All of us have fond memories of growing up playing video games in one form or another – whether arcade machines, handhelds or the latest generation consoles. Games provide us with entertainment, stress-relief, social bonding and in some cases knowledge and information, all packaged with high-end graphics and design, storytelling, music and gameplay.
According to a report from SuperData Research, the gaming industry was worth $91 billion worldwide in 2016 with mobile gaming the biggest contributor to this lucrative entertainment business.
Over the past few years, game development has emerged as a serious industry in Pakistan and companies like Mindstorm, Caramel Studio and Kwick Games are working hard to elevate the standards and profile of the local gaming industry. However, most Pakistani studios are working on mobile apps / games and there’s nothing much being done for consoles, PC’s and (the next big thing) VR games.
Amongst creative game companies in Pakistan, Rematch Studios is a game development firm focusing on VR games, run by a team of creative and technical geniuses willing to think out of the box and take risks with their upcoming titles.
Possibly being the only Pakistani company working on VR games, Rematch is pushing boundaries and setting new trends. We reached out to the founders of Rematch, Mishal and Hisham Adamjee, to find out more about their work, VR games being developed in Pakistan and their long-term prospects.
BizUpdates (BU): Tell us about Rematch studios? What’s your mission and vision?
Mishal Adamjee (MA): Rematch Studios was established in late 2016, but the groundwork was laid well before that. We really believe that there is a huge amount of raw talent in this country, and there was a low output of original content in terms of unique IPs.
We wanted to build a small but highly talented team, and unite them around a wholly creative enterprise that they could really invest themselves in. We want to create the best working environment possible, emphasizing cooperation, collaboration and teamwork.
Hisham Adamjee (HA): Basically – our mission is to make great, world-class experiences that people everywhere can enjoy.
BU: What were your primary reasons for choosing VR as a gaming medium / platform?
MA: Simply put? We want to tell great stories – VR is an up and coming medium that has tremendous potential in gaming and beyond to do just that. Full on VR is something most people have not experienced as yet, but it’s a very impressive way to tell immersive stories. It puts you firmly inside the “world” – the way it fools your brain and senses to make you believe you’re really inside the game is truly incredible.
As the adoption rate for headsets increases, more and more people will be able to experience it for themselves and see what the hype is all about.
BU: What’s your overall business model?
MA: We are a creative company – we create our own projects, our own intellectual property, and build from there. We are currently working on VR games, but are looking at other applications of VR, and will enter that space when the time is right.
We want to make globally competitive games in Pakistan, and distribute them via Steam, PSN, and the Oculus store. They have been tremendously supportive of us so far. We are already authorized partners on both Steam and PlayStation.
BU: How does VR change the way people play games? Consume content?
HA: VR is best served in short bursts – you can’t really play a 50+ hour RPG on the platform. It also has a way of pulling you into the created reality, and anchoring you there, provided the world and the details are of high quality. Rather than seeing, you “experience” – your head and your hands become an extension of your avatar in the VR world – it’s extremely fluid and natural.
We’ve had people try VR for the first time, and it’s pretty amazing when you see them take to it naturally in a matter of minutes. Very few technologies are as intuitive, even for novice users. The motion controls that the Vive, Rift and PS VR offer also give us great options in terms of creating scenarios, puzzles and overall game mechanics.
The immersion also means there are many great set pieces to be built which can thrill and wow consumers.
BU: Can you share any details on your first (upcoming) title?
HA: Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details on our first title, other than to say it’s a narrative-based VR game, showcasing a lot of awesome technology that we have built in house. I think it has the potential of really showing the incredible talent and vision that we’ve cultivated, and we’ll be announcing more on our social media channels this summer.
BU: Your development platform of choice is the Unreal engine. Any reasons for choosing Unreal over Unity – which is fast becoming the de facto VR game development standard?
HA: Unreal is definitely the benchmark and main engine for VR games – Epic has put a lot of time and effort to make sure that it has never been easier to create VR content on their engine. It’s also capable of beautiful graphics with strong optimization, which is definitely a plus point in VR, given the frame rate and power limitations.
Unity is a great engine, but in terms of what we’re looking to do at the moment, Unreal is definitely more suitable for us.
