Interview with Andreea Cristea, Co-Founder of Tractor, Set, GO! and Hash Rush QA Lead
It’s been a week or two since we published our last interview, with Concept Artist Nic Ng Hanyang. This time, we’re doing things a little bit different, as we’ve started to interview the people behind Tractor, Set, GO! — the studio developing Hash Rush. In this first instalment of TSG interviews, I [Jochem Gerritsen] sat down with Andreea Cristea to discuss her role in the Hash Rush project as TSG co-founder and future QA Lead.
Hash Rush is more difficult, more fun, and more challenging than previous projects — but that is what we’re searching for and that’s what gives us satisfaction. / Andreea Cristea
Hi Andreea, thanks for taking the time for this interview! Could you tell me, what are you doing at the moment?
Hi Jochem, always a pleasure! At the moment I am catching up on some emails and urgent or postponed stuff. Right before that, I took the morning off to spend some time playing with my children, and now I’m trying to convince them that mommy has work to do. It’s hard to convince them that it’s serious business, considering that we’re developing games!
Haha, I can imagine. That’s great! Could you briefly introduce yourself? Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Andreea Cristea and I’m an entrepreneur from Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I graduated in Economic Informatics. During university my husband and I started our first company, a recording studio, which is mostly a niche studio for metal, rock, hip-hop and jazz artists from the local music scene. A few years later, along with Horea [Graphic Designer Horea Trinca] and Adi [Art Director Adrian Bugnar], we created the company Tractor, Set, GO! to promote and monetise Gelluloid, an in-house game that the guys created as a hobby.
When my children were still babies, I worked mostly from home developing websites, creating small mobile games with my husband and managing our businesses from a macro perspective. After that, we — me and my husband always work as a team — incubated a veterinary pharmacy in a town near Cluj-Napoca with some friends, which grew during the last couple of years and currently also has a vet doctor’s office. But right now, our main focus is on the growth of Tractor, Set, GO! as a game development studio.
Basically, I’m kind of a “bootstrapper”. I enjoy changes and challenges, with the downside that I tend to get overcrowded with projects.
Awesome. So am I correct in saying you’re also a bit like a social entrepreneur? Seeing that you’ve set up a veterinary office for instance?
You make it sound important, haha. But I think we all have that social aspect in view, but in different undertakings. It may be as part of our work, or maybe as a goal, or as an unexpected result.
Ok, I see what you mean. But still, managing so many different projects must be quite stressful. Basically, you’re working on Hash Rush, while managing your recording studio, veterinary pharmacy and the entire TSG game development business! And on top of that, you have two kids to care for! What is your secret to doing so many things at once?
Well, it sounds bigger than it actually is. It’s always a team effort, because my husband and my friends who happen — to my fortune — to be my business partners, are very involved and dedicated. If you put everything in context and enjoy what you’re doing, you can break it down in steps or issues and tackle them one at a time. And I draw my energy from my kids. They have that genuine curiosity and awe that we sometimes forget we have, you know, that miracle or sparkle that connects us all.
Wow, well said. So how did you come to hear about the Hash Rush project?
We embarked on the Hash Rush project in the early stages of the concept. Tractor, Set, GO! was the team that was contracted to create the game trailer for the pre-ICO campaign. We were hooked by the innovative approach and the concept art provided and we wanted the trailer to have real in-game feel, so our guys created the planet and the Ernacks and that video was genuine in-game footage. And that was the starting point of an exciting collaboration with Kristaps and Nathan and all the other talented guys on the Hash Rush team!
That’s great! And what are your mainly responsible for, both within Hash Rush and Tractor, Set, GO!?
In the Hash Rush team, I’m at this stage mostly a contact point, a kind of ‘entry’ for the things that are required for the development of the project but that aren’t specifically game-related. In the near future, as we’re working towards the pre-alpha, I will assume the position of QA Lead [Quality Assurance Lead].
