Wan Hazmer: Crazy creative thinkers are essential to Malaysia’s burgeoning creative industry

  • A good game has less to do with technology than the ability to craft experiences
  • Students need to rise above the industry and not just be on par with it


The former lead game designer for Final Fantasy XV, Wan Hazmer, believes that creativity trumps technology when it comes to creating a great game. and, that the game industry is in need of more crazy creative people. Are YOU a crazy creative cat?


THERE used to be this perception that those who make games are very far away and that the things they do to put the massive triple-A videogames on our screens are impossible for the average Malaysian.

That couldn’t be further from the truth as the tools any aspiring game developer needs is within grasp according to Metronomik’s Wan Hazmer. “You have all the toolsets like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity game engines available for free to a certain extent.”

The former lead game designer for Final Fantasy XV spoke at length about how the creative industry really needs more creative thinkers who are willing to try alternative methods.

“In Malaysia now there is this bad habit where industries try to get students to be on par with them. That should not be the case as the next generation of students must be able to rise above the industry average. I daresay the game industry is in need of more crazy creative people,” he said.

That is not to say that the syllabus taught in schools, colleges or universities is outdated or not useful, in his opinion, but it comes down to creating a different teaching method that gets students into a creative mindset.

Part of the reason why Wan Hazmer’s long-term goal is to create his own primary and secondary school is that he sees many students realising what they want to do by the time they reach college, which is too late.

He stresses how the awareness surrounding game development is still widely unknown to most people. To him, videogames are just not celebrated enough in Malaysia for the game development sector to be known to the non-gaming audience.

This awareness is critical because once it is achieved, "then people are going to start getting interested in making games.”

While the upcoming Level Up KL 2018 is highlighted as a great event for the regional game development community, it is still primarily a Business-to-Business (B2B) event. Wan Hazmer very much hopes there will be more prolific game conferences or events on the scale of Comic Fiesta to pull in the crowds, even those who have no interest in games.

To him, there is no better time than the present for people to pick up game development. In fact, it is not just about the technology but the story that one has to tell and the experiences that they have to show. The challenge however, is in transplanting those ideas from the mind into a game.

“Even at the ideation stage, it can be quite challenging.You need a lot of craft and skill because games have a structure plus you need to set the rules and goals,” he said.

Game development is less about technical achievements and more about how games can imitate life experiences, he related. Everyone has a unique story to tell and even a young boy from rural Terengganu can make a game based on his own life experiences for example.

Having returned from Tokyo Game Show 2018, Wan Hazmer has been promoting his studio’s debut game No Straight Roads, which is due out in Spring 2019.

The musically-themed game for PlayStation 4 and PC focuses on an indie rock band fighting against an electronic dance music empire in a cartoony and stylised visual art style. It will incorporate elements of action together with rhythm-based game mechanics that harken back to the rhythm games Wan Hazmer loves to play.


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