Maiven Interview Series: Bryan Smith
Tell us about yourself, who are you, where you go to school, and how long have you been at Maiven?
My name is Bryan Smith, I am one of the game designers that is currently working on the Maiven app. I’ve been with Maiven for a couple of months. I was hired for the video game production side. As the app has shifted from a financial app to more of a video game, they’ve required a few more additional resources. That’s where I came in; as the game designer who designs and documents the visual design elements that would make a game fun.
I am currently in my third year at The University of Utah getting my education finished up. It’s actually funny, I went to community college just to get the general classes out of the way. It’s a nice way to make sure you don’t spend too much money on general education classes.
What do you like about Maiven?
Essentially, Maiven is prioritizing finance while maximizing fun. Allowing anyone to start learning how to save money.. I’m not trying to say that we’re the saints of the app world, but I do think that the idea of a sustainable and usable financial app is unimaginable for some people, because the financial side is always a bit taboo for a lot of people out there.
Would you consider yourself a gamer?
I do game quite a bit to say the least. I play a variety of different video games from 2D platformers to 3D collectathons. I also play some FPSs but I’m bad at them, so I’m not the biggest FPS player. The range of games I’ll play stretch from card games like hearthstone to platformer games such as Hollow Knight, and of course I also play classics like Mario. My gaming style has a good variety.
What is your desert island video game?
It’s changed a lot over the years. I think right now it’s probably Hollow Knight only because recently I’ve spent a lot of time on that game. So, I think I could keep myself busy for a long time on a desert island. To give you context, it’s a platformer game where you run around and you kill a bunch of bugs. That’s a very raw version of the game’s concept.
What first interested you in game design?
The first game that got me really intrigued with the gaming medium -which is the fancy way of saying game design- is actually Portal 2. It was made in 2011 by Valve and it’s a fantastic puzzle game. The part about the game I love is Valve’s particular method of building their stories integrated into their mechanics. As you play the game, not only do you learn more about how to play the game itself, you also learn more about the world you’re in. You become more engrossed with the story they’re telling you. That was the first game where I was said, ‘Woah! This medium is something far different from TV and movies.’ Games allow us to accomplish more than we could in another form of entertainment. Which sounds pretentious but, [Laughs] I definitely think that there are things you can do with the gaming medium that you can’t do with other forms of media.
With Maiven being a fintech company, are you interested in finance? When did you start thinking about finance?
I’m definitely not a finance guy; I probably won’t ever be a finance guy, [laughs] but I do find myself interested in it. I have never found myself jumping all in, but I understand the importance of proper saving and making sure that you are maximizing the money that you do have. I’m probably not the best at it, but I found early on that if you can maximize how you’re spending your money you’re going to be able to save more. Which is handy when you are just starting out. In the early stages of personal finance, you’re gonna have less money to work with and you’re going to have new aspects of life to figure out. So, if you can maximize the money that you have to fit your quality of life, that’s the most important thing for me. Accomplishing your goals while not breaking the bank.
If you were to compare Maiven’s app to another game what would it be?
We have a lot of comparisons we throw around within project meetings. A lot of the time it has the wave based combat of Call of Duty Zombies where you have lots of enemies coming in wave after wave. But, again it’s in a 2D format. So, if you want to compare it to more of a 2D game I think a good one is Binding of Isaac. Which is also a 2D shooter, But, unlike the Binding of Isaac where you go room to room killing enemies, you are killing enemies within rounds.
Do you have any advice for fellow soon to be grads for entering the adult world?
Although school is incredibly important. It is really important to establish an early on professional portfolio. You want to make sure that you are building your portfolio or your skill set early on. So, not only will you have a degree, but you’ll have additional talents when you are looking for jobs. Internships, getting out in the world, honing your craft, and proving your work ethic are crucial for preparing to enter the workforce. School can only teach you so much. Really it’s about going out and finding what you want to work on, and pushing for that skill set before you actually get to the big leagues.
Do you have any secret talents?
I make a lot of art surprisingly! As a design guy it might not seem like it, but I am actually quite the - I’m not gonna say I’m quite the artist, [laughs] that makes me sound very boastful - but I do some art.
What is something you can remember from your childhood that makes no sense why you should remember it?
It’s strange, I don’t know if I should remember it or not, but I can remember it quite fondly. We used to have this giant hill that broke into this marsh land in the backyard of our house. This is like way, way back. Well, what we used to do - even though it wasn’t snowing and the hill would be covered in weeds and bushes - we’d take our sleds and jump down the hill. We’d just go sledding down dirt. There happened to be this metal fence at the bottom, so it was probably the most unsafe thing we could have done. [laughs] But, it was fun.
What is your favorite weekend routine?
My favorite weekend routine starts with getting things out of the way, you know working out and getting basic health stuff done. Then, usually I’ll start up a show that I’m watching or I’ll play a game.. Usually, then I’ll try to finish the day off with some drawing practice. You know, just make sure I’m keeping up with my art skills..