Friday, September 17, 2010

Respect or Fear?

Haven't you heard a lot about the term, "Leadership"? Ever wondered the true meaning of it? Is it the authority over your team or is it the way you bring your team together?

For me, it's the latter. And that is irrespective of whether I'm the leader or part of of the team. A tree will bear sweet fruits only if the roots, branches and leaves are intact and help each other out in the process. If the root tries to empower the process, the leaves are going to fall away sooner or later, and the branches will follow suit. With just a trunk, no tree can succeed in bearing fruits.

And yet I've seen few leaders trying to be authoritative more than necessary just to show who's the boss or to just satisfy their stupid ego. Teams are held together by means of fear and threats. How is that team likely to succeed down the lane? It won't! It will fall apart in some time. If only the leaders realized that.

If you consider our freedom movements, the leader's role is to motivate, to encourage and upbring the team. Imposing a leader's vision by such a medium is well received. Ruling by fear will only discourage and frustrate the team. And yet, leaders tend to misuse their powers.

Too many restrictions will block creativity. It affects the mere thought process. Just working long hours is not going to help a project or product.

When I had a team, I had only one thing to tell them: "This job has to be done by this time, as by your estimate. You finish it in an hour or you take the whole time, is not my concern at all. As far as the deadline is met and the quality is good, I'm happy."

And when I was part of a team, I did the same. This was an incident that happened in one of the previous companies I worked with. I had given them an estimate of when the project would be done, which was accepted. One day, I wasn't in the mood to work . So I was just browsing. My manager sorta complained to my boss about it. However, my boss, a sensible man, responded back to him saying, "Your complaint will be taken into account if she doesn't meet her deadline. You did your job. Let's see if she does hers. We should trust our employees :)"  and sent a copy to my email too.

Of course, I finished it 2 days before the deadline :)

After this event, my boss grew more confident about my performance and my respect for him doubled. Even my manager now had complete faith in me. Isn't that an ideal situation? The boss could now trust me with another project, I would take it upon myself to get that done for him and the manager knew I would finish it!

Sadly, many others don't think the way my boss did! With his reaction, he earned respect from both me and the manager.

Leaders and to-be-leaders, remember one thing: A successful leader is defined by the amount of respect he/she gets and not by how much a team fears them. Fear won't last long, respect stays for ever :)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My journey - Part 4 - The first job!

After the depressing interviews, I finally had something to do. It wasn’t an actual job, but well…. I was the ‘wedding planner’ for my sister.  Most responsibilities were on my head considering the fact that I was “free”, if you know what I mean.

I also decided that since this was going to be a huge event for us, I should give it my best shot. And you know what, although all the running around was tiresome, I was more than happy to give my sister, Priya, a marriage, free of any stress (for her) and screw ups! I was always the organized kind, and sorta like being like that; so I managed everything from the food menu, the saree/dress pickups to anything as small as safety pins. I can say I did well, coz my parents had a hard time running around for my marriage…hehe... (I did as much as I could though!)

So after my successful stint as a wedding planner, I still didn’t have a real job.  (I’ve no idea why I didn’t think of being a professional wedding planner or get into event management…anyways…) I thought I would take up a short-term course on .NET and I did. It was a 3 months course and it did pay off! Soon after its completion, I got a call from a friend, Praveen who informed me about an opening at Cyberhills, a Korean gaming company based in Govandi, Mumbai. They were looking out for Web developers. I went for the interview. The office premise as such was one of the 3BHK flats in a grand towered building. However, I was never the one to judge it by its premises. After the brief interview, I was hired! Yay!!!

I started work and on the first day, I was given some web layouts with the liberty to change anything, the colors or designs as per my need as they knew I was good at judging art. (I had even showed them few things I drew at the time of the interview…umm…yes, I can do a decent job at that :D) Soon it was time for tea break. We were just a bunch of 8 people if I recall correctly.  On alternate basis, one person prepared the tea in the kitchen for the rest of us. I used to get away with the excuse on not knowing how to prepare tea and then one fine day my friend Lux aka Lakshmi taught me! :P Our tea breaks lasted for about half an hour and then we resumed work.

