backstagepass

The First Game Developed by Backstage Pass Students at Level2

Level2 is the Backstage Pass incubator that provides mentoring, infrastructure, marketing, and publishing support exclusively to Backstage Pass students who want to make games and establish indie game companies.

There is a lot of activity with the students at Level2 working on their first game.

Let us find out all about the game here. Here are the teasers and an exclusive premier of the game, just for the curious souls like you…..

For the past three months, students at Level2 have been developing a mobile game. It is the first game developed by students at Level2, and it is taking shape under the watchful eyes of their mentor, Asar Dhandala. Asar is a Backstage Pass alumnus, entrepreneur, and has developed many games.

We caught up with Asar to bring you a sneak peek from Level2’s game studio.

The Progress So Far

The game is in the beta stage where we have completed making the game and testing it. After testing and the bug fix stage, we are planning to go for a soft launch.

A Soft Launch

A soft launch is a selective release used to gather early feedback from players. It helps us improve the game.

Team Size and Duration

We have a mix of students. The team consists of five members. They are:

2D Art

Monideep Chakraborty

3D Art

Vamsi Krishna

Programming

Sai Rohit Thota

Vivekanand Prajeev

Venkat Ram Reddy

It took nearly three and a half months to make the game.

The Game Design

While conceptualising the game design, we researched thoroughly to ensure that the concept is new. We wanted it to be simple and easy to make. Early, we felt that it should also be immersive and fun to play. It took us a couple of weeks to finalise the concept, and we started after all the team members understood and agreed upon the concept. Then we began the game design.

Name of the Game

We are yet to name the game. We will let you know soon.

What did They Learn by Being a Part of This Project

This is a first game developed by most of the students at Level2. The project taught them game development from start to finish.

We started from conceptualisation of the game, sketching it on paper, making the 2D and 3D art, adding graphics, programming and blending all to make a full-fledged enjoyable game.

The learning curve was steep for the students. In college, they learn game development, game art, and game design. This project helped them to connect the dots and complete the picture — how to make a full-fledged game and know the monetisation. (Monetising the game means that you add elements that a player can purchase as he progresses through the different levels in the game.)

How did You Mentor the Students

It was a more hands-on experience for the team. It took more time than I thought it would take for getting the students into the groove. But, the end product turned out to be the best in class.

For the team members, this has clearly been a transformational experience from being a student to a game developer.

Backstage Pass is a great place. The support we got from the college helped the students immensely in their journey.

Watch out this space for more updates about the game — the visuals, the trailer, and more…

Backstage Pass Institute

The Making of a Game | Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology

Work like it is a game. This is what die-hard gamers always wanted to do. The journey of two young game developers, Anand Dhavle and Anmol Nikam is no different.

Both Anmol and Anand were students of Backstage Pass. They work in game development companies and make games that they like to play.

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Our conversation began with the usual round of introduction. They spoke about the games they make, with each one filling in where the other left. The camaraderie they shared was ubiquitous. On the whole, it was inspiring to peep into their world and understand game development from their perspective.

 

Team Name: Digital Cartridge

No of team members: Two

Education: Anand studied B.Tech (Gaming) and Anmol studied B.F.A (Game Design). Alumni of Backstage Pass,

Important events: Participated in a game jam competition held at NGDC 2015 (Nasscom Game Development Corporation). They made a prototype of their game.

Games developed: Reverie, Rock It, and Blind Boy Project

Play Reverie by clicking here

They love to play games.

 

The Beginning

“It all started when we made a prototype of a game when participating in a game jam held at NGDC (Nasscom Game Development Conference) 2015 at Pune. We got a lot of positive feedback. And we decided to flesh it out further.”.

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What Was The Game About

“The game was called “Reverie” which means getting lost in thoughts, something similar to daydreaming. It is a gesture-based 2D platformer for the Android platform. You get to draw shapes to create objects, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles to help the little girl to get out of the world she is trapped in”.

