In Conversation with Armaan from Frostwood Interactive

The solo developer journey, a kickstarter and a secret project

  
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Thank you all for tuning into our podcast. This is our attempt at archiving the history of game development of Indian creators, through their own stories and voice. We hope you find it interesting and engaging. If you have any thoughts and suggestions, please come by our discord and have a chat!

In this episode Yadu and Arjun talk to Armaan of Frostwood Interactive about his roots, inspirations for Rainswept, Forgotten Fields, and his next secret project.

People in the podcast

Armaan - https://twitter.com/Armaan_S92

Arjun Nair - https://twitter.com/NairArjun

Yadu Rajiv - https://twitter.com/yadurajiv

Notes from the podcast

Frostwood Interactive - Link

Rainswept - Link

Unity - Link

How I quit my 9-5 and became a full time indie game dev - Video

Twin Peaks - Link

Memories of Murder - Link

EGX Rezzed - Link

Forgotten Fields - Link

Rami Ismail - Link

Dino Digital - Link

Chit fund - Link

Neon Bedlam - Link

Poets of the Fall - Late Goodbye - Link

Silent Hill - Link

Invisible Waves - Link

Michal Michalski - Link

Goa - Link

Audacity - Link

Adventure Creator - Link

Alan Wake - Link

Silent Hill 2 - Link

Last life in the Universe / "Reung Rak Noi Nid Mahasarl" - Link

David Lynch - Link

Full Transcript

Yadu Rajiv 0:07

Hello, and thank you for tuning in to the gamedev.in podcast. In this episode Yadu, and Arjun talk to Armaan of Frostwood Interactive about his roots, inspirations for Rainswept, Forgotten Fields, and his next secret project.

So I guess I'll give a quick intro, I am Yadu. I mean, we have met Armaan, and I've met before in the IGDC. With the help of a bunch of people, we run gamedev.in. And this whole thing is basically like a way of trying to figure out whether we can kind of archive histories of game designers and developers who kind of make up our industry. How can we preserve this for a future generation, at the same time, also help kind of up and coming developers and also, so yeah, so all these kind of this is kind of where we started, when we thought about doing this kind of a podcast kind of a thing. So it's primarily archival in nature. And then we thought it will be interesting for people to just catch up and also to talk about what they're doing, who they are, those kind of things. So that is where I am coming from, this is Arjun, Arjun?

Arjun 1:26

Yeah. Hey. So I think I joined GameDev(.in) very recently. So my role has been to basically set up these chats so far. Basically, we're trying to have these conversations with all the indie game devs in India, at least, you know, their journey, document their journey and stuff. But my role so far in the industry has been as a professional programmer. So I've been in industry for some time now. And I thought it's time you know, that. And I've been very, you know, closeted kind of individual. I don't, I'm very private kind of individual. I don't mix with people. So I thought it's time to, you know, go out and meet someone new, faces and stuff. So, and Armaan I actually met you in 2019. In IGDC. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think you may remember me, and others lost souls, traveling through all the booths, you know, trying to check out stuff.

Yadu Rajiv 2:20

This guy's selling steam keys.

Arjun 2:24

That's what caught my eye like in the sea of commercial people. There's this one guy is selling steam keys ok, I had to check him out. So yeah, so I guess that's, that's us. Maybe Armaan, you can talk about yourself?

Armaan 2:40

Yeah. So I'm a game developer working solo under the name of Frostwood Interactive, and I've released two games so far. One was Rainswept in 2019. And the other one recently is Forgotten Fields. And yeah, I was an architect before that, but wasn't really interested in architecture. I guess we can go more in details later.

Arjun 3:01

Yeah, yeah.

Armaan 3:02

And yeah, so just a game developer, and I'm working on the third game now.

Yadu Rajiv 3:07

So our first question was, who is Armaan? I guess we kind of answered that. So how did you get into games?

Armaan 3:17

Um, so I was always interested in games. But you know, back when I was exiting school, and during college, there wasn't much of a scene in India, right. So it was very difficult. So I kind of gave up on that dream. So I went instead into art and went into architecture, didn't really like architecture, started getting into films, and tried working on a TV set for a couple of months. Didn't like that. And then I returned to architecture did a job for a year and around then this indie scene started kind of picking up. So I realized that I could possibly learn unity, put something on Steam. So I did a lot of research and yeah, just made the shift.

Arjun 4:07

So you're actually, you actually have an architecture background?

Armaan 4:10

Yeah.

Arjun 4:11

Okay, so how did you pick up programming and all that stuff that came with Unity?

