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Seven Summits Studio: Making Memories Through Stories in Petite

March 31, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Seven Summits Studio is an award-winning independent game development company based out of Hyderabad, India. The studio was founded in 2013 by a group of passionate individuals who strive to create impactful experiences through video games.

Petite is an ambient experience that narrates a woman’s story while focusing on key incidents that happen in her life. Every level is a new situation, and each memory you unlock is a unique one, depending on the emotions you choose.

It is being designed by Asar Dhandala, who worked on Petite together with the writer of the story,  Vishesh Chopra, and the programmer, P.V. Sanjeev Kumar. The development cycle of the game is being mentored by Shailesh Prabhu and Nawaz Dhandala. Asar shares the story of their freshly released creation.


The Beginning at the end

After our debut title Pac-Port turned out to be not so successful, some of the members decided to work on more stable projects.

Soon afterwards, during a phase of depression, I started learning programming. That was when I decided to participate in a game jam and make a game about emotions. This particular time frame collided with the Microsoft Dev Camp, which is a hackathon where you’re required to develop an app/game in 12 hours. The prototype of Petite won the Best Game award there, which encouraged me to take things further.

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Asar started working on Petite full time after Microsoft’s Dev Camp

This was an important decision: participating in a lot of game jams even when you’re on your own. It helps you churn out ideas fast, get feedback from people and lets you figure out whether your concept works or not.

Making memories

A basic shooter wasn’t enough to keep the players interested in the game

After the success at Dev Camp I started playtesting the game with people back home, and made rigorous changes in design and art while sticking to the core vision of having a game about emotions. I then submitted the alpha build of the game to the UX Challenge of Imagine Cup where the game won an honorable mention (Top 10) worldwide.
The game had a basic story narrated through a few sentences before each level. But a basic shooter wasn’t enough to keep the players interested in the game, and the story wasn’t much to speak of either.

Shailesh Prabhu then decided to test out the game, following which we bounced a couple of ideas around and that’s when Shailesh suggested adding memories to the game.

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Adding memories to the game to make it more fun required extra work, so Asar decided to invite Vishesh as a writer.

 

The addition of memories meant a lot more work. As I was handling the programming, art and design of the game all by myself, I asked Vishesh to join the team as a writer. He then revamped the entire storyline, designed a basic sequence of events and added a lot more content to Petite.

I met Vishesh and Sanjeev back in 2013 during NASSCOM’s Game Developer Conference in India. We’d never actually thought about working together on a game then, but they turned out to be willing to contribute and things fell in place. Networking with other people from the industry is always beneficial.

Visiting conferences/indie meetups always pays off. You never know who you’ll end up working with/collaborating, especially if you’re an indie developer.

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Visiting industry events always pays off.

 

Narrative paces

Every emotion unlocks a different memory

Petite had a very basic and bare bones narrative to accompany the gameplay at first. Though it was simple and went well with the game’s minimalism, Shailesh suggested adding memories to the gameplay to increase player interest and depth.

Doing so meant designing two levels of narrative for the game. One was the main story that the player followed before starting a level. It also set the stage, so to speak, for the events that followed. The other was the in-game narration of memories revolving around that particular event. This added a lot more content to the game as well as replay value.

Every emotion unlocks a different memory. Hence, every use of emotion potentially sets off the story into branches. We were excited at the prospect of adding branches to the whole story. But that would’ve meant full-time commitment, which we couldn’t afford because of our jobs. So we decided to stick to an overall arc of story.

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Memories added replay value to the game, while emotions added depth.

 

As for the story itself, it was a challenge to write it in two different paces of narration, making it simple enough for the players to understand and relate to as much as possible. Most of the story is, of course, relatable to males as well as females. But the female-specific sections were the most difficult ones to write about, without sounding too unrealistic or pretentious.

The Showcase

Petite bagged in the Best Game Story award at Indie Prize

With a very basic beta build up and running for two Windows devices, we participated in the indie game showcase at Casual Connect Singapore 2014.
The response was mixed, and mostly unexpected. The people who did like the game played at least seven or eight levels, and some even finished all of the 14 levels available at the time. But the ones who weren’t really into it just played to enjoy the basic shooter aspect of Petite and didn’t go more than four or five levels before stopping. This confirmed our suspicion that ours would be a very niche game which might not appeal to people who are not used to playing games with a focus on textual narrative.

The Showcase
Casual Connect Singapore 2014 Indie Prize Showcase gave the developers an idea of what their audience is like.

Catering to one audience well is better than trying to cater to all of them and fail. We did try to make it as open as possible at first, trying to appeal to both audiences by introducing moderate levels of difficulty in the gameplay itself. But the feedback for this was mostly negative, since the players who were immersed in the atmosphere did not appreciate their attention being diverted from struggling to unlock memories.

This is something we planned to rectify and make the experience all the more immersive by toning down the difficulty of the game as well as some other features.

The event was followed by Indie Prize Awards where the best games from the showcase were honored in respective categories. Petite bagged in the Best Game Story award here.

Indie Prize Awards
Petite won the Best Game Story award at the Indie Prize 2014 competition in Singapore.

What went right: Participating in events like Casual Connect. It was a great learning experience and we got tons of suggestions and critiques from experienced people working in the industry.

What went wrong: Moving away from our core audience, i.e. readers, and focusing more on hardcore gamers. Catering to one audience well is better than trying to cater to all of them and failing after all.

Imagine Cup and release

Petite battled it out at Microsoft’s 2014 Imagine Cup, becoming a finalist. The game has been released on Windows Phone 8 and is scheduled to release Windows 8, Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10.