BU: You’ve invested in a full-fledged mo-cap (motion-capture) setup for your studio. Tell us about that.
HA: We do have a suit-based mo-cap set up at our office. Given that things in VR absolutely have to look believable due to immersion, being able to properly animate people, creatures, and movements is a must.
The suit we have also tracks finger movement – essential given the ability of the motion controllers to detect the difference between an index finger point, a thumbs up, a fully clenched fist or even an open hand.
Currently in Pakistan people are used to snappier animation, which fits the type of content being created, but is very different to what we’re doing. Saying that, our guys are learning and improving more and more every day in terms of how to best utilize motion capture.
BU: What is your opinion on the current state of game development & design as it is currently being taught in Pakistan?
MA: We can’t speak for the industry as a whole, but we can speak to our experience. We’ve found immensely talented and hard working people to join our team – and the results have been fantastic. We’ve built our own culture, one based on cooperation, creativity and very, very high standards – we’ve done this by determining what we feel an organization needs to succeed in the global marketplace, rather than looking and criticizing current practices.
Every organization does things their own way, and there is no right way and wrong way – simply, at the end of the day, you have to believe in your structure, processes and people, and we work hard every day to make every part of our company better. We hope that what we’re doing will encourage others in Pakistan to take risks and try new things in this space.
BU: Your thoughts on the state of gaming as an industry in Pakistan?
HA: We think Pakistan has had its fair share of success in the mobile space, and there are many great companies here that have turned it into an art form. However, things need to be taken to the next level eventually in order to evolve and truly be competitive in the international space – creating our own original IPs, working with cutting edge technology and getting out of our comfort zone.
BU: What does the gaming industry in Pakistan need at this point, beyond investment?
HA: What any industry needs – incentives, legal protections, and mainstream acceptability. Most of all it needs young people with a passion for gaming and creative enterprises, because it’s them who will shape the industry. On this last point we are very confident that the future is very promising.
BU: What are your expectations for the near future? In five years, what will the industry be like?
HA: In the near future, we hope people see what we’re doing and it encourages them to try new things. We know some companies have already begun that process, and it’s great to see. The game dev community worldwide is very closely knit, and we think that’s something that will also happen to the community here in the short term as well.
In the next 5 years? That’s not a long time at all – we think people will finally start taking notice of devs in the country by then, and appreciate what Pakistan puts out based on the merits of the products that are delivered.
BU: Why would I want to work at REMATCH ?
MA: We have a great culture, a great team of people – very strong and effective leadership, and we’re working with very complex cutting edge technologies. The reality is, not everyone is cut out to work for us – we don’t really look for CV’s in general – rather, we identify people whom we feel would add value to our organization (and people whom we can help grow and nurture) and recruit them directly.
To give you an idea – we conducted hundreds of interviews, with an effective offer rate of 6% of all candidates considered. Once those 6% received offers from us, 100% accepted the offered position at Rematch. Once you get past the interview, you have a logic test, a programming test, and a compatibility review before a final round table. We just look for extremely smart and hardworking young people and try to inculcate them in our culture and way of doing things.
BU: How can Pakistani game studios step up their game?
MA: We wouldn’t be comfortable telling other people how to run their business. There are companies that work in this field, and have achieved success, and as far as we’re concerned, we like it that way. Success is not always a zero sum game – and there are plenty of spots for winners. We hope many companies in Pakistan achieve acclaim, as that is good for the industry and the people that work in it. We are supporters of the tech industry as a whole, and it’s easy to criticize. We don’t like that – we’d rather be working hard to set a positive example.
BU: What advice would you give to fresh startups?
MA: It’s very difficult to give general advice, as generally advice is not “One Size Fits All”. Choose your team members wisely – choose your workplace culture wisely – choose your partners wisely. Read all your contracts, make sure you understand what you’re getting into and why. Have a vision, and run your company like a business, because ultimately, that’s what it is.
What values and missions you assign to that business are up to you, but they may determine your success or failure. Finally, be smart, work hard, and don’t cry: the world, as competitive as it is now, will accept nothing less.
We at BizUpdates wish Rematch all the success for their work and upcoming game release.