When was the first time you saw a computer?
In second or third grade while on a class educational trip to visit the rubber production plant Barum Red October (Red October named after Lenin's October 1917 Russian Revolution). It's all a bit foggy now, though I remember having the feeling that it looked like a washing machine. They printed some images of Manka with Rumcajs (characters from a classic Czech fairytale) for us, composed of numbers or characters, I really can't remember. Everyone got to take one home. The teacher's pets also got to take a punch card.
And when did you play your first game?
Sometime during second grade at elementary school. My friend's mother had an Italian boyfriend and, in addition to other super things, he brought a games console with him in his Mercedes (a Mercedes, an Italian and a game console - rare beasts during communism). I guess that the console was red. Or maybe that was that Russian television. After playing Formula One for a little while, I realised that I'd rather go out and play soccer instead.
The first game that really captured my interest was Prince of Persia. My mother, who is a teacher, borrowed a PC from school during the summer holidays, some old 286 I guess, or maybe even something older. The version of Prince of Persia that I played didn't allow you to save your games for some reason. So after six hours of playing with a flickering before my eyes (at that time those two-color monitors weren't much to write home about) somewhere around level 11 I was impaled, I really believed I was a goner. I'm afraid that I haven't experienced any other game in the same way since.
And what do you play now?
Ever since I started with preparations for the company, I have rather paradoxically nearly stopped playing. Due to time constraints, I have left all the game playing up to my brother. Otherwise, I am looking forward to the moment when things calm down a bit and I get down to playing a few games that I have so far only dabbled with, such as Mafia or Max Payne. I would also like to try some of the business strategy games such as Capitalism or Start Up. The last games that I truly played were Need for Speed and Delta Force.
What lead you to establish your own company?
My brother came up with the idea. As usual when starting a company, he had the feeling that he could do things better than the companies with which he has had some experience. He approached me with the idea that I would take care of communication with the game publisher, company management and so on. At first, I rather quickly turned the whole offer down - I had the feeling that it was all his operation and that I would only be a tool for the realisation of his ideas in this, by his own admission terms, otherwise simple endeavour. Apart from other things he declared, with a helluva lot of passion, that games are to contemporary culture what film was to the 1930s. By chance and following this discussion, I went to a kind of hardcore (to use game terminology) film festival. The comparison was drilled into my head and after spending a week in the cinema, I saw with my own eyes that film, in contrast to games, has not changed significantly in the last 30 years. So, I decided to find out just exactly what game development was all about.
After several weeks of studying how the game industry worked, I came to the conclusion that it's probably not as simple as my brother had initially portrayed it to be. In the end, a combination of my brother's provocation and the sense of challenge I was getting both won me over.
What did you do before and why did decide to leave it?
By a strange turn of events, I was living a white-collar existence albeit in a red t-shirt, working within the IT business, specifically in software distribution. I think that it was quite a good learning experience. I became acquainted with foreign companies, international business and business in general. It was, however, a bit too sterile for my taste. Games are more rock 'n' roll.
What kind of ambitions do you bring with you?
If you take a look at our profile, you will probably say that we are not small.
But ambitions are the foundation of it all. If a person lacks ambition, well, they will probably have a hard time reaching beyond the average mark. Perhaps our ambitions are even larger than we mention in the profile, but the crucial first step is to create a successful AAA game. This will help us to open up further opportunities that we would like to build on.
Why do you think that your studio will be successful when everywhere you look there are so many game development teams who, just like you, are desperate to succeed?
There are many factors, so I will address only the most fundamental and the most important.
We don't leave anything to chance. Our initial preparations have been underway for almost a year now. On the one hand, this is a relatively long time, but, importantly, this has enabled us to play around with things that developers caught in the development cycle probably can't find time to address. These things involve design, the formation of a team and the company overall.
In combination with the game's design our theme will differentiate us from other current games. Yet neither the game nor the theme will limit the range of potential players we can address. When a publisher markets a sci-fi or military action game with which the market is already saturated, it's not easy to differentiate it from the rest of the games out there. With our game it should be significantly easier.
I also believe in the team that will work on the game and this is always a vital element in achieving success.
Furthermore the level of development costs in the Czech Republic is definitely very important. Game development costs more and more these days and only a narrow range of games sells well. This means that many games developed in the west don't even cover the development and marketing costs behind the game.
We can pay our employees well and still cost only a third of what it costs to develop a game in the U.S. Therefore, should our game achieve only average sales, our publisher will still make a profit.
By the way, Hra01 ... sounds a little bit strange?
OK, Hra is not a common English word. Actually it is not an English word at all but means "game" in Czech. Maybe it looks strange to have a Czech name for a company focusing on the global market, but we like the Czech language and we think that this name may give us a cognitive uniqueness. 01 means the first company, plus we are developing digital games consisting of zeros and ones.