For lunch, it was necessary that we all gathered at the hall, which also acted as our conference room and reception. It was a great place to interact and sometimes trigger debates on professionally unrelated stuff, usually God! If there are no topics for debate, then we used to hang out at the garden downstairs.

After a grand 1 hour lunch, we went back to our desks and double clicked on the NFS icon and Vrooom!! A LAN game! Yeah baby!  Our game sessions lasted for about half an hour or 1 depending on the actual work we had at hand.

At around 4.30pm, we had our second tea break. Sometimes we craved for good ol’ maggi noodles instead of just biscuits. It sure was a great life. We were all given great workstations, headphones, speakers and webcam as well J

Besides the entertaining office lifestyle, my work also took an interesting turn. With a week of my joining, there was an urgent requirement for a J2ME programmer.  Instead of hunting for a new programmer, which was going to cost them time, they asked me and I said yes.  For a month or so, I was working on the game called “Patbingsu”. Patbingsu is actually a popular dessert in Korea and the game was for the Korean market. The game itself was on somewhat similar lines to ‘Lemonade Tycoon’ and also featured few minigames. It was a sweet colorful project.  When the project was at its final stages, another requirement opened up!

My boss wanted to create a mobile RPG similar to Neverwinter Nights. And they were looking out for a game designer/story writer. He had talked to my friend Praveen who besides being the lead developer was also the manager. Praveen suggested that they should try me out first as he knew I used to write fanfictions and was a RPG fan.

Soon enough, Patbingsu was taken care of by a lead programmer from Korea and I was supposed to come up with a storyline and had to follow the D&D manuals. I almost cried when I found the manuals in my hand.  Tears of joy! J

I gave birth to my very first official game story and it was sent to the Korean office for approval. And the green signal was given! Ta-da, I became a game designer! ;) The next two months I was literally living with the D&D manuals and the word document. I was thoroughly enjoying myself! However, it didn’t last for long… 

to be contd…


You can find the whole series here: My journey

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Awaiting recognition...

India is very rich in talent. Unfortunately most of these talents go unnoticed or is hardly utilized. This happens throughout the country irrespective of the field of work. And our very own gaming industry is not an exception.

How many game designers / artists / programmers / producers / testers do you know outside your company? . And if you know them, how did you find out about them?
1. Ex-colleagues / friends: Obvious?
2. LinkedIn: Duh!
3. Gaming / Animation Summits: Great!
4. Media / Online magazines: Great!
5. Others: By now you should be able to identify the category.

I do know a lot of talents thanks to LinkedIn; however I'm definitely not aware of the content they worked for. So what's the solution? Add your projects to your profile? Well, definitely a good thing to do, but I'm here to talk about recognition by others. 

Appreciation is a huge form of encouragement and I have repeated and will go on to repeat this statement because it is an universal truth.

How does our industry cope up with this recognition. We pretty much know all the founders of different gaming companies and why not, they are the reason we are here, trying to live our dream. But how many of us know the people behind the games? The ones who stay up late nights, stay back in office, work almost all weekends to meet the deadline, to ensure that the game is great!

The answer: Very few

Nowadays a lot of startup gaming companies are sprouting. Some of the founders have much lesser experience than some of the industry talents I know. And yet the founders are recognized and talked about in summits and media. 

Please do not get me wrong. It would be a shame if they are not recognized for their efforts. It's not a child's play to put up a company together, come up with a successful game with minimal resources. It is a well deserved acknowledgement. Adding to that, I really hope more such companies come up and succeed as this is the only way this industry will grow. It will widen giving rise to new talents.

However, not everyone can or is interested in starting up their own firm. They like what they are doing and would want to continue. But their efforts go unnoticed. They are hardly acknowledged by the industry. 

Even the ones who play a very critical role, the ones who have been a company's backbone for a longtime, the ones who delivered chain of successful games for the company. What about them? Why are they not recognized by the people they work for, the industry, by the media?

The failure of recognition might motivate them to move on to some other company and you will lose your talent. And if this some other company also fails to motivate the talent, he/she will move out of the industry. Remember the talented ones are not in need of the industry. The industry needs them!

