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. :-)