Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

Tale of Tales’s Tale

One day, when I am searching around the Internet using Google service, I found this website called Tale of Tales. And guess what I found, a very interesting and new game called “The Endless Forest“. For me, it is one of the unique game that I played before. The game is ACTIVATED through screen saver. I manage to contact the game designer for a little chat and have a brief idea what happening in the game industry at the other country.

To me, it is always fun to be connected with all the game developers and have discussion on the game development scene. Previously there is a lot of game industry related events held here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But now, it is so silent and boring that I am planning to organize an informal one soon. I miss those days where developers gather together and talking about their experiences.

June 13, 2007 Posted by | Game Industry, Malaysia, Sharing | 1 Comment

The agitated gamer, and other mildly amusing anecdotes

… It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

That was what the low-polygon professor from Brain Age told me when I, on a fine day, thought I’d do some elementary math after two months of… doing something else.

Brain Age is one oddity. Last weekend I brought my Nintendo DS Lite home for the first time (seven months after I bought it), my younger sisters were naturally attracted to its ‘weird controls’, but my parents were wary – Both of them are primary school teachers for about 25 years now, and as far as primary school education goes, games and television are bad for children.

I wasn’t too surprised when I saw my mum hogging the DS a few days later, trying to break my record for 100x Calculations on Brain Age (1 minute, 1 second). I said nothing, and just smiled. I don’t think Brain Age or the DS would break their “Games are bad for children” mindset, though I suppose they’ll be referring to the DS as ‘the GameBoy with the maths game.’

It always happens – The general public merely takes the lowest common denominator and uses it as a norm. That’s why any instant noodle here is called ‘Maggi’, any chocolate drink is ‘Milo’, any image editing program is ‘Photoshop’. I didn’t do any tedious research, but here are the five media stereotypes that currently irk me the most. And in no particular order (but it just sounds more exciting when done in countdown):

#5 The conspiring friends

This one’s pretty common, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to talk about it. Here’s the scenario: Little Jimmy was a quiet little boy, until his ‘friends’ introduce him to cigarettes, Ecstasy, pornography, video games or whatever is the current social ill. Little Jimmy got himself addicted to said vice, and his personal and social life slowly crumbles into a mess. A tearful confession full of regret ends the message with a powerful note.

Witness the power of testimony. It’s always “I drank and drove and lost both my legs”, never “My friends got me into smoking and we all got lung cancer.” What happened to said victim’s so-called friends? They’re pretty much never heard of again once the protagonist falls far enough. Sometimes you’d think if ‘the rest’ are conspiring against the poor guy.

The influence of testimony doesn’t stop here. Remember your visiting aunt, who told you that sleeping after 11pm will give you prostate cancer, or the friend who is sure that Sonic will be in Super Smash Brothers Brawl because he read it in a forum thread started by this guy whose uncle works at Nintendo (Personally, I sure hope Sonic will be in SSBB). It doesn’t matter that radiation from microwave oven would not cause cancer even when there’s a scientific explanation behind it, to some people radiation is radiation. It’s just so convenient to get ‘facts’ from friends, and when something bad happens it’s always their fault.

Which would lead me to my next point…

#4 The ‘Brand X’

My country, Malaysia, is a country that likes superlatives. Everything has to be the ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, ‘first’. True story: There’s this banner in front of my apartment complex, proudly advertising a fishing competition with ‘the highest prize money in the country’. Imagine winning twelve thousand ringgit (That’s about US$3,500) in a fishing competition.

With that out of our way, it’s not hard to think of an advertising plan in Malaysia: you just have to compare it with something else, and somehow show it’s better. That brings us to the ‘Brand X’.

Sample TV commercial: A guy in a lab coat interviews this young woman. “I used to have dandruff problems”, says the woman, smiling, as she twirls her finger in her hair, “but after using [name of shampoo being advertised], my hair is shiny silky smooth!” Obviously, said brand of shampoo is better than ‘the others’ because ‘the other shampoos’ don’t solve her dandruff problem.

Some advertisements take it further by introducing the ‘Brand X’, the perpetually unnamed victim of inane advertising campaigns. Invoking the law of typicality, as long as something is better than something else of its league, it’s better than any other item of its kind by inference. This brand of detergent washes away grease stains better than ‘Brand X’? ‘Brand X’ might as well be a bucket of paint.

#3 The ‘and more’

…Because, well, the supposedly main attraction just isn’t enough.

