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.”

mentor-rahul-sehgal

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.”

Rahul Sehgal

Pocket Gamer Connects 2016

PG Connects, an annual event organized by Steel Media Ltd., was held in Bangalore between 21 – 22 April.

We are presenting the first-hand account of the event from Rahul Sehgal, Backstage Pass senior faculty and Founder & Creative Director of Roach Interactive. Some impressions from Rahul:

What is the significance of this conference?

“India has 2 major annual events for gaming, NASSCOM’s Game Development Conference (GDC) caters to all forms of gaming whereas Pocket Gamer Connects focuses on mobile games.”

Who attended the event?

“Game designers, game developers, students, bloggers, indie development companies, the Press, and just about anyone who has something to do with mobile games. Many speakers from abroad. The whole ecosystem was present. “

What was your talk about subjective design?

I discussed how to engage casual through core players through appropriate game design.

How do such conferences benefit the attendees?

“The opportunity to learn, connect, and showcase is enormous. For example, you can set up a table for an insignificant fee and showcase your game under development. The feedback you get is priceless. If you are an indie developer, you can find resources. If you are a studio, you can meet publishers. You can meet business developers who can market the game. Not to mention, such events organize competitions. These competitions kick off typically months ahead of the event. Isn’t that a great platform to showcase talent?”

Your advice for students of gaming?

All students should attend such events. Entry fee for students is subsidised. You get to experience the whole universe of mobile gaming. That can be a transforming experience. Also, the networking, the exposure, meeting the old and new friends, and the very vibes…all of them count immensely.

Anibrain School of Media Design's Showdown 2016

Showdown 2016 – Backstage Pass Team is the Runner Up

Ranging Tornadoes, with Mir and Prakash, was declared the runner up (http://schoolofmediadesign.com/showdown-2016/game-showdown-result) in the Games category of Showdown 2016.

Showdown is an annual event that attracts national and international participants to Pune where Anibrain School of Media and Design hosts this event. What makes this win sweeter is the fact that Mir and Prakash have been studying game development only for a few months now. They are in the first year of B.Tech. (Game Development) at Backstage Pass.

We are bringing out a blog to showcase what propelled such young boys to the centre stage at a prestigious event.

As I waited for them, I saw two lanky and shy-looking boys walk into the room. After the introductory handshakes, I deliberately took them on a trip of small talk. By the end of the talk, I saw they were smiling, nodding and chipping in with a word or two.

Mir Fasiuddin has always been an avid player of console, mobile, and PC games. Every time he would get a better grade, his family would buy him a game. And he had been showered with games throughout his childhood. When he passed his 10th class, the gift was a coveted Wii box. His eyes lit up even as he mentioned his Wii.

Mir says “I did not want to pursue a traditional career. So I started googling for offbeat careers and I found Backstage Pass.” He adds, “I knew I wanted to make a career in gaming and I should opt for the B.Tech. programme. So I picked up the mathematics stream in 11th and 12th classes.”

Jaya Prakash says, “I always used to have my way at home. My parents knew that whatever I do, I do responsibly so many decisions were left to me. I wasn’t a big time gamer. But after I joined a private boarding school for my 11th grade, I realized I was part of a factory that makes machines called engineers. And I knew the life of being a programmer because I know many in my family who are programmers. And that was a big no for me.” His eyes narrowed even as those words poured out. He adds, “When I told my parents I wanted to study gaming after my 12th grade, they were clueless. And my cousin stepped in to back my decision. (I owe him something.) Finally, I am here doing what I wanted to do.”

I set on to understand the bonding between them. “Well, we did a class assignment together and made a presentation. And that rocked bigtime. So we know we make a good team.”

And now comes the test, “What made you participate in the game?” Mir quips, “I saw the announcement on the notice board and thought we should give it a try. So I promptly roped in Jaya Prakash.”

“Since this is an international event, we weren’t sure where we would stand but thought we should at least participate.”, adds Jaya Prakash.

Then they set on to research. And learnt many things in their journey towards submitting the entry. How do we draw up a game design document, how do we engage a gamer, what traditional Indian games are popular, what locale do we choose, what choices do we give the player and so on. Many decisions with a lot of gut feel. And they submitted and forgot about it.

