we are doing a very simple thing – we are not developing a super-magical AI that is talked about breathlessly at business conferences. We do applied things – we do real things. We adapt existing technologies to a specific product, to a specific game, so to speak. If you dig deep into it, there is no actual magic inside. It is our job to take the technology that is available and adapt it to the application tasks. However, if you look at it with the user’s eye, it’s magic in action. This is the future that is already here.
Thank you for the great interview, I really enjoyed learning more about GOSU.ai.
Uri Marchand, CEO and Co-Founder of Overwolf – Interview Series
Uri Marchand, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Overwolf which is a guild for in-game creators, that empowers them to create, grow, and monetize in-game apps and mods. Built for creators by creators, Overwolf is uniting the in-game creator community, giving them everything they need to make a living doing what they love – developing truly awesome gaming experiences, that gamers and game developer benefit from.
When did you initially fall in love with gaming?
I’ve been playing games since I was about six years old, but the game that had the most impact on me in the early days was Dune2. I loved the mechanics of a real-time strategy (RTS) game, and spent countless hours playing.
When you initially started Overwolf in 2010 you had a big ambition to build apps for all gamers. Could you tell us about these early genesis days, such as what inspired you to launch Overwolf?
When we started, our aim was to build a swiss-army knife type software, with all the features we were missing while playing games. Our first features included in-game overlay apps for Skype, Facebook, game capture and even an in-game web browser. The key inspiration came from either the features we were missing or from existing products and use cases that we felt could be done a lot better if designed specifically for gamers.
At the end of 2013, you decided to pivot Overwolf towards creating a framework for others to develop on the Overwolf platform. What inspired this pivot?
As I just mentioned, we started as creators ourselves, building apps for the games we played. As creators, we understood all the difficulties third-party developers have around building apps for games, and we understood that we can’t build everything ourselves. So, we decided to pivot and build an open framework. Today, Overwolf is the guild for in-game creators. With over 30,000 creators and 12 million monthly active users, Overwolf is the all-in-one platform that enables creators to create, distribute, and monetize in-game apps and mods. We are on a mission to unite the in-game creator community and empower them to make a living doing what they love – developing truly awesome gaming creations.
Can you discuss how Overwolf enables developers to create, distribute, and monetize apps for existing games?
Third-party content around games, which includes apps, mods, or gaming websites has existed since the genesis of gaming. Passionate gamers who were also techies chimed in and helped in the creation of content for their favorite games. But, up until today, these creators were scattered, isolated, and out of the spotlight. Millions of gamers enjoy their creations, but they don’t get the credit or the compensation for it. They lack the advanced tools, the distribution, or the resources AAA developers already have.
Overwolf is changing that by being the all-in-one platform for in-game creators. Aside from the tech platform, Overwolf offers creators a lot of resources to get started and stay focused. Services like QA and testing by pro gamers, technical support, development resources, and marketing solutions, allow creators to solely focus on building the best app they can. In only a few weeks, creators are able to build and publish a high-quality app, share it with millions of gamers, and turn a hobby into a lucrative business. Once the app is up and running, there are two main monetization tools the creator can choose from: premium subscriptions and in-app ads.
For the first time, we’re seeing more and more in-game creators making a living from building apps for games, and thus creating a new profession – an in-game creator. This is similar to a YouTube, or a Twitch streamer, but instead of the creator being a very good gamer or entertainer, she’s a developer.
What are some of the notable apps that have been created on the Overwolf platform?
We have the honor of working with some extremely talented creators that work relentlessly to bring apps to gamers that will truly enhance their game experience. One of our top-rated apps is Porofessor which helps League of Legends players understand their match statistics, improve performance, and provide other key aspects of gameplay. The creator of this app actually began coding when he was only eleven years old, making games for his family and friends.
Tracker Network’s R6 Tracker app is also one of the most popular Rainbow Six Siege apps on Overwolf. The CEO of Tracker Network was able to turn his gaming websites into in-game apps and scale incredibly fast. He went from a one-man show to a company with a team of five employees and over 2.5 million registered users across the most popular game titles like Valorant, Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege.
Another is TFTactics which helps players make winning strategy choices in Teamfight Tactics, with suggested builds, item references, and even a match analysis system to help players self-review and improve.
What type of apps/games are generally more popular?
While we can’t share commercial details, download numbers are public and often reflect the most successful apps. Some of the most popular are Porofessor, Facecheck, R6Tracker, TFTactics, Outplayed, Fuze.tv, R6Tab, Firestone, Heartharena, and more. The apps that are most popular tend to align with the game titles that are played widely so apps for League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics, Dota 2, and Rainbow Six Siege.
Overwolf partnered with Intel to create a fund to empower developers to create apps on the Overwolf platform. What are the things that you look for when reviewing applications?
When we review applications we are mainly looking for an idea we’d be excited about as gamers, and for a product-team fit. We want to make sure that the team that’s going to take the challenge has everything they need to succeed.