You might be a great entrepreneur with the best qualities possible. However you need a pool of talent to attain success. No one wants to keep their firm small. Bigger profits obviously calls for an empire expansion. If you have the right employees, you are one step closer. Keep them happy, recognize their efforts, encourage them and they will bring success to you.

Start from within and then explore!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Women on Top and Loving it - DNA Bangalore Article

Women on Top and Loving it, DNA Bangalore, Apr 24th 2010. By NT Balanarayan

Click here to view the original article.

Click on Page no 10 and then click on the heading on the right panel to view it properly :)

Reposting the article, colored coded my quotes :)
Women on top and loving it
Women working in top tech jobs in India think it's a level playfield, provided you have the right attitude, says NT Balanarayan

The US may be the leader in technology development, but fewer than 24% of the top tech jobs in the US are held by women, according to surveys. Many women are unhappy with the workplace glass ceiling, which means they get overlooked for the top job despite being well-qualified. The percentage of women in top tech jobs may not be high in India, but they certainly make it count and make their presence felt.

Anuradha, senior vice-president (engineering) at Subex, Bangalore, has over two decades of experience in the telecom field. If you live up to the role expectations, and have the right attitude and balanced approach towards work and colleagues, there is no differentiation, she says. "On the work-front, I have never faced such challenges. Even while studying, there were no differentiations whether it came to scoring marks or when I needed to demonstrate my mettle. The challenges are mostly in maintaining a balance with your personal life if you have a family — be it the role of spouse or mother. For that, developing a congenial support system is very critical," she adds.

Maintaining balance is an issue for Priya Venkateshan, a Bangalorean who is a pursuing her MS (computer science) and is involved in research on machine learning at University of California, Irvine. "Now, being in the tech field is probably easier in India. But it takes a lot to get to the top and you don't have many role models," she says.
Striking a work-life balance is the biggest stumbling block. "If your workplace understands that you have a life, then great! But if they don't, then you'll need to go the extra mile. At my workplace, it's more chilled out to be in an R&D job than in a development job. The farther you get from the market, lesser the stress," she adds.

Divisha Chandna, senior product manager (widgets), Opera Software, says not all women think gender is an issue while selecting a job. "I am in a product management role. I work with the sales, marketing, engineering and management teams and enjoy the interactions. As a rule, it's important to pick a role based on interest rather than gender," she says.
"I have been working in the IT industry in various roles for the past seven years. I joined Opera right after college, so most of my learning has been on the job. Most of my colleagues and managers were quite young too, and more passionate than experienced. This meant there was little status quo or rules that I had to deal with. The only thing that mattered is interest and contribution to the role. It's a good industry for women to be in and I hope to continue to be a part of it. There is a lot of room for growth, and gender really is a non-issue, but with one exception. When I joined the software sales team for a year, I did find that being woman was a challenge. For a while, I enjoyed the travel and the excitement of meeting new customers on a daily basis, but I could not see myself living out of a suitcase for too long. I was also the only female sales employee in a team of 48. It is always better when there is a little more diversity in a team," adds Divisha.

But not all women have pleasant experiences at the workplace. Purnima Iyer, game developer at Indiagames, describes an unpleasant encounter she had when while on the job hunt after college. "I got a job interview with a mobile company and I had a terrible experience. The interviewer just wouldn't believe I actually 'coded' in my final-year project. He said we might have bought the project. I explained my role, but he suggested the two guys in the team did the coding. Maintaining my temper, I asked him, 'Then how did I clear your technical round? I had to write code samples and answer the other questions too.' To which he said that I might have cheated. He said he'd ask me a technical question. He pointed to a random location on the screen of a mobile device and asked me to tell its coordinates! My answer: I snatched my resume from his hand, took my file and walked out of the room."

Purnima adds that there are fewer women in certain fields of technology because of pressure from parents. "My parents forced me to shift to a software company after I started working in a game development company because they couldn't picture a woman in this field. It took a while for me to convince them that game design is a good profession," she says.

So how many women does she work with? "Not many. Most women here work in marketing, sales, HR. From what I've seen, there are very few women who are really passionate about gaming. Most people see it as just another job," she says.

