amit_hardi_nukebox_studios_interview_ink2016

Walk The Talk with Amit Hardi at INK 2016

Amit Hardi, the Chief Gaming Officer of Nukebox Studios was a speaker at INK Live 2016 to speak about the passion and science behind making games. On the sidelines of the INK conference, Amit was interviewed by the GIM crew who wanted to tell the world about the life of a Chief Gaming Officer.

Here’s that interview, “A glimpse into the world of a Chief Gaming Officer”, shot at the Goa Institute of Management.

gamification

Gamification 101

Everybody plays games. You do too. Now that’s quite an assumption to make, but allow me to state that people who don’t even play games, do too.

A game is any activity performed within defined rules for the purpose of gaining rewards. While that definition is quite simple, you’d notice that it is very broad too. At your job you perform work within clearly defined rules and earn rewards. So is work play? I’m gonna go ahead and state that it is.

What else is play?  Any activity with defined goals where you invest your effort to succeed can be a game, if so designed. At work, you could be motivated by performance targets which unlock a reward. This sounds suspiciously like the ‘achievements’ you see in video games. At school, you may be motivated by the promise of advancement to a higher class for clearing a test. Does this sound like a video-game that lets you play in the next location only if you can clear a boss-fight? Yes it does.

Alright. I’m just going to say this outright. Everything you see or do in life is a game. Life itself is a complex game with many smaller subsystems you interact with on a daily basis.

Gamification is a new term for the process of applying game design principles in the real world to promote motivation and engagement from the actors involved. If you look close and hard, you’d see that pretty much everything is already structured like a game. It’s just the buzz-word that’s new. The concept has been around for centuries. We’ve been gamifying our lives since we’ve been around.

Let’s see how gamification can be applied with real world examples..

  • Increase employee productivity and morale
  • Improve customer retention and engagement levels
  • Get your team to work more efficiently
  • Make your students collaborate better

That sounds like alchemy already. Let’s look at some examples…

Sue wants to retain her customers at her cafe

She sets up a new gamification system at her cafe. It’s a simple rewards system that grants rewards to loyal customers. Every fifth visit to the cafe, the coffee is on the house. At the tenth visit, there’s free cookies too. Every five visits, the rewards keep getting bigger and better.

Now her customers are on a progression system that increments the rewards based on frequency. Because of the exponentially improving rewards, the customers are now committed and are on a quest to achieve the freebees. They feel recognised for their loyalty and eventually have bragging rights for being at a higher level.

Now the most important part is that the customer has chosen to be committed to Sue’s cafe vs visiting four other cafes in the vicinity that serve similar stuff.

Alex wants his customer support crew to handle and close issues faster

Here’s Alex’s new gamification system. He starts measuring the time spent per issue across his team and sets up a dynamic leaderboard that is very visible. He also offers a generous bonus to the top three people on that leaderboard every week.

Now everybody in the team is competing to be the most efficient. The results are always visible and whenever somebody makes a breakthrough that increases their efficiency, everybody else adopts it to stay competitive. Now the team’s motivation is focused on the right metric, and week over week there is improvement throughout the team.

Jack would like to get his employees into shape

Jack decides to use the central motivator behind social games for his venture – social obligations and peer pressure. He splits his staff into workout groups and gets them gym memberships. Every team that hits the gym earns points. If a team member fails to hit the gym, his whole team loses points. This way everybody in a team is looking out for everybody else and making sure nobody drops out.

Every month, the leading team gets bragging rights and a night out at a spot of their choice (hopefully a salad bar). The points reset every month so that every team can start over from scratch and nobody gets left behind.

E-learning company wants its students to collaborate more

Learning is better when it is social. Instead of building a system that lets students talk with each other, share learning material and help each other with homework, the company decided to do something drastically different.

Students already have existing social channels through which they collaborate. Instead of driving them to a new inhouse system that is supposedly better, they gamified the existing system. Now the students can thank each other for help by sending Karma Points to each other. So Alice keeps getting Karma Points in her account nearly everyday because she likes helping others. She’s not alone either. She’s joined by a big group of ‘angels’ who love helping other people study better.

If you motivate people to do something good, they’ll find ways to do it, no matter what.

Gamification is a very strong tool that can improve motivation, engagement, retention and eventually revenue. It is up to you to decide what your objectives are. A capable and experienced gamification designer can come up with a simple yet effective plan to help you achieve that objective.

Let’s get people playing. Your team will be on the winning side.  

amit_hardi_ink_live_2016

Nukebox at INK Live – 2016

Amit Hardi, The Chief Gaming Officer of Nukebox Studios was one of the speakers invited to share their ideas and experiences at the INK Live-2016 held at the campus of Goa Institute of Management on 16th-18th September 2016.