Armaan 4:15

So I still don't really program much. Because Unity and you can use all these visual tools. Yeah, so a lot of node based stuff. I did try you know, a little bit of programming, learning a bit of that. And you know, when you get stuck when you when you want to do something custom you need to program so it's, yeah, I mostly don't do programming but I kind of make do without it.

Yadu Rajiv 4:41

So when when did you kind of formally start Frostwood and how did that kind of happen? Was it the first game or?

Armaan 4:51

So around 2017 I was doing the architecture job. And yeah, around then I was also researching and trying to learn, you know, how to how to work with Unity and everything. And yeah, I knew that I wanted to make the first game Rainswept which would be a murder mystery. And as it started getting more and more serious and it started sounding, you know that this could actually work. I started finding, you know, trying to figure out a exit strategy from architecture, trying to transition. So about six months of learning unity and doing the job at the same time. And then I quit the job and launched a demo. And around that time, it kind of became formal once I left the job. And after that, there was one and a half year more of development, which I did from home.

Arjun 5:46

What gave you the idea for Rainswept?

Yadu Rajiv 5:50

Very film noir!

Arjun 5:52

Yeah

Armaan 5:53

Yeah. So I mean, those are always themes that I was in love with. So Twin Peaks is a show, which is like one of my favorite shows of all time. And if I had to creatively express myself or make something, it would be something like that. You know, small town, rain, mystery, that kind of stuff. Also another movie Memories of Murder, which is I forget his name, but the same director who made Parasite, which has really blown up recently. That is another movie, which was a big inspiration, another murder mystery. So yeah, when, you know, I decided that Okay, I'm going to make a game, it was going to be all those topics, and it just kind of came together on its own.

Yadu Rajiv 6:37

You, you self published, sorry...

Arjun 6:40

yeah go on go on go on

Yadu Rajiv 6:41

You self published Rainswept, wasn't it?

Armaan 6:43

Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 6:44

So? And are you thinking about kind of putting it out on other platforms? And how has it been getting on Steam? How was your experience with all that?

Armaan 6:57

It wasn't too difficult, actually. Yeah, surprisingly, simple. But I guess if you don't keep it simple, you can probably you know, have a bigger impact also. So I kept it simple. And I just did everything on my own. And year after release, I went for EGX in London, EGX Rezzed, and then I met some publishers, so they have ported it to consoles it released last year on consoles. So yeah, a year after PC, it had some, you know, sort of, like, I could show the game to the publishers, and they were interested in Yeah, it's on PS4 switch and Xbox now.

Arjun 7:36

So during this time, how did you finance yourself?

Armaan 7:39

So I was living with my parents. So that is one

Arjun 7:41

That helps a lot.

Armaan 7:43

So that was one tension, you know, taking care of and

Yadu Rajiv 7:46

Remember children, parents are good!

Arjun 7:50

Yadu with his experience.

Armaan 7:53

Throughout development, I was at home and most of the budget was really low. Like, I didn't have voice acting. I didn't have anything. I ran a small Indiegogo campaign. And it didn't reach the goal. But you still get to keep the money in indi- Indiegogo. So it was not even a like I think it was 90,000 or something. And yeah, marketing and testing was done from that. I was working with a freelance marketing person. So yeah,

Yadu Rajiv 8:22

In India or generally?

Armaan 8:25

Not India. I just found them online. So yeah

Yadu Rajiv 8:29

Was the same person who's done marketing for..

Armaan 8:33

No, no, no,

Yadu Rajiv 8:34

No, just curious.

Arjun 8:37

But what kind of marketing did you do apart from just this guy doing the marketing for you?

Armaan 8:42

Actually, the marketing, which I've worked with him was only for the campaign, Indiegogo campaign. And in the final release it almost like I told him my budget, and he was like, that's not even a fraction of.. you can't get marketing done for that. In the end, I kind of ended up doing marketing myself for the final release. He just gave me a press list for that budget. And it was an email blast, basically. And I think the biggest impact was the reputation that was built from the demo, which was released on Game Jolt and itch.io and that led to followers on Twitter and Twitter then became, it's still the main place where you know, people are discovering whatever I put up.

Arjun 9:29

Okay, you didn't go to Reddit?

Armaan 9:30

Yeah, Reddit as well. So Twin Peaks subreddit and everything. Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 9:36

Yeah, that kinda makes sense.

What would you say? Were your, kind of, your key learnings from putting out Rainswept and, like if you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently or...

