Global Game Exhibition (G-Star) 2017 – Busan, South Korea (Philippine Delegates)

14 12 2017

      Last July 26, 2017, we received an email from the Animation Council of the Philippines, that Ms. Tess S. Loring, Chief Services Division of DTI-EMB (Department of Trade and Industry – Export Marketing Bureau) together with PTIC (Philippine Trade and Investment Center) Seoul through their Commercial Counselor, Mr. Emmanuel W. Ang, were seeking companies interested to participate in G-Star 2017, Busan, South Korea.


            Title of the Exhibition: Global Game Exhibition 2017 (G-Star 2017)                                  Date: 16 – 18 November 2017                                                                                                      Mission Period: 14 – 19 November 2017                                                                                    Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
            Venue: Exhibition Centre 2, BEXCO, Busan, Republic of Korea
            Exhibition Coverage: Game Software (online, mobile, video, board,                                       arcade, indie) and Game-related hardware
             Number of Exhibitors: 30 Companies for 10 ASEAN Member States                                    (AMS) (3 from each AMS)

Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO)


     The ASEAN-KOREAN CENTER (AKC) will be covering the following expenses:

         – Space Rental & Booth Construction
         – Printing of Backdrop using images provided by the exhibitor

     One person per company
        – Round-trip air ticket: Economy class
        – Accommodation: Five (5) nights
        – Domestic Transportation

      While the DTI-EMB will be choosing the 3 companies that will participate in the event. The companies just needed to submit the Exhibition Registration Form and digital images of the main product sample before the August 4, 2017, deadline.

     In past years, the AKC worked with the BOI (Board of Investments) to organize the Philippine delegation for this event. This year it was offered to the DTI-EMB; the BOI felt that the project is more aligned with the DTI-EMB since its main purpose is to help generate exports. They also wanted to focus on making this opportunity available to small companies not only in Metro Manila but also from other regions in the country.

     Top Peg Animation Studio indicated its intention to join and suggested Anthro Katipunan, the game designer for our mobile game, to be its representative. We submitted the requirements on July 31, together with a letter that we were excited to promote our first mobile game, The Crop Circle Warriors©, globally.

      On August 29, we were informed that not 3, but 6 companies were chosen by DTI-EMB to join the event. Apparently, some countries had only 1 or 2 representatives which opened slots for our country. The 6 companies and their main product were:

             1. Synergy 88 Digital – Barangay 143 Street League (Mobile game)
             2. Emottoons Studio (Cebu) – Animation Services
             3. Audacity Studio (Iloilo) – Digger: Puzzle Quest for Hidden Gems
             4. Indigo Entertainment – Agent Aliens (Mobile game)
             5. Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc. – The Crop Circle Warriors©                       (Mobile game)
             6. Xurpas – Woot (App Store)

     Unfortunately, Anthro wasn’t able to fix his passport in time for the event. So I had to replace him as the company’s representative. We duly informed the DTI-EMB about this change on September 13, since we had a deadline to submit a copy of the passport and completed guidelines for G-star.

     We were also reminded of the Business Matching System, where we needed to register at the G-Star site and set up meeting schedules with different companies that were either exhibitors or visitors at G-star. These companies can then approve the meeting schedule if they were interested. I received 2 invitations from companies from China and Vietnam, while I was able to send 7 invitations to different companies, only 3 approved. Anyway, in my experience at the Tokyo Game Show, more clients made meetings at the booth rather than set it online. So I wasn’t worried too much about this.

      We were given access to the Business Matching sites when I learned that Emottoons Studio was replaced by Ingenuity Studios (Davao) – which had 2 games Tamagogo and Mayari (Mobile games) that won back to back as best game at the ICT Creative Awards.

     September 20, we learned the confirmed number of participants per country.We also learned our hotel accommodations and flight schedule.
          1. Brunei -1
          2. Cambodia – 4 (incl. the Ministry of Commerce)
          3. Indonesia – 4 (one additional company)
          4. Malaysia – 3
          5. Myanmar – 4 (one additional company)
          6. Philippines – 6 (three additional companies)
          7. Singapore – 3
          8. Thailand – 3
          9. Vietnam – 3
         10. Laos – 0 (did not participate this year)

                       Total 30 companies.

