We’re excited to be interviewing Simon Slamka today – founder and CEO of the start-up company Ongakken from Slovakia, Central Europe.
What exactly do you do?
I’m currently a student in electrical engineering, but I’m supposed to graduate soon, which will, hopefully, go without problems. Then I’m planning on going to Denmark and studying computer science and cybersecurity there.
Please tell us more about your journey.
I always aimed to build something entirely of my own. I wanted to create worlds, make up my own stories, which led me to write short e-books, but I felt that wasn’t fulfilling enough. There was something missing. Shortly I figured out precisely what that was: INTERACTIVITY! There was no way to interact with my stories to influence their outcome.
I always struggled with interpersonal relationships, from my first love interest, Hanka, to classmates who didn’t want to have anything to do with me, so I guess that subconsciously, this led me to want to change the conclusions of the stories I wrote, which were mostly sad love stories. That’s when I decided that I want to make videogames.
I was programming since I was a child, so that was no problem. I acquired some basic computer graphics knowledge to be able to develop some simple 3D models and textures for them. I made a couple of tiny, 10-minute games. Accomplished that, I really wanted to aim higher.
I started developing more complex 3D experiences. I made a game called ‘Death from Above,’ for which I wrote the story with my then-classmate Laura. I had to stop developing the game because I was kind of … failing school 😅. 2 years later, I incorporated and built a company called ‘SMD Technologies. ‘The videogame project was then renewed and renamed to ‘Hazardous,’ which I won the state round of local competition for. It was incomplete, so I had to figure out what next … that’s when Imaginator was born – my so far biggest project. It was a tremendous fail, but I had learned so much while developing it … one of those things was that I need to actually aim smaller, so I made a little game called Beat Rush. Beat Rush is currently on Steam, in the Early Access program. It’s under active development and there’s a lot of stuff I want to add to it. Besides that,
I started producing music approximately 3 years ago, but it wasn’t until last year when I released my very first song, ‘Hurry!‘ .It was around that time when two of my friends with whom I had been occasionally working with decided that they do not wish to continue. I suppose they lost that spark you get when you come up with something and you’re doing whatever it takes to put it together. This changed the direction of my business, in a certain way, so I decided to reconsider my goals and come up with a new brand, unique and tailored to the new ideology I had adopted. I called it ‘Ongakken’ – it’s from the two Japanese words ‘ongaku’ and ‘taiken’: ongaku means music and taiken means experience, which translates perfectly into my game Beat Rush and many more coming after it because for some reason, seeing people enjoying my music makes me feel fulfilled, at peace.
My endeavor now is to make music and then, alongside, use this music in interactive experiences, such as games, to make people feel happy and pumped with energy.