Armaan 9:52

Um, marketing needs to be you know, if it was better, I'm sure like it would have had an exponentially better release. Because, you know, whoever plays the game, they really love it and they're like, why has nobody heard of this? So that was one big issue. So for that you need budget. So probably, you know, these publishers you have nowadays, like, obviously, Annapurna is very huge, but they have a name of their own. So if you can get into that half of your work is done. So that would be what I would aim for. But what really worked was, as I said, the demo, like putting a demo on free demo on Game Jolt and itch.io, it was like, free publicity. There was like, 10s of 1000s of people playing that demo and waiting for the game.

Yadu Rajiv 10:39

That's great. I mean, I didn't know that Game Jolt had such like a large indie audience that could actually convert into, you know, actual paid players, which, which is kind of great to know.

Armaan 10:53

That is, it's interesting. Yeah, go ahead.

Yadu Rajiv 10:56

No, no, no, I was just gonna say like, it's, I don't know, if people nowadays think of Game Jolt. Rather, they would go for itch, generally directly, but they don't know about the Game Jolt community and how it was back then. And all that.

Armaan 11:09

Yeah. I mean, I'm honestly not very sure either how it was before. But what I have noticed is releasing a paid game on both itch and Game Jolt really doesn't convert. But when you put a free demo, it really helps. And you get a following. Yeah.

Arjun 11:27

So how did it do on Steam?

Yadu Rajiv 11:30

What are the numbers? Tell us tell us?

Armaan 11:32

It's done pretty well. I mean, I stopped following the numbers about a year ago, I was just like, okay, I can sustain myself that’s enough and I'm not gonna worry about the numbers, but I'm not sure must be about 10,000 by now units.

Arjun 11:52

So, so did the, did the community from itch and Game Jolt help drive the steam sales? Like did you rely on wishlist and stuff?

Armaan 11:59

Yeah. So there was a bit of, you know, from sending people to wishlist, the game from itch and Game Jolt and there was also a feedback form I had put in Rainswept. So once the game finished, a Google form would open up and I got a lot of response on that. And I optionally asked them if they wanted to share the email. So a lot of people share the email. So I made a mailing list and just email all of them for all the updates and everything. Just the...

Yadu Rajiv 12:28

It's like a very positive time to ask for something. Like, right as I finished the game, they're like, Hey, you want to you know, share your email? Sure, why not?

Armaan 12:37

Yeah. And the game, the demo ended on a cliffhanger. Like, it was just when it was getting interesting, you know, murder, mystery, and everything. So I watched a lot of people playing the demo on YouTube, and they would all scream. They call me evil and everything. So they were like, I need to follow this, I need to know what happened. So.

Arjun 12:57

So when you came to IGDC, like, what were your expectations with? You know, you set up a booth and everything. And so what were your expectations and did it meet them?

Armaan 13:07

Um, I don't really remember what I was expecting.

Arjun 13:13

It was not memorable, if that's what you're saying.

Armaan 13:16

It was just like, okay, now I have something that I can show. So, you know, it was after release, I guess I was a little unsure showing it unfinished. But once it was finished, I was like, Okay, let's see what the reaction is, and maybe get the word out that I'm making games and see where that leads.

Yadu Rajiv 13:35

So, I mean, it isn't, you know, I mean, how did you find out about the IGDC? And also, did you know about the local community or, you know?

Armaan 13:47

So I was there a year before, I think, either 2018 or 17. I just came to, you know, just see the exhibition. And I didn't really interact with many people, unfortunately. But yeah, I was just like, checking it out. So I didn't really meet anyone. And but when I, you know, had my own booth and everything, I was like, Okay, this is a very close knit community where all the devs know each other. And it was a lot of fun, actually, like, a lot of friends. And it was nice to see these guys coming on the first day and high fiving each other like, you know, everybody know everyone. This is cool. And in terms of, I don't know, like, you know, these indie games, which are like, not mobile, maybe, you know, those kind of games are like, really a handful. So that was also a nice surprise to see these kind of games being made.

Yadu Rajiv 14:48

Cool. So, so when did you start to kind of now I mean, I see now that you're already started working on something new and interesting on Twitter. But when did you kind of stop with all the updates or interrupt and then kind of slowly start thinking about, or was it like you're already thinking about the next game?

Armaan 15:10

Um, I guess when people stopped reporting bugs, and I had a little bit of like, okay, now what do I do? So I had some time to start thinking about the next thing after Rainswept was Forgotten Fields. So I have talked about this online a lot. And in the Kickstarter campaign, the whole thing was, you know, the first game got over, and now it was time for the second game. And it was quite difficult to come up with a new idea on demand that way. So I spent almost six, seven months trying to, you know, prototype different ideas. Yeah, so that was after Rainswept.