Pardon me for naming names here, but I’ve been long irritated by The Chicken Rice Shop‘s tagline. “Chicken Rice… and More” – it doesn’t take half a brain to think of that. Imagine a world of and-mores:

KFC – Fried Chicken… and More!

Dell – Computers… and More!

EA – Challenge Everything… and More!

See, even I can do it.

The and-more tagline is another instance of the law of typicality in effect. You don’t have to love chicken rice, just come on in and you might find something you like because, you know, we call ourselves ‘The Chicken Rice Shop’ but we don’t want people to think that we sell only chicken rice.

I have a suggestion. Instead of ‘and more’, people should use ‘and stuff’, or even ‘and blah’. “KFC – Fried Chicken… and blah.”

#2 The thieving woman

The man wakes up in the morning, bleary-eyed. He shambles to the kitchen counter to make some coffee. The coffee done. With a satisfied smile he puts his lips close to the coffee…

And his wife pops out of nowhere and takes the cup away from him. The woman happily walks away with her loot while the man is clearly disappointed.

And Nescafé isn’t’ the first commercial that’s doing it. Because you know, a happy family is composed of a man that tries to get himself a treat, and a thieving woman.

#1 The Agitated gamer

I didn’t have much to say on the last point because I’m saving it for this one. Technically both fall under the same category – annoying stereotypes – though the agitated gamer grazes a raw nerve whenever I see a ‘gamer’ on television, butt-jumping up and down on his couch, jerking the wired controller with a force enough to throttle a child, frantically pressing the shoulder buttons without any apparent pattern.

Because people can’t keep their elbows still while playing a game on his favorite console (Typically a Playstation). Because these people have this crazed look in their eyes when gaming. Because games now still show “YOU WIN!” in Arial when you clear it. Because being able to tolerate your thieving woman makes you a real man. Because people actually slip on banana peels in real life.

These are simply tools to get the message across easily. Guy bouncing in chair = gamer. Girl runs out of house after a quarrel with dad = car accident. It’s like how the black guy or the guys in the red shirts always die first. I couldn’t care less about the others, but the agitated gamer stereotype keeps gaming at an immature, ADHD-rife level. That’s why DS-es will always be fancy GameBoys to my mother. First person shooters will be murder simulators to Jack Thompson. And gaming, in general, will be bad for kids.

I told my mum that the fancy GameBoy is actually a DS. Now she thinks that it’s a ‘PS’ (Playstation). Oh well…

June 12, 2007 Posted by | Games, Gaming, Malaysia, Quasr Concept | 2 Comments

Pro Gaming is alive in Malaysia

Professional gamers are gamers who get paid to play games in tournaments and leagues. The culture of professional gaming is started by the Koreans (for StarCraft and WarCraft III), Americans (First person shooters, consoles) and Europeans (everything).

Since 1998, MAS-1, Malaysia’s most consistent professional gaming clan is still active and kicking ass. Recently they organize the SouthEast Asia StarCraft League to really boost the scene in the region.

The clan is open to serious StarCraft, WarCraft III, Need for Speed, and Gunbound players.

MAS-1 is mainly sponsored by Saitek and Everglide.

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Malaysia, Pro Gaming | 1 Comment

Sherman3D needs a Pixel Artist for a DS game

Our studio’s friend studio, Sherman3D is hiring Malaysian Pixel Artist for a Nintendo DS game project. They need the artist urgently. Sherman3D is a top game development outsourcing studio in Malaysia. The two co-founders and lovebirds, Sherman Chin and Tiffany Lim are great personal as well as professional friends.

Check out their website at www.sherman3d.com.

Also, we are also looking for any kind of character, creature and landscape artist

If you are interested in the job, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to johntan@quasr.com.

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Job, Malaysia | 2 Comments

Hatchlings Games features in GameAxis

Just picked up March’s issue of GameAxis today while out. I’m not an avid buyer of GameAxis (or any magazine for that matter), but hey there’s an article about us 🙂

More info to be updated soon, I’m not quite prepared to read it yet.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Malaysia, News | 2 Comments

Funding options for Malaysian entrepreneurs

From what I gather from the blog stats, there is a possibility that you are an entrepreneur living in Malaysia; and you are seeking for funding. Anyway, whether you are one or not, here are some funding methods:

Grants

The above list are grants, which means you do not need to pay the grant administrator back (there will be conditions and you should always ask first). Of course government grants are public funds. Use them well and responsibly.

