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SNIPE under fire: Lian Erez on game development in Tel Aviv

Posted by Olivia Cottrell on July 16, 2014 | Jump to 0 comments

As we reported on Monday, foam dart game/digital target shooter SNIPE has been forced to suspend development amid the Israel/Gaza conflict, as the developer, XnStudios, is split between New York and Tel Aviv. We reached out to co-founder Lian Erez to talk about what life has been like for the company over the past few weeks.

BitPulse: How does splitting the development been New York and Tel Aviv usually work for you guys? What’s a normal working day under ideal circumstances like?
Erez: Our department in New York mostly deals with the company’s intellectual property and product distribution. Most of the product’s R&D is managed through our offices in Israel, that way each department can focus in its specialty and do it on the best side possible. Our daily routine is quite normal, despite the split of locations, each has its own responsibility – but if we need to synchronize actions we stay up for some late Skype meetings, and every couple of months we meet in Israel for the important meetings. Also, as management, my partners and I control all the decisions from above.

How did that change as the conflict escalated?
We’re used to a small amount of rockets attacks every once in a while on southern areas in Israel, but this time Hamas has some new rockets that can reach up to 150 km, which puts Tel Aviv (our office’s location) under attack from tens of missiles a day. That means that we should take cover many times a day in underground shelters, and we only have 1:30 min to find cover before the missiles hit. So, we actually can’t get far from our houses, employees can’t leave their children, you can’t even answer a Skype call or answer an email without losing focus due to the next alarm. We hope things will come to an end soon and that we’ll be back in business ASAP.

In your other interview you talked about some employees being recruited into reserved units: can you explain that a little more? Who have you lost?
I can’t say who was drafted on who didn’t due to security issues and personal safety. I can only say that some of my co-workers haven’t been in their houses or office for the last week, due to their responsibility as military reserves.

What’s a typical day like for you at the moment?
Tense. TV only gives you coverage of the conflict. We’re waiting for the next rocket to hit, and when it comes the alarm signals to take cover. We hear about death, injuries, and damage for both sides, which is really upsetting. The government can’t seem to find a political answer. Most days you’re just concerned about your loved ones, friends and family… it’s hard to sleep because your’e worried about the next alarm.

Having been forced to suspend the campaign for now, what’s your plan moving forward for SNIPE?
One step at a time. When the fighting is over, our company will gather around and plan the next action. Our campaign went pretty well at the beginning and we do believe that the Kickstarter crowd is good for it, so possibly we’ll create a new campaign and relaunch SNIPE. Of course we’ll do some tuning, redesign some stuff in the product and improve some aspects, as our backers and supporters have advised. Also, we’ll check some partnership opportunities and collaborations that have come up since we launched that can push this venture forward.

Do you have anything to add for your backers who are worried about your safety?
Yes! First thanks to everyone who supported us! You can keep calm! Although the situation is worrying and dangerous, we’re taking the right actions to protect ourselves and our families. We have a strong army that protects people’s lives here, and we’re positive that soon this struggle will come to end. Our prayers and hopes are for the safety of the innocent women and children on both sides.

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