Polish composer spices up Kiwi online game

Kamil Orman-Janowski’s music needs to fit the constantly changing intensity of fights in the Path of Exile role playing game.

Auckland-based Grinding Gear Games wanted to spice up the music for its successful online role playing game, Path of Exile.

The innovative gaming company looked to a Polish composer to provide the answers. Kamil Orman-Janowski is now working full-time in Grinding Gear Games’ studio in Henderson as Music Composer, and according to the company’s managing director Chris Wilson, ``it’s a godsend getting him into New Zealand and having his musical ability.’

Kamil had worked on the soundtrack as a freelancer operating from Poland.

``The time difference and communication made the collaboration slow and wasteful,’’ says Wilson, who co-founded Grinding Gear Games in November 2006.

``Kamil was famous with our players and he wanted to work more closely with us. Now, he’s part of the team, and the best thing is his work and feedback is live.

’’ ATEED and Immigration New Zealand’s relationship manager Paul Millar worked closely with Grinding Gear Games to secure the employment of Kamil – and also a technical advisor, Frenchman Jean Loup Quirion.

ATEED is working with Immigration NZ to attract and retain migrants who have the skills and inward investment that Auckland needs to grow business and enhance the regional economy.

Immigration NZ provides a customised service to support businesses that ATEED has identified as having high value to Auckland.

The regional partnership supports Auckland businesses to feel confident in their ability to attract staff whose skills match their needs.

Grinding Gear Games prepared the case for hiring Kamil ahead of New Zealanders.

``We thought it would be a difficult process – we had never sought immigration advice before,’’ says Wilson.

"We looked around the industry and found no-one that would be appropriate for music. We didn’t want to lose Kamil. The support from Immigration NZ and ATEED ensured the process went very smoothly.’’

Grinding Gear Games submitted its application in December 2015, Kamil soon gained his working visa, and he joined the team in Auckland in February 2016.

``We wanted to replace our old music, and Kamil immediately began working on new themes for the game. Before, we never considered making our own custom music and having Kamil here meant he could prepare soundtracks for promotional purposes.’’

Grinding Gear Games is constantly updating Path of Exile. Kamil says working in Auckland ``is an opportunity to spend more time composing better and more complete music with none of the compromises that I ordinarily have to face as a freelance composer.

It’s also a great way to improve communication and teamwork. ``The music needs to fit the constantly changing intensity of fights. Path of Exile is a challenge to keep the music darker, deeper and more adult or enigmatic, and of course bring a lot of fire,’’ he says.

Jean Loup was one of Grinding Gear Games’ over-achieving and busiest players and helped with Path of Exile’s alpha testing.

He was never short of providing razor-sharp suggestions on the game’s forums.

Then one day he was visiting the company’s office in Henderson. Jean Loup was having a working holiday in New Zealand.

``Jean Loup doesn’t have a game development degree but he’s a smart guy who knows our product extremely well,’’ says Wilson.

``He wanted to work for us and I was worried he didn’t fit the (immigration) criteria.’’ With the support of Immigration NZ and ATEED, Grinding Gear Games was able to arrange a working visa for Jean Loup.

He is a quality assurance technician and is translating the game in to French ``to double the number of users in France.’’ Grinding Gear Games has signed up 14 million players, mainly in Europe and United States.

The company translated Path of Exile into Portuguese and launched in Brazil in 2015.

Its partners have also translated the game into Russian, Taiwanese and Thai, and Grinding Gear Games is planning to launch a Chinese version in 2017, in partnership with Tencent in China.

After starting out in a garage in New Lynn, Grinding Gear Games now employs 78 talented staff in its Henderson office and is hoping to expand to 100 within two years.

The company hired eight experts from Gameloft after the French multi-national closed its Auckland office in early 2016.

Immigration NZ and ATEED will continue to provide tailored support to Grinding Gear Games to access the skills they need to grow.

Path of Exile is a competitive action game set in the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast.

The game is designed around items and features ladder races.

Grinding Gear Games has carefully constructed the complex online item economy and visceral combat for veterans of the best action role playing games.

``We have developed a niche for our type of game,’’ says Wilson. ``It appeals to adults who are looking for a challenging and complicated game.

There are a lot of options to what you can do in Path of Exile.

``We are looking forward to continuing to expand Path of Exile in the future, and ATEED’s help has been incredibly valuable,’’ he says.