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The Making

“It was a great learning experience. We underestimated the effort we need to put in to make a full-fledged game. Initially, we got our friends to play the game and tell us how they felt. Then, we improved the art-style, animation, added new graphics, changed the controls a number of times to get it right. We created unique mechanics which made our game fun to play. Lastly, we released it on platforms like Itch.io. Within five days, our game crossed 2000 downloads. We released the code into the public domain so that anyone can edit and enjoy the game. Here’s the link to the full source code”.

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What Was Your Motivation For Making This Game

“We wanted to present our ideas and make a game that we wanted to play. And we hoped that others will enjoy playing as well”.

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How Did You Choose To Work With Each Other

Anand said, “ Choosing the team member is very important. I would look for team players who can complement”. Anmol added, “Each team member should contribute and fill gaps in the process. Their ideas should be in sync though. We should play the same type of games and be aware of the type of game play that our target audience enjoy.”

 

What Did You Learn While Making The Game

They both echoed that a lot of patience, hard work and perseverance is required to complete a game like any other creative pursuit.

 

What Is Your Motivation to Play Games

“I enjoy playing games as we can break free from the routine and it relieves stress. I also like to play games as it is interactive and we can see our actions changing the outcome,” says Anand. “Playing games promotes skill building for sure. Also, it disconnects us from reality”, adds Anmol.

 

What is Your Advice For a Person Who Wants to Try Their Hand at Gaming

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“If you are sceptical about starting just like we were, start small and participate in a lot of small projects and game jam competitions. Being hands on will build your confidence and you will learn a lot in the process.”

“Learn to program, use a game engine, play a lot of games, start small, find a partner who can support you, enter competitions like game jam, and do projects.”, they said.

 

Here Are Some Valuable Thoughts to Ponder Over

“Try to make something different and be proficient in different art-styles, animations, graphics, controls. More than anything else, enjoy the entire process”.

The Backstage Pass Incubator for Game Development

Level2 – The Backstage Pass Incubator for Game Development

Level2, the Backstage Pass incubator, is a creative space with the all the facilities to support developing games through launching entrepreneurial ventures of our students.

An incubator acts like a seedbed. It provides mentoring, infrastructure, marketing and publishing support.Level2 is briskly putting together all these and more.

The Mentors

Experienced mentors from the industry guide our young entrepreneurs. Our mentors come from different fields of game making such as game art, game design, game publishing, and so on. Also, the mentors are either entrepreneurs themselves or are senior professionals from the various leading game development companies. Consequently, the mentoring quality is of the highest order.

The Process

Backstage Pass provides the infrastructure including the software, systems, and offices.The development of each game will take about 3 to 6 months from inception to launch.

The first phase of the incubation involves the market fit of the game. Once themarket fit is found, we move on to game design. Game design is followed up by game development, testing, a soft launch, a marketing phase and then, finally, launching the game.

The incubator is currently open only to the students and alumni of Backstage Pass.

The Selection Process

The selection process is simple:

  • Teams with 3-4 student members are selected.
  • These teams will develop the games.
  • Backstage Pass owns the games and the IP.
  • Teams that create winning games will be sent to international competitions such as the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Casual Connect, and so on.

Benefits

Students will have extensive connections with industry experts, develop games, learn to work as a team, and handlethe ups and downs of developing and taking a game to the market. In this process, they also learn from the experiences of mentors as well as fellow team members.

Marketing a game is both an art and science. While a small part of it could be learned, mostof it experiential. Student teams gain expertise in this area as well.

They know how to deal with failures, either collective or individual.

 

Looking Forward

Backstage Pass is eagerly looking forward to becoming the “go to”space for student game startups.

US polls bring rich dividends to city game developers

US polls bring rich dividends to city game developers

The ‘Avion Flight Simulator’ downloaded more than 7.5 million times

When people across the globe were backing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump late last year, two game developers from the city bet their luck on the U.S. presidential elections.

Finally when the elections were declared, Asar Dhandala and Satish Chandra were richer by a few lakhs. The duo behind the mobile game, ‘Avion Flight Simulator’ introduced an update during the elections which doubled their revenues.

“We wanted to take advantage of the elections and introduced Air Force One flight, the official carrier of the U.S. President to the existing fleet,” said Mr. Dhandala.

“Users had to purchase the flight for $ 3 if they wanted to fly it using simulator. A lot of people paid for the additional feature and our revenues doubled during the U.S. elections,” he added.

