Entertainment

Soon-to-be released game traces mountains, myths and adventure

- ABANI MALLA

Jan 10, 2019-

From a secret icy village nestled in the glowing Himalayas, 15-year-old Pasang Kaji Sherpa embarks on a journey to find his father who vanished mysteriously in the mountains while searching for other who had stepped out and never returned. Now it is up to Pasang to find out what happened to them while discovering the secrets that the mountains hide.

This is the premise of a new game, Chronicles of the Himalayas, currently being developed by the Kathmandu-based Sroth Code Games. Composed of colourful low poly vistas, this role-playing game takes players on a journey that encounters mythical mountain creatures and reflects the culture and essence of Nepal’s high mountains.

Sroth Code Games is one of Nepal’s few game development companies, having released Haku Run in April 2016. The game was a commercial spinoff for the movie Loot 2 and was available on Android. After 50,000 downloads and lots of encouraging feedback, Sroth Code started pursuing more games and reaching out to investors.

“We were introduced to a software called Unity and we realised that with a bit of effort we could easily develop games,” said Uday Gurung, co-founder of Sroth Code Games, who also looks after business relations. “Haku Run was an experiment for us.”

With the success of Haku Run and a few others that are currently available on Android, Sroth Code decided to take on a more ambitious project, a role-playing game that would be out on iOS, Android and PC.

“Hopefully we’ll also be able to release for consoles, but that depends on our crowdfunding project,” said Uttam Adhikari, co-founder and project leader of Sroth Code Games.

The idea for a game based on a Sherpa boy’s adventure came up when they participated in the NEXT growth conclave. “We had a session that discussed what value we could add to the gaming sphere. After researching, we came up with keywords like Sherpa, Everest, Himalayas, chronicles, Nepal—these had millions of hits on Google,” said Adhikari. “This absence felt like an opportunity for us.”

The game is currently being developed by a team of six developers, led by Prashant Sharma and Suman Thapa with another team of three 3D modelers led by Dinesh Dhakal, along with music composer Rubin Kumar Shrestha, and artists Ayush Manandhar, Samikshya Pradhan and Sulav Ghimire. This team, however, has changed a lot, given the scarcity of talented artists and human resource.

“We have changed our team a lot of times in between, hiring new people time and again,” said Gurung. “Even if we train a person after working with them for months, they tend to leave the job to go abroad.”

Nevertheless, Sroth Code Games is moving ahead, sustaining their passion project through client projects and crowdfunding. They received some investor funding but are mostly selling support packages that range from Rs 500 to Rs 30,000 that come with special privileges and merchandise for supporters.

Sroth Code further wants to market their new game through Nepal’s first gaming gateway, a digital game distributor that supports transactions through online payment methods like e-Sewa and Khalti, called The Game Room. The Nepali gaming community is thriving but due to the lack of a proper marketplace, people have a negative notion of its scope, said Adhikari. “That’s why we want to open a gateway that can also provide other developers with a platform to distribute their products,” he said.

A demo PC version of the game was released on January 6 on their official website in order to garner constructive feedback and test bugs. The demo has so far been downloaded 1,200 times and gaming enthusiasts have been helpful in providing suggestions. “Some of them have even taken the time to write a three-page-long feedback,” said Gurung.

Although this game represents the Sherpa community and its customs and traditions, the creators eventually want to establish “Nepal as a brand” where the country’s multicultural diversity is showcased to the world. “We have temples in Kathmandu at intervals of five minutes, and while we’re used to it, people abroad find it amusing. We want to add such tiny details in our work,” said Gurung.

However, they don’t just want to appeal to an international audience but also want to keep things ‘Nepali’. “People said they loved it when they heard aiyaa while playing Haku Run,” said Adhikari. “That made us realise that people like the Nepali touch in our games.”

While the first three chapters of the game will be free to play, the remaining 13 chapters will have to be bought. The game will come at a price point of $9.99 on Steam, the international game distribution platform, whereas locals can purchase the game for around Rs 500 on The Game Room, which is due to launch soon.

Chronicles of the Himalayas will be launched in March-April later this year. The game is targeted for the global market and is planned to be released in five languages: Nepali, English, Hindi, Japanese and Spanish. The demo version is available for download at coth.games.

Published: 10-01-2019 09:35

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