Math Meets iGaming: Alchemy Slots Studio

October 7th, 2021
Back Math Meets iGaming: Alchemy Slots Studio

As gamblers, we often focus on the theme, design, and, most importantly, the features of a slot game. There is much more involved in the development of such games as described by Alchemy. This slots studio creates engaging online games exclusively for Microgaming. In fact, they’re the team behind the launch of the first WowPot progressive, Wheel of Wishes. We caught up with Rory Harper and Mike Gaspar of Alchemy to gain some insight into the electrifying work the company is doing. Keep a close eye out for the launch of Africa X Up this October, which will debut a brand-new feature known as “Upsizer”. More on this and other tidbits in our exclusive interview.

Q: We’d like to begin with an overview of the company and its history.

Rory Harpur (CPO): I started as a mathematician within the industry about eleven years ago, working within maths, game design, and some leadership roles. I was in game design for around six years and then moved into data analytics also within the gaming space, analyzing what makes games work. Mike (Gaspar) and I got together to forge Alchemy because I wanted to get back into design.

Mike Gaspar (COO): I'm originally from the development space way back when developing Cobol. I moved into the IT space and other leadership positions and have mainly been in operations, so delivery of software development is basically my niche. With Alchemy there was an opportunity to bring a whole load of people together that had niches. Rory's obviously got a game designer and maths niche, while mine is in operational and delivery, and we had a lot of people that have masses of experience in games. We saw an opportunity to create a new group out of existing entities that could build a really tight and small team. We're a tiny team, but that gives us the ability to be agile and move, and that's what we're looking for - the ability for Alchemy to create that magic, that chemistry. That's where Alchemy came from - art and science come together in all we do.

Q: What led to the partnership with Microgaming and what was it like creating the first game for them?

Rory: We were born from within the Microgaming ecosystem as Alchemy. As for the first game, it was quite innovative in that we launched Wheel of Wishes, which was the first progressive game for Microgaming in something like fourteen years. It was also the launch of the new WowPot progressive jackpot – essentially the biggest jackpot in the world. The fact that we had such a heavyweight like Microgaming supporting us allowed us to collaborate on creating this industry-leading jackpot.

Q: While it’s not something players may often consider, math is a critical aspect of slots. Can you delve a bit deeper into what role it plays and the difficulties involved in getting it right?

Rory: That's quite a nice question for us because one of the things that we are founded on as a studio is very much a maths-first approach to design. I'm a mathematician, so the fact that it's my natural approach to everything means that it definitely forms the core of what we're doing. I personally think it's absolutely critical that the maths and the artwork are together in harmony. I don't think there's any perfect formula mathematically, I think it's all about how the elements play together – the maths, the mechanics, and the art. 'How do we get it right?' is an interesting question. I think a lot of that is years of experience and a feel for how we're steering players' expectations, and an understanding of where the potential is in a game. We go through countless iterations of maths models with subtle tweaks, plus many hours of playtesting and lots of statistical modeling to understand how different players might experience the game.

Q: What are your thoughts on players’ beliefs in slot strategies?

Rory: We think that player strategies are very important. We understand and acknowledge that players want to play the game in different ways. We want to provide multiple options and multiple paths and player experiences within our games, rather than having a single one-dimensional experience every time. In a lot of the games that we've created, we create multiple ways for players to interact with the game. In Wheel of Wishes, we have a boost mechanic where players can change the game with an increased bet for a heightened experience. We have the Hyperspins™ mechanic in two of our other games where players can choose to respin a single reel. In our latest game, Africa X Up, we have a feature that allows players to go straight into the bonus feature and also a special feature where they can choose multiple different options of how they want the feature to play out. We have even more ideas in the same kind of vein coming up in future games.

Q: What’s next in terms of projects and game releases?

Rory: Africa X Up has just recently gone live; it's a very big release from us. It's definitely our best and biggest release so far, and it seems to be very successful. We've also got a game coming out scheduled for release in October, which is an extension on the X Up™ feature that we launched in Africa X Up. We've seen spectacular success in Africa X Up so we're really excited about what's coming in Chronicles of Olympus X Up. We are expecting really big things from it. It is very similar mechanically to Africa X Up, but it's taking the core concept and delivering bigger win potential, more excitement, higher multipliers, and is basically a leveled-up version of Africa X Up. Within that game, we're also really excited that there's a new patent-pending feature called the “Upsizer”, which is going to be pretty cool.

Q: Where do you see the future of online slots development heading?

Mike: Players want choice. Players want something that they can engage with, explore and play in their way as opposed to being dictated to in a one-dimensional space. I see products that create opportunities for players to interact with the games in multiple dimensional spaces as the future of online gaming – choice for players so that they can engage, as opposed to having just one button to press.

“Players want something that they can engage with.”

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