INK Live is a unique telecast of the INK Conference live and uncut, accompanied by stimulating workshops, contests, speaker interactions, and engaging discussions. The workshops, designed to be enjoyable and stimulating, are conducted by professionals and subject matter experts on interesting topics.

The theme at INK2016 and INK Live this year was Kaleidoscope. It lent itself to the fusion of exciting conversations that took place at the conference, to the variety of cultures that came together as well as the splendor Goa had to offer.

Amit conducted a workshop on the ‘Alchemy of Fun’ which focused on art of distilling fun into a free-to-play game and monetizing it. Students from all over India were part of this workshop and they got some valuable insights on the art and business of the free-to-play model. The workshop was widely anticipated among the conference attendees and was very well received and appreciated.

ink-conference_-event-spotlight_2016    ink-live_event-spotlight_2016

Nukebox_Studios_OneManArmy_EPicWarrior_Google_Feature

Google Features Nukebox Studios’ ‘One Man Army’ Globally

Google has just featured Nukebox Studios’ latest android game ‘One Man Army – Epic Warrior’ globally. Google frequently highlights promising games to help Android users discover awesome content.

‘One Man Army’, in true Nukebox tradition, is an easy to play game which is also insanely tough to master. It has fun gameplay and hilarious in-game jokes that can hook anybody in. You play the lone warrior fighting against an entire army of spears, cannons and dragons.

Recognition and promotional support from Google is a testimonial to the quality of games built by Nukebox Studios. For Nukebox, this is just a beginning as they get ready to launch more games in the future.

Nukebox Studios is the game production house of TechTree IT Systems Pvt Ltd. Equipped with a complete and well-rounded production team, Nukebox Studios is working on developing and publishing innovative and entertaining IPs for the global market. Nukebox Studios counts a combined experience of 200+ man years and an undying passion for gaming across the team. Nukebox has partnered up with Nazara games to bring wholesome original content to players in India and the world over.

Nukebox has 45 people working on some fun projects in Bangalore. At Nukebox Studios, games are crafted with utmost care and unrelenting commitment to perfection. Players are the first, second and third priority.

Nukebox Studios is on a mission to ‘Create Awesome’.

Nukebox_Studios_GooglePlay_Blog

Google features ‘One Man Army – Epic Warrior’ as part of The Great Independence Sale!

Nukebox Studios’ latest game ‘One Man Army – Epic Warrior’ has been featured under ‘The Great independence Sale’. Under this sale, big discounts are offered on in-game items on popular games selected by Google to commemorate the Indian Independence Day.

Google is now directly promoting our product on their store-front. This is a bold reflection of the love and effort we put into our products and the resultant quality. It is just the first step for us. There’s going to be a lot more exposure for our games going forward.

‘One Man Army’ is an easy to play but difficult to master casual game with simple yet fun gameplay and hilarious in-game jokes. In this cool game, you are the lone warrior fighting against an entire army of spears, cannons and dragons.

Download this game now to get awesome discounts on in-game items. Offer valid only till August 19th 2016. Go ahead and get rocking!

Get it Now!

amit_hardi_-talk_at_12_radio_one

Amit Hardi on Radio One’s ‘Talk at 12’

Amit Hardi, The Chief Gaming Officer of Nukebox Studios was interviewed on Radio One’s ‘Talk at 12’ show by Lakshmi Pratury, Founder and Curator at INKtalks.

‘Talk at 12’ is a 94.3 Radio One-Bangalore exclusive show where successful start-ups share their journey on how they made it in the start-up business.

Amit spoke about his passion for building games and creating awesome. He talked about how he quit his cushy corporate life to go after his passion – gaming. He shared the current context of Indian and global gaming industry. The importance of data in taking informed decisions was a primary topic of discussion in the show.

Amit also spoke on Nukebox Studios’ upcoming games and the ideas behind them. It was interesting to see him explain how the motto of Nukebox i.e. ‘Create Awesome!’ which has resulted in high quality global standard games.

inktalks      radio-one   t12

 

 

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Cross Platform Publishing : Part One

In this 2 series blog, we will tell you what are the challenges faced during cross platform publishing of games and how we have addressed this. Let’s see what the challenges are.

Gaming industry has been evolving exponentially. It’s getting more exciting and more challenging day by day. One such challenge is ‘Cross Platform Publishing’.

In simple words ‘cross platform publishing’ is publishing your game across multiple OS, Stores, Devices and Platforms. It is an opportunity and threat in itself. If you know how to tackle this, you will reach more players and retain them for a longer period since you would have optimized your game for all of them. If you don’t publish your game across different platforms, you will lose out to your competitors.

The scenario becomes more complex when you want to reach players in India since internet penetration is low and the market is highly fragmented. Reaching players having low configuration hardware with low graphics resolution becomes more challenging.

