Review Fix chats with Avichal Singh, Founder and Game Designer, Nodding Heads Games, who discusses his beautiful “Raji: An Epic Adventure,” currently in Kickstarter.
For more on the game, click here.
Review Fix: How was this game born?
Avichal Singh: The game was imagined during a vacation trip to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. We were witness of astonishing medieval architecture and we asked ourselves, why is this not in a game? We were also influenced by Hindu mythology and yet a trip to Bali, Indonesia inspired us to infuse Balinese mythology to the game. Avichal, Shruti and Ian iterated over the initial concept several times, and when satisfied we mustered a superhero team to bring Raji to life.
Review Fix: What has development been like so far?
Singh: It hasn’t been without it’s challenges we can tell ya! Our initial concept was to use Unity because this game was going to be purely 2D, but we soon realised early on that we would be here until the next coming of age… And since our skill set/s included 3D we opted to move over to Unreal, one, because the mustered super team had had previous experience and secondly we knew it could handle pretty much anything we threw at it. That said, you still have to work within your limits, which is always challenging.
Review Fix: What makes this game special?
Singh: Raji An Ancient Epic is the first of its kind game based on Indian and Balinese mythology. The universe of Raji is so unique, it’s not everyday as gamers you across games like Raji. Also Raji is not a damsel in distress story, it’s an emotional sibling story where the sister, Raji, is on a mission to save her brother Golu. Apart from the fantastical universe with gods and demon with distinct abilities and mask like appearances, we have a feature called “Favour of the Gods” where each god grants Raji different powers like lightning, fire, ice and rage. Combined with these powers and the numerous Indian weapons (Trishul, Mace, Chakra – throwing disc), allows the player to adopt different styles of gameplay. Not only is this empowering for any player, but grants them the ability to play the game any which way they prefer. If all of this is not enough we have beautiful and elaborate mandala environmental puzzles for players to marvel at which unfold important aspects about the story.
Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?
Singh: The likes of Bastion, God of War, Ico, Brothers: A tale of two sons and Darksouls have certainly influenced the core gameplay of Raji. The list goes on to further to include other games, and as avid gamers we have a varied taste of genres. However the games listed above are the ones we dearly love and hence are an influence to our game, sometimes subconsciously.
Review Fix: As an indie studio, what do you think you guys do differently than the big studios?
Singh: As an indie studio we are like a very close knit family. Since its a small team of 8 there is lot more interaction and creative exchange. Like a big studio we don’t have 10,15 or more people working in one department hence the earnest is more on one person. Since we are indie we have to learn a lot more than our own expertise but passion for the game is really high and we put our everything into it. Moreover the games we make are like our baby hence there is a lot more heart and soul to the project than just lots of money like big studios.
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Singh: This whole year has been a roller coaster ride. We have gone through a lot as a team through this journey. We’ve shed tears, laughter and the tension of how to make it through the next month together. Most prominently because of the emotional and physical exertion all of has fallen sick. Our programmer has been admitted in the hospital twice and we would joke that we need to book a room for him the hospital permanently. Also the common phrase ” when we are funded” quickly became a running joke. We have sacrificed so much through this one year it became a coping mechanism to deal with things we couldn’t do as ” when we are funded we will do this or that”. Hope soon we get our lives back again!
Review Fix: Why do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics like the ones in Classic games in new games is important?
Singh: The older gameplay mechanics have paved the way for everything we have today. The older gameplay mechanics have been proven and tested, and will remain evergreen throughout several games which use them as a foundation.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?
Singh: We could write a whole article on this question…
Plugging in the console… and yet the TV was not tuned to the correct frequency, only to hear that infamous “electronic” beep…scrambling round the back of the TV to tune it… Then there she is… PONG, is alive. (Ian)
Another one was eliminating the whole coder team in CS, snook up behind the job lot of them and one by one they fell, M4 with a suppressor. the Art team roared with laughter and VICTORY because I was the sole-survivor! Ohhhh, now the programmers were pissed and they took their revenge!!! But it was worth it, just for that moment. (Ian)
For my birthday I got Mario and Space Invader and in India being a girl to get that for birthday was bizarre but my dad was out of the box. Me and my sister would wait to get back from school to sit and play for hours. We even kept a tab who played for how long and beat each other’s score.Also when i bought my own psp with my savings and playing God of war 1, Patapon and little big planet for hours on it. (Shruti)
Where do I start, playing “Tanks” “Ice Climber” with my sister or be it the first time I played Prince of Persia and Dave, Bunking school for 3 months and getting addicted to an korean MMO called A3. The 36 win streak on Tekken 3 as King and endless memories made with my Counter Strike clan are few of the most memorable experiences to say.
Review Fix: How does this game disrupt the video game landscape?
Singh: We think Raji will breathe a much needed breath of fresh air into the video game landscape. As we believed and seen as gamers that there are no games made based on India or South Asia, we wanted to make a game with a beautiful storyline and strong gameplay. I think people are quite surprised by the quality of the game whether is art, gameplay or music and mostly the fact it’s “Made in India”. That’s exactly what we wanted to do that tell the world that India can make quality games from scratch and with just 8 passionate people. We are here and telling the video game industry we ain’t going anywhere!
Review Fix: Who will enjoy this game the most?
Singh: Anyone who is interested in mythology, who enjoys Hack n Slash, action adventure types and story driven games, then they are in for a treat!
Review Fix: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Singh: We would like Raji to be fondly remembered as a beautiful and enthralling emotional sibling story, blended with an action packed adventure. A universe so surreal yet so believable that gamers become emotionally invested in Raji. Lastly we’d want everyone to know that Raji was created by this band of seven amazing men and one earth shattering woman, who, against all odds and stereotypes created a game which came all the way from India.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the game?
Singh: Our mandate other than making a game which is culturally divers, is to put India on the forefront in the game dev map. The feel the game will speak of quality in all departments.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Singh: As of now our focus is solely on Raji: An Ancient Epic, we haven’t discussed much about what’s next!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Singh: We’d highly appreciate if the viewers can take a moment to check out our game and our Kickstarter campaign. If you like what you see, do back us on Kickstarter and spread the word. We will need all the support to make this game a reality…we’ve gone through a year of struggle to come to this point. We are the true underdogs..and we have a wonderful story to share with the world. We’d highly appreciate it if you could give us few moments of your time, this project can only see the light of day with your support.