      September 29, due to my experience at the Tokyo Game Show last 2014, I knew it would be hard to meet potential passing clients at our booth while having other meetings with other companies. I suggested to the DTI-EMB that a second representative of Top Peg be allowed to attend. At that moment, Xurpas also sent an email stating that they will be sending two representatives and they will take care of the additional persons’ expenses. The AKC promptly considered it and said that the hotel rooms are good for two people, so we just needed to pay for the flight, transportation and Trade Badge. Since Edith Sarthou, who is our Administration Head and also my wife, knew of the costing for our different projects, I suggested that she come along with us. Xurpas also requested if they could fly at an earlier date, with the cost of accommodations at their expense. Aside from Xurpas and Top Peg, Synergy 88 also had a 2nd representative.

       October 4, we had a delegation meeting at the DTI-International Building. Present were the delegates, James Lo of Indigo Entertainment, Sofia Adap of Xurpas, Joemar Albino of Synergy 88, Me and Edith for Top Peg. Hajee Aquino of Audacity (Iloilo) was also present via Skype, while John Naranjo of Ingenuity (Davao) was not online. Also present were the representatives from DTI-EMB, Ms. Tess Loring, Ms. Glecy Cademia and Mr. Rhys Manabat. Highlights of the meeting were the discussion of the Business Matching Activity, the additional representatives and setting up a Viber group for easy communication between delegates. Also, the delegates informed the DTI-EMB of the problems that were encountered last year, since Audacity and Indigo also joined them. They said that the Invitation Letter from the AKC should be sent to us so we can process our visas earlier since there was the ASEAN Summit, with a 1 week holiday, coming up. We were also advised to have our calling cards printed with Korean translation at the back.

     We received the Invitation Letters plus our flight schedules on October 13, from Mr. An-Jin Hun of the Asean-Korean Center (AKC).


     November 2, Indigo Entertainment informed the DTI-EMB  that Mr. James Lo would be replaced by Mr. Eduardo Nilo due to last minute commitments. 

       The Korean Embassy opens at 8:30 am but we were advised by the guard to be there by 6:30 am when we inquired last October 30We were able to apply for our Visas on November 3We arrived at about 6:45 am and there was already about a hundred people already in line. We just needed to list our names at the window, by 8:30 am those on the list will be called in, anyone not in the list would fall in line outside and take a chance if they will still be called in. After that, you just need to fall in line again and submit the documents to the guard, who then checks and approves it. You will be given a number that would be called at a specific window for the interview. I was placed in a special lane since I was able to travel to Japan before, and since Edith was my wife, she too was able to avail of the special lane. At the window, they just asked the purpose of the trip. They then gave me a schedule on when to pick up our passports with the Visa. We received our Visas on November 8. Edith was also able to purchase a promo flight from JejuAir with a round trip ticket for only P14,000++.

Republic of Korea VISA

     We were also asked to send our backdrop designs based on the ASEAN Pavillion design that they gave us.

ASEAN Pavillion Design

     When I designed the backdrop for Top Peg, I decided to place Korean translations. Since it was suggested by the DTI -EMB that our calling cards have a translation, then why not our backdrop too. I used Google Translate to do the translations. I had a cousin, who works for a Korean-English School, who had her boss check the translations. Her boss said I made a mistake on the word “CROP”, my version meant “To Cut”, instead of “vegetation”.

                               Original Translation                              

Corrected Image 

The Backdrops for the Philippines

     We had another pre-departure meeting at the DTI-EMB office on November  9. Present were all the representatives of each company, Hajee of Audacity was there via Skype. Mr. John Naranjo of Ingenuity called in sick. We learned that Hajee had a problem with his Visa documents, which was lost in transit since he applied for his Visa in Cebu, the DTI-EMB  promised to help him fix this. Mr. Eduardo Nilo of Indigo was voted to be the point leader of the delegates since he attended the same event last year. Joemar Albino of Synergy 88 would be doing the presentation for the Philippines, and I was assigned to be the photographer.

     Alstaire (Top Peg), Eduardo Nilo (Indigo), Edith (Top Peg), Sofia Adap (Xurpas), Tess Loring (DTI-EMB), Glecy Cadenia (DTI-EMB).