Arjun 15:49

So did this idea for forgotten fields, actually… so you are saying its not organic. You actually had to work towards making it.

Armaan 15:58

Yeah, so rain, so it was organic, because that was an idea I was wanting to talk about. And suddenly, now that idea was done, and now I'm like, Okay, now this is a job. Now I need to put something out. And I guess there was a lot of pressure or something. So I couldn't come up with anything. And yeah, eventually, I, you know, kind of cliche, I decided to write about that, about not being able to try and come up with an idea. And, yeah, I mean, there's… it's a very long story.

Arjun 16:28

The meta is in the game also right.

Armaan 16:30

Yeah.

Arjun 16:31

Protagonist doesn't have a proper idea and stuff.

Armaan 16:34

Yeah. And I, I don't know if I would have made that, ordinarily, like, if that idea inspires me, but I felt like I had to make that. Otherwise, I will never be able to make something. You know, I'll never be able to [bleak] the, break the block of sorts. And yeah, as soon as I started working on it, two, three months, and that idea, I started getting a lot of other ideas. So ...

Arjun 16:57

So why did you take the Kickstarter approach with this one though?

Armaan 17:01

Um, first of all, like crowdfunding is a great way to market your game. So like Yadu knows, during Kickstarter, he told Rami Ismail about the Kickstarter. And when he posted about the campaign, it was like, an explosion, like, we just reached the goal. So yeah, when you start talking about your campaign, it's a lot of marketing. So that's good. And it took a lot of pressure off launch also financially. And it allowed us to, you know, go have a bigger marketing campaign.

Arjun 17:44

But doesn't it come with its own pressures, like now you have to give those milestones? targets? whatever they are called,

Yadu Rajiv 17:54

How has your Kickstarter experience been?

Armaan 17:57

I mean, I'm not planning to do it again, there is that.

Yadu Rajiv 18:04

That speaks a lot.

Armaan 18:07

Ideally, you would have like, I was talking about publishers, a big name publisher, if they can handle everything, if they can support you, that's amazing. Yeah, there's a lot of pressure with rewards and everything, even though you know, people are not putting not, you know, or messaging or anything. But personally, you're like, Okay, I have to do this. I have to make an art book. I have to make posters. So that's a big distraction.

Arjun 18:32

I think Yadu, was it in our group for some place, I heard someone saying that. Making game is only half the thing in Kickstarter. The other part was actually, you know, giving out all these making stuff. The content for the rewards was taking out a lot of the time.

Yadu Rajiv 18:47

Too much of the time Yeah

Arjun 18:48

Was it gamedev or some other discord; one of those groups? I mean, I heard it somewhere. So that's why I was wondering if Kickstarter is, and you're doing the solo most of the time, right?

Armaan 18:57

Yeah. So this game I had a publisher in, based out of India, so it was their first game as well as a publisher. And they are Dino Digital, based in Mumbai as well. So there was a lot of help from there, especially in all this marketing and handling Kickstarter, getting organizing people. So for the Kickstarter also, we had another person freelancer helping us. Neon Bedlam, Bedlam, Neon Bedlam. So yeah, it was kind of a three party thing for the Kickstarter. So that helped a lot.

Yadu Rajiv 19:39

So, about the, I mean, I kind of, I suppose it's the amount of work that you have to put into a Kickstarter, and you're already kind of already kind of getting a like a committed user base or you're committing to a bunch of people could probably be slightly more of a pressure then sit and work on something on your own, find a publisher, which seems like then this you can kind of take the load off of your head. And then focus on ...

Armaan 20:09

Yeah, there is a kind of an unspoken pressure. Like, nobody's you know, the backers aren't saying anything they always patient and

Yadu Rajiv 20:19

They are behind the scenes just standing there.

Armaan 20:23

Mentally, it's like, Oh, God, I gotta I, which is a good pressure in a way, because you're always thinking, I have to make it worth it because they've put the money down. So you know, you feel like they've put their faith in me now I really need to come up with something worth it.

Arjun 20:41

It's like chit fund, right? Everyone has put their chits and now you have promised some reward for it?

Yadu Rajiv 20:48

Yeah.

Arjun 20:48

So do you think forgotten fields was affected by all these things? First of all, you felt that you had to create an idea for the game, then you had to create a Kickstarter campaign around that and stuff like that.

Armaan 21:00

The campaign didn't have much of an effect that way, but you're definitely coming up forcibly with an idea. And like six months later, I had to tell myself that Okay, enough of thinking of new ideas stick to something. So I don't know if that was the best idea. And you know, it was not organic. I kind of constructed it in a way.