"I used to play this Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game called Ragnarok and most people there thought I was a cross-dresser and just couldn't believe girls are into gaming. I met other girls playing the game, but yes, we were a small group in comparison to the number of men," she adds.

However, the fact is my parents forced me to shift to a software firm not because they couldn't picture a woman in this field. It was because, they weren't aware that gaming was a professional field. And nowadays even youngsters have to be made aware of the career opportunities in gaming. So our traditional parents' awareness about the industry cannot be questioned :)

Thanks to DNA Bangalore's Gaming and Technology Reporter: NT Balanarayan for this article. He's also the man behind GameBashing, and has been kind enough to add this blog to the list of Indian Gaming Blogs :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ernest Adams on his Game Design Workshop Tour in India

Ernest Adams has finally compiled the details of his mega Game Design Tour in India.
A quote where I'm mentioned is below. I'm completely overwhelmed!

Check out the complete article here: Great Indian Game Design Workshop Tour. It's thoroughly enjoyable! :)

Friday, March 19: Indiagames Workshop
Friday was my hastily-arranged workshop at Indiagames. I didn't go to their offices because they didn't have a suitable space, but they had managed to rent classrooms at a nearby training center. It was a pretty big crowd, about 40 people, and warm but tolerable. Even Vishal Gondal and his senior executives participated. One of the attendees was Purnima Iyer, who had paid her own way to the FICCI Frames workshop the previous day but enjoyed it sufficiently to attend a second time. I had already met her in November, when she gave a talk at the NASSCOM conference. Purnima has her own blog about game design in India, and is beginning to make a name for herself.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BioShock 3D Mobile Review!

After a long wait, the review for the BioShock 3D Mobile is finally here. Click on the link below :)
The Verdict

8/10 and that too the game was played on the LG 9900, which was a low end device for us! :D

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Game Design Workshop with Ernest Adams

The first ever in India! 

Also seems as if God was extra happy with my prayers (read irritated with my constant whining) and I got the opportunity to take part in the workshop twice. Details below!

Part 1 - 18th March 2010, Hotel Renaissance, Powai, 

FICCI Frames 2010 had organized the first ever 'Game Design Workshop with Ernest Adams' in India. The event started at around10A.M and ended at 05.30 P.M. 

After enquiring, my friend and colleague, Manish and I headed to the Velvette Lounge at about 9.45 A.M. Ernest Adams, who was already there greeted us with a pleasant smile and after the exchange of greetings, we took our seats. It was great to see him again. I had met rather seen him before at the NASSCOM Gaming Summit (Hyderabad, India) conference, but then there were too many people around him that I didn't get my chance :) However, thanks to Facebook, we were connected. And this time, I knew it was a smaller group and it would be easy to talk and listen to him more clearly.

About a good 10 to15 guys were already present. While we waited for the rest of the guys to join, Ernest showed us the games he worked on and briefed us about it. He also teaches at various universities around the globe. One should take a look at that list... It's humongous! You can see the list here.

Soon enough the rest of the guys, and finally another girl (yay!), walked in and the workshop on Fundamental Principles of Game Design began. For those curious minds, visit this link

The 1 hour long presentation was thoroughly enjoyable. Ernest can teach you in the easiest form and you can't help but enjoy. I'm pretty sure he can make rocket science look like child's play. And he looks so adorable!! Oh and you should also read his top hat story ;)

Soon after the presentation got over, we had a 15 min break. I sipped on the vanilla milkshake grabbed a choco-chip muffin and had a small chat with Ernest. I was telling him that this is the first time I was a part of a design session and also the first time I'm seeing so many game designers gathered at a place. (The conference was too crowded, so not counting that). Ernest agreed and commented that saving few exceptional game design ideas, the rest get better when shared. More than the ideas, it's the process that is shared and helps everyone.

So true! And without taking too much of his time, I returned to my seat munching on the muffin.. It really was yummy!

Once, everyone got back to their seats, Ernest took a head count and said there were gonna be 7 teams and asked us to count from 1-7, repeat and remember our numbers. And soon enough we were sitting with our 'team members'.

