Liew Hanqing
Thu, Dec 20, 2007
The New Paper
Would you pay to play this game?

MORE local game developers are going for a slice of the multi-billion dollar video gaming industry.

Mr Allan Simonsen, coordinator for the Independent Game Developers Association's (IGDA) Singapore chapter, says the Singapore gaming industry is growing fast - large companies, including Electronic Arts, LucasFilm Asia and Koei, have a presence in Singapore.

He said: 'The games are coming out of quirky little indie studios, proving it's wrong to think that Singaporeans can only succeed in a rigid corporate environment.'

There is strong interest here in game development - about 130 Singaporean game developers attend IGDA Singapore meetings each time.

One of them is self-taught game developer Sean Chan, 22, who is on the committee of IGDA Singapore's student chapter.

The first full game he designed and coded, Battleships Forever, is now a finalist in the Independent Games Festival (IGF)'s design innovation award category.

In February Mr Chan will travel to San Francisco for the IGF's award ceremony.

The festival is a yearly event which showcases the best work of independent game developers from around the world.

Mr Chan submitted his game entry on a whim in October, and didn't expect to go so far in the competition. He said: 'After I submitted my entry, I saw some of the other games. They were really mind-blowing.'

He graduated from Temasek Polytechnic in 2005 with a diploma in communications and media management and has no formal training in computer programming.

He built Battleships Forever in Game Maker, a software application which allows developers to create games without knowledge of programming languages like C++ and Java.


And it didn't cost him a cent to make - Game Maker is available to download for free.

Battleships Forever has garnered positive reviews on renowned independent gaming blogs and was also featured in UK gaming publication PC Gamer UK.

The game is free for now on his website wyrdysm.com but he hopes for bigger things. 'I hope to have the opportunity to develop a sequel for my game with one of the big companies,' he said.

Mr Simonsen said there are several ways for independent game developers to get their games into the mainstream.

He said: 'One way is when large companies give the developer a development fee, which will cover overheads.'

Third-party developers usually get a 15-20 per cent cut of royalties.

Another way is for developers to raise funds for game development on their own, then approach big companies in hope of scoring a deal.

Said Mr Simonsen: 'In this case, developers get a larger cut of the royalties - some get as much as 50 per cent.'


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