     November 13 Flight to South Korea was at 11:45 pm. We were informed that Hajee of Audacity that his Korean Visa wasn’t processed in time as it now took 7 days to process the Visa in the province, instead of two days a few years back. He wasn’t able to join the trip.

November 14 , 2017 –  DAY 1

     Upon arriving at the airport at around 5:00 am, we purchased a data SIM card so that I will always be online for our viber group. It cost about P1,300 for 5 days. We then took a limousine cab to our hotel, Fraser Place at Namdaemun, Seoul. Seoul was clean and it was cold, 3 degrees Celsius. It’s a good thing we brought scarves and gloves. And when the wind blew, we froze because of the freezing air. The hotel room was nice and cozy, but our view was a construction building at the back. The toilet even had the controls on a tablet like a remote.

     The workshop and presentation of the participating countries would start about 1:30 pm so we had time to stroll and take lunch outside.  We saw the market, lots of street food and cheap clothes. We had Omurice (Omelette Rice) and Beef Soup which included a lot of side dishes.

     The workshop was held at the Namdaemun function room at the Fraser Place; we were given a copy of the presentations bound like a book. Surprisingly, the Philippines’ and Singapore’s presentation weren’t included. We learned that we weren’t able to submit a power point presentation ahead of the event. We were given a deadline of September, but we weren’t able to comply.

     Mr. An-Jin Hun of the Asean-Korean Center (AKC) welcomed all the delegates and showed a video of this event. This will be played on a large screen at the center of the ASEAN Pavillion.

Mr. An-Jin Hun of the AKC

1st Topic

The Current Status of the Korean Game Industry (In program)
How to make a No. 1 game across the globe (actual presentation) by Jung Mu-Sik, Vice President, Lunosoft Inc.

  Mr. Jung Mu-Sik of Lunasoft Inc.

     I’m not sure why they changed their presentation, but this topic gave me insights on how to market one’s game globally. Mr. Jung talked about their partnership with large IPs such as Disney, the game is Disney Catch Catch. It is basically a “Spot the Difference” Puzzle game for iOS. He also talked about changing design styles and gameplay depending on the country you wished to publish. He showed the game that was released in Korea. It has a pirate story as an intro and a pirate ship in the titles.

   Disney Touch Touch

     When they released the game in Japan, the pirate ship was changed to Mickey Mouse (who is very popular in Japan), who was not a main character in the game. The title was changed to Disney Touch Touch, which they couldn’t explain why. And the pirate story Intro was replaced by a map with levels. Also, the Achievements and Competition modes were removed. Japanese gamers don’t really like confrontation or match their game score with others, they’d rather play alone, this is according to their data research.

    They also showed the difference in business models. The Korean version had a store where you buy Rubies as currency for In-app purchases, while in the Japanese version, you buy a Gacha, which is an eggshell toy where you don’t know what prize you will get inside.

     Items for sale were also different, Korean version had different Pirate Ships while the Japanese version had Pens with Disney Character Heads.

2nd Topic 

Global Mobile Gaming Market Strategy by Mr. No Hyun-Kwan, Director, Mobirix, Co.

      Mr. No Hyun-Kwan showed different business models for the game but showed that the best model for them was the combination of Ads and In-app purchases. They showed charts on their games’ progress.

     Usually, the life cycle of a new mobile game is a few weeks. After launching, a game gets featured, it gets a few thousand downloads, then it gets forgotten. As a business model, developers need to plan on how their game be sustainable for months than weeks. Next, they showed us the business model they apply in their games.

     One of their games, Shooting King was launched April 2017, It was a Free to play the game with Ads and In-app purchases. It got featured in Google Play in the same month, then they improved their In-app purchases and Ads by July 2017, and pushed marketing by October 2017. This was done as a plan to sustain the game for several months.

     They also said that it is not enough to use social media to market your game. Social media is just 1 of 28 ways to market. Press release, blog sites are other ways. And having a good customer support service is a good strategy to have for your game.

3rd Topic

Entering ASEAN Game Market and Related Issues, by Mr. Kim Dong-Sung, CEO, Movegames Co.