Arjun 21:22

Right.

Armaan 21:23

So, yeah, and that part definitely affected it.

Arjun 21:29

And what were the new one that you're working on?

Armaan 21:32

Yeah. So this is, I mean, I didn't have that issue. Now. The block issue. So ... yeah, after finishing Forgotten Fields, sort of a month of month or two of, you know, giving support and everything. I just started watching movies, which is a good way to get inspired, watching my favorite movies and everything. And yeah, my dad told a story about some, some haunted stuff, you know, he was like, he was just telling his experiences with [the] paranormal and ... so that kind ..

Arjun 22:09

[unclear] stories about these things.

Armaan 22:10

What is that?

Arjun 22:11

Dads have the best stories about, you know hauntings and things.

Armaan 22:15

Yeah, my mom was like, you know, why? Why are you talking about all this stuff? So I was like, Okay, we'll talk about it later. This is giving me ideas. So I wrote them down. Just about spooky stuff. And you know, it goes to sleep, and he meditates and everything. So he sees stuff. So I like this is great. So I started coming up with a horror thing, based in like, it's very different from what it is now. But like, based in rural Japan, an old man is haunted and everything. kind of funny, kinda scary. But yeah, I kind of thought a lot about that idea. And it was kind of No, not going anywhere. But the haunted house spooky thing kind of stuck. And it changed to a person in a hotel. And there's a song by Poets of the Fall, Late Goodbye, which has a video as his guy just driving in a dark road, which always, you know, get got me excited. Once I was watching that I was like, I want to make a game which is like that, that aesthetic, which is also a bit of Silent Hill, and a bit of Twin Peaks in a way, you know, dark roads and driving and motels and everything. So that haunted idea kind of became like a motel thing. And I've watched a couple of movies about some hitman who was lonely and stuff. So yeah, these ideas just started just mixing together. And this that is where I am now. Like I have I know what it is about exactly. Like the whole story is planned out.

Arjun 23:42

Is that, is it something that you can reveal to us? Like, what, what is this game about? Or is it like under wraps?

Armaan 23:48

Yeah, I mean, it's so early that I don't know what to talk about, or talk about. But it has, I mean, the aesthetic is kind of scary, but it's not really a horror game. It's mostly about a person in a motel. And he's kind of seeing stuff. He's kinda getting scared. And it's over a night. Just one night story. Yeah. And yeah, the player has to kind of yeah, I really don't know what to talk about what not to talk about, but it's kind of a mystery in a way. Yeah, and a lot of paranormal stuff. Yeah

Yadu Rajiv 24:33

Do you have name yet?

Armaan 24:35

Not a name...

Yadu Rajiv 24:37

A working title.

Armaan 24:39

Yeah, there's a movie Invisible Waves, which is a Thai movie, which is also a huge inspiration. So it's currently called Invisible Waves. But in brackets ...

Arjun 24:51

Heard it wrong first time

Armaan 24:55

In brackets working title, but so I had the like, I don't know if you know had the crash. The whole project was lost.

Yadu Rajiv 25:02

Yeah. Yeah. We heard; I mean, yeah. You posted on Twitter

Armaan 25:07

Four days ago,

Yadu Rajiv 25:09

Clouds. I mean, Unity Cloud.

Armaan 25:13

That was horrible. But so because of that, I had to make a new, completely new Unity project. So now it's called Invisible Dreams for now. Changed the waves to dreams.

Yadu Rajiv 25:24

Right. So I yeah. Interestingly, I saw that you were working with Blender. And so kind of going back, Rainswept was like all very 2d stuff. And then suddenly, you have this game - Forgotten Fields, which is like completely 3d stylized. How was that? How was that technical challenge? Was that a challenge?

Armaan 25:49

In the beginning, I was really frustrated with Blender, because I was like, What is this? You know, I was posting on Twitter, like, what is this software? Why is it so difficult? Can I use SketchUp instead? Because I have practiced with SketchUp as an architect.

Yadu Rajiv 26:01

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I was also wondering whether your architectural background really helped in this part.

Armaan 26:06

Yeah. So as for design, and you know, making buildings, it's really helpful, because I don't have to look up the standards online. I know how much a door or step is. So once I just stuck with Blender, and it became really easy after a while. So yeah, Forgotten Fields. I didn't have any textures, no UV mapping or anything. Because that looked really complicated. I had a little bit like four roofs and stuff. So yeah, I tried to keep it simple. But once I got over Blender, it wasn't really challenging. It was fun, because you have a 3d space where you can just, you know, make everything and then you can decide where to put cameras and stuff. So it's a lot of fun. And now with the third game, I'm going, you know, all textures, because now I'm confident with 3d so I can do that as well.