Pre-Seed Funding

To start up your venture, Cradle is a good choice. All you need is a good ICT idea and a rough business model. Do not wait, apply online immediately – then you will learn what they want to know in the application. But pay careful attention to your application because they take a long time to respond to funding requests; it took them six months to get back to us (there are no communication in between). Cradle is managed by MAVCAP or Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd – that means that Cradle is a step towards larger angel or venture capital funds.

After your Cradle grant funding period with is over, you can apply for a larger Cradle grant (rumour) of RM250,000. After that you can grow through your revenues and/or Angel or Venture Capital investment.

While waiting for your grant approval, you should design (not develop) your product, look for potential customers, pitch your idea to EVERYONE regardless of status. It will pay off. You will find out new things about your idea, have a better idea on which are of the plan and yourself that you need to improve on.

If you are in the content industry (games, animation, comics, mobile contents), MDeC have an IP Creators Series Grant. This content grant just started last year. Click on the link above to find out more. We used the proceeds from this grant for our game Quasr.

MDeC’s pre-seed fund is also new and has the largest funding size among the other pre-seed grants. Note that you cannot have a registered company (Sdn. Bhd.) when you seek this funding. That is what stopped us from applying. Well, don’t register your company until you really need to – like when you get a term sheet from a venture capital investor.

Seed Funding

Once you got your product’s prototype out, you will need further funding to continue development and go-to-market. If you are building web-based applications, you might even have your BETA website up; but you probably wont get much money back from that. You need time to build traffic, improve features, polish and marketing. At this stage you will need to hire at least a few full-time employees (plus your army of cheaper part-timers who believe in your vision while getting your grant or even before that).

To fund this stage of growth, you can either get more grants (that you are eligible for), seek debt or equity funding.

If you have some ICT projects from some other company/government (like when another company give you a project to accomplish, or when a publisher give you a green light for a publishing contract) and you need to have cash-flow to finish the project, you can seek out Malaysia Debt Ventures (MDV). Check out their website for more information, and after that call them up!

If you are starting a venture like YouTube.com or Second Life, you will need a reasonable amount of seed capital for development (payroll, consultation, tools and licenses) and hardware servers when your BETA products are out. To finance this you can seek out Venture Capital Investment, where you will have to give up a significant % of shares for the money they inject into your company.

If you need anything below 1 million, private (professional or non-professional) angel investors (rich man who wants to invest in startups) might be able to do the job.

Debt and Equity Investments

Do not limit your funding to Malaysia, you can also go to Singapore – which I am going to write about next. We are seeking Singaporean investment and will draw a roadmap for that as well.

Roshan & Slade Loging off…

Related Posts:

January 5, 2007 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Malaysia | 14 Comments

A Review on the rest of the MSC Malaysia Game Pitch Winners

A while ago Iris posted a review about two of the five winners of the MSC Game Design Competition. I’ll do the remaining two (not including us), since I stayed longer in the presentation room. Well… I was enjoying the air-conditioning.

My first impression of Riot HQ was that it looked too much like Command and Conquer: Red Alert, because of its urban warfare setting and semi-realistic graphics. However, it turned out to be a totally different game.

Riot HQ places the player as a dispatcher of riot-control robots. Whenever a riot breaks out in the fictional futuristic city, your job is to send in the robots to break the rioters as quickly as possible without resorting to violence. The aim of the game is to protect your citizens’ properties from being destroyed by the robots, thus generating revenue for your city.

There are several types of robots to choose from, unfortunately none that I could accurately recall. I also liked his underlying theme of solving violence without violence, as that is a very important message to convey when people ‘up there’ are viewing computer games as a cause of juvenile delinquence, violence and other social ills. The city graphics looked pretty good, and though the characters looked simplistic they blended together rather well. The game seems fun and balanced from first looks, and I wish Mark success in developing his game.

The other winner was Mystic Order, a card-based role-playing game intended for the Nintendo DS. I didn’t really pay attention to the mechanics, but it sounded original from what I heard. At least its non-violent setting differentiates it from other card-based handheld role-playing games like Yggdra Union.

Putting the game on the DS is very ambitious, especially in a country with high piracy rates like Malaysia. The judges were very skeptical about the developers’ ability to get the development license, and persuaded them to put it on the Pocket PC instead.

In short, all the winners looked very promising gameplay wise. Marketing, however, remains a big problem…

Related links:

December 28, 2006 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Game Design, Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | Leave a comment

A Review on Winning Games of MSC Malaysia Game Pitch

The winners of MSC IP Challenge Series 2006: Game Pitch are, Encephalon Trading Card Game by Hatchlings, Cucumber Mosaic by Johaess Reuben Jozni, Urban Sprinting by Jason Khong Wei Siong, Riot HQ by Mark Hayden and Mystic Order by Project Caterpillar.