And when the results were out, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Raging Tornadoes was declared as the runner up.

“What did you learn?” I asked them. “Many aspects of game development, from writing the game design document to game psychology and some tools too.” Says Mir.

“The courage and now my parents know that I will find a niche for myself in gaming,” adds Prakash.

Even as I congratulated the boys, I could listen to their eyes say that the journey transformed them from within.

By Surya Prabha Vallae

Women in Game Development

Women in Game Development

Game development is fast catching up as a career choice among young girls in India. Today many girls are hooked to online, mobile and video games as much as boys and are choosing a career in game development.

Women in game development bring a fresh perspective to the theme, story line and the characters in the game. With more women playing games, companies are also rethinking the way games are designed. They are looking at adding more female characters to the games. They also believe that women game developers can create dynamic female characters and are encouraging them.

Today there are many women game developers who have found success and are inspiring young women to take up game development. If you are considering this profession then here are the skill sets and job requirements for game development. Read ahead for perspectives on the profession from some women game developers.

Skill Sets

The general qualities and skill sets required to make a career in this field include strong skills in drawing, creative bent of mind, analytical thinking, visualization, logical thinking, interpersonal skills etc.

The eligibility for doing an undergraduate degree or diploma in game development is 10+2 with maths, physics as the main subjects.

Game development as a profession offers diverse roles from game designer, game writer, and game artist to game tester. One can work as game programmers and design and write the computer code that runs and controls a game.

It is no doubt a challenging field and requires team work, good communication skills and willingness to listen and collaborate. These qualities are not gender specific and women can do as well as men in this field. The evidence of this is the increasing number of successful women game developers.

Women Game Developers

Women in GamingGlobally, women constitute a small percentage of game developers. The workforce in game development companies is dominated by males but women are making small but sure inroads into the industry.

Today there are many women game developers working at top levels and some have even started their own companies. Game companies agree on the fact that more women need to be hired as game designers if better games are to be produced.

According to The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) workplace study in 2014, 76 percent of the workforce is male, compared to 22 percent female. The apprehensions women have to deal with include long working hours, early burn out and decreased job satisfaction. But the positive fact is women who made up only 11.5 percent of the workforce in 2009 has seen an increase.

In India too, there are many women who not only play games but are also active in game forums. We spoke to Poornima Seetharaman, lead game designer at GSN Games India Pvt Ltd. She started her gaming career with a South Korean mobile games company, Cyberhills. She also worked with Indiagames (now Disney), where she was the Lead Designer for the mobile version of Bioshock. She runs her own game design studio, Pinaka Interactive which focuses on games that deal with social causes in the real world. She is also one of the founding members of Nasscom Gaming Forum – Special Interest Group on Women in Game Development.

Poornima’s advice to women wanting to take up gaming as a career:

  • Take up an internship. An internship gives you clarity and provides you with money, mentors and network. Then choose which career path in gaming you would like to pursue. This will help you decide your path based on experience and not just understanding.
  • Never put a person on a pedestal or put down a person just because they are good or bad at a particular game.
  • Utilize the online medium which has abundant sources on game development. Learn, learn, and learn even more.
  • Participate in gaming events and conferences and build your contacts.

But there are challenges women game developers have to contend with.

The Way Ahead

Women game developers feel games can be made more inclusive to women if they have more of female protagonists. They opine that the lack of diversity in the types of games being made is one reason there are very few female protagonists and this can change only if more women get into game development.

But the good news is many women are breaking stereotypes and choosing this profession. They are experimenting with game development and bringing creativity to the field and are succeeding too. They are an inspiration to young women.

To discover more about women game developers, there are online forums and blogs dedicated to women in the profession. Two of them are http://www.gamingaswomen.com/ and http://women.igda.org/

Young women can choose this profession for the number of exciting avenues it offers; they can be artists, animators, writers, designers, producers or programmers after the right course of study.

Backstage Pass is encouraging more girls to opt for a career in game development by offering scholarships for female students.

With such initiatives to encourage more women to enter the profession,   the numbers of women game developers is bound to grow.