Following are the pain points of mobile game developers when they want to go for cross platform publishing:

Create-Build ratio is 20:80

Developers today are focusing more on building the game than differentiating it. This is mainly due to the efforts involved in cross platform publishing. This makes them focus more on production aspects rather than focusing on core gameplay. You may successfully publish your game across different platforms but if the core gameplay is not good, players will leave your game too early affecting the retention rate adversely.

Multiple screen sizes and device configurations

Building a game for different screen sizes is another challenge faced by developers. They have to ensure that their game is compatible with devices having different configurations too. Optimising the game controls keeping all this in mind makes it more difficult.

OS specific functionalities

Functionalities differ with each OS and each OS has multiple versions. Even if you optimize your game for different OS, it is going to be a continuous process since new versions with updates will be released periodically. Each update may have a new feature which will affect your game. You have to test your game to identify the problems and then work on fixing it.

Porting Time

Game production time goes up significantly due to multiple porting requirements. Porting your game to different OS and stores will increase your production time thereby increasing your cost of production too. This cost is only going to increase since we will see many more stores, platforms, OS updates versions in future.

Iterative and repetitive work

Cross platform publishing involves lots of iterative and repetitive work which adds up to the production time and cost. While this can be reduced, it can’t be eliminated.

Never ending process

Game production is a never ending process. Continuous improvement and updates are a must if your game has to be successful and remain so. This means implementing these changes across multiple platforms and OS periodically.

In the next part we will show you how Nukebox Studios has overcome these pain points and the amazing results we have achieved from it.

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Nukebox Studios @ Pocket Gamer Connects, Bangalore-2016

‘Pocket Gamer Connects’, a two day Global Mobile Games Conference, was recently held in Bangalore on the 21st and 22nd of April, 2016. The aim of the event was to educate developers about the latest trends in the industry and give the Indian gaming community international exposure, world class knowledge and best practices from experts worldwide.

Developers had a unique opportunity to engage and interact with the who’s who of the sector including investors, publishers and government representatives through a combination of short-form lectures, practical advice dispensing and intensive networking.

Mr. Amit Hardi, Studio Director of Nukebox Studios, the gaming division of TechTree IT Systems Pvt Ltd., was one of the speakers at this event. He conducted a session on “Cross Platform Publishing and Virtual Reality” which was well received by all.

During his session, Amit highlighted some of the practices that enable Nukebox Studios to build high quality games in a short span of time. This came as a revelation to most developers present at the conference. The norm of the industry is to spend 80% of the game production cycle on development and a mere 20% on differentiating the game. This according to Amit resulted in a longer product development cycle and a general lack of innovation. He suggested an increased focus on differentiating the game as opposed to the prevalent practice, in order to bring down the overall game production time.

He also spoke about the influence of Virtual Reality on the industry and emerging VR trends in different industries. He highlighted Monetization as one of the most challenging aspects of Virtual Reality, apart from the huge development cost.

Well that’s not all, more details on “Cross Platform Publishing” which will be covered in our subsequent blogs.

All in all, PGC connects was a great platform to synergize, experience and gain from industry best practices and we look forward to the next edition of the PGC connects.

nukebox_studios_making_game_blog

So You want to make Games?

Let me punch you in the face with a strong dose or REALITY !

To the Aspiring Game Maker,

Back when I was sitting in my college dorm room coding up my first games, I had no idea what I was getting into. It was beautiful, glorious even. When the rest of the students toiled away learning how to write enterprise code that will save people time and money, I wrote code that did the exact opposite. I wrote code that made companies bleed productivity. I wrote code that made people laugh, rage in anger, sit on the edge of their seats and twitch. I made the addictive digital equivalent of Meth.

I sent my builds to the best coders in my class with the note, “Go ahead and build that OS you’re working on. I’ll make darn thing fun.”

I was always ‘that guy’. Missing parties to sit in my dorm room and code. Skipping class because my lecturers gave me attendance to finish my games from home. Sitting in the college lab playing games and calling it research.

Somewhere down the line, reality hit me square in the face. Game production is not all fun and games.

College education is the best phase in a person’s life to make mistakes. You’re young enough to learn from them, bounce back and hit the grind again. Frankly, if you haven’t messed up big time at least once while in college, you’ve missed out on a grand opportunity. But once you’re out in the wild, reality has a way of slowly seeping into your brain and messing with your dreams.

So here I was, trying to make a living from my games. When reality hit me in the face, the following fell out…

  • I’ll be giving away my games for free to my players (Awesomesauce, where’s my lunch money going to come from?)
  • Players have millions of free games out there that they can play instead of yours.
  • I knew how to make games, but I didn’t know how to make revenue.

I could get hired at a studio and become a Game Engineer but then,

  • I don’t get to make the games I love to make.

