Catch another great interview with our Game Designer on Hidden Shadows: Angelo! Don’t forget to leave us your comments and share with your friends! Read on :)
Your background in game design.
I started out writing for one of India’s first gaming magazines, Game Force, which was based out of Delhi. I was eventually put in charge of the entire magazine. After 2 years, I moved to R.A.G.E., a gaming magazine based out of Bombay. I also worked as a consultant with Vivendi Universal’s Indian distributors.
I then joined Kreeda, where I was the lead designer for a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) called YaHero. We created this for a company
based in the US. I was also involved in Dance Mela!, which was one of India’s first social games.
After 4 years at Kreeda, I moved on to Games2Win, which is one of the leading casual Flash developers in the world. I was the Games Head, in charge of a team that released 8 flash games a month. Games2Win’s had 2 portals that drew over 5 million unique visitors a month.
We also moved into mobile gaming, where one of our leading games clocked 12 million downloads across the Android and iOS platforms. After 3 years at Games2Win, I moved to Zynga’s Bangalore Studio.
What was the last thing (book, film, music, game) that really inspired you?
The last game that truly inspired me was Far Cry 3. It’s an excellent open-world game that manages to hit all the right notes. Perfect controls, amazing atmosphere and one of the best video-game villains I’ve ever faced off against.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your role?
Execution. If you bring together any group of game designers and ask them to come up with ideas for games, you’ll quickly have a list with some truly ground-breaking concepts. However, the true challenge is in bringing any one of those to fruition. Take Farmville or Farmville 2. The core concept is an extremely simple one. However,
the sheer amount of planning, game balancing and tweaking that you have to do, to ensure that the game is challenging, rewarding yet fun – that is what makes a great game. It’s truly 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
How do you initiate a project that you’re working on?
Let me answer that based on the currently project I’m working on, Hidden Shadows. It’s essentially a detective story, made up of individual cases. As you solve one case after another, you realize that they are broken up into ‘groups’, with each group tied together with a common thread. You might have 4-5 cases that feature the same antagonist or 5-6 cases where the victims were murdered by the same deranged killer.
The basic flow of each case is normally drawn up the game’s writer, Michael Ely. The game design team then work alongside him to flesh out the case. We try to ensure that there are elements that are linked to earlier cases, as well as subtle reveals that hint at upcoming story arcs. It’s a lot like creating a blockbuster TV series that has to run for 10 seasons!
We have to always keep an eye on the larger picture. Since each case is part of the overarching story, we have to ensure that it fits into the long term plan. We can’t just think of the first ten cases, we have to think of the first 100 and beyond!
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
Games are the natural primary source of inspiration for game designers. Films, TV serials and books are also great sources of inspiration. For example, the Sherlock Holmes books would seem to be a perfect source of inspiration for a game like Hidden Shadows. However, the BBC TV series Sherlock, which updates the story and places it in modern London, is actually a better source of inspiration. It updates the story for a modern audience and has cinematic set design that translates well to games. The
Mentalist is another excellent TV show that quite closely parallels Hidden Shadows.
What are your proudest achievements?
Perhaps my greatest achievement was a game called Parking Frenzy, which managed to capture the #01 spot in the US iTunes store. It also hit the top 5 in the Android and Amazon app stores.
How much time do you spend gaming on an average?
I spend at least an hour or two per day gaming. Gaming sessions on weekends can go up to 3-4 hours. When my wife isn’t home, I’ve had days when I woke up on Saturday at 10, played all day and finally rolled into bed, eyes bleeding, at 6 AM on Sunday morning!
What kind of games are you interested in? Why?
I play all types of games. My absolute favourite genre would be Role Playing Games (RPG’s). While these games have diverse settings, most are set in fantasy/medieval worlds (Think Middle Earth from Lord of The Rings). You invariably start the game as a character unable to beat a half-dead chicken in a fair fight. As you continue
to play, your character gets more experienced, becomes more proficient with magic and weapons. By the end of the game, the Gods themselves tremble in fear
at your name. Complete, profound escapism!
That’s all for now folks! Stay tuned to this space for more!
The Hidden Shadows Team.