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Beyond Hands: The Essence of a True Specialist

By Yaroslav Rubanov


Hi, I'm Yaroslav Rubanov, Lead Animator/Integrator at Burny Games. When we started this company, I was there from day one. Today, I'm going to share five key principles that I follow, and they've never let me down. I will tell you about my journey and hopefully, whether you're a veteran of mobile games or just dipping your toes in, you'll find something useful here.

Growing Up a Gamer

I grew up a curious kid. Not book-smart, curious, more like: “Why does that tree have rough bark, but this one is smooth?”. I was also obsessed with video games. Lineage with my buddies, tinkering with my server — if it had pixels, I was into it. That probably explains why a traditional 9-to-5 job never appealed to me. This gamer mindset brought me to Kyiv to study mechanical engineering. Surprise, surprise… I was the only freshman who knew AutoCAD software! That's thanks to some awesome high school teachers who emphasized 3D thinking. By my third year, I had an offer to create 3D models for games. The games weren't masterpieces, but they got my foot in the door. Next up? Flash games (remember those?).

Career Highlights

That Flash gig was a whirlwind. We went from two 3D artists to a team of 50. I fueled myself with pure enthusiasm and somehow led that team. Talk about burnout! But hey, you grow from those experiences, right?

Flash games faded, but my next stop was a brand-new VR/AR startup. That's when I expanded beyond modeling to effects, animation, and the whole nine yards. I was also sharing my journey on LinkedIn which led to some offers...

...Including one from a big-name gaming company. But a month-long interview process for a role with little creative control? No thanks. Then, a tiny team developing "Super Cooker" reached out. That intimate atmosphere, that drives me to create something new — that was my place. It's been a wild ride! And that's how my core work principles were born, which I follow daily. 

Principles of Work

Even the beginning of the war did not stop us from launching the Super Cooker on the market. We were all motivated and had a good understanding of what and why we were doing. This project gathered a solid technical team and became the basis for the further creation of Burny Games with powerful leadership, more support, a big mission, and a bunch of ideas that everyone on the team is now passionate about. The core motivation that keeps me going:

My work is my hobby — vice versa. 

This is what sets me apart from everyone who counts down the hours until the end of the workweek. I love what I do because I find it all interesting. This is why I can even check everything that needs to be done in the middle of the night. With this approach, over time, I have formed 5 principles that I follow in my work every day and which I want to share with you:

1. Close and fruitful communication between designers, animators, and developers:

  • I put everyone's vision together into one. This is the team synergy we need to understand what kind of product we are making.

2. Overall product quality:

  • Everyone in our workflow should understand what we are striving for so that the quality of the whole product is the highest, not only in isolated cases. To achieve this, we make animation concepts and think through every step. This is our top-notch - we transfer the designers' vision to Unity, so the developers understand how it should work. I kind of zoom out and show all the features of the product.

3. Team motivation:

  • Each person in the team should not just do tasks but create a product. To do this, I immerse each employee in the idea and try to convey the importance of their role. I find a personal approach and let them work independently on their part without micromanagement. I don't need a specialist who does the task that falls on him because anyone can do that.

4. Revolutionary technologies + understanding of the project as a whole:

  • Blender, Unity, and other programs are just tools. Technologies have already been squeezed to the maximum and everything and even more has been created. Now, we need to understand which approach is the best to make a game and how to combine these technologies. I try to keep my team constantly developing. They even have a training plan that seems to be enough for a lifetime.

5. Nothing extra:

  • This is one of the hardest points. Spoiler: I never finished my master's degree. When you choose your path to achievement, you need to take a break and understand what is important to you. It is impossible to be the best at everything at once, so for great achievements you need to cross something out or delegate. You need to give yourself to your work and your business 100%, but be able to prioritize internally. Trying to grab all the tasks at once and manage everything in life is a direct path not to success but to burnout and despair.

These 5 points work for those who have chosen a path far from routine corporate work.

This is the path of a person who thinks about what they create and bring into this world, what they wake up for, and what they are passionate about. A person on my team should understand that they are not a small cog in the system and that what the player will feel depends on them. Code isn’t hard to write, it's just a tool. Even artificial intelligence will not give a brilliant result without human intervention.

Let’s take the game Colorwood, which I had started to create at Burny Games. Together with the team, we went through the whole concept of the project deep into the details. This approach made the game feel modern and technologically advanced.

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