In Tractor, Set, GO! I am a bit of Project Manager or Scrum Master, and I’m also doing some Human Resources tasks, finances, and other not-so-interesting-for-game-developers legal stuff required for the company, haha.
Alright, that sounds quite interesting though. So even though you’re not the QA Lead yet, could you tell us a bit of what that entails? What will you do for the Hash Rush project when the pre-alpha draws near?
In a few weeks from now we will begin polishing the pre-alpha, run test cases and do all the work associated with QA. I was already involved in scheduling the milestones and the tasks for the game inside TSG, but now I’ll be fully engaged in assuring that all development tasks meet the needed quality standards through test planning and execution, issue tracking and so on.
I see, and then who do you work with most, on a day-to-day basis?
My activities, work related or not, always include my husband Cristian, who is the Lead Developer of the TSG [Tractor, Set, GO!] team. There is actually no job versus private life boundary, which we found is the most healthy for us and our family, kids included!
Ha, that’s great. So if we talk about TSG, do you have some examples of earlier (game-related) projects you worked on?
Gelluloid was the biggest project we worked on so far, and it had innovative game mechanics at that time. But it was during the “I have two babies” period, so I wasn’t as involved as I would have liked to be. Also, there were some mobile games that my husband and I developed for children, and one of them was particularly praised for its therapeutic value for children with autism.
Well done! So what are the differences between working on Hash Rush and projects like Gelluloid? Is Hash Rush more difficult, more fun, a bigger challenge…?
Hash Rush is a huge project. We’re still trying to grasp its boundaries. And yes, it’s all of that: more difficult, more fun, challenging, but that is what we’re searching for and that’s what gives us satisfaction. The business we’re in is basically also like a game — it’s a serious game that we’re having fun playing.
Ah so you really like working on Hash Rush, like the rest of our team members do! But what do you like most about Hash Rush? And what are you most proud of so far?
Without giving any spoilers, Hash Rush will introduce in the game industry many innovative concepts. At the same time, it’s also a fusion of genres, including one of my favourites: city builders. I’m proud of everything I’ve done so far in taking the weight off internal management of the project, but actually, my time is yet to come as the game develops.
Cool, yeah that makes sense. Talking about spoilers, is there a possibility that you can actually give us some? What are you and the TSG team working on now?
Right now we’re working on the monster’s swamp and on the game’s crafting system and resource harvesting system. We’re developing the pre-alpha as a playable mini-version of the full game, but only with some of the features included. We want the players to experience the gameplay, the little Ernack’s planet, and to strengthen the interaction within the community that is already building around Hash Rush.
That sounds like a great plan. So you know a lot about gaming — does that mean you’re a gamer yourself? And if so, what is your current favourite platform and game?
Surprisingly I am now more of a casual gamer — I enjoyed playing more in the past. Now I’m into the board games hype. I really love the human interaction that comes with them. For instance, I play Terra Mystica, Magic the Gathering, Catan, Exodus, and many more.
Ha, I can’t imagine how you still have the time to play these. Anyway, thanks so much for the interview. Before we end this, is there anything else you want to share with the Hash Rush community?
Well, I saw that Dendy’s cat was pregnant so maybe I’ll discuss this with him to adopt a kitten for my boys, hehe. As a fun fact, I’ve been part of a street dance team for two years and I did some shows with them, the first one being in front of more than two thousand people — which was quite a shock. Oh, and I read in Jethro’s interview [the Hash Rush Chief Game Economist] that he’s living completely off-grid. Maybe he can share some advice with me, because for the last couple of years, the biggest personal project of my husband and I has been the building of our own house — we’re actually the only workers on the site right now!
Cool, well I’m sure they’re happy to help you out! Thanks again Andreea!
That marks the end of our interview with Andreea — the first interview with one of the people behind TSG! If you want to read more, take a look at our other interviews with Concept Artists Nic Ng Hanyang or Dendy Dhamier, Marketing Director Craig Ritchie or Chief Game Economist Jethro Naude.
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