The game has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times on Android, IOS and Windows operating systems since its launch in mid-2015. The game also helped the team generate revenues of around Rs. 50 lakh.

The game is a big hit in other countries than in India.

According to the developers, the game has the maximum downloads from USA, Russia, Brazil and Germany followed by India in the fifth position.

It was a chance meeting of the two gamers from Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming and Technology which gave birth to the idea of working on a simulator game.

“Though our target was three months, we developed the game within two months. We almost worked for 18 hours a day.

We analysed the top games and went through the reviews. We wanted to develop a product which was the best among the flight simulator games.

We are glad that our game is in the second position in this category of mobile games,” said Mr. Dhandala.

In 2017, the youngsters want to come up with a better version of the game which includes refined engines and improved graphics.

A Chart Topping Mobile Game

A Chart Topping Mobile Game from Hamara Hyderabad

Backstage Pass Students Did It Again

50,00,000 downloads and counting…

Yes, that’s the number of downloads of the Avion Flight Simulator ™ game on the Google Play Store and counting.

Students of Backstage Pass Institute of Gaming & Technology, Satish Chandra and Asar Dhandala, are the creators of the Avionics Flight Simulator ™, 2015 game. Currently, the game is the 3rd most popular game in the world among similar games on Google Play.

Asar completed his B.F.A and Satish was a student of the PG Diploma in Game Design programme. Satish was a Systems Engineer at Infosys before he dropped out to pursue gaming while Asar turned an entrepreneur in his student days with Seven Summits.

Here is the making of the game, in their own words.

The Genesis

“While working on some project, we discovered that both of us have a penchant for aircraft. That got us both excited. We both started getting along very well and started talking more and more about the concept”.

“I already tried to make a flight simulator game and failed once. So, when I met Satish, I thought we could together build the game. Besides, he had already built two flight sim games through TeaPOT games with a million downloads each”, says Asar.

“Initially we were coding like 6 hours a day. On one of those days, we met in the coffee shop to discuss the progress. I came to know that I had to travel to San Francisco for Casual Connect USA, 2015 and we joked that we should finish before I leave for the conference”.

“Later we got serious about the jokes. We thought, why not?”,  adds Satish, quietly.

“That’s when the real game started. From 6 to 7 hours of coding a day, we jumped to 20 hours of coding a day”.

The Method

Satish chips in. “Since we both liked flight simulators, we knew what to build. We took the most played simulator games at that point and analyzed each of them in our own way. Essentially, we were building our kind of flight simulator. Like kids who fancy a helicopter full of candy. We were no different”.

The Madness

“Marketing? That’s the craziest thing in hindsight. There wasn’t any:zero marketing. No user acquisition. No spreading the word around the world. We just joined the Play Store and the Microsoft Store. All that we did was every mobile near us had the game running on it. Friends, family, neighbours, just about anyone known to us”. Both laugh heartily.

The Aha Moment

“The zero-day. That was a great moment. The zero-day retention was 30%. And that’s a winner. We knew it. After that, there is no looking back. The game took its own course. It has been totally organic”. A hush descends on the conversation, characteristic of experiencing something before the experience.

What Happened

Asar breaks the silence, “I guess all the right elements were there. While we designed the game together, we stuck to our areas of expertise. Satish was programming and I took care of 2D Art and visualisation. Satish is a very professional coder. Trust me, it is extremely important to have the right team in place”.

The Stage

“Besides meeting each other, at Backstage Pass we learned how to get into the game industry. This is a very important turn in our journey as entrepreneurs. And I went on to publishing my first commercial game. And, so did Asar”, adds Satish.

Recounts Asar, “Backstage Pass helped me with partly financing some of my trips to conferences, gave me the freedom to work on my games and they spread the word of Avion”.

What’s Next

“We are working on the next version of Avion and we are also planning to come up with a new game by mid-2017”.

Advice

“It’s perfectly OK if you are looking for a secure job. But to be an entrepreneur, you should fail fast, and fail early”, pat comes the suggestion from Satish.

“You got to build many games before you have a winner. I made as many as 14 games. So just make. Make as many as you can”.

About Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass Institute of Game Development offers various courses in game design, game art and game development. Backstage Pass has collaborated with JNAFAU, Hyderabad to offer bachelor’s and P.G. Diploma courses. Backstage Pass alumni include entrepreneurs, employees of start-ups and MNCs, and students of acclaimed universities across the globe.

For more information, please email to: info@backstagepass.co.in or call: 040-800 800 2794/800 800 2795.

Glu Mobile Workshop

Backstage Pass Students Attend an Exclusive Workshop at Glu™ Mobile, Hyderabad.

Glu Mobile, Hyderabad, organized an exclusive workshop on level design for the students of Backstage Pass.

Techopedia defines level design as:

“…a game development discipline that involves the creation of video game levels, locales, missions or stages. This is done using some sort of level editor – software used in game development to construct digital environments. Level editors may also be included in released games to allow players to get creative and make their own levels and scenarios. Level design is both a technical and artistic process.

Level design is also known as environment design or game mapping.”

At the end of the three-hour workshop, Glu organized a level design contest for the students and 2 teams were declared the winners.

The senior students of the group also had an opportunity to apply for an internship at Glu Mobile.

The students’ response was amazing. They had 3 awesome things to say about their interaction.

The students were swept off their feet from the way Glu Mobile office was appointed. Casual, trendy, meticulous and a sense of exuberance, all blending into an overarching sense of freedom to think, create, and just be.

Even more appealing were the friendly workshop coordinators and the staff who interacted with the students. When asked if they would like to work for Glu on graduating, there was a thundering and unanimous ‘aye”.

The students also felt that the way level design was explained was awesome. And given a chance, they would like to appear for more workshops and want to learn character design and artificial intelligence (AI).

Thanks to the Glu Mobile team who got the students excited beyond words.

Debdatta

Success Needs the Freedom to Fail

A sharp mind, quick questions, high doses of common sense, loads of candour, a maturity level that stumps any adult and of course a dash of humour. Mix all these ingredients into a potpourri, and you get none other than Debdatta Basu. A game developer since his school days and a graduate from IIT, Roorkee, Deb can converse non-stop and be simultaneously thinking a couple of steps ahead of his conversation.

Were you thinking of game development when you started college at IIT?

“I developed games at school. It was a lot more fun to develop games than applications from the school’s textbook. The subject was interesting enough that I didn’t mind spending long hours learning concepts that would be considered dry or boring otherwise. My education at IIT served to expand my knowledge and formally cement a lot of things I had learnt. I am a great software engineer today because of the curiosity and interest I developed while making games in school.”

What defines a software engineer?

“A software engineer is someone who engineers and builds software. He is identified by what he builds and not necessarily by a job or a designation, or the tools he uses. A great software engineer should be strong enough in his fundamentals to adapt to the rapid change that is a reality of the industry.”

What was your first job?

My first job was at a semiconductor company. I participated in the design and implementation of drivers for graphics hardware.

How did you happen to choose game development as a career?

“I do games because they are fun to build. Game development has many more moving parts than a business application, which makes it more mentally stimulating to work on. Games are a pure technology play. The recurring costs are low to non-existent. That makes for an interesting business model as well. Overall I love games and so far, they have loved me back.”

There seems to be an acute shortage of game developers and other types of talent for the booming gaming industry. What kind of talent should we bring into game development?

“We should target kids who are avid gamers. It requires some stubbornness to pursue a career in games, and kids who are avid gamers already have it in them. Such kids take to gaming naturally.

Young engineers working in the industry are the second set of people who are the ideal resource pool. Many of them want to get into software engineering roles and game development presents a tremendous opportunity to do so. Backstage Pass has the right courses for them to get trained and placed in software engineering roles.”

 

What do you think of game development as a business?

“For a game development business to be sustainable, it has to deliver hits consistently. Many people think the game industry is too risky. But anything is too risky if you don’t understand the landscape. If you don’t know how to lay a brick, then constructing a house is risky.

Success in the game industry is a matter of figuring out what the market wants and meeting the market’s needs with a well-designed product that can sell itself. In game development, it is not about the production house or the star cast as is the case with movies. Gamers love or hate a game purely because of the experience that it provides. So, it is a more level playing ground out there.”

