Zagrava Games: Setbacks are just opportunities in disguise

In Ukraine, there are numerous gaming studios that are recognized over the world. For instance, 4A Games, the mastermind behind the Metro franchise houses 80 talented designers, programmers, sound specialists, writers and artists. Most of them are at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of the gaming market in Ukraine. Not forgetting, War Spark, a small studio based in Zaporozhye created the game Siege Hero which, was the Ukrainian’s comeback to Angry Birds gaining millions of downloads and positive reviews. These are just some of the few studios that are grinding to make the best out of games. We know for sure that Ukrainians are cognizant of the gaming industry.

At this juncture, let’s focus our attention on a game studio that is part of the Game Founders program. They are called Zagrava Games, a studio that has a long history before its conception, where Roman, Mike and Tony had come a long way through a twist of fate. Starting with Roman, he was already working in a relatively small game company where it was then acquired by Oberon Media. Mike was hired then and joined the workforce. Unfortunately for Mike, he came in at such a bad time where Oberon Media decided to cease operations of all their studios and so they were all retrenched. Hope was not lost. Their passion for making games was still burning brightly as they met up after two weeks and brainstormed on what’s their next course of action. On the plus side, they managed to salvage some PCs and other equipment to get back on their feet and Zagrava Games raised out of the ashes. At the time, they had little staff, just about 6-7 of them. Tony came in when he applied for an internship with the company after graduating from Art school. Over the years, Zagrava Games progressed steadily by getting outsource jobs and now the company’s enriched with 30 staff members.

Zagrava Games had started making their own projects just over two years ago. They made a few games like Chasing Chaster and Red Panda just to name a few. The game Red Panda wasn’t doing so well because it was a very niche game as well as other issues. Tuning the setback into an opportunity, the guys at Zagrava have decided to keep up with the current trends of the gaming industry. With AR and VR being the talk of the town, they are revamping their game into a VR title dubbed Red Panda VR, which is kind of a revamped version of Red Panda. The assets of the game are based on the old one because it is more efficient that way but it will still offer something new, with plenty of hard polishing work to optimize it for VR devices.

Essentially, Red Panda VR is similar to a hidden object game where the VR environment is filled with beautiful settings of artwork. An evil character will come in and vandalizes the painting at particular points, which are hard to notice. The player takes the role of a restorer by taking out anything that is wrong overlapping the original artwork. As easy as it sounds, the immersion of the game In VR mode sways your cognitive skills a little that can be challenging, but also provide a satisfying experience due to the various types of art involved.

The time taken to construct this prototype was fairly little. It took them two weeks since it’s based on the previous game that was completed in six months. However, refinements are being done on the artworks, items, coding, voiceovers and scripts. The storyline had to be reworked as well because it wasn’t suitable with the current direction they have adjusted to. Indeed so much has changed in a short amount of time but that is no surprise to any game developer.

On how they ended up in this accelerator program, Mike had actually found out on Facebook that Game Founders was looking to get studios to be part of their program. He told the rest that this could also be their failsafe because they really do want to improve certain aspects of what their studio can achieve in the long run. It is a given that games come and go at this stage of the industry. Therefore, they would like to know more about marketing, monetization, PR, publishing approaches and get a wide vision of the entire situation of the current market.

Since they are new in Malaysia, they like to spend their leisure time sightseeing. They sure did their homework because according to them, some of the best places they have covered so far were Batu Caves and trekking at Chilling River in Kuala Kubu Baru. The iconic KLCC was one of the first places they visited. With their agenda planned out, they’re looking forward to visiting the KL Bird Park, National Museum and also the Firefly Park in Kuala Selangor.

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