If Dopamine deserve any sort of award, it’s surely for the most ingeniously named software company of all time. Dopamine create gaming software and, as everyone knows, dopamine is a compound that serves as a neurotransmitter in the body and as a precursor to adrenaline.
Every time you activate a bonus feature, secure win spins or hit the jackpot while playing slots, your body’s dopamine production shoots up, giving you that rush of elation that makes you want to keep playing. As the software developers put it, ‘Our casino games are expertly crafted to make your dopamine boil!’
Honesty and accuracy: now there’s something you don’t see on a company website every day – especially one that serves the gambling industry.
‘Dopamine is quite literally the world’s most innovative gaming studio and casino software developer’ proclaims the firm’s website breathlessly. Take back everything you just read about honesty and accuracy: it’s not that Dopamine are being misleading with this statement; it’s more that it’s a difficult claim to verify – unless they’re using ‘literally’ metaphorically, of course.
Whatever the case, there’s no disguising the pride that Dopamine take in their work. They love what they do and they want the world to know about it. Their gaming products harness the latest technologies, utilising them to bring advanced products to online casino operators.
Dopamine have offices in London and Sofia, with the Bulgarian capital their HQ. Eastern Europe is known for producing top coders and devs, and Dopamine certainly continue this fine tradition. Their predominantly young team are ambitious, fearless and full of bold ideas that threaten to shake up the industry.
A truly global operation, Dopamine’s products are available in 23 languages, with more translations in the works. They also boast of having a multilingual team who can converse in everything from French to Welsh, which is good to know. Many of its staff are fluent in Bulgarian of course, while the remainder are learning fast. Thanks to its successes within the gaming sector, Dopamine is looking to expand its operations and to take on new talent; from sound designers to sys admins and PHP developers to Flash animators, the company is on a mission to attract talented creatives with bold ideas.
Dopamine exude all the confidence and cockiness of a seed-funded tech startup; they work hard, play hard and give short shrift to formal dress codes and rigid working practices. Comfy sofas, table tennis and an open plan office are all part of the Dopamine experience.
The walls are adorned with cool urban art and the company looks like a great place to work. This might seem irrelevant from an end user’s perspective, but the mindset that Dopamine’s working environment fosters filters through to the products they create. As the company concedes on its website however, ‘It’s all about the people...great people create great products’.
Dopamine wants candidates who are talented and passionate about what they do. Successful employees can look forward to trips to Las Vegas, the world’s gambling mecca, as well as various international field trips.
Echoing the wisdom of Bruce Lee, the company vows to get the job done instead of sitting around talking about getting the job done. It’s a dynamic and ambitious software company, one that certainly can’t be accused of lacking in confidence.
Pay a visit to Dopamine’s website and the first thing you’ll be greeted by is an autoplay video lamenting douchebag bosses and all the strictures that beset traditional offices. In a clear pitch to enterprising developers, Dopamine outline exactly what they stand for - and exactly what they oppose. This is a company that’s not afraid to make bold pronouncements and ruffle a few feathers along the way.
While some companies are content to chase the pack, Dopamine has vowed to lead. Its developers have clear goals in mind, and the team are not going to be cowed or influenced by their competitors. It’s not that Dopamine’s products are created in a vacuum; rather it’s that they’re determined to create games that retain a distinct identity and are not directly influenced by anything else out there.
Dopamine may be firm believers in the mantra that actions speak louder than words, but that doesn’t mean their games are rushed to market - far from it. Each title the Bulgarian firm releases has been carefully mapped to enhance the player experience.
Deploying what Dopamine calls ‘the science of fun’, its game theorists, psychologists and mathematicians do their utmost to create games that will lure players in, retain their interest and unleash that feel-good dopamine rush.
While Dopamine’s slots aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel (or rather the reel), there’s no disputing the quality of them. Graphics are detailed, razor-sharp and possessed with depth and a vast palette of colours. What’s more, the difficulty is pitched just right; instead of mindlessly rolling reels till the cows come home, the features can be activated without too much difficulty and provide ample opportunity for notching up wins small and large.
Lucky Wizard has shades of World of Warcraft about it. There’s a lot of lush green valleys, lucky gold horseshoes and mystical symbols that look highly collectible. Refreshingly, Dopamine’s slots are also accompanied by detailed playing instructions, complete with information on all eligible winning lines and the value of playing symbols. If only all developers were this thorough. The animations are smooth and natural, with the reels bouncing lightly as they come to rest and lurching slightly as they set off again.
Epic Journey is another ambitious effort from Dopamine. Ancient Chinese temples and chests full of gold are the order of the day, with some extremely curious symbols including a pig dressed in ancient Chinese emperor’s regalia. Don’t ask why; just play and smile a wry smile.
In terms of UX, Dopamine have dispensed with the usual Start button that most developers deploy, often accompanied by an arrow. Instead, they prefer a circular design with two opposing arrows, almost like the refresh symbol on a web browser. With the ability to set the stake at anywhere from $2 to $500, Dopamine’s slots will appeal to casual players as much as high rollers with money to burn.
The Bulgarian upstarts have also tried their hand at a seasonal slot, albeit one that can be played all the year round. Jingle Bells is fittingly festive, with all the baubles and tinsel-strewn gifts that you’d expect of such a title.
As a final taster of what Dopamine are capable of, Winter Wonders is a fairy-tale adventure that’s clearly inspired by Disney’s Tinkerbell. Once again, it’s beautifully designed and animated.
The front-end stuff might look pretty, but there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes with Dopamine. Their games engine is lightning fast, calculating Mersenne primes in real time amidst a myriad other calculations that make for a seamless playing experience. With a rock solid platform to work with and a games engine that faithfully keeps ticking over, Dopamine have got the complex stuff locked down.
While fancy toys and a laid-back work ethic don’t automatically make for a cool company, there’s no denying that Dopamine is a pretty dope outfit with the skills to go with their hubris. The Bulgarian developers seem intent on world domination, and if they keep going at their current pace, they might just achieve it.