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.

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.

2016-06-17

4 Ways to Earn While Studying Gaming

For students who want to support themselves while studying or work for the sake of gaining experience, or both, we are bringing out this article on how to earn while learning.

Making Gameplay Videos and Monetizing Through YouTube

Gameplay videos teach you how to play a particular game using a video hosted on YouTube. There are many famous gameplay video makers such as PewDiePie, Yogscast, Rooster Teeth, and CaptainSparklez. It takes a while to earn the scales that these players have achieved. But it is worth trying. And remember, India is an untapped market in games.

E-sports

E-sports are competitive video game contests. And they carry handsome prize money to the winners. Players enjoy stardom, fan following and sponsorship’s as well. Dota 2 isa fine example of this kind, with a prize money of USD 18 million.

Indian Gaming League (IGL), Comic Con, Bangalore are some of the well-known e-sports platforms to reckon with in India.

Internships

If it is a year-long diploma course, you will apply for internship mid-way through the course. If it is a 4-year B.Tech.course in Game Development, you will officially start the internship in the final semester.

Collaborating with Seniors

Network as much as you can to nurture contacts. Similarly, develop expertise in areas of your interest. And then collaborate with your contacts to work for clients and seniors. It is OK even if you work for free for some months. The experience you gain is invaluable. The stepping stone for your next assignment is the fact that you have some real experience, not whether you earned money from your previousjob.

What Next?

By the time you pass out of school, you should ship at least one well-polished game. Publishing a game takes a lot of effort and tenacity and therefore speaks a lot about you. Consequently, it acts as the best stepping stone for an exciting career after college.

How to Land an Internship in Gaming

How to Land an Internship in Gaming

Internship is an experience that many students look forward to. And if you are the first among your friends and family to pursue gaming as a career, you may wonder how to land a good internship which is the stepping stone for a great career.

We are bringing you the 5 things that you must do, to get ready for an internship.

Attend Events

Attending events gives you access to people, trends, tools, and much more. Every event is a land of opportunities. The Game Developer Conference (GDC) held by NASSCOM every year is a great event to attend. It is scheduled to take place in Hyderabad in 2016.

Be a Part of the Gaming Community

Be a part of the gaming communities on social media and the web. Communities reverberate with trends and issues of the day and keep you abreast of developments in the field. Join communities that share knowledge, discuss issues, and deliberate on trends. Communities are organized by platform, by games, and so on. For example, Gamasutra blogs have a wealth of information on all aspects of making games. Likewise, explore the International Game Developers Association forums.

Start Working on Small Game Projects Early On

Get your hands dirty in making a game. The sooner, the better. Failed attempts at making a game teach you as much as the successful ones, if not more. Working on game projects teaches you how to anticipate issues, work within budgets, improvise resources, lock heads and find solutions, and last but not the least, steer the world of game publishing.

Be Persistent

Gaming is a demanding profession with a level playing field. The benchmarks on all fronts of gaming are set high and gamers are always pushing them higher. So to make a mark in the world of gaming, persistence is the best virtue you can possess. From small decisions to bringing projects to closure through publishing, it demands persistence.

Build an Online Portfolio

If you are a designer, make a game design portfolio and if you are a game art student, make a game art portfolio and showcase them. Your school often showcases student portfolios on the school’s website.

Create a LinkedIn Profile and Participate in LinkedIn Forums

LinkedIn is beneficial in two ways: It is the first stop for searching for talent worldwide. And LinkedIn helps connect to people working in your field of choice.

Upload a photo, fill in all the details on the profile page, and be visible to all. Also, fill in all the keywords and list your qualifications, awards won and so on. LinkedIn talks about you 24/7.

After you create the LinkedIn profile, start connecting with people. Work diligently on increasing your network. Also, join the groups that are relevant to your field of work and start answering questions posted by fellow members. This activity will build a public track record of your expertise and is very handy assessment tool for anyone who wants to work with you.

Conclusion
Above all, keep working and give your best to all assignments that you accept. After all, word of mouth plays a significant role in establishing your credibility.

Go, win people before you win internships or projects. And good luck.

choose an Internship

How Do You Choose an Internship?

When applying for an internship, you may find it difficult to decide whether the position is the right choice.

