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The Road to Unrest - An Interview with Arvind Yadav

by Tejas Oza on 06/19/13 04:43:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Arvind with the company logo

Let’s start with the obvious – How did you get into gaming?

I got my first computer when I was in class 8th, and my brother and I spent a lot of time playing versus mode in Virtua Fighter 2. By the time I was in class 11th, I figured I should try to make a game for my C++ class project and I've been making games ever since. I programmed a Dope Wars clone in Turbo C++ (playable only in DOS). It was a single file project with around 4000 lines of code, if I remember correctly.

Did that project go over well?

Only my teacher and my friends ever played it. They seemed to like it, I guess. Of course, that sort of a project wouldn't fly in college.

That's a pity.

It was. But whatever - I still made games; only on my own time. Kind of...

Kind of?

Well, you know - Who pays attention in class all the time?

Point taken. So, your first game was A.Typical RPG. You made that while in college, right?

Yeah, it started out on the back of one of my college notebooks - I used to plan out the game instead of taking notes in classes. The whole game is about how much I hate college and the dull, repetitive cycle of it. I picked up an SDL tutorial one day and the game evolved from there - I was lucky enough to find an artist and musician from the ModDB forums.

How long did it take you guys to finish it?

It took about a year, with Lez (*Ian Nicholls, screen name – BaronLez/ A friend Arvind made while working with Team Dystopia) providing help. For the most part of it, I was mostly working alone on the programming side; the artist would come online at odd times and upload the art onto Dropbox.

Since I was still in college at the time, I had to rush it because my finals were just around the corner and I had failed one subject twice, and the third time is the last chance you get otherwise you need to spend one more year in college, which would basically have been hell.

A.Typical was where you first conceived your alternate dialog mechanic, right?

Yes, I'm very interested in putting different spins on dialogue, and I decided to try out an idea I had been turning over in my mind for quite a while.

So, how did you release it and what difficulties did you face? Especially as an indie?

The lack of experience and knowledge was the biggest thing. Lack of polish too, which is something I struggle with to this day.

And how was Pyrodactyl conceived?

A.Typical RPG came first, actually - for most of the game's development, we called ourselves "The A.Typical Team". One day I thought that that wouldn't be very useful once the game is finished, so I thought up a bunch of names with a few friends and named it Pyrodactyl. To trademark the name, I ended up going to Gujarat where the regulations and cost were considerably more forgiving.

How would you describe your hiring methods and growth since?

I think it [Pyrodactyl] just grew naturally as my skills progressed and I had more shipped games under my belt. I just hire from either my friends, or people I meet on Tigsource, Reddit and ModDB. It's all done via email and steam/skype chats – nothing top secret about it.

Another thing is that the people I work with change from project to project. The current team is completely different from the A.Typical team, which was just 3 people.

So basically, the way I go about making games is that I just start making one. And then once it starts taking shape, I find people who are like minded and have relevant skills and make additions to my team accordingly.

I don’t think it could get any more ‘indie’ than that. After A.Typical, you began work on Will Fight for Food.

Precisely. Will Fight for Food started immediately after A.Typical RPG ended, because I had learned a lot from making that game and I really wanted to continue to improve myself. It was a pretty big leap in scope, and during the process I learned how to write 2D beat 'em ups (mostly via trial and error due to a serious lack of tutorials related to this subject on the internet), how to write/load xml files and how to use OpenGL. It was a big leap and I learned a lot while making that game.

Apart from the combat, what else did you add to the game?

I rewrote the graphics to add support for hardware acceleration, and I removed pretty much all hardcoding and read everything from XML files. There are a lot of other things, but these two stand out the most to me.

The City o Bhimra, as seen from the marketplace

 Unrest marks your third game, now. Where did the idea for this one come from?

Unrest began right after I finished Will Fight for Food, however it was vastly different from what you see now. Earlier, I had planned to keep the exact same team as Will Fight for Food, but due to certain unfortunate circumstances I wasn't able to do that. About two months before the Kickstarter, the game went through a radical redesign and toning down of scope (earlier versions involved three cities, an open world, massive combat scenarios which were just plain impossible to achieve on my lonesome).  

 Your previous two games were relatively ambiguous in theme. Why chose to do something with a local bent this time around? Has it been difficult to convey your vision to your team?

I had always wanted to make a game like Unrest, however I was waiting for the time when I had learned enough and was confident that I would be able to pull this off. The team has really gone the extra mile to learn about the setting they are working with, and it has not been difficult to convey my vision so far.

What are the major gameplay changes you’ve made from Will Fight for Food?

We're still at very early stages, but combat is a major area of change. Everything else is more refined and polished, but it is hard to say when Unrest is still in pre alpha. We’ll definitely release an update along these lines as soon as we’ve locked everything down.

When did you decide to go to Kickstarter?

The main reason behind that was that we needed money for art assets and music. These things, especially the former, cost a lot of money and it isn't possible for you to change them late in development - but then, because of the art style, a lot of people are turned off by your game and they don't buy it - which means you don't have money for better art for your next game, and this becomes a vicious cycle.

 The reception so far has exceeded your expectations, how has this affected your development process?

Initially, we had a much more modest scope and art budget in mind, but with the support we currently have, the game is much better looking and we plan to add a lot more quest content to it. A lot of our earlier plans have been revised, and will be revised again once the Kickstarter ends and the dust has settled.

I’m seeing an evolutionary trend to your games. Each one improves upon the last. I know it’s far too early, but do you plan continue making RPG’s after Unrest?

I probably will. It’s honestly too early to say. But yeah, I don't plan on stopping making games any time soon.

In closing, what are the major challenges you see yourself and other Indies from the subcontinent facing in the years to come?

I'm not someone who has solved all the problems; but, I think visibility in the market and media is probably the biggest obstacle that we face. Other than that, I don't think the difficulties we face are typical to us. All indies deal with these things and more.


A map of Bhimra - the city within which Unrest takes place

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