    Mr. Kim Dong-Sung talked about ASEAN having the highest potential of growth among emerging markets. The top 5 gaming markets being (comparing game revenues):

  1. Thailand – $252,300,000
  2. Malaysia – $214,200,000
  3. Singapore – $201,600,000
  4. Indonesia – $140,800,000
  5. Philippines – $96,800,000

     Also, he says, aside from mobile, Steam, is a new platform that ASEAN market can tap. He also said that the PC-Online Game is a huge and growing market, and Korean developers and publishers are entering into Steam. One Korean game that was successful was the “Battleground” game.

     They are also testing out a new business model for mobile games, Animation IP. Where the player needs to watch a video (story related to the game) to be able to continue playing. Since most of their games are based on existing IPs such as Power Rangers, this made a lot of sense. This new business model is still in the prototype stage though.

     Next presenters were from each country. Mostly they showed statistics of their country. I will just list the statistics or if there were some information relevant to that country.

1) Brunei Game Industry, by Mr. Farhan Ismail, Co-founder/CTO, Itsybytes Company

Total Population: 431,700

Mobile Subscriptions: 515,800

     Some people had more than one phone which is the reason that the subscriptions is higher than the population. One problem they faced with mobile gaming was the payment system. E-payment gateways through local banks are still growing, and recently First Data Merchant Solutions was established. Also, a Korean company FinTech will be setting up a Centre in Brunei. Bitcoin is also being accepted.

     Their current status is that they are relatively new in the industry, and small game developers in the country have only 4 options:

  1. Hope for a serendipitous hit.
  2. Align with a major publisher
  3. Global crowdfunding
  4. Self-publish online deliverables

     Mr. Fahran is subsidized by the government, according to him, if you do business with him you are basically talking to the government of Brunei.

2) Cambodia’s Game Market by Sabay Osja Co., Ltd.

Total Population: 15,950,000

Mobile Subscription: 27,600,000

     Game Preference: Candy Crush, Billiards, Vain Glory, Casino Game

     Payment Systems: Pi Pay,Wing, Pay & Go, Smart NW Luy,Bongloy, Acleda Unity, E money,E Cash,Asia Wei Luy, True Money

3) Indonesia Game Industry Outlook by Arief Widhisaya, Secretary General, Indonesia Game Association (AGI)

Total Population: 255,500,000

Mobile Subscription: 308,200,000

     Game Preferences: Strategy Games – 30%, Racing Games – 25%, Action Games – 18%, Arcade Games – 14%, Simulations – 14%, Other – 4%

     In Conclusion: In general, Indonesia’s gaming market is growing very fast. Predicted to be 1 Billion USD by 2020. Local game industry ecosystem still very bleak, yet the potential is there.

4) Overview of Malaysia Game Industry (No name of speaker)

 Total Population: 30,800,000

Online Population: 22,800,000

Total Revenue: $539,500,000

     The speaker showed more of Malaysia’s growing achievements in the game industry.

  • Malaysian Game Company going IPO
  • Malaysian IP being recognized internationally
  • Creative Content and Technology
  • Schools for Animation and Games
  • A homegrown industry

5) Myanmar Game Industry Overview (No name of speaker)

Current Game Trends:

  • Most of Myanmar’s gaming population contributes to mobile gaming
  • Gamers above 25 are few compared to other countries
  • Most popular games are MMORPG, Strategy and Card games

Potential of Game Production in Myanmar

  • Very few game companies
  • High demand for Burmese games
  • Rapid economic growth shows potential for exponential growth

Current Issues in Game Production

  • Few in-app purchases due to limited number of credit card users
  • Limited resource of talents
  • Use of jailbroken games
  • Lack of schools which offers 3D animation
  • Lack of advanced technical knowledge for game production

Payment Systems

  • Mobile credit by mobile service provider
  • Steam accounts
  • Credit cards 

6) The Game Developers Association of the Philippines by Joemar Albino, Synergy 88


     We are not included in the book because GDAP wasn’t able to provide the presentation when the AKC needed it for printing. Anyway, Joemar talked about the Philippines being the go to a country for game testing and quality assurance. We also have schools that offered game development plus a growing industry of game developers, publishers and more. Big companies, such as Ubisoft, are now setting up shop in the Philippines to tap the bountiful talent that is available in the country.

