Winner “Upcoming Game Of The Year” at the NASSCOM Game Developer’s Conference, India and Finalist “Indie Prize Showcase” at the Casual Connect San Francisco 2015, Dastan Game’s “The Light Inside Us” has received much appreciation in the gaming industry. According to Pocket Gamer, “The Light Inside Us combines the quick-thinking of tower defense, the planning and timing of a fast-paced strategy games, and the satisfaction of shoot ’em ups.”
Currently, Dastan Games is making us proud by representing India at the Casual Connect Singapore 2016 and Gaming Central have had the privilege to interview these young Indie Game Developers on their super-successful game “The Light Inside Us” and what is the secret to their achievements.
Gaming Central: Tell us a bit about your game, The Light Inside Us.
Dastan Games: The Light Inside Us is a tactical shooter with an incredible twist. You shoot rays of destructive light with parts of your body and gain them back as you kill the enemies. Wasteful shots are therefore not easily forgiven. The game is set in an abstract alien world where “the children of light” unite to form the “Light Warrior” to rescue their kidnapped mother.
GC: SuperHot and The Light Inside Us have similar elements. Was this intentional or were you pleasantly surprised?
DG: This wasn’t intentional at all! We came across SuperHot very late (Shame on us!) and the similarities are purely co-incidental. We were however influenced by games like Rymdkapsel and Transistor, the latter being one of our favorite games of all time!
GC: How did you come up with the concept of The Light Inside Us?
DG: This was a long, arduous journey which began with our idea of making an RTS game based on the Indian epic Mahabharata (An idea which has probably come to every single Indian game developer in history). After 2-3 months of unsuccessfully trying different variations of the RTS genre for mobile, we decided to strip down the game to the bare minimum. We zeroed in on the idea of fighting hordes of enemies (Kuaravas!) by one single super-warrior (Arjuna!). We were still giving it the Mahabharath theme and were looking for help with improving the art for the game.
We were unsuccessful in finding someone good to work with, and were also beginning to realize how the Mahabharath theme was keeping us from doing something original with the game. So we stripped the art as well, and turned it into an abstract shooter, where the weapons, enemies and the ‘super-warrior'(we never stopped calling it that) were all abstract glowing shapes. This slowly led us to theme the game around light and call it The Light Inside Us. The rest of the game mechanics followed with experimentation and regular feedback from friends and others in the gaming community in Bangalore.
GC: What challenges did you face while creating this game and how did you overcome them?
DG: Ah, where do we begin! Our first and biggest challenge was to settle on the core idea of the game, after unsuccessful attempts at making an RTS, we only came across something good, by repeatedly building things and breaking them apart after realizing they were no good. We then struggled with making the game look decent, an abstract theme and inspirations from other games were very helpful here. We also needed a lot of help with the core mechanics and controls in the game.
In Bangalore there’s a very active community for gamers and game developers with meetups happening every month. We would show up in these meetups and pester people to try our game out and get their feedback. This was easily the thing that kept us from messing up the game completely. We got tons of help and support from the wonderful people at these meetups and we can’t thank them enough.
Finally the last and by no means least challenge was to get the game in front of people and try to make the game more visible to people who’d love to play something like this. This is a challenge that we haven’t completely overcome, but we did do a few things that has helped us. One was to take part in competitions, and to try and attend as many events as possible to show the game around like the VideoGameFest 2015, NGDC, Casual Connect etc.
GC: What is the USP of the game, The Light Inside Us?
DG: The USP of the game is its strategic depth. Unlike many shooters, The Light Inside Us, makes it easy to aim and kill enemies (by slowing down time etc). But by linking the players health and ammunition, it makes every shot matter that much more. This forces people to be more patient and come up with ways to get as many enemies as possible in every single shot.
Every other element in the game, such as reflective walls, barriers, portals, gravity wells etc are aimed at either increasing the efficiency of that one shot, or making it worse. This has helped us make 55 increasingly challenging levels, with a new element introduced every 2-3 levels, forcing people to constantly evolve their strategies to beat the game. This really was our goal with the game, to have an easily accessible game that challenges people more and more as they go deeper into it.
GC: What are your favourite games to play?
DG: Sid – I love anything with a great story. If the game uses story telling innovatively, you’ll find me on the street telling everyone about it, Her Story, Sunless Sea, The Last Of Us, The Wolf among Us, Bastion and Transistor are some of my favorite games. I also love great puzzle games, like Braid and The Witness. Though currently, the only game I play and even think about is Metal Gear Solid V
Abhineet – I tend to play hardcore action games and games with multiplayer/competitive components. Hotline miami, Towerfall Ascension,Rocket League therefore make it to the top of the list. I have a big weakness for football and so I love Fifa as well.
GC: Tell us about your development studio, Dastan Games.
DG: Sid – Dastan Games consists of me, Sid and Abhineet, my friend, from college. We both left our jobs in late 2014 and decided to do the one thing we really wanted to, make games. We looked at the mobile market and wanted to make something deeper and more engaging than the average endless tapping game. The Light Inside Us is our first attempt at such a game, and we hope to make even better games as we go forward.
GC: What inspired you to start developing games?
DG: Sid – I was originally interested in telling interactive stories and accidentally ended up in the world of games. While I was used to playing some of the well known AAA titles, the search for innovative interactive stories led me to the wonderful world of indie games. After watching documentaries, reading books and most importantly playing tons of great indie games, I decided to give it a shot myself.
Abhineet – I am a huge fan of larger than life beings and being able to do extraordinary things. This makes me a huge fan of superheroes, Bollywood and inevitably inspires me to create worlds where my imagination can come to life.
GC: What is the process or “recipe” of developing a great game?
DG: I don’t know if there’s one ‘recipe’ for a great game, and the definition of a ‘great game’ does differ from person to person. But there are certainly some common sense things that can help make a game better. One is to not make games in isolation. The more others see and play what you make, the more perspective you get on the game. Another is to watch how others play the game and learn from that rather than rely only on what they say.
GC: What kind of game would you like to develop next?
DG: We do have a couple of ideas we’re kicking around for our next game.
Sid – Personally I’d like to make something that is focused on more than just the gameplay. As in people can get something out of the game even after they’re done playing it.
Abhineet – I really want to make something funny. I want people to laugh in the middle of the action when they play our next game. I am not too sure how i will go about it but I am dabbling around with a few ideas. Hopefully , I will have a eureka moment soon.
GC: If you were to give some advice to budding developers, what would it be?
DG: Just build things! Your personality seeps into the games you make so make sure you are having fun while doing so!
Gaming Central: Thanks guys for taking the time. We’re having an absolute blast with your game.
And for our readers looking for a great smartphone game to play, then The Light Inside Us is an excellent choice. You can get from the App Store. You can also find the latest updates about them on their Facebook Page, Twitter, and on their Website.
And for more news and reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.