This interview with Gaming Net talked a little with the Brazilian Giovanni “gio” Deniz. He tells us a little about how he started in Counter Strike, the problems that are faced every day in the profession. In addition to Coach, gio is an analyst, narrator / commentator for Counter Strike Global Offensive.
Giovanni is also a professor at Games Academy. Games Academy is an online teaching platform that seeks to help Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players improve performance in Valve’s game. Created by the Brazilian pro player Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, who currently defends MIBR, the platform offers classes by subscription.
How was your first contact with Counter Strike?
In 2001 ~ 2002 once a week my brother and I went to a Lan House here in the neighborhood to play Tibia. One day he went only with friends and I couldn’t go, he came back cracked in Counter Strike. He introduced me, took me the other week to play and I never stopped playing.
You started your career in Counter Strike as a Player and today you are a Coach, tell us about your career in the game.
I even competed in smaller teams on Counter Strike 1.6, I didn’t get to the professional level at the time because it was much more restricted than it is today. I played championships between 2009 and 2010, and then I came back in 2015 already at CS:GO. At CS:GO, as a better PC was needed to play, I ended up studying more than playing. I used my knowledge to act as a coach, trying to develop myself as a person and professional in the best possible way.
Not only the players, but the coaches also encounter some difficulties during their career, did any of these lead you to think about giving up this profession?
I think my biggest difficulty has always been financial … As I got “old” on the scene and without a financial structure behind it, life charged me a lot. I sold a company just before I dedicated myself to Counter Strike and I managed to pay off in time. When, through community analysis, I managed to make a salary, since the teams I worked at the time did not even pay a living allowance.
Much is said today about the work of psychology with eSports players. In situations within the game, can the Coach guide the players in order to control the emotion or something?
The coach only talks in the clubs, so the preparation is pre-game, when exchanging halfs and between maps. The work of psychologists and sports psychology is always done during training. The player needs to be used to the techniques of emotional control.
You as well as Coach are Analyst/Commentator/Narrator/Teacher, do you think that all these functions that you end up adding to each other?
Without a doubt! It also gets in the way of trying to produce content where I need to focus more on analytics or coaching. But I have been looking for a very strong balance in relation to this and it has been good!
You had a passage last year by the Brazilian team of W7M, what is your expectation for the Brazilian scenario for the next years?
I believe that the Counter Strike scene tends to grow in 2020 and 2021 with strength. But for that, not only do organizations depend on making this delivery, but players (in general) need to have more maturity. More professionalism and taking Counter Strike as a job. I think there is a little lack of that on the Brazilian scene. Comply with schedules, respect training, train properly, focus on evolving the collective and help the scene as a whole. We have a lot of arrogance on the professional scene and this is detrimental in the long run.
Finally, what was the most remarkable moment in your career in Counter Strike so far?
I believe that as a Coach, the XLG Cup final was an absurd career milestone. First face-to-face final played at a Comic Con. As caster and influencer, without a doubt ESL One Belo Horizonte. That event was surreal in many ways. I did the narration that opened Mineirinho, I narrated SK’s first victory on the Stage, I received an extraordinary affection from the audience… It was the happiest moment I had working with Counter Strike, without a doubt!
If you want to check out Giovanni “gio” Deniz’s social networks:
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.