Sunday, November 10, 2013

DTH gaming

Since the Digitization of cable TV in India, there have been myriad developments in this field to provide quality content to the consumers. Also the TRAI is making it compulsory for people to have STBs installed. This has resulted in large scale penetration of this technology to millions of household. People now get superior picture and sound quality, a large number of channels, movies on demand, HD channels. But one more underrated feature that this technology provides is video-games.

For me the most important point about this technology is this underrated feature. Digitization of Cable TVs have brought video-games to the people. It penetrated games in the living rooms. Kids and their families now have video games on their finger tips. This is equally fascinating as it is with the video-games penetration via Smart Phone in India. Now if you think logically, almost all homes in India now have access to video-games. This over-the-air game content offered by DTH Providers is mostly free. And even if they charge consumers it is very nominal. For example, the Active-Games pack on TataSky is Rs.5/day. Absolutely affordable. This, i think, is extremely critical if we want to see gaming-culture in India. Easy and Free access to video-gaming to masses will increase awareness amongst them. This will make people believe that video gaming is a good fun activity and worth spending money on.

So, recently I played Krish3 video game on my TataSky STB. Now though the positive points I stated above is valid but there are negative points as well. These games as of now lacks in quality. The games itself are very slow with poor graphics and repetitive/minimal gameplay. This is of-course result of the fact that the STB hardware are not suitable or infact not manufactured to run high powered games. The only difference with the Smart Phone gaming is being that games on Mobiles are much more robust, graphically wonderful and also has 3D gaming. Games on STBs are 2D only. So though kids may like them but they will eventually get bored of it. These games are not at all meant for Harcore gamers. Only casual kid gamers may enjoy it to some extent.

Having said that, if we look into the advancement in this technology then, even the STBs will be powered with softwares like Android. Android powered STBs are already in the market. Imagine the OUYA like game console integrated with the usual STB functioning. Now this will be something interesting to look for. Consumers in India will witness this very soon.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Time to rejoice. My OUYA console has been shipped and will reach at my place by 30th May. Finally! Ouya guys kepts their promise. Here's an excerpt from the confirmation mail that I got yesterday:


Soooo...we thought you’d like to know that your OUYA is en route to your doorstep and you can now track your little game box with big dreams using the tracking number below.

I know you’ve heard this from us before, but allow us to say once more...

YOU helped to make OUYA come to life.

YOU helped to give the support necessary to make this vision a reality.

OUYA would *not* have happened without you.

And for this, we thank YOU.

We hope you love the product and that you’re proud of what we’ve built together.  As you know, OUYA will continue to evolve as we make improvements and iterate based on your feedback -- so keep it coming!

Your order was shipped via DHL Express Worldwide, and is estimated to arrive May 24, 2013 - May 30, 2013.

Yes I believed in it and now its here. Proud to be its backer! 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

I'm dreaming: To make Shiva Trilogy game

Yesterday I was at a book launch and book signing event of Amish Tripathi's last masterpiece in Shiva Trilogy: "The Oath of the Vayuputras". And during the Q&A session with him one of the fellow fans asked him a "bomb" question: "Hi Amish. Now that it is a known fact that Karan Johar would be making a film out of Shiva Trilogy, as a fan, I ‘am much worried about the production design. Aren't you?". The first response to the question was given by the crowd with a roar of laughter. This laughter showed the sheer acceptance of the satire of imagining Karan Johar making the Shiva Trilogy movie. Amish on the other hand gave a positive answer assuring that everything will be good. I would rather say he was diplomatic in answering that question. 

After this particular question and answer, my day dream engine started. What if the question was like this: "Hi Amish. Now that it is a known fact that Jaran Kohar would be making a Video Game out of Shiva Trilogy, I ‘am much worried about the production design as a fan. Aren't you?". Whatever the crowd would have responded and whatever Amish would have answered to this question, here's how, i dream, Jaran Kohar should make the game:

Shiva is a charismatic character and as Amish put it, he is a cool god. So the game has to be a Third Person game so that the person could actually see this character in live action. The novel is full of action and realization of character who rose to become a God. So the game has to be an Action Adventure like "Prince of Persia".  Keeping the story in mind the game-play should be such that, the player playing as Shiva himself must feel the power of being a leader, a warrior, a lover and a dancer as well. The player, along the journey, must also learn what is evil and what does it takes to defeat the evil and how to prevail the goodness among masses. Hence the game-play should have a decision making engine for many sequences in the story, the player would have to understand the evil characters in order to defeat them in combat. Moreover, Shiva being an angry god, the player must feel the rage in the combat. And speaking of combat, the combat system should be mix of bare hand combat, war like action sequences by controlling the troops with cinematic action and choice making, a one on one combat for special sequences, and massive action with plethora of weapons of Indian origin.