And so I turned into one of those unpredictable creatures they call the ‘Indie Game Developer’. I thought I was done with the learning from mistakes part in college, but boy was I wrong. Here’s what I had to learn the hard way…

  • Fitting your big idea into a timeline and a budget is HARD and painful. You find yourself pacing around thinking what part of the awesome feature set you’d kill to let the rest of it survive and get released. It’s very much like a hostage situation where somebody is definitely going to die.
  • Murphy’s law is a very real factor when building games.
  • Things always take longer and cost more than planned, even if you keep this in mind while planning and costing.
  • If you do it right, you’ll probably hate playing your awesome game by the time you ship it. If you still enjoy playing it, it probably means either of two things…
    • You’ve not worked long and hard enough on it.
    • You’re a delusional narcissist.
  • Till you ship it, you’ve done nothing.
  • A late game is only late till it ships. A bad game is bad till the end of time. (Thanks for warning me about this Miyamoto-san. But I still had to learn it the hard way.)
  • Build only the best thing you can build. Repeat.
  • Never trust the publisher.
  • Never expect the player to do what you want him to do.
  • If there is a possibility of an exploit in your game, your players WILL find it.
    • They’ll also make a blog post about it and share it on social media.
    • They’ll not find it necessary to tell you about it.
  • If you can’t make revenue, you can’t make games. Not the other way around.
  • Always make your decisions based on data.
    • Relying completely on your gut feel and instinct will get you far if you’re heading towards failure. Here’s the thing, you need to use your instinct to develop the hypothesis, but you need data to validate them.
    • Surveys don’t generate usable data…
      • A lot of people can’t articulate what they want.
      • Some people just won’t tell you what they really want.
      • A lot of people don’t know what they want.
      • But they all really want it. Now.
    • Opinions are opinions.
  • You can never make a list that is actually fully exhaustive. That includes this one.
  • Don’t take advice from a stranger on the internet. That includes me.

That was my Indie phase. It was after I came to TechTree that I went from being an eccentric creative with no direction, to being a methodic and meticulous craftsman with a mission statement. Mark Skaggs, an industry leader credited with making legendary games like ‘FarmVille’ and ‘Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2’, once told me that he was just like me – the difference being just that he had made a lot more mistakes than I have and learnt from them.

Enough reading: Now go out there and make some mistakes.

Peter Pawan
Product Manager
Nukebox Studios

nukebox_studios_game_production_best_practices

Game Production Best Practices

Most Project Managers in the gaming industry vex about the projects schedule and its management. Game Producers, on the other hand, have a key responsibility that transcends that of the Project Manager and that is to communicate & champion the vision of the game to the team, clients & outside stakeholders. The role of Game Producers may vary from company to company, from the role of note takers in some to Project Managers in others.

What I personally believe is that the main role of Game Producers is to bring the best out of creative people as well as manage delivery by making vision oriented project plans, among other responsibilities. The Game Producer needs to know how to harness the creativity brewing inside his team members while also ensuring compliance with the project plan. If there ever was a mantra to ace the role of a Game producer, I believe the following list would form its foundation :

  • Communication: Communication is the basic need of any team/ organization. The process of communication is declared complete once the message has been received and understood by the recipient. Thus as a Game Producer, one must ensure that the message is simply understood by the recipient and clear doubts in case of a confusion or distortion. As a Game Manager one needs to drive home the vision of the project, no matter how many repetitions it takes.
  • Own- The Concept, Plan & Project Vision: Game Producer is the one on whom team depends for a structured plan of action. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Thus, as a Game Producer, one should always plan each and every detail and this plan must be known and communicated by the producer to his team.
  • Track & Verify: This can be quite simply summarized with the acronym ABCD- Always Be Collecting Data. Compare the actual progress to the planned progress to better manage expectations.
  • Know your Pipelines: The roadmap of projects and workflow pipelines must be at the back of Producer’s mind.
  • Set the Rules: A team works best when they are clear about the vision. As a Game Producer, you must manage Daily Standups, inform the team about their Daily Tasks, review their progress on a day to day basis and have everyone update their task list daily before standups.
  • Commit, then Deliver: The Game Producer’s role is to commit to the organization about delivery of the Project, then work with the team to deliver on those commitments.
  • Carry the Vision: As a Game Producer one must be completely aware about the vision of the product and should protect and promote that vision during the entire course of the production cycle.
  • Be a Lifelong Learner: This may sound a bit philosophical and vague but it is really important to understand the power of knowledge. Staying up to date with field related news is the crux of any successful career. Reading books, news, taking similar role interviews, taking inputs from team are few ways you can stay ahead of the game.
  • Be a servant to the team: For a Game Producer, his/her team is the most important thing. As their leader, the Game Producer must fulfill the needs of his/her team. A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.
  • Listen: Sometimes the best suggestions come from the unlikeliest of sources. A Game Producer must understand this and value and review every opinion with equal fervor.

Rahul
Game Producer
Nukebox Studios