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.

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.

Asar Dhandala

A Journey into Games and Self

Asar Dhandala

Asar Dhandala – Game Developer

Our student and ace game developer, Asar Dhandala, a soft-spoken and yet dynamic person combining the charm of a college kid and the attitude of a self-taught entrepreneur, is blogging this week to give you a ringside view of game development.

Enjoy the read :-)
Is This Me?
Like many others kids, I joined the biology stream after passing the school. I hoped to crack the medical entrance after my Intermediate (12th class). But within a couple of months into Intermediate, I realized medicine is not my cup of tea. It was super annoying to cut earthworms and later wash hands and eat food. Also, physics and chemistry didn’t excite me at all…. They just didn’t. And I just didn’t feel like I belong.

Net, net …I started thinking. What do I do after Intermediate? I started searching the Internet for alternatives and chanced upon both Backstage Pass and an animation studio. I liked what I saw, and wanted to give it a shot. As soon as I was done with my exams, I joined the animation studio and learnt animation.

Veer Hanuman

Veer Hanuman

Then I approached a Delhi-based game studio for an internship. Sitting in Hyderabad, I worked for them for four months. I attended training sessions on Skype and later read online about how to make games. As a part of my internship, I made a game called Veer Hanuman. It became popular and had two lakh downloads till date. I didn’t make any money as it was an internship assignment but I learnt how to make games even before I stepped into college. And that turned out to be a huge advantage for me.

Convincing My Parents
Since this is a relatively new career path, I had to do something to convince my parents. After designing the Veer Hanuman game that became popular, my parents were convinced too. So I joined Backstage Pass.

Why Backstage Pass?
There were a couple of reasons:
Backstage Pass happens to be the first college in India to offer University-certified bachelor’s degree, of four-year duration, in Computer Science and Game Development and Bachelor of Fine Arts. Many institutions offer only diplomas but not a four-year degree. The degree is conferred by Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts University, which is recognized as a State University by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

•A four-year bachelor’s degree puts you in a sweet spot as some countries mandate 16 years of study (10+2+4) to grant a work visa.

•Backstage Pass is affordable. (Girls love it all the more because they enjoy fee discounts.)

•And I knew, through my internship experience and building the Veer Hanuman game, I could do something on my own.

Support from Backstage Pass
Yes, Backstage Pass supported me well. And it did so, in more than one ways. The faculty taught us well. We had the freedom to explore and build. That is very valuable. All the students receive support to market their games and to visit the overseas game competitions.

In hindsight, I see that Backstage Pass is a very good place to learn the tools and exercise your talent. Experiment, fail, and revise. That is the key.

Every month, 30,000 video games are released for the mobile platform but only 8 to 10% of them succeed. So the odds of failing in making a commercially successful game are very high. However, that is where the fun is. While failing quickly, we learn non-stop and also know what not to do.

Choosing Entrepreneurship
I wanted to take home more freedom and money than a job could afford and also wanted to do something different to engross me and prove myself. So I turned into an entrepreneur when I registered my business, Seven Summits Studio, in my freshman year in 2012. And I started making games.

Also, I felt that college is the right time to fail because no one would question me.

I learnt that it was not easy to manage teams because you were inclined to share profits rather than pay salaries upfront. That made it difficult to bring enough loyalty to function as a team.

Participation in Events Abroad
I traveled to participate in competitions held in Singapore and Seattle. This is a very high cost affair and Backstage Pass supported us.
Recognition

My games started getting noticed in 2013. The release of Petite and Avion saw us receive a host of awards.
Pac-Port

•Nominated for ‘Student Game of the Year’ at National Game Developer Conference (NGDC) 2013

•Nominated for Espacioenter Game Awards 2013

Petite

Asar DhandalaPetite is an ambient experience game built to trace the journey of a woman.

•Best Game: Microsoft’s Dev Camps (Hyderabad) 2014

•Best Game Story: Casual Connect Asia 2014

•Runners Up: Game of the Year: NGDC 2014

•Honorable Mention: UX Challenge – Imagine Cup 2014

•Nominated for Best Game: Imagine Cup 2014

•Nominated for Indie Prize Award: Casual Connect 2014

•Nominated for Espacioenter Game Awards 2014

Avion Flight Simulator

Avion Flight Simulator

Avion Flight Simulator 2015

This game won the Indie Game of the Year at NGDC, 2015. It carried three lakh rupees of prize money. This is an award given to a game whose intellectual properties are owned by an Indian entity with less than 30 contributors and is self-funded. NDTV described the game as one of the “Top 5 Android Games from India You Must Play”.

I am working on a train cruising game and planning to release it next month.

Game Industry and Its Future

Prior to 2010, service companies dominated the Indian game development scene. They would mostly execute outsourced work. However, post-2010, I see a rise in independent game development. The increased mobile phone usage and the potential for mobile adoption in India are pushing Indian game development to new levels.

Want to Try Game Development

Try these online game development courses to check if you have the flair:

Coursera
Lynda.com
Udemy

Conclusion

I firmly believe that game development is a strong career path that can push you to utilize your creative juices. And that is the way I see the world going.

Good luck. :-)

How to Kickstart your Career as a Game Designer

Creating games is not just about an Idea. As a game designer, you must be specialized in making and delivering games. It’s more about what the designer does to put the game together, from the prototype to the final outcome. We will brief you about how to kickstart your career as a Game Designer.

Career as Game DesignerHow do you start?
If you wish to design games, start by making games. A game designer should concentrate always on making games. Your first ten games will probably suck (it’s not your fault), but don’t let that de-motivate you! Keep making them.

Things you should know –
Game designing is a field which requires a very wide range of knowledge. Dig up the Internet and learn as much as you can. Watch useful videos on the YouTube and enhance your skills. Bookmark and follow good gaming related blogs. There are some important things you should have knowledge about in order to become a better designer.

Things you should study – 
The most frequently asked questions, what do you need to study? What are the qualifications required? Do you need a university degree? We say, it comes in pretty handy for you, if you hold a professional degree. Few topics require you to know in-depth knowledge about gaming. There are few good universities that offer specific game design courses, concentrating on some amazing topics. Find a good college and assess the course portfolio and decide accordingly. Gaming is more about practical knowledge than about theory. See if the institute focuses more on practical knowledge.

You should know to Code
You don’t need to be a professional coder, but must be able to at least know the basics of the coding language. Coding will come in pretty handy for you, helping you achieve far more. Coding is a precious skill in the gaming industry.

You should know to Draw –
Art is something that game designers cannot ignore. A game designer must be able to sketch or visualize ideas. Did you know?
“Shigeru Miyamoto, the greatest designers of all time, started his career as an artist.”

Play Games –
You should play A LOT. Play everything you can, try as much things as you can. Always dissect the games you play, try to understand how they work, and deconstruct them.

What do you think about the article? Let us know in the comment thread!