Since the launch, we’ve invested $3M out of the $7M and we generate about $1.5 for every dollar invested and have incredible success stories like Amit Tsur who was a lone-wolf developer that single-handedly created the app DotaPlus, one of Overwolf’s most successful DOTA 2 apps with over 400,000 downloads. The Fund allowed him to quit his dev position at a prominent tech company and to make a career out of his passion.
The fund grants between $10K and $150K to each approved creator, depending on their needs and the potential value of their app or mod.
What are some traits that make some developers more successful on the platform than others?
Creators who create from true passion, with a real love of the game and a culture of iteration based on community feedback usually succeed more than others.
Creators who are not only willing to listen to feedback but request it frequently are always more successful than those who don’t take fan feedback into consideration. The most successful creators take the recommendations from fans, iterate on their apps, and constantly have a pulse on what others are saying. In return, the market rewards them with more downloads, more shares, and more positive mentions.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Overwolf?
The top 25% of in-game creators on Overwolf are pulling in more than $30,000 a month, and a few are even poised to make more than $1 million this year. As a whole, Overwolf is on track to pay out $10 million to its creators in the coming year. We are proud to be able to offer in-game app creators and mod authors legitimate ways to turn their passion into a profitable profession. We’re here for the long run and would love to serve as many creators as we can.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Overwolf.
Olcay Yılmazçoban, Co-founder & CEO of SenpAI – Interview Series
Graeme Winder, Founder of MeloQuest – Interview Series
Graeme Winder is the Founder of MeloQuest, the company behind the world’s first role-playing game, Keys & Kingdoms, that trains real musical skills and abilities in a whole new way. Joining the journey along the way, was the former CCO of Activision Blizzard and creator of Guitar Hero, Brian Hodous.
When did you first fall in love with gaming?
I’ll never forget the day when the original Nintendo system came out and I begged and pleaded with my mom to get it for me. Well, that next Christmas, Santa delivered! That was the beginning of my epic journey into gaming.
You also have a deep passion for music. Could you share with us how you discovered that music would play such an important role in your life?
I knew from a very early age that music moved me deeply. I also knew that I was horrible at learning music through reading, and yet, I could play just about anything I heard. This disconnect that I felt, and the challenges that would come with it, would prove to be the foundation of creating the innovation in the method that we implement today.
What are some of the current limitations with how we currently teach music?
The biggest limitation I see in music education is that the most important piece to the learning process is being left out of the equation… this piece is the student themselves. We all carry a tremendous amount of musical experience inside of us because we listen to or are exposed to music almost every day of our lives. This incredible wealth of experience is almost always overlooked or left out of more traditional learning environments. At MeloQuest, we believe it is the key to unlocking a person’s true musical power!
When did you initially come across the concept of using games to teach music?
After my first attempt at this failed, I had to take a long look in the mirror and realize that the edtech software we had built just wasn’t entertaining enough for our audience. We knew the method was powerful, but the product execution was poor. So after hitting the reset button, I decided to flip the product model upside down and create an amazingly fun game first—and then bake our secret sauce into it.
Could you tell us about the world’s first role-playing game that trains real music skills Keys & Kingdoms. What’s the storyline in this game?
It’s really an amazing storyline that Leviathan Games developed. You start off in your own virtual room much like your room in the real world. Suddenly, there is a rip through space and time and a portal to another fantasy world emerges. This world is under constant threat of the ‘waste’ and only those with musical powers can save them. The overarching theme is not good vs. evil, but rather forces of creation vs. forces of destruction. I love the philosophical message here to the players that says that things you pour your energy and effort into (like music learning) will prosper and grow. However, things you neglect and put off will eventually crumble to dust.
How does the game optimize how children learn music?
We have built something very close to AI called the Adaptive Learning Engine. The game constantly monitors the success/fail rates of everything the player engages with in the game and it does this independently throughout five unique verticals. What all this means is simply the game will quickly meet you where you are at, whether a complete beginner or seasoned pro, and develop your unique abilities at your pace.
How much replay value is there in this game. How much time can children be expected to play?
Well, just like music itself, we hope the journey never really ends. Personally, I hope children get used to logging in everyday and playing songs to chase away the waste. New content, songs and challenges are updated every few weeks. One of the sticky points in the game is that if you do not log in regularly, your island world will slowly be devoured by the waste. Also, as we all know, repetition with songs and learning are very important in building up skills quickly and efficiently. The game uses many well-known RPG tricks to keep engaging the players over and over.
What type of games will MeloQuest be working on in the future?
As excited as we are now with Keys & Kingdoms, the future looks even more amazing! We have plans ready to go to bring in multiplayer (imagine battling with your friends and it feels like band practice!) and other instruments outside of the keyboard. The fun in learning music will certainly never end!
Is there anything else that you want to share about Keys & Kingdoms or Meloquest?
I’m just so humbled and proud of the incredible team that has joined me on this amazing journey. These are extremely talented individuals who all collectively believe in shaping a better world through the power of music. I couldn’t be more blessed to do what I do everyday!
Thank you for the interview. Readers who wish to learn more about the game should visit the Keys & Kingdoms website.