How does one learn game development?

“Today anyone can learn what he or she wants to learn. I learnt to code by building games, and this can be a fun way to get engaged talent into the software industry as a whole. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet for those who are eager to learn. Khan Academy has very good content. Consider Udemy and Coursera as well. Google is good for research.

Software engineering is a constant learning process. Once you know the fundamentals, follow sites like Stack Overflow, The Hacker News and so on. The software engineering community is quite friendly, and when you approach people with a specific and legitimate problem they rally around to help you.”

As a country, what should we do to promote making games in India?

“We should understand that game development, at its heart, is a creative industry. And creative industry can thrive only when one has the luxury to fail. To achieve success in one game, we will have to fail many times. Those who quit and return to other professions should be accepted as normal people. Let our kids and youngsters fail when they follow their dreams. They have very high chances of succeeding in life if we let them fail without fear or shame.”

That sums up Deb’s approach to life. Good luck Deb and all of you who look forward to taking part in the booming gaming industry.

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How Do You Assess A Game?

Assessing a game is an art, science, part intuition and part knowledge.Developing a critique of a game sends you on a journey to understand the various aspects of a game. The journey teaches you more about games than the end analysis about the game.

Here are some broad areas you can look at when assessing a game.

What is the Intent of the Game

The intent of the game can be making money or providing fun or just a passtime or a combination one or more of them.

If the motive is to provide fun, the definition of fun varies with the audience, age, education and so on. For example, for a racer’s game, the primary audience is casual gamers rather than hardcore gamers. Look at the primary audience of the game and see if it satisfies the primary audience. If it does, you can conclude that the game has fulfilled its intent.

Does the Game Engage the Audience

An engaging game puts the players in a state where they lose track of time, feel like playing nonstop, and want to return to the game at the next opportunity.

Engagement is a state of mind. Sometimes the engagement comes through a skill that the player has to master or the challenge to finish a particular level. If the audience returns to the game consistently, you can conclude that the game is indeed engaging. Often, the engagement is provided through unlocking higher levels of the game or providing a leader board where the player can compare herself with all those who are playing the same game. Social features, tasks and rewards, too contribute to higher engagement levels.

Also, check if the game is replayable. Replayability is the art of providing variation when a player returns to play a game. Variation increases engagement.

How is the Game Designed

If the game in question is for casual gamers, then the game should present the levels appropriate to such audience. In other words, the game should not be either too shallow or too difficult. Also, it should reveal appropriate levels based on the expertise of the player as he masters each skill level. The art, the soundtrack, the player persona, the game mechanics, and the overall feel of the game should be geared for the audience.

Conclusion

Analyse all games that you play so that you can master the art of developing a critique of games. The knowledge and insights you gain through game analysis will help you make sound decisions when you develop games.

Happy gaming.

Sushil George

@Home with Gaming – Sushil George

Today, we are showcasing one of our faculty members, Sushil George. Sushil considers himself a Hyderabadi. He holds B.Tech. from JNTU, Hyderabad and has been working as a game developer for over 6 years now.

Childhood, Motivation and Inspiration

Sushil GeorgeIn hindsight, I see that games inspired me more than people as I was growing up. When I saw a DOS game load on a Windows 95 PC, I would get excited beyond words. I was playing all the games I could lay my hands, though the games were difficult to find in those days. The two years of junior college(Intermediate)that followed were busy years as I had to prepare for various engineering entrance exams. After joining B.Tech., I was back to playing games. I learnt C and Java as part of the courses in graduation, and the learning helped in my later years as a game developer.

Soon after I completed graduation in 2010, I joined Gameloft as a QA tester and understood the process of game development. A few months later, I left Gameloft and joined Backstage Pass to pursue the Advanced Diploma in Game Programming. The training has really helped in my later years as a game developer, thanks to my experienced and talented mentors. Later, I joined Avakai Games and since then, there is no looking back.

