X3M GAMES – MACEDONIAN GUYS WITH MANY AWESOME GAMES
Macedonia is the country of origin for our next team – X3M Games. Nikola Tanchevski, Ivan Iskov and Zoran Mitrevski are those three who ended up in GameFounders programme and are currently living in Estonia. Back home they have a team working with them, building trailers, videos, animations, new art for the game etc. X3M Games employ 12 people in-house, but in Estonia the company has brought only three to cover three main areas – Nikola as creative director, experienced in business development, Ivan as the team’ s lead developer and Zoran for product management and marketing.
Their story goes back about 5 years when Nikola founded a company and was little by little training and hiring people and resources, because there was nobody around in this field. “I just had to create a school and train everybody”, says Nikola. After a few years Ivan and Zoran were brought on board as well.
How did this Macedonian team end up in Estonia? They were suggested to participate the MobileAppCamp SEE in Skopje where X3M Games won the Game Award. Nikola says the prize was theirs because the quality and production was strong and their company had about 8 of total 12 games at the show there, while all other companies applied with only one game. In the same conference they connected with BlackBerry and ported games for them in 15 minutes, therefore in the end presentation they were able to say that their product already works on BlackBerry 10 and Playbook. “All this was enough to get Lauri’ s attention”, says Nikola by referring the fact that at the same event, one of the co-founders of Gamefounders, Lauri, suggested the team to apply for their accelerator programme.
X3M Games differs from other teams quite a bit. Over the past years they have already made over 300 games, 400+ other design and coding projects, 1 animated short film and several short kids animations. Now they are switching from services to products and this is what makes them different. “We were talking with some other teams here and they were surprised to hear that we really make money out of services”, they say, “it’s a whole different product oriented mindset we are experiencing here now.”
Talking about their experience in the programme, all three mention the tight schedule with lot of different mentor meetings, seminars and events, especially in the first few weeks. “Starting from the beginning it was like putting the puzzle together, piece by piece and then set it on fire and do it again”, explains Zoran. “It can be a bit hectic here sometimes so try to keep the focus”, adds Nikola.
The same as other teams, Zoran, Nikola and Ivan are also living together and spending most of their time on work. In their opinion, this kind of lifestyle works out quite well for them. Knowing each other for years, Zoran and Nikola are quite used to each other’s company anyway. Ivan doesn’t seem to mind living with them either. Also all the household jobs are divided between everybody. Zoran is usually the master chef, while others have leveled up and “unlocked” all new epic skills like dish washing, ironing and cleaning. “We are dividing the tasks daily. If we are not that hungry, Ivan cooks. He is really progressing though”, says Nikola, laughing.
Talking about Macedonian cuisine, turns out that it is mostly based on meat and vegetables (like Estonians but more meat). However, Zoran mentions that the selection of vegetables and other fresh stuff in Estonian supermarkets are not that good as they would like: “You have potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, but it all tastes the same. The first thing I´m going to do when I get back home is to visit a nice Macedonian restaurant!” One thing they miss here too is the national drink – home-made Rakia (alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit, alcohol content for home-produced Rakia is typically 50% to 60%). They had brought some of it with them from Macedonia but since there have been lot of interest among their guests, they have sadly ran out of it. Other thing they lack is very hot pepper which cannot be found in Estonia.
As the 3-months period is short and intense, the daily routine has changed for them too. Being dedicated to developing a successful product and make a successful pitch is setting the limits to the recreation activities. “Back home I was working few days a week. Just enough for what was needed. Here I feel the drive to create something more in little time so it is 24/7”, admits Zoran. Nikola adds “Working on the product is working for the future of the company, this is the transition that we like to make for the business to be scalable, so slacking is not allowed”. “I am the lead developer, so I’ m supposed to work not only here but also at home?” asks Ivan after hearing what his team mates said.
Even though they have little free time, they still have had the pleasure to enjoy some field trips with local friends. Visiting Jägala waterfall, Old Town and KuMu are the most memorable ones. This team has also a pretty wide overview about the night clubs in Tallinn. At least some recreation, right? They also believe that Estonian marketing has been quite successful, before their arrival they had some kind of a dream image about Estonia. “The wind was not mentioned in the tourism brochures!” complains Ivan.
This team´s funny stories are mostly about Ivan getting lost somewhere.” The first couple of time we got lost together,“ explains Ivan, “but yes, the last time I was alone”. It turns out it is not the best idea to take trolley nr 6 instead of nr 3. You don´t actually know where you might end up.
The greatest discovery for them took place in one little Russian kiosk on the corner of their flat– they found a Nintendo from early nineties there. For the game people it was almost like finding gold! They had to use their hands and legs to make it understandable to the kiosk-keeper who only spoke Russian but it worked and now they enjoy playing classic console games at home.
What they really like about Estonia is the easy banking system that allows you to do almost all the banking stuff in internet without actually having to go to the bank. Nikola also mentions the transport system which in his opinion is good too, even though the vehicles might be really old sometimes. About Estonian people Ivan knows: “If you say “Tere” to them, they continue to speak Estonian with you”. However, they are pretty surprised about the high level of English language amongst younger crowd.
Being away from home for longer period always brings us to miss something. Ivan misses his guitar for example, Zoran brings up the clean mountain-air that they use to enjoy in their hometown Bitola. Nikola his family and the rest of the team. But otherwise they are fine being in Tallinn and enjoying their free (and not so free) moments fully.
To conclude, here is X3M Games´ advice for their successors: “Be focused and do your homework before coming!”
X3M Games in Estonia (from left): Nikola, Zoran and Ivan