For game producer Bazil Akmal Bidin, Casual Connect 2012 is where it all started for Terato Tech when they signed a co-development agreement with DeNA Asia Pacific. From there, Terato Tech has been able to launch into quite the journey. Bazil recently spoke to a Casual Connect Asia audience about Terato Tech’s challenges and victories with Darkness Fallen, a battle card game for mobile. Read on for background on Bazil and his outlook on the games industry.
Bazil Akmal Bidin is a game producer at Terato Tech and is also involved in programming, production and game design. “This is the life I have chosen and I enjoy every single moment regardless of whether it is bitter or sweet,” he says. So organizing game jams with the local community, arguing with team members on specific features of a game or crunching overnight to submit the build early in the morning are all aspects of his work that he values.
He spends his days dealing with scheduling and prioritizing, delegating tasks and checking the progress of the team members. He also leads the meetings or discussion sessions for game design, art direction and technical implementation.
The aspect of his job that he enjoys most is encouraging synergy between team members, allowing each of them to surpass their previous abilities. He enjoys acting as a facilitator to resolve disagreements between passionate team members who have different perspectives but who also want to make the best game possible.
Making His Dreams a Reality
Bazil was first attracted to games as child watching his friends play Crash Bandicoot. As he watched, he analyzed the pattern in the game, and when he played he was able to quickly unlock the next world even though his friends could not. A couple of years later he got his own Playstation and spent large amounts of time playing on it. Soon he was wondering if he could be part of the team that made Crash Bandicoot games.
At the age of 15, Bazil had already decided that game developer was his dream job. He didn’t yet understand what was required to create a game, but he was determined to study and practice to achieve his goal no matter what it took. Although he has worked very hard to make this dream a reality, even he is surprised at how far he has come in only a few years.
He was one of the sixth group of graduates from one of the earliest game development degree programs in Southeast Asia and immediately began working as a game application developer working on MMOs. It was an exciting challenge working with a team of 46 other developers, building the game while at the same time building their own in-house game engine. Unfortunately, only three months into their second year the entire studio was laid off as a result of the economic crisis of 2008. But he had already developed a good network that engendered multiple offers and allowed him to pick his best option.
At that time he realized there was a major need for well-educated talents coming out of tertiary education so, rather than working for another company, he chose to teach game courses at the local university. After three years, he had been game producer for more than 50 student projects. He had also volunteered with and become chapter leader for IGDA Malaysia, helping to grow the game development community. All of this has given him skills he uses daily in his work with Terato Tech.
In his time outside work, Bazil continues to dedicate much of his time to mentoring emerging talents in the games industry, teaching extra classes on weekends, organizing community events for IGDA Malaysia and attending meetings representing the local games industry.
Moving Ahead with the Best Option
When Bazil approaches a task, he first seeks a comprehensive understanding of the current situation and then gets feedback on possible options using the available resources. Finally he evaluates the possible outcome of each potential solution, measuring effectiveness in terms of scalability, modularity, quality and potential repercussions.
For his designs, he finds the games he plays a huge stimulus to his creativity. But he believes inspiration can come everywhere. One of the more unusual came from the marble arrangement on a pillar at a local mall. Using the photograph he took of it, that same night he designed a level, later making some modifications to better suit the gameplay.
He enjoys working with limited resources and time because he finds the constraints push game developers to find solutions they would not have otherwise considered. Even so, the most challenging part of game development is being forced to cut features or content the team has already been working on. But it is very rewarding when features or content can be squeezed in because of extra effort on the part of the team.
When creative blocks come, he believes taking a break or getting external feedback can be useful. But most of the time he goes ahead with the best option he has and leaves worrying about potentially better options to the future.
The Road Ahead
The biggest trend Bazil sees developing in the games industry is games as a service. In fact, Terato Tech’s latest game, Darkness Fallen, embodies the concept of GaaS with online connectivity, event system, content updates and limited-time offers. Currently they are focused on building their in-house GaaS technology and creating a sustainable revenue stream through GaaS titles. He also believes the demand for high-quality premium games will increase and gamers will be willing to pay higher prices for a more personally crafted experience.
To anyone who wants to enter the games industry, Bazil shares some of the best advice he has received: “It is a marathon, not a sprint.” The games industry is one of the most cutting-edge, with something new and challenging every year, so it is essential to always keep learning. And he insists, “The only way to lose a marathon is to stop running. No matter how far behind you are, if you want to reach your goal, the only way is to keep running. Step by step, no matter how small the steps, no matter how slow the steps and no matter how tired you are, keep running!”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.