These are my minuscule ideas out of numerous ones, that I think Jaran Kohar must keep in mind while making a AAA title out of Shiva Trilogy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Global Game Jam Bangalore 2013 Recap

The Global Game Jam 2013 at Bangalore concluded on Sunday 27th Jan. A 48 hrs of thrilling experience to develop a complete game was the best event happened to me since 2013 started. First of all I had no idea how could I complete a game in just 48 hrs. Second of all, of all the people came there, i knew no one. And from what I read on the jam site, I have to develop a game in a team formed randomly. "Hmm, Lets see" is said to myself and joined the formal presentations that followed.

Three formal presentations took place where the Art Director Nick talked about Art in games, organizer Joel talked about Rapid Prototyping and Agile methods, which I already knew, and Shivam Gupta, another organizer, who is a school student by the way, gave presentation about GGJ survival. I was comfortable already. The theme was shared with all and we were forbidden to share it with the outside world unless all GGJ events got the theme. A formal code of conduct. The theme was "HEART BEAT" . We have to create game based on this theme. It will be fun and challenging, I thought.

Next thing was to get in to a random team. The people I met to join in a team was the first and the last and as it turned out, the best. Kapil Ratnani, Pankaj Bhambani and Soumik Pal and myself started working as team "Wee", as in, Nintendo "Wii" :).

My idea was to keep the game simple yet funny, I knew my skills and my tools and also made sure that the team was comfortable with it. After few ideas and brainstorming session, we decided to create the game based on a theme where love, heart beat and something related to searching will come. The result was "Finding Fluffy" where a cute boy must find his lost puppy in a dark deadly jungle.

Our game's objective was that, the player will have to search his lost pet in a dark jungle, listening to his pet's heart beat. While searching he will have to be aware of the wild animals and other dangerous environment conditions. He will have two options, one, listen to the environmental sounds and make out the danger or the heart beat of his puppy and complete the level. Two, keep an eye on the visible circular area (as a result of candle/lantern he is holding), do not get near the hazards, and find the puppy. Everything with respect to development of the game went very well. 

Kapil and I knew Android. And Kapil also had an Android Phone. Perfect for me. So I convinced the team to go with Android and AndEngine, because we had the right tools. Pankaj being a XDA programmer helped in game art and Soumik did the reasearch for game assests, which he did very well. Pankaj's implementation ideas for the "overlay" functionality and game art was commendable. Kapil did the crucial audio functionality of the game very well along with some collision detection logic. I handled the complete game design, level design and programming of the gameplay, AI etc.  And so after the 30+ hrs of hard work we had our playable game ready with complete game life cycle. We called it "Finding Fluffy" :

 On Sunday evening after 3pm, we all joined in the Dhruva cafeteria were final presentations began. 

Then finally, I started with my presentation:

I dint realize that the moment I was presenting my game, Rajesh Rao, the CEO of Dhruva was present there. Also with him was Anand,. This is the person who gave a talk on content creation titled "Beating the Mythology" in Game developer conference  in 2010. Now he works at Zynga, Bangalore.

After the presentations were over. The calculation of the voted points took place. I swear to god, I did not believe that "Finding Fluffy" would score the fourth position with a cumulative score of 7.83. Though the scores were informal and have no value in the event. But at that moment it felt good.

My teammate Kapil did a very good thing. He asked Aanand and Rajesh to play the game. They both liked the concept very much and the overall design of the game. They also criticized the game which is the most constructive feedback I will consider. They said that the game is difficult to play for a normal mobile game player. They said that we should polish the game with more constructive feedback to the players and make it more easy to play.

I then personally met Rajesh and talked to him about current developments at Dhruva and more specifically Android Game development. I got a positive response. He was very humble. So I asked him for a pic :)

 And finally here is my team. An excellent team effort by Team "Wee" :


Friday, January 11, 2013

Im thinking: Why video games are so fun?

Fun is a simple notion easily misunderstood by majority of us. We know that fun is a feeling of being happy. This is true. But we think that there is fun only in some limited activities. We are skeptical about why some activities are so fun for some people.The answer is, we are only limited by our experience, thinking that fun is bounded.

Gaming is exactly that kind of fun most often misunderstood by people. Even worse, they don't even try to understand.Games are the most advanced products that challenge the latest technology. If developing games challenges the technology then playing games challenges the player in every possible way. Let me put that in double quotes:

“Games have immense power to convince you that, no matter what, you can win. Games guarantees you a success. When a player plays a game he knows that he can solve all the virtual challenges thrown at him.This is the single most important achievement games provide to the player. The probability of you wining the challenge is almost 100%. But games demands struggle. Games demand focus. Games demand concentration and Games demand practice.”

And this is why I think games are fun. They are virtual pleasures, agreed, but worth a shot if it can make you happy and put a smile on you face.