7) Singapore Games Industry (No name of speaker)

Total Population: 5,700,000

Online Population: 4,900,000

Gamers: 3,300,000

     Paying gamers in Singapore spend an average of $204.72 per year, which is the highest average in Southeast Asia, and seventh highest in the world.

8) Thai Videogames Opportunities in Global Market (No name of speaker)

Thailand is in the Top 20 Countries for Game Revenues 2016 at number 20.

Total Population: 68,100,000

Online Population: 28,700,000

Total Revenues: $521,300,000

     Thailand has Publishing, Art Outsourcing, and Game Outsourcing services. They also have their own IP and won some awards. Their primary market is China and Japan.

9) Overview of Vietnam Game Industry by Ha Hong Minh, Director,Vinh Xuan

Total Population: 93,000,000

Online Population: 50,000,000+

Mobile Subscriptions: 130,000,000

Mobile OS Market Share: Android – 67%, iOS – 29%, Others – 4%

     They are planning to target more female-oriented games because women have more mobile phones than men. Also, eSports is very popular in their country, hence competitive games are a top draw.

The speaker also had a sub-topic on “How to be successful in Vietnam Mobile Game Market”

  1. Choose the right games
  2. Target right users
  3. Operate right way
  4. Customer service 24/7

Or better yet, choose the right local publisher in Vietnam.

     The talk ended about 6:00 pm, we then went out of the hotel to see some of the sights at the market and ate dinner. 

November 15, 2017  – Day 2  

Industrial Visit I: Creative Economy and Innovation Center

     9:00 am – All the delegates regrouped at the Fraser Place lobby for the Industrial Visit; two buses were provided for all the delegates. Bus 1 had Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia. We were in Bus 2 with Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was a 45-minute bus ride to Pan-kyo where the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation is located.

     The Center is located in a valley in Pan-kyo, South Korea. There are several centers here that house game and animation studios, research centers and startup centers.

     10:00 am – When we arrived here it was extremely cold, and being in a valley, seemed to create a wind tunnel. When we turned towards a corner of a building, the freezing wind would make everyone stop.

Sofia and Hannah of Xurpas, Joemar of Synergy88, John of Ingenuity, Dokes of Indigo and Alstaire of Top Peg

     At the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation, outside the buildings looked like typical office buildings, simple architecture and all gray with glass. Inside though, it looked like modern creative offices such as Google. They had Cargo containers converted into modular offices, colorful floors and furniture.

       A fellow who called himself David (He said his name is hard to pronounce by foreigners) did the presentation about South Korea.

     He had some interesting trivia about South Korea. He said that Samsung holds 24% of the Gross Domestic Product in all of South Korea, so if Samsung falls their economy will be in big trouble. Also, the big companies diversify into different industries, that is why you will find Hyundai Malls, Samsung Malls, Hyundai Gas stations, etc…

     Samsung is now the 2nd top-selling device when it comes to mobile phones and appliances. It has surpassed both Nokia and Sony.

     There are more Fried Chicken restaurants (36,000 as of 2014) in South Korea than there are McDonald’s (35,429 as of 2014) around the world. The government supports the people who want to start-up a company, and most unemployed people suggest a fried chicken restaurant. An example was someone wanted to start a wine shop, but the government has a law that they won’t fund a startup that has alcohol as their main product. So the person made his shop, Chicken, and Wine. In fact, the Korean government knows that unemployment is on the rise when there are more chicken restaurants this year than the prior year. We asked them which was the most popular chicken restaurant, they said it was Kyo Chon, which is also available in the Philippines. We did not get to try it though because most of the shops had Korean text so it would be hard to find.

     David also talked about the Korean Startup Landscape. There are a number of IT-related startup companies in the Pan-kyo valley.

     Below is the whole area of the techno-valley which is similar to the techno hub that was built in Sta. Rosa, Laguna here in the Philippines. This one though is much larger. Below is the map, and we are in just one building.

     He next gave us a tour of the startup offices and research labs. We went up to the 7th floor via elevator.

     He even showed how advance the security system is here, with retina scanner to open doors.

