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Forust Studio is a Malaysian indie video game developer founded in 2018. Its first commercial game is The Company Man.

Published 2021-06-23 15:18:15
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At a time when many of us are WFH and missing office culture (or not, no judgement here), a game of a fitting theme was recently launched.

It’s The Company Man by indie game developer Forust Studio, and while its launch seemed timely, it’s actually a game with three years of work behind it.

Off the bat, the 2D action-adventure appears to be a humorous take on the less-savoury realities of being an office employee in a 9-5.

Not your standard IRL office experience

Speaking to founder Andrew Teo, he described the game as one “where you can hit your crazy coworkers with a keyboard and shoot your evil bosses with emails.”

You play as Jim, who’s got a life-long quest to be CEO. In his journey, he’s got to navigate the airconditioned ice lands of the accounting department and the (literal) mountains of paperwork in human resources, to name a few scenes.

But as wacky and wild as these adventures may be, they still take inspiration from typical office departments you’d find in most corporates. One of the most relatable (and realistic, if you will) aspects of the game? Drinking coffee to heal.

A large inspiration behind the game is also the American version of the sitcom The Office, Andrew said. “Our Art Director and Lead Game Designer have watched the whole show a total of 8 times collectively.”

“We used to think that the coworker stereotypes of the show were just fiction, but we were shocked to come into the working world and discover that they were real!”

Some characters you may come across in The Company Man include someone who’s constantly saying they can help you earn passive income through a MLM scheme, and perhaps a farting coworker or two (which the team personally has experience with).

And speaking of coworkers…

Progress is better than perfection

When I watched the trailer for the game, what immediately appealed to me was the amount of detail each scene had. To add, the animation looked fluid.

These had me curious about the experience of Forust Studio’s team, particularly since The Company Man had been their sole focus since the studio’s launch in 2018.

They boast an Art Director that has worked for Blizzard (that made Overwatch among other games), and an experienced Sound Director and team from Soundtrec (that performed music for Final Fantasy XV and Malaysian games No Straight Roads and Postknight, to name a few).

The rest of the team has backgrounds working in local video game studios, but this was their first commercial video game project. “We had to learn almost everything from scratch,” Andrew recalled. “We have a saying that encapsulates our process and values. It is that ‘experimentation is progress’.”

So instead of attempting perfection, they focused their full effort on conducting small-scale tests constantly through every element of the project.

For instance, their game design was developed through player feedback and testing conducted online via the G.Round platform, and informal showcases to friends and family.

Forust Studio also entered a mentorship programme with MDEC and received 3 separate grants and awards under the categories of Commercial Ready Game, Game Prototype, and Digital Content.

“Each grant required us to go through rounds of pitching and testing of the game at its various stages in front of seniors of the industry, namely Wan Hazmir, DC Gan, and P’ng Yi Wei,” Andrew shared, adding that the connections and feedback they gained from the experience were incredibly helpful with The Company Man’s production.

Championing the local game industry

Since then, they’ve been getting quite a bit of international coverage on the game, including gaining fan bases in Manila, Spain, and the Middle East.

Now that The Company Man has been released on Steam, Andrew said they’re working to port the game over to Nintendo Switch to reach a new type of player.

As for the studio’s own future, he said, “We’re not rushing to grow in a sense of numbers, but we do want to continue growing the talent of young Malaysians.”

“The local video game industry is a small one, and the number of studios creating their own intellectual property—even smaller. Thus, many talented locals end up working overseas.”

Malaysia’s got talent, we just need to support them better / Image Credit: Forust Studio

Thus, Forust Studio wants to play a role in providing employment opportunities to talented young Malaysians as such. “Our goal has always been and always will be to create a sustainable future for creatives. We measure ourselves based on that benchmark,” Andrew concluded.

On top of that, he wants Forust Studio to reach wider international recognition with their video game, and further prove that Malaysia has the local talent to achieve international standards.

  • You can learn more about Forust Studio here, and check out The Company Man here.
  • You can read more game-related articles here.

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Teo, founder of Forust Studio

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