Besides me, my team had Jitesh (Lead Game Designer, Ubisoft), Bhavin (Game Designer, Ubisoft), Niroop (Requirement Analyst, 99games) and Arpita (a second year IIITM student).

See image (LtoR: Bhavin, Niroop, Jitesh, Me, Arpita)

At this point, Ernest asked us to decide our roles. But, we actually waited for the game idea to be given before we decided the roles.

And then the "dream" was given to us: '... to be a TV reporter in a war.'

While handing out the sealed ideas,  Ernest emphasized on the fact that we were there that day to fulfil the dream of one player and we just had to satisfy one such player's needs!

Since Jitesh and I were both lead designers by profession, we both shared the responsibilities of being the lead as well as the user interface designer for the team. Bhavin was our level designer, Niroop, our mechanics designer and Arpita, the youngest of the lot, and probably the only one who could draw decently was our art director.

And I must say, it was one creative bunch. Everyone was rich on inputs and were gracefully taking any rejection of ideas, which ofcourse was justified. I was amazed at our team work, for this was the first time we were actually interacting with each other! It sure was fun!

While few others were running out of time, we were surprised to have finished the whole thing much earlier... In fact I was worried that we definitely missed out something! But that wasn't the case. The rest of the time we invested in cross-checking and collaborating things together.

We took our time for lunch and I manged to skip enough of the actual food so as to load myself with a lot of blackcurrant ice cream!

Post lunch, we started with our individual work and then the collaboration.
Ernest did a lot of check-ins with all the teams to make sure they are doing things correctly. And our team had two girls, which he said was unfair for the rest as women tend to strike a balance! :D
He is one of those men who encourages women to set foot into the gaming industry! :) :) :)

Finally, it was time for the presentations to roll and Jitesh, representing our team was the first to go. And must say, he did a good job! We ran out of time before he could tell our rather peculiar and controversial storyline, and I'm NOT gonna reveal it here! ;)

Ernest Adams commented that we did complete justice to the dream and that he was able to visualize our gameplay! He also said that it was one of the most well thought-out game! Yay!!

And then the remaining presentations followed. Interesting HUD designs and ideas came out. It was amazing to listen to so many ideas in a day!

Also there was a killer USP in one of the games!

"You can also talk to women!" hehe!

I really owe it to Ernest Adams and FICCI!
Three cheers to them!!

I guess everyone went home happy that day, I'm sure I did! Also I had a reason to be double happy! Read Part 2! :D

Part 2 - 19th March 2010, Trinity House, Kurla

So, well... apparently our (Indiagames') CEO, Vishal Gondal and Ernest Adams who met at the FICCI panel on 17th march, struck a deal of conducting the game design workshop exclusively for Indiagames employees. And yours truly gets her second chance! Yippeee!

So the next day my husband, Arjun Nair (Producer @ Indiagames) and I left early for the workshop along with my collegaues/friends Somesh and Vishwanathan, both QA leads. And after losing our way a lot of times, we reached the venue... 

Ernest was already there (love his punctuality), following mutual greetings, I went to the room and soon enough the presentation started. It was fun to listen to him again. It was like a revision :D

The entire schedule was similar to that of the FICCI workshop, and this time the difference was the team (once again decided randomly, however Ernest tried to sort the designers and artists separately so that a team doesn't have more than one) consisted of familiar faces. 

Our team had to fulfill the player's "dream" of designing gardens. During lunch break, while we were discussing the "dream" topics with other teams, almost everyone commented that our team got one of the easiest as we could rip off "Farmville". Well, I wasn't there for that! And instead of  trying to explain, I just nodded my head and moved on. 

The presentation started. We were the second to go (that's coz I had trouble getting to move the table and get out; by then, the first presentation had started!)

And I gave the presentation (could've have presented better, but it wasn't that bad) and yes, my game was not 'Farmville'! :D
After my presentation, and after a clarification on one of the features, Ernest said that the game was properly fleshed out, had a great upgrade path and... and... yes....well thought-out! (Two in a row! Yay!!) 
I love details :D

After an assortment of ideas sprouting out from bosses and other colleagues, the enjoyable day came to an end after a brief note from Ernest. A bad headache didn't give me much time to hang around, and we (Arjun and I)  left after a hurried good-bye.

