Gamedev Interview: Artur Śmiarowski

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Gamedev Interview: Artur Śmiarowski

I have a pretty cool interview to share with you all today. Soulash 2 launches in Early Access later today, but I got the chance to interview its creator: Artur Śmiarowski before his sequel comes out. I rather enjoyed the original Soulash, and Soulash 2 is looking like one hell of an upgrade.

I’ll be reviewing this cool game at some point soon, so keep an eye on that! In the meantime, sit back and relax.


Let’s start off with an introduction! Please tell me who you are, and what do you do?

Hey, my name is Artur Śmiarowski, I’m an independent game developer behind the Soulash series. I’m a programmer with 15 years of experience in creating games and web applications.

Gaming Questions

What game/studio are you currently involved with? And what position?

I’m an independent game developer creating Soulash 2, a sandbox RPG roguelike about adventures and conquest. I’m self-employed in my company called Wizards of the Code Artur Śmiarowski.

What advice would you give those who wish to enter the industry?

There are two good ways to enter the industry that I know. One is to get a formal education that potential employers respect, and another is to create something incredible. I’m more on the sidelines of the industry, because I’ve always made games on my own terms, but the first game I’ve created that I’ve also used to learn programming was a web-based MMORPG that allowed me to have a sustainable business for 2 years. It was impressive enough to my future employer, that it landed me a job in web development, which then turned into a very successful career. 

Gaming industry was never my first choice due to prevalent crunch culture, but the same path can work for landing a job in gaming. Employers want capable people that can get the job done, so show them you can.

If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to play?

Depends on the timing. Close to release it is difficult to truly dive into a game, but I make some time in-between bigger events and still enjoy indie gaming, but AAA not as much. My favorites this year would be Path of Achra, Islands of the Caliph and dotAge.

I also play with my kids on Switch and Xbox, we’re enjoying Rocket League, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8.

How did you get into your chosen field in the industry?

I didn’t do well in high school, had a pretty rough upbringing, and I didn’t have many perspectives in life. Eventually I discovered a game called Bloodwars, enjoyed it very much and learned that just 2 people made it, they didn’t want to introduce my ideas into it, so I thought – this can’t be that hard, I’ll make my own!

So I learned PHP and MySQL and released a game in 6 months, which allowed me to start my first business. Eventually after a few years things died down a bit, taxes and server costs forced me to shut everything down and look for a job. I was fortunate enough to land a junior PHP developer position thanks to that game I’ve built. My future employers were quite impressed by the functionalities, but I was lacking in the framework knowledge, so I agreed to begin with a low pay to prove myself.

I kept progressing in webdev for 8 years in total eventually getting to Systems Architect and Tech Lead positions. During that time my first son was born and it served as a wake up call for me, because when I thought about what I would be passing on to him, I didn’t want to be that bitter old man who sacrificed his dreams and did what was expected. So on the day of my son’s birth I began building my engine that would become the fundamentals under Soulash and now Soulash 2.

What is the hardest part of your job?

There are so many hard things it’s difficult to pick one. And maybe that’s the best answer I can give, it’s dealing with everything at once – marketing, budget, time, planning, coding, content, contract work, fanbase, managing expectations, dealing with criticism.

The hardest part is dealing with an overwhelming amount of work that is not meant for one person.

What lessons have you learned during your time in the industry?

That’s a massive topic.Aside from designing and building games, there are a few critical, must-know topics to do indiedev effectively in my opinion – how your chosen store algorithm works, what makes a game interesting to players and content creators, and what to expect from publishers to not get scammed out of years of your work.

What are your future project(s)?

I’m currently working on Soulash 2. It’s a sandbox RPG roguelike about adventure and conquest, offering procedurally generated open worlds enhanced with history simulation and freedom to pursue any goal within. The demo is available on Steam and Itch, and it’s scheduled to enter Early Access on December 4. The game is planned to remain in Early Access for at least a year, and then we’ll see!

If you couldn’t be a game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?

I would definitely do something related to programming, I love learning new technologies. Web development can be pretty challenging and fun depending on the project.

What were your greatest challenges while developing Soulash 2?

In the overall game development process it would be marketing, reaching interested players even when it’s a second game, is extremely hard and time consuming. Managing expectations is also difficult, as a marketer you want to confidently say what makes your game great, but as a developer you’re constantly bombarded with questions about features that you can’t possibly fit in your limited time.

In the process of making the game, world generation with history simulation was the greatest challenge, mainly because it’s very complex, it’s designed to be unpredictable for replayability, and yet it has to be predictable when I need to fix some bugs. True madness.

With Soulash 2 reaching the public, what are your plans for the game into 2024?

The beginning of Early Access is all about the adventuring part of the game. We have a world we can explore, we can find resources, we can train different skills and unlock more ways to interact with the world, we can build our own base, we can challenge more powerful beings or commit crimes in settlements.

During Early Access in 2024 my plan is to expand the scope to parties and armies to help with the new, bigger scale of the world than we had in the first game. We’ll have adventuring parties, we’ll be able to invite NPCs to our settlements, raise armies and conquer the world. The 1.0 release will also include a continuation of the story after the world’s destruction in the first game.

What games were your greatest inspirations in designing Soulash 2?

For Soulash my main inspirations were ADOM and UnReal World, which to some degree I kept in the sequel, and now I’ve expanded the scope to add a little bit of Dwarf Fortress Adventure and Mount & Blade into the cauldron.

I played a lot of the original Soulash and had a solid time overall. What lessons did you take from developing that into creating the sequel?

One important thing I’ve learned is that it’s very difficult to innovate and make a game that will have a broad appeal. Great games are built on strong fundamentals, and are perfected over years if not decades of iteration. For a small indie like me who is still just starting on year 6 of this wild journey, it means taking risks with my design choices to find the identity of my games and navigate them out of the shadows of existing classics to build something unique and worthy of spending so much time and effort. 

And I continue that approach into the sequel, making bold design choices like with often criticized circle portraits to represent character, to experiment with a direction that has not been explored yet.

What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?

Soulash X. What I’m building is my dream game that I want to keep reiterating and expanding. The way I approach game development is through iteration – I like innovating, experimenting, I have a dream of a massive scope, and having an infinite canvas to draw on right now wouldn’t necessarily make for a better result. It could just be bigger and more detailed game, but could also be never finished. 

I hope one future Soulash game will be real time, and one will be built with multiplayer gameplay as a core feature – possibly both at once, but especially multiplayer requires a substantial budget to get right.

More about You

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like watching movies with my wife, playing with my kids, talking philosophy with my best friend and playing indie games.

Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?

Can’t drink coffee unfortunately. Tea is preferable in colder months, but usually it’s water and soda for the little caffeine I can drink.

You can travel anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?

Either Japan for sightseeing or Italy for pizza.

Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?

All the fictional characters that come to my mind are either crazy or dangerous, so I turn around and go home. I should watch more romantic comedies.

Finally, what superpower would you most like?

Programming is my superpower. It allows me to create and destroy worlds!

You can find my games at:

Soulash 2:


Or get in touch on:

Game Twitter:

Dev Twitter:


About the Author

TheThousandScarAuthor/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games. |

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