#HotspotInterview with Ionut Codreanu – Head of Studio Funcom Bucharest

Today is a big day for one of our #MembersOfHotspot: Funcom launches the much awaited game Metal: Hellsinger, a rhythm FPS, brimming with impressively designed characters, powerful weapons, and metal music. A big congrats from our #hotspotcommunity! On this occasion we had a talk with Ionut Codreanu – Head of Studio Funcom Bucharest – about their super team, what the local studio does and their creative world at Hotspot:

 

Tell us a few words about Funcom global.

Funcom is a Norwegian company, one of the oldest in the gaming industry. We have been on the market for 29 years, so we’re also one of the long lasting companies. In all this time, Funcom gained a wide experience from its ups and downs and the variations of the industry. We are proud of our moments of resounding success but also of overcoming the challenging ones.

 

What do you consider were two of those pivotal moments?

We have one of the oldest games still alive, released 20 years ago – Anarchy Online – a MMO. At the time, it was a technological and design breakthrough. An innovative game that built a very engaged community that is still playing and that is stil active, after all these years, keeping the game alive.

The more difficult moments were generated by the fact that we are a company that took risks and wanted to grow, to do something new, to innovate. And business is no different than life: Earn or learn. Learning can come with certain costs. 

But we overcame all the situations and now we are again in a period of accelerated growth. We have the very popular Conan Exiles game on the market, which has more than five million people who have tried it. Also, we are working on Dune Awakening, an MMO survival game in Frank Herbert’s universe. It’s a big game, our most ambitious game yet.

 

What was your first impression about Hotspot Workhub?

Hotspot amazed me. When we were scouting for the future space of Funcom Bucharest, it was among the options that we knew nothing about. Initially, I came somewhat circumspect but I was impressed. I realized that it is truly a space for professionals.

I noticed the very open and bright lobby and the innovative concepts, such as these surprising office areas positioned on two levels on the same floor. Everything is of quality and you feel you can work efficiently. It has a catchy and smart design – not too sober, not too crowded – something you rarely find in coworking spaces. Also the furniture and the color palette of the space are also very important. Here you find a very good balance in all these aspects. You can work quietly, without distractions, the flow of the day is smooth, from the work space to the relaxation and dining areas. It’s those little things that make the difference in the long run.

 

What does the team from Hotspot work at?

A year ago we opened a center of excellence for quality assurance, located in Horspot Workhub. The team from Bucharest is working on these two games I was talking about – Conan Exiles and Dune – but worked also on Metal: Hellsinger to prepare it for release. It was announced recently and had a demo with very good reviews and feedback from players and critics.

In parallel, we are also focusing on opening an automation team, which will work closely with the QA team, but also for everything that means automation and processes in game development.

 

How was the team’s process of development in Hotspot Horkhub?

The team has grown a lot on Quality Assurance. We started in a very small office compared to what we have now. There was initially one man who worked locally, then two, three, five. From five people we already predicted that we would grow quite quickly – 10 more people were already coming. So we made our first expansion in Hotspot, the second was with a larger space, and now we are at the third expansion.

 

What Hotspot facilities does the team use and likes?

The lobby offers you a lot of space and gives you the feeling of freedom. At dinner it turns into a social area where members gather, eat and discuss. Many connections have already been created between colleagues from different companies. We also really like the conference room, where we even organized a Dune screening. We made a total event around this projection and we were able to transpose our concept in this space – popcorn machine, decorations, etc. I cannot fail to mention the game corner that we created together with Hotspot where you can go during breaks to relax with a game. Also, I have to mention a little personal pleasure, the fact that we have a mineral water option!

The space is always functional!  You have options at your fingertips for the various daily needs, balancing the facilities and needs for quieter or private moments, with those for the moments when you want interaction. It helps you to have the life and work balance you are looking for.

 

What are Funcom Bucharest’s future perspectives?

We are working on our most ambitious game and it will be another boom for the company. It’s a game in Frank Herbert’s universe. Last year the film got a resounding success, including this year at the Oscars. And we take this universe excellently staged by Denis Villeneuve and make an excellent game with it. Yes…no pressure! It’s a challenge, but we all want it! You want to have the opportunity to create something extraordinary, to create entertainment. It’s one of the dreams of game creators and creators in general – to have the opportunity to create something exceptional for the user.

 

Last but not least: How would you describe Hotspot in 3 words?

Bright, vibrant and of quality.

I mention here that the most important thing and what I liked here the most was the openness of the people, the flexibility. But I would’t use “flexible” among these words, because it would say less than I want to say. Over the course of a year, we expanded three times and always found suitable solutions, so that people stay together. We had ideas out of the box and we had a partner with whom we could implement them. We were also able to initiate projects, which is the dream of any entrepreneur.

 

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