     They showed a 3D Lab where they print different prototype items and figures, a Mobile Lab where they test different kinds of mobile devices.


      And they showed us different devices that they came up with like the Smart Umbrella. This umbrella has a built-in barometer so it can communicate with your mobile phone to show how the weather will be, including temperature, humidity and wind velocity.

     There was a bitcoin atm machine, as they are one of the countries that have accepted bitcoin as a currency.

     They also showed us where they develop and test Virtual Reality apps and games.

Joemar, Alstaire, John, Sofia and Hannah.

     Going down they made us take the stairs. It was cool that the calories that you burn are shown on the stairwell.

     He then showed us the other buildings that included an animation and game studio. The buildings all looked alike and there were no signs. It was really freezing but he invited us to a bridge that crosses a creek in the valley. All the delegates were not comfortable with the cold weather but we were able to take a few snapshots.

    The ASEAN delegates

      12:30 pm – After this, we took the AKC bus to a mall for lunch, it was a buffet lunch but it was small compared to the buffet restaurants in the Philippines. It was mostly Korean dishes but it was cozy. We only had 45 minutes for lunch because the train that we would take to Busan had a 2:00 pm schedule, if you miss it, it would take another hour to wait.

     1:30 pm – The bus then took us to the train station which is a 10-minute drive from the mall. At the train station, everyone recognized the place at it was featured in the movie – ‘Train to Busan’. Everyone had selfies at the station, at the train and also near the tracks.

This is me checking if there are zombies at the back.

It took about 2.5 hours by train passing through the provinces.

     4:30 pm – we arrived at the Busan Train Station; there were 2 buses again provided by the AKC waiting for us at the station. There was a Marvel Shield Theme Park beside the train station in Busan.

Everyone was asleep on the bus, tired from the train ride.

     5:30 pm– It was a bit traffic, so we arrived 30 minutes later than our schedule. Busan was less cold than Seoul at 10 degrees Celsius but still cold, it was like San Francisco – a bay area. We took another bus to the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center or BEXCO, for the ingress.

     When we got there we first saw the ASEAN Pavillion and then everyone started to prepare their booths for day one of G-Star 2017.  Here we met Josh (in orange jacket), the other representative of Synergy 88. He took a flight straight to Busan because of prior engagements.

     6:30 pm – We then took the bus to our hotel – Shilla Stay. It was a smaller hotel but had good architecture and interior design.

     There was faux fireplace, since the wood was just for display and the fire came out of a gas burner. A faux bar, with no liquor, a giant teddy bear and a business area with a long table with books about design and architecture.

     Our room was simple but had moving dividers that expose a glass window to the bathroom. It also had an advance remote control for the toilet. This time I took pictures. What was funny was that there was an emergency button beside the remote, maybe when you run out of batteries.


     8:30 pm– We took a late dinner at a McDonalds close to the hotel with John Naranjo of Ingenuity. The burgers were different; I got a 1955 burger, Edith got a Beef and Shrimp Burger and John got a Grilled BBQ burger. There was no small size only big, and it cost about P300 for each meal. We also needed to clean up after eating which we almost did not do until we saw the cashier’s eye widened in disbelief with our ‘uncivilized’ behavior of not cleaning up the trash after eating. We immediately noticed her reaction and cleaned up after. After this, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the next day.

November 16, 2017 – Day 3

Official Day 1 of G-Star

     I tried the breakfast buffet at Shilla Stay Hotel, and it was the typical breakfast buffet Korean style. There was an egg station, bread station, ramen station, bacon and cold cuts, and roasted veggies, plus coffee, juices, and tea.

     We took the shuttle bus from the hotel to BEXCO at 9:20 am. When we arrived there we saw the huge line forming outside. The business meeting is held at a different building from the exhibition hall for the public. The general public is not allowed to enter the business meeting area. The picture below was taken from the third floor of the business meeting building. We noticed that there were no cosplayers, unlike in Manila where most of the attendees were in full costumes.

     Inside we started to prepare our booths. The other delegates too were busy attending to their booths.

