- Seeks to challenge the notion that making console games is hard in Malaysia
- Visit to TGS 2017 yielded opportunities with potential game publishers
MOST game studios in Malaysia tend to develop mobile games as it is often cheaper, less resource-intensive and more lucrative to monetise given its larger audience base.
However, one Malaysian independent game studio, Studio Kamii is breaking away from this trend to pursue aspirations to make an adventure game that is squarely targeted towards the console market.
Just recently, Studio Kamii’s dream was that much closer to being realised as it was among several Malaysian game studios that were invited to showcase their games at the recently concluded Tokyo Game Show 2017 at the invitation of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Game director and chief executive officer Hanis Rahim (pic, above), a veteran of eight years in the game industry, feels that the trip to Japan was definitely useful as their latest action adventure game Neva Logik attracted the attention of several game publishers.
“We showed a prototype of Neva Logik, that has been in development for six months and were relieved to find that many of the big publishers were interested in what we have and want to see what we can do with the game,” said Hanis.
“Some of the publishers even asked if they could fund our second game thinking that we were already backed by a major publisher,” he added.
Landing a deal with a major game publisher would be beneficial for the studio as it will take the burden of marketing off their shoulders and help them reach their target audience better, explained Hanis.
If all goes well, Neva Logik could potentially land on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or even the Nintendo Switch; but at this stage, talks with a potential publisher are still underway.
Wasting no time
Studio Kamii may have been founded just a year ago but it got its first big break at the Intellectual Property Creators Challenge (IPCC) Call 1 in 2016 with its first game To Gather Island which was among six winners to receive a grant of RM50,000.
Described as a management adventure game, To Gather Island is a casual game for mobile devices where players need to manage their avatars daily to search for resources to expand their presence on the island and unlock more places to explore.
However, Hanis had bigger ambitions for the studio and they decided that their next game, Neva Logik, would primarily be targeted towards the console market as he believes that not many local companies have explored making a mainstream game as of yet.
Hanis fired up his notebook to offer a quick demonstration of the Unreal engine-powered game that is currently in its prototype phase. He explained that the game will send players on a journey of discovery in a strange fantasy land shrouded in mystery.
On the surface, Neva Logik looks like a cross between the recent Nintendo Switch hit Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the sorrowful yet beautiful world of Shadow of the Colossus. Hanis explained that the current direction is to make the game globally appealing. It draws inspiration from European fantasy while incorporating some local mythology.
The world that is filled with wonders including floating islands, towering forests and barren deserts but underneath it all are secrets waiting to be uncovered in the form of the ruins of a lost civilisation.
Much of the story is still in the early stages of development but Hanis said that it will focus primarily on a protagonist who is from our world but is sucked into this alternate dimension that is unlike Earth.
“Developing the game using Unreal 4 was a real challenge for us as many programmers in Malaysia are used to developing in Unity. It was tough finding dedicated Unreal experts and at many points they wanted to go back to Unity as it was easier to develop on it, but once we knew the ins and outs we had a chance at producing a game on par with today’s best console games,” he said.
Neva Logik is currently in its pre-alpha stage of development so it is early days yet for Studio Kamii’s big game and Hanis expects the game to be complete in a year or two. However, the studio’s first game, To Gather Island is expected to be ready by the end of 2017.
“I think it is great that local studios are moving away from just developing mobile games and making console games as it is not only more challenging but it opens more opportunities for us here,” said Hanis.
“Hopefully within a few years, we can see the emergence of a few strong game studios and Malaysia will be recognised by game publishers in the region as a destination for developing triple ‘A’ console games,” Hanis said.
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