I need not to do a review of our own game. Just check this out:
First Post [introduction]
Web Trading Card Gaming 2.0 [vision and goals]
Life of a Pawn [game design]
Concepting Encephalon [setting & concept art]

Among all the winners, I only got to watch pitches by Urban Sprinting and Cucumber Mosaic. Wait, it is not because I fall asleep in between the pitch. Blame it on the organizer’s scheduling, they arranged all 3 pitches: Game, Comic and Mobile Content all on the same time. I was walking to one hall to another just to catch a glimpse of everything. So, I will just make a review on two winning games.

I personally like Urban Sprinting the best. In Jason Khong’s speech, he mentioned that the idea comes from a video on YouTube. The video featured a man sneaking around in the department store, snatched some product and purposely trigger the alarm to get security guards chasing after him. The chasing was very exciting because the man was making some stunts and fooling around with the security guards. In the end he ran into Burger King as a hideout I guess. Urban Sprinting is simple, fresh, fun and I think it would sell if it is well executed.

So, based on this video, he came up with this game idea and called it the “Urban Sprinting”. He wanted the game to be done in 3D and so and so… but I think for start(RM 50,000 grant is too little for something big), the game is better in 2D or even pixel art. (Pixel art is cool! Look at Habbo Hotel!) One thing I like about Jason’s pitch, he seemed enjoyed it a lot and like his own game a lot. Yes, I like it too but I wished he could focus more on “Stunts” rather than “Power-ups” in the gameplay. (Everyone likes creating new and cool stunts in GTA right?)

Cucumber Mosaic brought up some laughs. Johaess wanted to bring back some nostalgic arcade games and came up with this game idea. It is a classic arcade game where you have to stop enemies destroying your base by shooting at them. The enemies will surround and attack the base by “sticking” it. I guess that the enemies are sucking out energy from the base. The laughs rained when every one of us figured that the enemies (sperm-like-creature) that attacked the rounded base looked like…
Just plain shooting to hit the high scores ain’t fun or new anymore. So I really hope that Cucumber Mosaic could shift its focus to humorous game rather than a mixture of some classical arcade. (Well, is the Sperm-Like-Thingy that caught all of our attention!)

If someone wants to do a mixture or remake, I have a few advise for you.

Do’s
mixture 1 + mixture 2 + special ingredient(core concept) = new game

Don’ts
mixture 1 + mixture 2 = mixture 1 + mixture 2 = boring

It is fine to make a game by mixing 2 games but do make sure you have the core concept right that make your game stand out from the rest. Do not make a game that adopts old gameplay, mix it together, give it better graphics, technically better and call it new. Well, graphics will come into play if you intend to use your graphics as the special ingredient. For example, Super Cosplay War Ultra by Team FK is a 2 player fighting game that is similiar to Street Fighter. The fighthing characters are some familiar faces we see in manga and anime (Astro Boy, Doraemon, Hunter X Hunter, Tontoro etc). In the surface, this game is different from others in terms of the graphics but what made them stand out the most is their “core concept”, which is “Cosplay”.

Some equation (I’m sick of conclusion):

Urban Sprinting = Grand Theft Auto + Tony Hawk
Cucumber Mosaic = Space invaders + Battle Tanks

Related Posts:

December 27, 2006 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | 2 Comments

MSC Malaysia Game Pitch

It was one day away from the Pitch but the Hatchies were still unsure of what to present. Anyway, things always changes in Hatchlings… and it changes FAST.

Game Pitch
(from left) Moy, Kuan, Iris, Jarod, John, YC, Andrew, Wong

In a small, stuffy and filled with softoys workspace at the Incubator, we created Encephalon the Trading Card Game. I will introduce the team and as well as the softoys later in the next post. I’m a game designer in the team. So far, I’ve designed the User Interface of the game… stay tune for more designs in the future of development… Oh, my recent work includes a short animated presentation of the pitch 🙂


“Message from the Dark King of Cosmos”

We presented the funniest pitch of the day and of course, we won tons of claps from the audiences. To know more in depth about the content of presentation, please click here.

Here, I received a late DKoC’s Christmas postcard for the all of you!
DKoC's Christmas Postcard

Related Posts:

December 26, 2006 Posted by | Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | 1 Comment