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A passion for games and the fantasy world has enabled Kurechii founder P’ng Yi Wei to realise his dreams, writes Aiman Maulana.

MANY enjoy playing videogames but do not realise how much work goes into it. Who would, when players are more focused on play than the rigours of putting the game together? With Malaysia’s videogame development scene growing stronger than ever, local game developers are in for an exciting time. One of them is Kurechii, a local videogame development studio which won the Best Game Award at IGF China in Shanghai back in 2014.

DREAMER AT HEART

Kurechii founder P’ng Yi Wei says he likes to dream, both figuratively and literally. Growing up, he often imagined himself as an adventurer in various fantasy settings. Soon, he wanted figments of his imagination to become a reality.

He started to play videogames when his father bought him a personal computer.

Despite spending countless hours playing games, the idea of creating one didn’t hit him until his primary school years.

It was then that he noticed a classmate designing games in a notebook. It was a simple concept but it sparked an interest in him as he saw potential in turning his imagination into reality.

Yi Wei graduated with a Diploma in Multimedia Design from The One Academy and his interest in videogame development has not stopped growing.

He enjoyed interactive content on websites and based his work on it. Soon it developed to be more game-like. One thing led to another and today, he is the founder and director at Kurechii which specialises in, but not limited to, mobile games.

P'ng Yi Wei

FROM IMAGINATION INTO REALITY

Yi Wei runs the studio and his primary role is game director and producer, including working out the core design elements along with overseeing and managing the production.

Yi Wei describes Kurechii’s style as leaning towards medieval fantasy. It is set in a world called Prism and populated by the King’s League, Tiny Guardians and Postknights.

While the company specialises in mobile gaming, it does not limit itself to this platform. For example, Tiny Guardians, another of Kurechii’s creations, is available on both the PC and mobile platforms.

However, he feels mobile gaming has a wider reach. “Our goal has always been to, first and foremost, design a fun game. As for the platform, we will pick the one which offers the best experience,” said Yi Wei.

An artist working out on the game characters.

VIDEOGAME DEVELOPMENT

Yi Wei believes that there isn’t a single, correct method of creating games.

The Kurechii approach begins first with idea and then research. This is followed by a prototype and a vertical slice, which feels and plays like the final version of the game.

The game is then moved into the alpha testing stage, where it is polished and sent for initial testing. The game is then moved to beta, where feedback is gathered and improvements made.

It will then undergo one last quality assurance test before it is marketed and released. Usually, the process takes more than a year of diligent work, says Yi Wei.

Tiny Guardians, for instance, took 2 1/2 years while Postknight took a full two years to complete.

Yi Wei believes that Kurechii stands out among other game developers because of its unique game ideas.

He wants the games to be fresh and not a rehash of an existing concept.

While there will be familiar elements, there will always be a “twist” which sets the games apart from others in the same genre.

“For example, The King’s League offers a mix of simulation and strategy. Tiny Guardians is developed based on the idea of having a tower defence game without towers. Postknight is our attempt to have an RPG for mobile players,” said Yi Wei.

He believes that the local videogame development industry is growing but there are still missing elements to take it to the next level.

For instance, there is a need for more experienced game designers, game analysts, translators and gaming specialists.

However, he stressed that this will happen when the industry grows.

Of course, such a day cannot come without its challenges. Even for Kurechii, having to create a game that is both enjoyable and profitable is no easy task.

Yi Wei says there’s no specific formula to a game’s success as there are too many variables that could affect a game’s performance in the market.

Tiny Guardians.

SHORT TAKES

1. WHAT IS YOUR WORK PHILOSOPHY?
To love what you do.

2. WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO AND WHY?
Steve Jobs. He was a passionate individual who was dedicated to what he did. His creations revolutionised the world.

3. WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Gaming and gardening.

4. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE DOING IF IT’S NOT SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?
I’d imagine myself to be a concept artist!

5. WHAT IS YOUR GOAL IN DOING ALL THIS?
It is to inspire. To inspire others to create wonderful things, and to inspire those who play our games to believe in their own dreams and go after them.

6. WHAT IS KURECHII’S PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
Kings’s League: Odyssey won the Best Game Award at IGF China in Shanghaiin 2014. It made us the first game studio here to win in IGF. It was a very memorable and encouraging event for us.

7. DO YOU HAVE A DREAM JOB OR DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE LIVING YOUR DREAM?
I am already living my dream. However, there are occasional nightmares in this dream job as well, for example, tax season — or anything that just requires a whole lot of formal paperwork!

8. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BE IN GAMES DEVELOPMENT?
Think big and start small. Take one step at a time. You would probably have a sea of worries: how to monetise the game, or what happens if someone steals your idea, or how to publish your game in another region. It helps to first complete your game, and learn about your next big step when you get there.

9. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?
Someone who inspired others.

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