All I can say is we should have more such sessions, especially the ones like the FICCI where people of similar interest from different companies come together, know each other and work together on a single goal which helps to create a better tomorrow for the gaming industry here.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is a GDD?

That was the question I asked my fellow colleagues. It was for the NASSCOM Gaming Summit presentation. I wanted to tell people about the current ignorance and the actual importance of the Game Design field here in India.

This video of course was partly true and partly fake as few guys wanted to give a funny answer. But the truth is most people have no clue what it is?
Here my colleague Pradip, a tech analyst went around asking the question for me.
The results are hilarious!

The video quality is not that great. And the audio sync maybe slightly off. The embed is not all that accurate.
We shot with Pradip's N73 phone. It was a momentary and my last moment decision to get this video done. I thought it would be fun and easy to break the ice with the audience :)

Some of the conversations are in Hindi. For those who want a translation, look below the video embed :)
Please bear with the buffering speed. May vary depending on any factor in the universe :D

(anything in square brackets, is my take on the replies)

Q. What is a GDD?
Guy1 (Programmer): GDD is a…*cleans throat* …GDD…Documentation something… documentation!
Guy 2 (Senior Game Designer): *my sparkling whites*
Guy 3 (Producer): Good Question!
Guy 4 (Tech Analyst): First, you tell me what a GDD is! *Gotcha!*
Guy 5(Lead Animator): Have to ask Purnima! I’ve heard about it! It’s something BIG! [Oh yes, its Big!]
Guy 6(Producer): GDD is a document that sometimes gets done after the game is developed! *Hahahha*
Girl 1(Asst. HR Manager): GDD? Game Design Document, right? *not sure*
Guy 4 (Again): Game Developer of Disco? Game Developer of Dance? What is it? What does GDD mean??
Girl 2 (Asst. Acct Manager - Publishing): GDD? *never heard of that term ever in my life!* [I like her reaction!]
Guy 7 (Studio Head): There is a large rotating dial with a depiction of Shiva about it! *this is more interesting, sorry I didn’t hear u!* [I wonder which game it is...]
Guy 4(Again?): *thinking…* *hints?*
Guy 8 (Programmer): Game Design Document *yay I got it right!* (Have you ever read a single GDD?) *LOL* No!!
Guy 9 (Studio Manager): Well…a GDD is what a game can be!  It’s not what a game will turn out to be, but it’s what a game can be! *Honest!*
Guy 4 (OMG!): Game Disco Developer? Game Developer Disco? Game Dance? *oh that’s only GD!* Game Dance Dance?
Guy 10 (QA Lead): Description of game which actually somehow doesn’t get implemented due to technical reasons and time du…. time constraints! [boy, u should be into management…so much diplomacy, yet the truth!]
Guy 11(Engine Lead): *Serious* Why? *Can anyone help me out here?* [he doesn’t like getting distrurbed during his tower defense or farm games]
Guy 4(It’s him again!): *thinking man… still thinking… it helps!* [yup! Go on]
Guy 12(Senior Game Designer): *ya right!* *help me out here!* What is his problem with life?
Guy 13 (Senior Programmer): I mean that’s the only thing that programmers hate! *true confession*
Guy 14 (Graphic Artist): (What is a GDD?) *err……* (GDD means what?) *still err…* (Gee Dee Dee!) *errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… I gonna get into trouble for this??*
Guy 4 (Enough already!): Too much options I’ve given you! You can take any of that!
Guy 15 (Senior Graphic Artist): They never follow except the producer! Because the producer truly believes that a game design document is really important for every … *nod*  [you've to complete the sentence! :P]
Guy 16 (Senior Programmer): I hate games! [Ooo boy, so much frustration but with a cheerful face..lolz]
Girl 3(Asst. HR Manager): *heeeeee heeeee heeeeeeeeeee* *trring trring*
Guy 4(Last time we hope!): Thank you, thank you guys! Meet you again! [AGAIN?? Noooo!!]

