When it comes to gaming, many would immediately veer their attention towards games which have gained international success. Home-grown talent unfortunately does not get as much spotlight, and is hugely underappreciated, much like any other forms of local entertainment.
However, after the release of much-talked-about video game, Uncharted 4’s third episode entitled The Malaysia Job, Malaysians started having a change of mind. You see, the game’s art assets were proudly made in Malaysia.
In fact, there are more to the animation studios in Malaysia than just Uncharted 4, and many locally produced games have gone off to achieve success in their own rights. Vulcan Post recently reached out to several gaming studios who graciously revealed some behind-the-scenes action of where the gaming magic truly begins.
1. Codemasters Sdn Bhd
Codemasters KL is a gaming studio which recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary. In the decade that they have been around in Malaysia, they have successfully completed more than 21 AAA (high quality) games and have held the exclusive licence for the official F1 video games, since 2009. This year, Codemasters also released Dirt Rally for PC, Xbox One and PS4, and it is to date, the highest rated rally game of all time.
Still, the agency’s greatest accomplishment is their ability to adapt and to evolve as an entity. Studio head, Andre Stiegler told Vulcan Post, “The studio began by focusing on art production and the individual art assets needed by each of the game development teams.”
Ever since then, they have evolved and are now actively prototyping new art production techniques, whilst also extending into more complex and hyper creative artistic areas.
An entity which helped provide the needed support for Codemasters throughout the years is MDEC. Andre said, “Without MDEC’s support, the Malaysian studio would not have been the success it is today, whereby on a larger scale, they received benefits like unrestricted employment of local and foreign workers.”
MDEC also guaranteed the studio world class infrastructure as well as financial incentives and these are some key elements which helped them excel as a gaming studio.
2. ACE EdVenture Studio
Being recognised by global names like Google and Cambridge London as a top digital innovation for the year of 2016 is one of ACE EdVenture’s biggest accomplishments thus far. They also happen to be the name behind the Chemistry learning platform, ChemCaper, which is to date their largest project.
Daryl Wong, ACE EdVenture’s communication lead shared how Malaysia is “slowly but surely” breaking international borders, but that is not to say that there hasn’t been any hiccups along the way.
He shared, “Figuring out what to do with a type of game that’s never been done before” is important. For instance, for ACE EdVenture, they had to learn how to strike a balance between educational as well as video gameworthy by-products—all without having a prior benchmark.
By working closely with MDEC, AceEdVenture has been able to maximise their home-grown potential. Even with a young partnership, MDEC became a vital organ during ACE EdVenture’s press conference at GDC’16 where they launched ChemCaper’s first gaming title. “We’re now exploring more ways of working together and are excited to break out further into our Malaysian market,” Daryl noted.
3. Streamline Studios Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Many would assume that working at a gaming studio would be all fun and games but Streamline Studios Malaysia’s CEO, Alexander Fernandez begs to differ. Long hours and sleepless nights are all part and parcel of the job, especially when they are working on a big project. He notes, “If there was any one challenge—it would be keeping sane on those long nights as we realise the next big feature or game mechanic.”
The largest project that they are able to disclose would be Terminator Salvation which required the skill sets of over 50 people.
Alexander shared, “Watching our local teams take on the most ambitious projects and perform beyond the international standard has to be our greatest accomplishment. Malaysia has a lot of talented people. When we arrived we knew that our growth would be predicated on investing into local talent and combining it with experienced veterans, I’m proud to say it worked out perfectly.”
With this, Alexander said, “MDEC has been a great partner in ensuring the international market knows about the great teams in Malaysia. We have participated in several conferences and exhibitions, which has increased interest in the country. It’s also developing the local industry by working with education and businesses to take things to the next level.”
4. Passion Republic Sdn Bhd
Uncharted 4 might be one of the team’s hugest accolade thus far, but Passion Republic is also the name behind other big game franchisees. “To date, we are able to build a competent team that attracts great opportunity, and contributing our passion to multiple great franchisees such as Mortal Combat X, Batman Arkham Knight, Dark Souls 3 and Unchartered 4,” Ng Aik Sern, Passion Republic’s president said.
They are glad with each small milestone which they have achieved but this does not omit the hardship which comes with the job. Whilst every opportunity gives each team member a chance to learn and expand their knowledge and creativity, the process is a challenging one.
For instance, a modelling artist engaged for 2-3 games in a year may see his or her role range from 2D-ish hand drawn characters to 3D hyper realistic characters, and it is their role to be adaptive and competent in the delivering of their work.
Aik Sern noted that with the new leadership of MDEC under Dato Yasmin, more attention and efforts from MDEC has been invested into the game development sector, and this in turn would help create better awareness of the local talent’s capability. Ultimately, this would be a win-win situation as this creates an opportunity for Malaysians to leave their mark in the local gaming industry.