The Making Of LIVE Beyond LIVE
Mr Green has always had a knack for inventing and creating the most extraordinary things. From tiny tyke inventing the ‘water talkie’ to revolutionizing the gaming industry over and over again as an adult – that’s Mr Green for ya!
Mr Green’s latest LIVE Beyond LIVE product venture with digital gaming provider NetEnt is yet another example of ingenuity. The 3D virtual Casino experience has brought a revolutionary new dimension to the world of Online Casino entertainment.
But how exactly do you go from the spark of an idea to a fully-fledged product like this? I was lucky enough to meet up with James Corrie, NetEnt’s Head of Studio operations who gave me a tour of the LIVE Beyond LIVE studio and answered all my burning questions.
So how exactly was the vision for LIVE Beyond Live born?
It all started with Per Norman and Jesper Kärrbrink from Mr Green coming to us with their Live Casino vision at ICE in 2017. Jesper said: ”We want you to develop the next wave of online gaming. Mr Green’s LIVE Beyond LIVE should be one immersive, believable virtual studio experience. We want to get rid of the physical constraints: this has to be a ”larger than life” experience.”
Together with a marketing agency called BLINK we got to work right away and a year later, we introduced this brand new experience on the very same conference.
Back in 2013 you had some of the technology framework behind the product already developed but believed that the features were too far ahead of the market at the time. Looking back now, how much has the actual product evolved from your original vision?
Let’s just say that LIVE Beyond Live opened opportunities that we always knew were there, but couldn’t utilize our technology to the fullest. The fully customized digital experience has been enriched thanks to NetEnt’s chroma key technology, which has realized its full potential with this product and adds a new dimension to the standardized live casino market. Mr Green saw the opportunity and invested in the best graphics to make this Live casino look perfect. We are grateful and happy that this cooperation is on its way and we have a lot more fun ahead of us.
From the very start of conceptualizing the product how did you bring your vision to life?
It was an exciting cooperation between Mr Green and NetEnt and an experience agency called BLINK. We had regular meetings amongst us and took all decisions together. Henrik, Mr Green’s Customer Advocate, dedicated a lot of his time to this project, thanks to him we never had to wait for approvals. That was a key element for succeeding on time. Then of course, one also needs to mention the training of dealers, who got excellent insights about the Mr Green brand from your colleagues. They really know what Mr Green players want and act according to that in front of the camera.
Along the way we included some external designers- and streaming experts to make sure we have all details set, but the core of the Product was built by the 3 companies I mentioned above.
LIVE Beyond Live is a beautifully designed 3D environment – and I can only imagine what a mammoth design task this must have been?
Indeed the design process was the most time consuming element of the building. Small details like a unique font and color combination of every single UI element took time to design- and then implement.
The most fun of course was the filming and implementation of real characters, who walk around the tables of this digital area. Some of these “actors” are employees of Mr Green, in fact your one-and-only Per Norman also makes an appearance.
LIVE Beyond Live boasts some pretty cool features such as the mini map, multi-table experience as well as being able to jump between them and even playing from a different view from Mr Green’s L.A penthouse! What inspired you to develop these unique features?
The inspiration was simply to go “beyond live” and to take down the constraints of a land based casino and truly offer a more rich experience than anyone could ever imagine. In the LIVE Beyond LIVE environment a virtual casino lobby opens the door to players, and inside they’ll find a multi-table environment with live dealers and a choice of different tables to join. Having multiple tables shown on one screen is nothing new, the “beyond live” element is the fact that random visitors are part of the casino scene and we also made sure to show activities of real players (in form of avatars) joining- and playing at each table.
Which of these features is your personal favourite and what makes it so unique to the industry?
Outstanding player experience is most important for me so I would mention 2 things: one is the fact that as a player you can see all events happening on each 4 tables. Seeing streaks of red / black for example is something I look at when I play as well, it’s very fun to see this pointed out to players.
The second thing is the dealer-change. I think it brings a lot of credibility to the product, that despite being a virtual experience you always see when dealers exit- and enter to a neighbour table. That transparency is something that creates trust in the product.
Looking at your studio set up and taking all of the technological aspects into consideration, how does everything just magically work together?
That’s a good point and in fact the most challenging aspect is to run this product 24/7. We had a lot of ideas along the road that had to be “side-lined” because it has to work all day, every day. Obviously “the show” could be even better if LIVE beyond- LIVE was a 2 hour TV programme where we can have people moving multiple cameras for example, but then again, a casino needs to be open at all times, we understand that.
Scheduling all dealers and making sure that the equipment is always tested, compliant and offers the best quality is a huge challenge. I’m thankful to my colleagues who do a great job to assure that.
LIVE Beyond Live features different camera angles within the game, how many cameras are in the studio? How is that set up different from your usual LIVE Casino set up?
Multiple tables, additional cameras and angles, immersive UX and visibility of the action on other tables are just some of the technological advances integrated into the product. The number of cameras is not the only thing that impacts the visual experience, we do digital zooming and play multiple animations, fly-ins and transition videos to create a very immersive experience. The great thing about the virtual environment is that we can always change something. No need to move the furniture around in Mr Green’s LA apartment – we can do it virtually!
So who is responsible if anything goes wrong in the studio? How many floor managers do you have working at any given time?
We have many teams within the studio all working together to make the magic happen. We always have eyes on the tables – not only ensuring everything is working but also ensuring our dealers are providing an amazing experience for the players. We also have 24/7 support helping out the floor managers and dealers on-site.
All in all, how long did it take to develop the product?
From idea to go-live it took around 15 months. However, it’s worth noting that a lot of the technology that enables LIVE Beyond LIVE has been created since 2014.
Why would you recommend players to play LIVE Beyond Live?
LIVE Beyond LIVE offers the richest online casino experience out there. Players like to be informed and entertained and this product makes sure you get the best of those 2 elements. The game offers outstanding streaming, razor sharp graphics and design, and crystal clear sound. The gameplay and user experience follows a perfect flow, there are no time lags. It’s easier to pick-up and play on the go as the whole experience was originally created for mobile devices.
Finally, I would point out that the product will continue to get even better: it will not stop evolving, therefore it always offers new surprises to its loyal players.