Hope you all enjoyed it!
Still no idea what a GDD is? Try searching the term "Game Design Document" on Google. Don't know how to use Google? You don't need to know what a GDD is! :D

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BioShock 3D (PC vs Mobile)

So I came up with few screenshots that compare the PC/Console version of the critically acclaimed game - BioShock to the 3D mobile version.
Those who are having plugin issues can follow this link:

Before you get all judgemental, here's more technical details that compares the versions.
(Thanks to hubby- Arjun Nair, also Producer of BioShock 3D Mobile)

Know more about the mobile version of BioShock here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NASSCOM Gaming Summit 2009 & 24fps Award

Should have posted earlier... but then I got all busy with my marriage preparations and then besides facebook, I forgot to update it anywhere else...So here it goes....better late than never :)


November 7th 2009 saw the first ever 'full fledged' Indian gaming summit that took place in Hyderabad.

It was inaugurated by Ernest Adams of the 'Designer's Notebook' fame. An industry veteran of over 20+ years of experience in Game Design, Ernest Adams, spoke about 'The Promise of India: Ancient Culture, Modern Game Design.'

I was honored to be one of the speakers at this summit.
Here's a small article on my session:
Writing a Game Design Document - What the books don't teach you!

My husband (Arjun Nair) along with another colleague - Vishwas Kasat, presented a session on 'Bringing a killer console game to mobile which spoke about bringing the console game 'BioShock' to the mobile (3D and 2D).
There were a lot of informative sessions that took place. All articles can be found here.

For the first time, people like us had the opportunity to interact with others in the Indian gaming industry.Otherwise GDC and other gaming summits abroad are usually attended by the CEOs or senior management staff and hence our chance to mingle and interact with others is very rare. So the NASSCOM gaming summit came as a saviour. I hope more and more local summits like this happens and enables people working in the industry to get to know each other and share knowledge!


Also around the same time, i.e. on 6th November 2009, we won the Best Game Design award at the 24fps Animation Awards organized by MAAC for Movin' Maze 3D - iPhone. We shared the award with Ghajini, the game.

Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, I wasn't informed that we won the award. So, at the last moment, another studio head, Shaina Rajan went ahead and collected the award on my/our dept's behalf.

How I wish I was there to collect the award! *sigh* 

Anyways cheers! :D
The complete list of winners are here
(Indiagames is misspelled as Indian games)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BioShock 3D Mobile Released!

This long awaited game is now available for the Verizon mobile devices.
Release Date: 9th Feb 2010
Click here to see it in the Verizon store.

BioShock 2D Mobile also released for the Verizon mobile devices.
Release Date: 5th Jan 2010
Click here to see it in the Verizon store.
Also, click here for the 2D mobile game review. It got a 7/10.

The 3D review is yet to come as it just got released.
Edit: It's now released. Click here.

I've been the lead designer for both the 2D and 3D mobile versions, however have been very closely associated with the 3D one as I belong to the 3D studio.

The 3D game has closely followed its console version and tried to do justice to it.

BioShock 3D ran into its alpha stages during recession time and I ended up losing my team members... This meant that the whole design was now on my heads... I literally had to read thru my team's work and redo the designs...

I also saw that a lot of similarities, pop ups, help messages, simple things as such was not implemented. I decided that we should do it. Although I was overloaded with the whole design (plus time was running short), I managed to squeeze these little things inside to get the whole feel!

The redesigning of levels took a toll on me, but I did take 3 ppl's job and still delivered it on time...
This game has given the whole team a lot of learning experience and it has been one of the most tiring yet pleasurable project!

I hope people like the game. We all did and we are honest! :)

Reblogged in Confessions of a Confused Freak.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My journey - Part 3 - From the first disaster to the next

After a successful completion of a mobile chat application program, which our team lovingly called as ‘Me2U’, and with a first class in the final year, I thought It would be easy to get a good job. But fate willed otherwise!

I was enrolled for the aptitude test for Patni, one of the reputed software firms. When I arrived at the mentioned venue on the said date, I saw about hundreds and thousands of jobless people. Thankyou! That was very encouraging! Bah.