Arjun 26:57

Are you still doing it solo?

Armaan 26:58

Yeah. I mean, there is someone who makes music. His name is Michal Michalski, found him online. So he's made the game music for both the other games. There's an indie game, The Cat Lady, which is I think, 2013 or 12. So he made the music for that. Also, it's a pretty hit, indie game. Right.

Yadu Rajiv 27:25

Cool like so tell us about sort of, like the reception after releasing of Forgotten Fields on Steam? And sort of, I remember it seeing it on a couple of festivals also.

Armaan 27:40

Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 27:41

And how has that kind of been also?

Armaan 27:44

So it's been interesting. Like, personally, people who I know, like, compared to Rainswept a lot of people that I know, didn't play it, you know, like friends and everything. Everyone wanted to play Forgotten Fields, because it was inspired by Goa. It's very personal. So a lot of people, especially in India, and my friends and family, they can all relate to it a lot. So in that way, the reception has been really good. Like, my friends are like, Wow, what a game like I can see our adventures and this and all our memories. And so that way, it's been great. Commercially, compared to the Rainswept, it's been lesser, and I think it's the same reason because it's very personal and very subjective. So a lot of people can't, can't relate to it at the same time. And the story, you know, it's not like, if you say a murder mystery in a smaller town, it's like everyone knows what it is, and they want to play it. But a writer with a creative block goes home, and the whole house is being sold. It's a bit like okay, not very, not a very commercial idea. Maybe. Yeah.

Arjun 28:52

So what do you think went, you know, kind of right with Rainswept and something right with Forgotten Fields? And vice versa? Like what went wrong with both of them?

Armaan 29:06

Yeah, mostly it was the idea. And being inspired, I guess. So Rainswept I was just motivated all the time. I was just having a lot of fun. Because the idea was something that I love. With Forgotten Fields it, it was kind of forced in the beginning, but as I started making it, and it was about Goa, and I started putting sort of my own life into it. It slowly started becoming interesting. So yeah, getting the right idea is pretty important so ...

Arjun 29:40

You mentioned marketing also, right?

Armaan 29:43

Yeah, and it's interesting, like forgotten fields had a lot of wish lists at launch. I think Rainswept had about 5000 this had about 10 to 13,000, but the conversion was low. I think one of the big things with Forgotten Fields was moving into 3D, it was maybe not buggy, but it was clunky. So you know, small spaces, you're in a house and the characters to walk around and the cameras that pulled back. So the players keep getting stuck in all the furniture and everything. And so there are a lot of reviews talking about that. And bugs which were fixed later. But I think you know, the damage is done. So, yeah, polish is something that I've learned from Forgotten Fields, like how much ever I improve it now, like, it doesn't make much of a difference, especially being an offline single player game. But yeah, so now I'm like, okay, third game, months and months of polish, like it has to be a really good experience of zero bugs and very polished.

Arjun 30:47

I think it does help, you know, fixing the bugs before you push it out. Release, like how Cyberpunk has been received.

Armaan 30:54

Yeah, once the damage is done, its done.

Arjun 30:57

Yeah yeah

Armaan 30:58

And then you it's hard to, it's hard to catch those issues sort of alone. I mean, there is a person who does QA testing. And but it's just me and him. But once you release it, even he was like, how are these people running into these bugs?

Yadu Rajiv 31:15

Yeah. Yeah, I guess it's, it's always a case like you will always, probably never catch all the bugs. So it's bound to kind of come up.

Arjun 31:27

So you mentioned you use Blender, you use Unity. Do you use any other tools? For your dev? Like, what about audio and stuff like that?

Armaan 31:38

Yeah, audio, not much our little bit of balancing and stuff on Audacity if required, mostly, they're free sound effects or sound packs online. And the music is made by you know, somebody else so ...

Arjun 31:53

And on Unity, you said, you're using some package for that for setting up the game?

Armaan 31:58

Yeah. So there's a thing called Adventure Creator. Adventure Creator, Yeah. So yeah, that's a really good tool, and you know, with the really good community and support, so that takes care of a lot of things. And it's not restricted. Like you can do anything. It's very free form. So like, the first game was a 2d side scroller. The second was a 3d isometric. Now it's going to be first person, so you can make whatever you want, right.

Yadu Rajiv 32:25

Ah. Got one more small bit of information. Yeah, FPS interesting.

Arjun 32:37

So, you've been doing indie dev for how long now Armaan?