We are presenting a framework to assess an internship.

Wider Scope
Choose an assignment that gives you a wider scope of work. Such an assignment exposes you to the various departments of game making, develops different knowledge areas, and gives you a stronger presence in the world of game making.

Innovative Work
If the business offering the internship is doing innovative work, you may want to go for it. The reason is simple: even if your position includes routine work, you can network with the people involved in the innovative work and learn. The learning and exposure give you that streak of confidence that goes beyond good grades.

New Areas
It is always better to work at new areas. Note that it does not have to be a cutting edge technology. On the same note, whatever is new is always cutting edge, isn’t it?
Seeking new areas of work expands your horizons and helps you see your expertise in a new light.

Conclusion
A word of caution: you may be tempted to join where your friends are going but don’t. When you enter an organization where no one knows you, you will learn how to contribute in the real worldand know how to thrive alone.

The above framework is by no means complete. You can add all those factors that you think are important.

And then take a decision that is as objective as possible.

Your internship gives you a taste of the real world.

Go, savour it.

No Play to All Play – How Rahul Sehgal Came Home to Games

I met Rahul a few months ago in the offices of Backstage Pass. He looked almost lanky, a sharp voice and clear perception gleaning through his eyes and a casual authority over what he does seemed to make a large part of Rahul. I recognized him as Rahul, even before he said “Hello.”

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Game Design Mentor – Rahul Sehgal

Rahul Sehgal is the founder of Roach Interactive and a senior faculty at Backstage Pass. We are bringing you Rahul’s journey and his impressions about work and games:

Childhood

“My dad was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. So I had to spend my childhood in some of the remote corners of India. However, I would get to play with lots of kids when I visited my extended family in Delhi and Shimla.Now and then I would get to play video games and PC games, but I never was an avid gamer.”

Enter Games

“Later I joined the merchant navy. I was there for about 18 years. I retired from merchant navy and was pondering over my next phase of life. I strongly felt, ‘This time it should not be just work. It should be a lot more than that.’ One path was to make games. Somehow my heart and my mind kept going back to making games.  And I started looking into the idea. The more I understood, the more convinced I was. Finally, I reached the point where I felt ‘This is it.’”

VFS and Later

“The next logical step was to enrol in a school. I went to Vancouver Film School, Canada to join the Game Design program. It was a very demanding course and taught me a lot, I mean, a lot. Without school, I would have taken about 4 years to learn all that I learnt. It was an awesome experience.”

“After graduating from VFS, I worked as an intern in QA at Piranha Games in Vancouver. Then I moved to Gameloft, India. While Piranha gave me the taste of the trenches of a startup, Gameloft gave me the exposure to game designing in an MNC. Finally, in 2011, I moved out and launched Roach Interactive. Currently, we are preparing for the launch of ‘Birds of Light’ for the mobile and PC platforms.”

Returning to India

“Soon after launching my company, Backstage Pass offered me the teaching position. It was a great thing to happen to me. Since then there is no looking back.  I develop, I learn, and I teach.”

Want to Work?

“Let me talk about what you would need the most to land a job in this field. Participate in game development as soon as you can. The game you helped develop should be available on Google Play, and App Store or for PCs. When your name shows up in the credits section, it means that you were part of the whole game development cycle. It talks a lot about you. The second most important factor is to have a well-curated LinkedIn profile.”

“What are the benefits of working in this field? It is getting interesting day by day. We are going to be a very highly paid industry with a wide variety of roles, not just a game developer or an artist. Also, this is a field wherein you don’t have to wear formals to work and say the right things. You can wear shorts to work and say what you think is right. Many opportunities for freelancing exist, and online collaboration with indie development companies abroad is a reality. And you can associate with them to earn both money and experience.”

Or Want to Turn an Entrepreneur?

“Before you become an entrepreneur, you should build an alternative source of income. Expect to fail in releasing the first couple of games. You need a lot of modesty and perseverance to stay on this path. And finding a good team is another factor that makes for a successful game.”

“And the benefits are well worth the effort and risks. Gaming is a field where even high school student can earn a couple of lakhs a month. Education facilitates but is not required. All you need is training in developing quality games, the ability to collaborate and build a team, and understand how to market games.”