Award Ceremony
Petite became a finalist at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup.

Weeks after launch of Petite, the developers are waiting for reliable numbers and feedback from players. “We’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s with Petite, so now we’re working on our next game Picto“, Asar shares. It’s a narrative-based game that focuses on a small kid growing up in the environment of domestic violence.

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Awakening of Heroes: Making MOBA Interesting For A Wider Audience

March 24, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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COFA Games is a game development company from Serbia, currently working on a pretty ambitious project for an indie studio, called Awakening of Heroes. This is an unusual multi-player game that combines elements of team fight, strategy, arcade, town development and pre-game unions. Although still in the Alpha phase, Awakening of Heroes has appeared on Steam Greenlight waiting for your thumbs up to help it enter this huge PC game download store.

COFA Games’ CEO Nikola Mitic shares the story of their game taking place in a dreamlike city, and featuring a sweet old lady obsessed with extreme sports such as tombola and knitting, a mellow-heart butcher with an alter-ego of a math genius, a sexy chimney sweeper with a vendetta against Santa, a hipster in an atypical bad mood, and a grandpa daredevil. And of course the craziest superpowers one can come up with.


Contributions

Exploring Mobile Games as an Engagement Platform

March 20, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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By Nick Thomas, Head of Gaming at Immersion

Over the coming months, I’ll be posting a blog series exploring untapped opportunities to increase engagement in mobile games, along with a few predictions on the future of the mobile gaming industry. We’ve been buzzing about this concept since the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) in San Francisco, where Immersion was given the opportunity to host the panel “Left Brain + Right Brain = Engagement.” This session featured industry leaders from both the creative and analytic side of mobile gaming spectrum, and I was delighted to philosophize with industry experts Jeff Drobick of Tapjoy, Jeffrey Cooper of Samsung, and David Zemke of DeNA. Our wide ranging discussion uncovered a rich tapestry of ideas that illuminate some of the core mechanics in both designing and analyzing mobile games, which in turn provided insights for game developers on how to improve engagement in their games. This series will touch on some of the key takeaways from the panel and our work since, and will offer game developers some actionable ideas to implement in creating the more creative and engaging games.

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Orange Jet Fighter: From News Stories to a Jet Fighter Game

March 9, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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GamesOnly.com is a Dutch game studio and game portal founded in 2009 by Robin Ras. Located in Amsterdam, Robin started to work with other game devs to develop Unity 3D games like the Orange Jet Fighter. “Being a big fan of jet fighter games, it was great to finally be able to develop something similar”, Robin says as he shares the story of Orange Jet Fighter.


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JELLIES!: Developers’ Team Gathered Through Instagram

March 4, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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52 Hertz Whale are 3 guys from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. They were once working at the same local IT company and decided to create an indie game together. Inspired by titles like Limbo, Badland and Ridiculous Fishing, these developers tried to create something unique and gorgeous, and they got it. JELLIES!, a color-matching arcade game. “It has a great simple design, unique entertaining gameplay and awesome little wicked jellies”, says Mikhail Shagin, the co-founder and developer in 52 Hertz Whale, as he shares the story of the game.


Contributions

Depth Hunter 2: Exploring the Waters of Game Development

March 1, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Biart Company was originally based in Russia, but later moved to the U.S. as part of its development strategy in 2011. As an American company it has released games focusing on underwater themes for gaming consoles, PC, and mobile platforms. Biart Company released its first mobile 3D games for iOS and independently published a project on Steam. Konstantin Popov, the founder of the company and producer for all of Biart’s games, talks about his experience as an independent developer over these three years.

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The Emergence of the Western Core PC Gamer

February 25, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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In recent years DFC Intelligence has focused on segmenting the diverse base of game consumer types. The most important trend that is emerging in the game market is the growth of consumers that play on multiple platforms. For example, almost all console players also play on PC to some extent. Increasingly both console and PC gamers are playing on mobile devices.

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Squad 15 Results Offer iGaming Developers Feedback from the Fingertips

February 23, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Introduction

Imagine the ideas and gear wheels that turn when given access to the gaming world’s most valuable information. It’s not the ultimate source code or script that can fix every bug on the planet, nor is it that elusive one-size-fits-all impossible design. Instead, this valuable information is something far more accessible and readily available if we choose to look for it in the right place — the user. The review team at Slotsquad couldn’t place more emphasis on this point, and that’s why their regular player-feedback sessions have become invaluable in helping how they determine ratings for iGaming products and slots.

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Puppet Punch: The High-Quality Game From India

February 17, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

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Mech Mocha Game Studios is a videogame startup based in India. Founded by Mohit Rangaraju (Chief Mech) and Arpita Kapoor (Chief Mocha), Mech Mocha was part of iAccelerator 2013 batch. They are also proud alums of Chartboost University. Mech Mocha’’s co-founder Arpita was awarded “Most prominent Female Indie” by Casual Games Association and both founders are past IGDA Scholars. Mohit shares the story of their freshly released game, Puppet Punch.


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Supersonic CEO Gil Shoham on the Intersection of Advertising, Big Data, and Gaming

February 16, 2015 — by Industry Contributions

The following interview is provided by TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that connects buyers and sellers of business technology through meaningful relationships.

Gil Shoham, CEO of mobile advertising technology platform Supersonic, spoke with TechnologyAdvice host Clark Buckner about their recent Series B Funding, current trends in the mobile advertising space, and the role of big data.

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