Armaan 32:40

2017 was when I quit my job, mid 2017. So Exactly. About four years. Doesn't feel that long? But yeah.

Arjun 32:51

I quit my job in last year, December, no November.

Armaan 32:57

Okay, very recently,

Arjun 32:58

September, last year, September.

Armaan 33:00

Almost a year.

Arjun 33:01

So I'm a noob in this indie journey right now. So I'm quite like curious, like, how has it been? How's the experience been for you so far?

Armaan 33:09

Always good, like, I never doubted it or felt bad about it. I was always like, waking up in the morning and feeling happy about it. So I still feel happy, although like everyone's working from home nowadays. So. Yeah, like people now know how it is some people it works for some people. It doesn't work for some people. Yeah. But yeah, I always used to get sort of unhappy on Sunday evenings, and excited on Friday evening. So you know, that thing is broken.

Arjun 33:36

Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 33:38

Always excited!

Arjun 33:41

Exciting thing is good, right. being excited is always good. Yeah, I often find that anxiety counterbalances that excitement for me. So I'm always like anxious about things about, Oh, god, I'm not earning anything right now. You know, that's interesting. So you plan to stick it out? Obviously, you're making a new game. So you do plan to stick it out? But..

Armaan 34:00

Yeah. I think about this, I'm like, not really sure. You know, because this is, I think about doing something maybe bigger or doing something else. But it's like, okay, but I need money. So let's make another game. Yeah. But maybe expand, maybe make a bigger team. Because I have an idea, which is kind of like a dream idea, which I can do relatively soon. But I can't do that alone. So I will need a team for that. I also considered very seriously working at a studio, somewhere I was mostly interested in, you know, like, moving out. And some of these dream companies like the big ones, it's always been a dream to join one of them and see how it is. So I was thinking about that. But, you know, when I was applying for it, and when I was sort of making my resume, I sort of realized that I'm not trained in that way to do a specific task. And indies does things their own way? And it's so, yeah, I don't think that will really work out unless I study something specifically. Maybe even films, like that was the old thing, which I kind of tried for a while. So there are ideas regarding films also.

Arjun 35:23

Nice.

Armaan 35:25

But yeah, really not sure at the moment. For now it's like, okay, third game, finished the third game.

Arjun 35:31

Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 35:32

I have like a timeline for that I kind of just going with the flow at the moment.

Armaan 35:39

Every time it has been, like, less time, like I've been aiming to take lesser time than the previous game. So Rainswept took two years, Forgotten Fields took about one and a half. This one, I was like, okay, eight months, we got to do it fast. Because I'm telling myself, you don't need to make such a big game. You don't need to take so long and all those things. I mean, you see a lot of indie games very defined in scope. And doing well. So I'm like, why am I taking two years, the landscape might change in two years. So the aim is eight months at the moment, but like, lesson learned, take all your time. Polish it. So I don't know. Maybe 8 months to a year.

Arjun 36:21

Yeah, yeah, take your time. I mean, we'll all be watching your progress with great interest.

Yadu Rajiv 36:28

Yeah. So I mean, time. So quick question about back to Forgotten Fields. So like, anyway, kind of, it's very different from Rainswept in terms of the concept and the setting. So is that something that you are kind of thinking of India, Indian kind of anesthetic, or like a as a setting? Or a space? Is that something that you're consciously thinking about?

Armaan 36:59

The first thing back then, I thought was maybe take a break from rain, rainy mood? You know, that would be I thought that would be creatively good. So I started thinking about sort of a warmer climate, that was one of the main things. And I had just moved to Mumbai at that time, and I was pretty inspired by Mumbai, very different from Goa, which I was, which had stayed. And yeah, you know, it's a very different aesthetic. India, or even like South Asian kind of buildings, the wires and the detail, the textures, that was one of the main things, but Goa came about as the, because of the whole struggle to come up with an idea. So I just started getting more and more close to home. And instead of Mumbai, I was too new to Mumbai, I couldn't think of any idea. I went to Goa for holiday. And I was like, just swimming in the beach. And I was like, I know, Goa. Like, I should make something about Goa if I make something about Goa, I'll know exactly what to make. You know, I know the atmosphere, I was born there. So yeah, it just sort of came to me. And I was like, this could be interesting.

Arjun 38:16

First, sorry.

Yadu Rajiv 38:19

No, Go, go for it.

Arjun 38:21

No, I was just going to ask, In your first game Rainswept. The intro is, you know, car driving through a forest. Then in your second game, you have this going through fields and you know, so in your third game, is it going to be first person inside the car? How's it going to be?

