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”.

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.

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.

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.

game industry

I am an Artist. Can I Join the Game Industry?

Yes. You can. You make a key member on a game development team because you breathe life into a game by creating what a gamer “sees” in a game.

As a game artist, you need a good understanding of art, art history, color, light, form, and space and use this understanding to create characters, theme, lighting, color, and motion.

A special mention should be made of art history here. Art history makes you aware of how art is perceived, created, and received by people of different cultures and times. A keen sense of art history can make you belong to a class of your own because you will understand how to conform and break free of perceptions to create drama.

Characters

A game plays out through the game’s characters. As an artist, you give form, color, and motion to a character and bring alive the feelings and emotions.

An artist typically sketches the characters on a paper or whiteboard, or even a tablet and then model the character on the computer using a modeling software tool, followed by giving an appropriate skin and skin color.

When you do this job, your team calls you a character artist.

Animation

After creating characters, you add motion. Motion displays emotion and intention of the characters. Can you recall the way Samba lowers his eyes in Lion King when accused of being the cause of his father’s death?

Motion is not limited to characters. Even the non-character elements of your game need animation. For example, the flowers sway in the wind. This is called scenic animation and brings the game environment to life.

After creating the motion, you have to record and integrate motion with the game. This is motion capture.

When you do all this and more, your team calls you an animator.

Theme

You will create a game’s theme. It includes the sports fields, forts, and fantasy worlds that form a game’s world. In essence, it is the make-believe world including the space and objects of the world.

And you are the environment artist.

How Important Are You?

Are you still wondering how important is an artist on a game development team? Well, the art department spends about 25% of a game’s budget. And game houses release artwork to generate  excitement  well before releasing a game. Need we say more?

designer-vs-programmer

Game Designer vs. Game Programmer

So you love those enticing and thrilling times playing mobile or desktop games? More so, you expect to get into this industry that offers loads of opportunities to follow your gaming passion? Well, for aspiring students looking for different opportunities to enter the gaming industry, distinguishing two important gaming positions, namely, game programming and game designing might be somewhat confusing. Though these two belong to the same stream, there are certain aspects you need to understand about them to help you decide which position you desire the most. You can better term this distinction as execution vs. conceptualization.

Primarily, you need to understand that both game design and programming work in tandem for creation of user engaging games. So let’s take a closer look at both these career avenues in brief.

Game Designer

Game designing is a creative and holistic approach towards game development. The primary quality for becoming a Game Designer is to know exactly what gamers expect from games. You need to visualize a bigger picture of how a game will play. Hence, studying how games will flow; right from the start to their end is necessary. Structuring games, forming rules for playing them, conceptualization, documentation and overall management of flow are aspects that game designers need to handle. Additionally, excellent analytical and problem solving abilities are skills you need to possess for working in this trade.

Game Programmer

Programming of games includes considering design specifications provided by Game Designers, integration of sound and art, and then translating all this into games that are playable. Innate command over computer programming languages/tools such as C++, C#, Java Script, APIs, interfaces, logical thinking, math skills, gameplay programing, graphics programming, game engine programming, concepts of artificial intelligence are necessary elements that you need to possess. This complex profile requires you to map game terrain and environment, implement some artificial intelligence elements and connect inputs of players via controllers.

Designing of games involves creative visualization of games, while programming relates to technological aspects for implementation of this vision for making the game a reality. Remember that this industry is a pool of rewarding opportunities; however, bypassing proper training and education will lead you to nowhere. So, what are you waiting for? Enroll yourself today for an exciting career in Gaming and become the Game Designer or Programmer the Industry is waiting for.