FNE Film Meets Games: Q&A with Branislav Cíbik - Game Producer of Slovak Darkvision Games

    Branislav Cíbik Branislav Cíbik credit: Hemisféra

    BRATISLAVA: FNE spoke to Branislav Cíbik, game producer of Slovak Darkvision Games, about the company’s current activities, as well as the state of the Slovak game development industry.

    Darkvision Games is a small indie games studio based in Bratislava, Slovakia. The seeds of their company were created during the Butterfly Effect training programme, where a seven-member team tried to transform the popular TV series Mimi and Lisa into a mobile game.

    Central and Eastern Europe is one of the most important locations for global games developers and studios, and artists in the region are increasingly working for both film and games. FNE looks at how these two sectors of the entertainment industry are converging and why this trend is important for the future development of both.

    FNE: When was Darkvision Games founded and what have been your main missions and strategic projects so far?

    Branislav Cíbik: We are a very young indie studio. The studio was founded in 2020 and we work on a 2D adventure with educational elements for children. The game is based on the famous local book and TV series Mimi and Lisa / Mimi a Líza directed by Katarína Kerekesová and Ivana Šebestová, and produced by Fool Moon in coproduction with Radio and TV Slovakia and ekran. As it is our first project we will consider our future plans after releasing it.

    FNE: What is the current situation in the Slovak gaming industry and what distinguishes it from the industry of other countries?

    Branislav Cíbik: Well, as a new studio we see how hard it is to establish a fully professional company and to receive investment for making games. The gaming industry is still one of the riskiest areas in business and the situation is no different in Slovakia. Fortunately, the environment here is more and more supportive. We have more and more educational programmes for students, and also the National Art Council, which supports potential projects financially.

    FNE: Film and games convergence is a hot topic now. What can you tell us about the relationship between the games development industry and film in your experience? Do you have any experience using VFX in terms of games?

    Branislav Cíbik: We work on a game based on famous Slovak TV cartoons for children, so we try to stay close to the original concept and idea, but still to transform it into a form of mobile/PC game. So we cooperate with the original film studio very closely and we also use 80% of the original graphic assets. For VFX we don't have experience so far, but we might consider it in future projects.

    FNE: Are games going to IPO on Slovak stock market and do the companies going to IPO include a film person or film projects?

    Branislav Cíbik: Well, the Slovak games development industry is too small and there is no IPO example as deep as I know. Our companies are far from that.

    FNE: Are there any Slovak films that are being turned into games or Slovak games that are being turned into films or TV series? What can you tell us about the TV series Mimi and Lisa that you worked on turning into games?

    Branislav Cíbik: Well, it seems that we are the very first studio which is going to try it. Mimi and Lisa has a very honourable message (the story is about the friendship between two girls of which one is completely blind, but that doesn't matter for them). The TV series was sold to several countries (Italy, Brazil, France, China, among others) and there are also three books, of which one won the best child book of 2021 in Taiwan.

    So this brand seems to have a potential for the gaming market as well. The game will be distributed around the world on iOS/Android and later on PC. After the results of this first release we will decide if there will be other sequels.

    FNE: What can you tell us about the Mimi and Lisa 2 game you are currently working on?

    Branislav Cíbik: Basically, Mimi and Lisa is a classic 2D point & click adventure with a strong emphasis on education puzzles and open mini-games, supporting the sand-box style of play. The main target group are children aged 6 to 8. The main platforms are tablets and mobiles with the Android and iOS operating systems. Later on we plan a PC version as well.

    FNE: How much is the turnover and how much % of expected growth in the Slovak Game industry? What can you tell us specifically about your company numbers?

    Branislav Cíbik: Well, I can't tell you about our numbers as they are under NDA protection. The Slovak Game industry is growing stable every year by 10%-15% on average, but I see difficult times ahead. So in 2023 the numbers can be very different after the influence of the coming secession, the growing inflation and the energy cost shock.

    FNE: How do you see the development of the relationship between the film and gaming industries?

    Branislav Cíbik: I see it as very complicated. They are still very different worlds with very different types of people. But the biggest difference I see is the consumption by the society. Films have a normal position, while games are not received the same way, at least not yet. We still have a long road ahead.