Gaming as a career is relatively new in India. The 40+ population in India hardly plays computer games. My parents do ask me occasionally if this is the right career for me. But I guess what matters to me is l feel at home in gaming. I believe that when I am at home in a particular area, I give it my best. And that is what important. At some point, money and passion will come together anyway.

Advice for Wannabe Entrepreneurs

Unless you have someone ready to invest in your venture, it is not really possible to start off as soon as you come out of college. So it is better to work for 3 to 5 years in a company. This will help you save some money for your venture and also give you a firsthand knowledge of how to run a game development team. When working, handle as many responsibilities as you can so that you know something about everything. And don’t forget to build in-depth experience in at least one chosen area of interest and keep networking by attending all the conferences within your reach.

Before you launch your own venture, ensure that you have released at least 1 or 2 games. That will help you understand what it takes to ideate, develop and release a game. Releasing a game is of great significance because the market not only teaches the process of and hurdles in marketing a game but also acts as a touchstone for your career.

Want to Pursue a Career?

This works fine for many of us. If you go abroad and get employed in a company with a good track record, you can probably retire from the same company. This is so because, in the West, the gaming industry is so well developed and is growing non-stop. They play games as individuals, families, friends and professional gamers. It means a healthy growth for the industry.India is not far behind as the job prospects are better than ever and will continue to grow.

The Chosen Path

No matter which way you want to go, give it your 100%. The most important thing: never stop learning and seeking newer game technologies.You will do just fine.

Wishing all of you a great journey in gaming.

— Sushil George

How Do You Choose a Job When You Receive Multiple Offers?

How Do You Choose a Job When You Receive Multiple Offers?

As a student, if you have dirtied your fingers in just about anything in gaming, tried to build a game or two, and your brain cooks games all the time making new rules and roles, you are very likely to have more than one offer by the time you finish your education in gaming.

The factors discussed in this blog may vary in importance for each of you. Backstage Pass is bringing this article to discuss some long term effects each factor will have on your journey ahead.

Large Companies and Indie Companies

Large companies typically have better employment benefits and more streamlined operations that affect an employee’s life. However, to gain visibility and recognition are not easy and the scope for learning depends on the group you will join.

In indie companies, you get to work in niche areas, handle a lot of work that is well beyond your imagination and typically work with very senior people. In a nutshell, the scope for learning is enormous. Some startups may give you shares in the company, called sweat equity. And others may offer fabulous packages with long weekends filled with work and fun.

Salary

Salary is an important consideration for many of us. If you need to support the family, support yourself, pursue higher studies without depending on parents, or save some money to start building games on your own, you must seek a job.

Never make a decision based on the size of the pay check alone. Consider all the factors below before you take a decision.

Creative Projects

There may be occasions when you want to be part of a team that is working on a new genre of game. Such projects always need an ability to stretch your mind and body. If you think you have them, go for such jobs that offer a place on the team.

When you apply yourself even to the most mundane task, you can turn it into the most creative adventure. Therefore, at the workplace, you should not look down upon any project. Many a time, an opportunity of your choice knocks on your door after you consistently prove that you execute all jobs with equal tenacity.

Creative projects give you an opportunity to fast forward your career.

Choice of Technology

While preferring to work with a particular technology, do build skills in other technologies that are alternatives and complementary for the chosen technology. This act will help you to remain relevant and steer the ebb and flow of tech trends.

A Good Team

No matter how good you are in your area of expertise, you are just two hands. A good team offers you more than hands: A good team trusts you and your ideas and gives you a space to think and wonder. A good team is a web of support in times of need.A good team has camaraderie that underlines its moments of harmony and disharmony.And a good team nurtures you.

Look for these traits in the team that interviews you and more specifically, the interviewer from your team.

Permission to Work on Pet Projects

Many times you may have a pet project or a side project that you want to pursue. It needs a lot of persistence to work on these pet projects as the work on these projects can be done only after attending to the regular work. Your interest in pet projects shows that you are a person who can strive longer and harder for things that you care about. While all organizations understand this fact, only some of them let you work on pet projects using the organizational resources. At the time of your interview, you can gently inquire whether the organization supports pet projects.

Conclusion

Use your discretion and listen to both your heart and mind when choosing a job offer over another because, the road less traveled may make all the difference in your life.