TALENTED FELLOWS FROM LITHUANIA – TINY LAB PRODUCTIONS
Let us introduce you our next team -Tiny Lab Productions. This is a small game dev studio from Lithuania, being run by 6 talented members: Jonas Abromaitis, Tomas Putanas, Valdas Jokubaitis, Artūras Šlajus, Mykolas Mickus and Sigitas Dilys. Only first three of them are currently in Estonia, other half is supporting them back home.
Jonas, the leader of the team, has been interested in game development from around 8th grade already. He remembers himself playing all sorts of games back then, until he started to find patterns in games and realized that someone actually made these games. So, he wanted to do the same and some years later sold his first game! In the university times, he met Artūras who had an idea for a browser-game. “First I was suspicious about this idea. But more and more I thought about it, I realized creating games is the thing I am in this world. That is why I was born,” admits Jonas. Back then they had only 4 members in their team – Artūras, really experienced programmer, Sigitas, who has invested his entire life into playing games, therefore his advice and experience is vital for the team, Mykolas aka “Robot from Neptune”, who is their algorithm master and Jonas as really fast programmer and excellent prototype creator. They were still missing designers, but finally they managed to find two awesome artists – Valdas, architect student creating really cool magazine cover worthy paintings and Tomas who changed his life by moving from Vilnius to Kaunas just to join the team and start creating astonishing 3D models. He was working in auto service as mechanic before, but he decided to follow his childhood dream to create games. Wow!
So, even though they were already working on their project called Nebula44, they did not have an office first. Then fortunately Kaunas University of Technology provided them free office space. As it was really small, without windows and with one closet inside the room that almost did not leave any space for working, they decided to call themselves as Tiny Lab Productions: “Our logo represents us sitting in our “office”,” adds Jonas. True story! However, the team thinks it was even best for them to be forced to be this close together and work on their project. Also this initiative from the mentioned university to give space to startups has later grown into bigger project – Startup Space (http://www.startupspace.org/), kind of a startup incubator.
Their first game created working as a team was Nebula44. At first they just had some ideas, started to build something without knowing what it actually was. After launching the core game, they got some feedback from the players which lead to improvement and adding new features – actually building a type of game that players wanted them to build. Now, during GameFounders programme, they are developing their newest game “Orborun”. What started with a really quickly generated idea for StartupWeekend Vilnius, is now developed as their grand project with high expectations.
Before participating GameFounders, the team was actually expecting to get somebody who would analyze deeply who they are, what problems they would encounter during their operational years, mistakes made and how to fix them and how to become world famous studio. “What we got with already the first week in GameFounders was more than we excpected of the whole programme!” says Jonas about their choice about coming to Tallinn. According to him, already after one month there was so much information that their heads were about to explode (in a good way)! BUT thanks to that, they got it clear who they are, what do they want and where are they heading with their studio.
Jonas, Valdas and Tomas are renting a flat in Õismäe. Even though it is not the most comfortable in the world, for example only one of them has a real bed, the others are enjoying pretty ascetic lifestyle on the floor, they are still fine with it. Most of the time they are working anyway and in the end of the day having a kitchen where to cook and place to sleep is all they need. As Jonas is the main chef and he likes to experiment in kitchen, the guys are pretty satisfied not going out for eating and do it home.
Guys claim that the first month in their Estonian apartment was the most interesting one. Besides some people sometimes yelling outside, one evening Jonas and his mates actually saw some smoke and fire coming out from the building. “We put our heads out from the window and there were 4 different fire engines in front of the house. Smoke was everywhere. We saw that the fire was probably at our neighbor´s apartment”. Since Lithuanians are carefree people, the guys didn’t let it bother them too much. Jonas continued chatting in Skype and the others continued doing their own stuff too. “Firefighters did a great job and the fire was out in short time, “ explains Jonas.
Living in Õismäe and working in Mustamäe has not been the best way to get to see more of Tallinn. Even all the free time they have, they try to invest in developing their game, so they are not really familiar to Tallinn and its streets. Funny story about Tallinn is happened to Artūras and Valdas. Wanting to go back home after an event in the center, Artūras picked up his phone to check the bus schedule to know when the next bus comes. This is basically what he read from the screen: “Next bus is coming soon. You should head to Estonia”, “Go to Estonia”. It was already getting weird because they knew they had been in Estonia for weeks. Later they found out that there is a bus stop called “Estonia”.
Talking about other GameFounders teams, Tiny Lab guys have only good words for them: “We enjoy how people are interested in helping you. Everybody wants to help you to solve any kind of problems”. They also mention great events after working hours and having the pleasure of getting to know others better.
Being away from home is sometimes hard even for them, carefree Lithuanians. Jonas misses his future wife (yes, another lucky guy from our teams is getting married in the end of July!), Tomas feels the same way about his girlfriend back in Lithuania. “She said to me that if I want to go somewhere far next time, she is coming with me!” says Tomas. There is just one month left now before they’ll be together again.
Tiny Lab Productions´ advice for the all of those who haven´t been to/applied for GameFounders: “Just come. Here you will get more than you expect!”
Tiny Lab Productions in Estonia (from left): Valdas, Jonas and Tomas