Armaan 38:37

It actually is a car sequence very similar to Rainswept. I mean, I was kind of thinking that like, wow, I'm doing the same thing again. But yeah, it's a car thing. But it's cutscenes. Not first person, right. It's just kind of like that stuff.

Yadu Rajiv 38:55

So again, more technical thought sort of questions probably. Did the game festivals on Steam help? And the demos were they good or they were they counter? Or how do you how do you think you have any thoughts?

Armaan 39:17

There's no downside to it. Even for demos, as long as people know, it's a demo and it's in progress. But especially these festivals have been really good. I think I'm maybe even better than showing it at you know, in expos in real life, because yeah, the wishlist numbers just shoot up during every festival. So yeah, I mean, I hope they stay even when expos open up.

Yadu Rajiv 39:44

Yeah, yeah, I was just thinking, just seeing the PAX thing happening right now. And I was like, yeah, like you can't visit but like, at least it will be great to be part of it in some form.

Armaan 39:53

Yeah.

Yadu Rajiv 39:54

Yeah. Okay. Well, what are you using for using this same kind of setup for the new game? also Adventure Creator? Unity? Blender?

Armaan 40:08

Yeah, pretty much the same setup.

Yadu Rajiv 40:12

So if you were to .. go you were saying something?

Armaan 40:14

It's just a, you know, third game. So you're even better at those tools. So feel like taking advantage of that.

Yadu Rajiv 40:21

Yeah. I think that's something that people should learn that like, you know, stick with something, get good at it. And then yeah, to do really well at it also. So that that is something of a great takeaway for people who are new to game dev also, that we keep shifting tools all the time. not sticking with something.

Arjun 40:40

Yep.

Yadu Rajiv 40:58

What I want to ask was, are you looking to collaborate on the next game? Or is that something that you're kind of thinking of even. even in a small scale to kind of take the load off you maybe?

Armaan 42:59

At the moment? Not really? Um, yeah, so the last game, it was, like, a bit more collaborative. And it sort of didn't work much. I mean, commercially speaking. So I'm kind of nostalgic about how it was for the first game where it was just like, okay, on my own thing. So, at the moment, I'm just going it quite solo. But midway through the project, when you know, it gets more challenging. I'm gonna think about it.

Yadu Rajiv 43:35

Cool cool, yeah that makes sense. It's like if you're, if you're solo, solo experience was much more interesting and fruitful...

Armaan 43:45

Yeah. Kind of just going with the flow right now. Like, just see how it feels.

Yadu Rajiv 43:50

Yeah. So will this be smaller than the other two? Or are you thinking of…

Armaan 43:59

Yeah, it is one way it there's only one location, which is also a relief. So it's just that motel and maybe a little, you know, close by. So, but in detail, there's a lot more detail that's deeper, but less wide.

Yadu Rajiv 44:16

So, I mean, like is there any, again, kind of thinking about how Goa inspired you with Forgotten Fields, is there some sort of, again, some some sort of Indian inspiration, maybe?

Armaan 44:33

yeah, I mean, I could talk for a long time about the inspirations behind this game, because I'm quite excited by them, but they are similar to Rainswept in that way. So I just replayed Alan Wake; Alan Wake is one of my favorite games like the atmosphere. I played Silent Hill 2 for the first time, forced myself to play because I'm pretty scared of horror games.

Yadu Rajiv 44:55

Yet you are making one.

Armaan 44:58

It's not, it's a lot less scarier when you catch the monster prefab or whatever. Just put it in. Yeah, Silent Hill, Alan Wake and a few Thai films, which is, Last Life.. Last Life in The Universe. Check that out; David Lynch stuff, stuff like that.

Yadu Rajiv 45:20

Do you have anything you want to kind of add? Maybe?

Armaan 45:26

No, the only thing I was thinking about was Alan Wake and Silent Hill because it's just I'm still sort of inspired and excited by those games like yeah, it's nice to be inspired and nice to have an idea.

Yadu Rajiv 45:41

Thank you for doing this actually and taking time out and and I'm, I hope like, it is useful for a lot of people who are out there who want to start up and do their own thing go solo, go indie, you know, and hope this is an inspiration for a lot of people also. Yeah. So thank you so much from both of us and all of us at the gamedev.in and all the listeners as well.

Arjun 46:11

Thank you so much.

Armaan 46:12

Thank you for having me.

Arjun 46:14

All right, guys.

Yadu Rajiv 46:17

That is the end of this episode. Thank you for tuning in, and we hope to catch you next time. If you want to talk about this episode or anything else, please drop by to the gamedev.in Discord.