THE NOOBS OF NEW: SROTHCODE GAMES
A lot of us have memories of playing Super Mario on our consoles after rigorously blowing on the cartridge, or impatiently standing in line at the cyber cafes to get a chance to play an hour of GTA San Andreas all the while discussing the existent of big foot in the game. These days though, all of these fragments of nostalgia seem distant as cyber cafes are no longer crowder, and Mario has moved on to other Nintendo platforms. Then again, we have not stopped playing games, just changed the way we play them. And in Nepal, it’s bigger now than ever. Sure, maybe it’s not as obsessive as how the Chinese and the Koreans need rehab from it, but our passion for gaming is real.
And one of those who share this hardcore passion are the noobs over at Srothcode Games. Comprised of Uday Gurung, Uttam Adhikari, Rizma joshi, Nischal Amatya, and Bishal Manandhar, Srothcode is an initiative of these talented developers to introduce our country to a whole new envelope, and then push it. They have been at it for the past 3 years and we think it’s about time you know about them. Thus, here is a little insight on how the company came to be, what they have been doing, and what they will be doing.
HOW DID YOU GUYS COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF SROTHCODE GAME?
Before we had the idea for the company, Uttam was a project lead for an IT company called Cloud Tech. He had been in this industry for 7-8 years prior to Srothcode and it was then when he met Udaya, who was working as an intern at Cloud Tech. And it was Udaya who proposed the idea of starting a game development company. Since Uttam also had an interest in developing games, jumping the boat was next to automatic.
We first started Srothcode as a winter camp and had 14 students at that time. We came to realize many others were interested in it as well so we thought why not? Why don’t we do some more? That’s how we first started as a company. We realized we could make an impact in the industry.
When we were conducting Srothcode winter camp, the teaser for Loot 2 had just dropped. We were looking for ideas for contents which would make it more compelling for the Nepali audience. It had not been done before in Nepal where a game was made for promotion of a movie. So, we got in contact with the movie and after working 6 months on it, we created ‘Haku run’. That was out first ever game, and it was well received. We realized that it is possible to have our own original content and still make waves in the market.
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING THIS COMPANY?
We knew from the start that we wanted to work as developers making games. But this industry was, and is, still developing. We do not have sufficient people working in this industry which makes it hard for anyone seeking experience. Hence, to fill that gap.
When we talk about our country we all agree we are very rich in cultures and diversities. We proudly claim to be the country with Sagarmatha. So, including them in digital forms, animations, and games could be a way of preserving their essense. This is also something that would have the global audience interested in. Everest is a global name, almost like a brand that represents our country. We initiated the project to capitalize on these aspects.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES DID YOU FACE WHEN YOU WERE STARTING OUT? DO YOU STILL FACE THEM?
We are the noobs in this industry. When we are compared to the international game developers, we are still inexperienced and we have a lot of room to grow. Experience and expertise were the first challenges we had to overcome. Although, it was also a great opportunity to learn as we acquired something every day. When we started the company, we didn’t even know what we didn’t know. We had to learn through making mistakes.
Another problem we face to this day is the lack of experts. We don’t have the required human resource. There are very less talented people in the market for developers. The few who are, or who have been groomed are prone to brain drain.
And since we have budget constraints as we’re relatively new, there the fear of losing team members.
HOW HAVE THE REVIEWS AND CRITICISMS BEEN FOR YOUR GAMES?
‘Haku Run’ is our most popular game till date. It has been received really well but we have had much criticism as well. The main one was concerning the quality of the game as we had not been able to deliver the quality compared to those of international standards. But we cannot move forward without such criticisms as well. We take those feedbacks to account and work towards constantly updating our games accordingly.
WHAT SORT OF APPS HAVE YOU GUYS DEVELOPED SO FAR AND HOW MANY OF THEM ARE IN THE MARKET?
Our apps and games are categorized into three main types. Firstly, there are the casual/hyper casual games. These are the ones that can be played with using only one hand. These sorts of games are mainly designed for multitasking. You could be having a burger while you’re at it. We have developed 30 of these games so far, but only 13 have been published in the market. The second are the educational games. These are AR/VR based games that are highly focused on user interactions. There are 3-4 games and apps available from this category.
Lastly, there are the big projects. This year, it is ‘Chronicles of Himalaya.’ We only have this in development so we are still working to complete it.
SROTHCODE AS A COMPANY, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON GAMING INDUSTRY? HOW ARE YOU CONTRIBUTING TO THE INDUSTRY?
There are very few developers but a massive audience of players and users here in Nepal. Thus, we are relied heavily on the games developed in other countries. And sadly, the only two ways to get them are to either download them through torrent, or buy a copied version of the game from Mahaboudha.
For that, we have taken few initiatives.
The main one being ‘the Chronicles of Himalaya’. To attract more audience, we need to have a good content. It has to be original with original characters the users can relate with. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.
The next initiatives we have taken are establishing a virtual room, The Game Room. This concept is similar to the Playstore and Appstore where a user can download or purchase apps. It is being developed with the mind of making it easier for the Nepali audience as well as the developers. This will allow the users to purchase any digital products within their own platform, with Nepalese currency, within the existing technology. The current scenario for developers is that they are relied on the advertisements in Playstore or Appstore to get incentives. This restricts the developer to get the incentives he deserves. With the implementation of The Game Room we focus on the developers accordingly without having to depend on ads. We hope this will motivate developers to create more products so we can actually have a standing in the global industry.
Lastly, we are working on innovative interaction platforms. The AR/VR apps and games fall in this. We are trying to develop interactive advertisements. One thing that has not changed since the 90s and is still around is banner ads. They are something users have to deal with and aren’t avoidable. We came up with the idea; what if we replace banner ads with interactive ads? If it is something users can interact with without having to go through the ads, the user’s behavior might change. We are still experimenting the end result of this initiative.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE SROTHCODE IN THE FUTURE?
At the moment we are solely focusing on ‘The Chronicles of Himalaya’. However, in the coming future we want to be established as a franchise. We want to move ahead as well, be renounced from the tag of being a game developing company, and focus on coming up with very good contents.
Crowd Funding Project is also something we are planning for the future. It is common in other countries but it isn’t widely known in Nepal. With this, we plan to provide funding to those who have a good idea but aren’t able to materialize it due to the budget constraints. We want those with creativity to have a platform to showcase their work. We are still researching on it and the surveys have shown positive reactions, but results in survey don’t actually determine the final result.
We are also looking forward to fully integrating the Game Room. In the future we plan to be able to license the games officially and make it available for the users much more easily.
Interviewed by Baibhav Shrestha | Photographed by Gaurav Xhompate Sunuwar