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.

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

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.