Mustering up some confidence from what was left I entered the building. Soon there was a pre-placement talk; and all candidates were sent to different rooms as per their enrollment numbers.
A bell rang and the test papers were distributed. Although I do not recall the actual question, the first one that caught my attention was on similar lines to this:

Directions(Q. 6-10): Below is given a passage followed by several possible inference which can be drawn from the facts stated in the passage. You have to examine each inference separately in the context of the passage and decide upon its degree of truth or falsity.

Mark answer 1): if the inference is “definitely true”, i.e. it properly follows from the statement of facts given.
Mark answer 2): if the inference is “probably true” though not “definitely true.” in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer 3): if the data are inadequate, i.e. from the facts given you cannot say whether the inference is likely to be true or false.
Mark answer 4): if the inference is “probably false” though not “definitely false” in the light of the facts given.
Mark answer 5): if the inference is “definitely false”, i.e. it cannot possibly be drawn from the facts given or it contradicts the given facts.

Passage: Efficiency of capital has long been an area of neglect and remains so. This aspect is underscored in the eleventh plan draft, ironically in its demand for the rate of investment being raised to 35.1% of GDP from 29.1% in 2004-2005. The irony lies in the fact that the planning commission has consistently relied on the Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) as tool of expediency rather than one designed to promote efficiency. Yet, the ratio conceptually seeks to get the most out of the capital stock that is existing and is being added. The ratio now is 3.7, i.e. the capital needed for an output of 3.7 times. If the effective ratio is brought down during 2007-2012, then it would be possible to achieve a GDP growth value of 8.9% over the period with a lesser level of investment than 35.1%. Nobody doubts that capital formation is critical to a higher rate of growth in GDP, but efficiency lies not so much on the capital stock as its utilization.

6. The present rate of investment is around 30% of GDP.
7. Higher the capital output ratio, higher is growth of GDP.
8. When the rate of investment increases the capital output ratio also increases.
9. Efficiency of capital largely depends upon capital stock.
10. The issue of efficiency of capital is now assuming adequate importance from the Government of India.

WTF! How does THAT test my programming efficiency??? (Maybe when my heartbeat rate was lower, this would’ve made sense… but it didn’t then! i get lost here even now!)

However, when I turned the sheets, I was a little relieved. There was a verbal section, analytical section and quanta section.The verbal section was alright. The analytical section was fun but time consuming and by the time I hit maths, it was time up!

Hey! I had no clue how to multiply 1553283 with 343434 any faster than the traditional method since I was not allowed a calculator! And why not!! What’s with the no calculator allowed crap!! Come on, use the technology to advance!!!

I really don’t understand why the MBA kinda entrance tests are made mandatory for software programmers. Maybe I’m the only one seeing it as a problem. I was least prepared for this. Might as well have gone for some MBA entrance test coaching classes!

Putting on a face of rejection, I walked away from there. Ya, duh! Obviously I wasn’t selected!

I had some kind of personal hatred towards these kind of aptitude tests which also meant all the mighty software companies were ruled out for me!

Soon I got a job interview with a mobile company which I would not like to name here. I had a terrible experience there. The interviewer was a sexist! 

He just wouldn’t believe that I had actually coded in my final year project. He went on to say that we might have bought the project and stuck our names to it! With a calm attitude, I argued with him, made him understand my part of the code, the architecture, how we preferred using canvas over forms to give a better feel etc, but no!

He then said that the other two guys in my team would’ve done the coding and I pretty much did nothing. My frustration meter was begin to move to the higher side. Somehow maintaining my temper, I asked him, “Then how did I clear your technical round? I had to write code samples and answer the other questions too. So passing by fluke is out of question. Don’t you think?” For which he said that I might have cheated by trying to lure the supervisor! GRRRRR! 

Then he said he will ask me a technical question. I asked him to go ahead.

Can you believe what he asked me? He pointed to a random location on the screen of a mobile device and asked me to tell its coordinates!
My answer: I snatched my resume from his hand, took my file, gave him an evil glance and walked out of the room.

I might’ve totally done it differently today; probably even smashed his face! xD
After these disasters, life took a different turn…

to be contd…


You can find the whole series here: My journey