     We finally met Mr. Emmanuel W. Ang (Emman for short), Commercial Counselor of the DTI-PTIC Seoul. He was happy we were there but he was disappointed that Hajee of Audacity couldn’t make it. He said it would be an issue with the AKC since they have fully paid for the flight and accommodations. He said that this will be brought up at a post-meeting for G-Star. We were also surprised to see Mr. Joebert Yu, organizer of the E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) in Manila. He was looking for potential exhibitors for next years ESGS.

Joebert of ESGS, Eduardo “Dokes” of Indigo, Hannah of Xurpas, Als, Emman of  PTIC Seoul, Sofie of Xurpas, Edith and John of Ingenuity

     When the doors finally opened we were greeted by different companies for publishing, mobile game stores, customer support, advertising, etc. We then started our business meetings. We met with those that we scheduled at their website, and also some who were walk-in from other companies. Since this was the first day, we didn’t get to go around the exhibition hall that much.

     We agreed that we would take lunch at intervals so there would always be representatives at the Philippine booth. Edith and I went to lunch at around 1:00 pm. We looked at and entered a nearby restaurant where a number of people were eating.

     We saw that the people there were eating a hot pot of pork ribs and veggies, unfortunately, the menu was in Korean. We saw a picture with small, medium and large sizes. Thinking that the people eating there ordered the small size, we thought of ordering a medium then splitting it between ourselves. When our food arrived, we were surprised at the size of the hot pot. We ordered the group meal instead of the solo meal. It had 7 slabs of pork ribs and lots of veggies. We messaged the other delegates and told them our problem, that we mistakenly ordered and we could not finish it alone. But they already have eaten their lunch, so we just ate what we could. The medium size meal cost around P1,400 instead of the P380 for the solo meal.

    The soup was a bit spicy and the ribs were very tender, this was the perfect food for the cold weather. They called the soup Gamjatang or Haejang-guk or Hangover soup.

     We went back to our hotel at 6:20 pm. We were invited via online to the G-star welcome party but we learned that it was going to be at a bar named Devil’s Door. So Edith and I passed and said we will attend the next party since the organizers said that there will be others. I was able to get pictures from the other delegates who attended. The other delegates said that they attended 2 parties, and they got home at about 2:00 am. Edith and I didn’t eat dinner because we ate too much at lunch and we need to conserve our budget.


November 17, 2017 – Day 4

Official Day 2 of G-Star

      I again took the buffet breakfast, Edith passed because we would need to pay extra P700 for the extra head since the AKC only booked for one head. We again headed to BEXCO by bus at 9:20 am.  The business meetings continued with other firms. 

     This time we went to the other booths, we saw the other Korean companies as well as some big developers.

Com2Us invited us to a party at 8:00 pm

Gamevil and Com2Us booths

Kakao Games Booth

Unity booth

      We also went to the B2C booths, this the convention area and it was located in another building connected with where we are staying by an elevated walkway.

    The majority were Korean game companies and I noticed only one Japanese game company the Bandai Namco.

Bandai Namco booth

     There were a few cosplayers unlike at the Tokyo Game Show or even compared to our local game conventions, where there are hundreds of cosplayers. There were also virtual games.

     The highlight of G-Star is the eSports. These are games where a lot of players compete with each other until there are only 2 players left who compete for the grand prize. This is similar to the format of the ESGS, where there are a number of eSport games, like FIFA Online, which is a soccer game, Battlegrounds, Icarus and Starcraft.

We also saw some Korean game character statues on display.

     At lunchtime, we tried the food court at BEXCO. Here they only serve 2 types of dishes: the Pork Rice Topping and the Beef Soup. Edith ordered the pork toppings, it had a lot of side dishes for free while I had the beef soup.

     At dinner time around 7:00 pm, we were invited by Mr. Emman Ang for an authentic Korean barbecue about two blocks away from our hotel. We went to this restaurant where the parking lot doubles as an outdoor dining area where we seated behind the cars.

     We sat on a long table with 2 grills. Emman was on another table with the girls from Xurpas and Dokes. They gave us raw pork and beef that we then cooked on the grills. They placed kimchi and raw eggs at the side of the grill to cook. There were also condiments for us to season the meats while cooking.

       Thinking we had a good free meal, Emman said that we should chip in for the cost of our table, while they chip in at their table. It cost about P800 per head, so I was caught off guard because of our dwindling budget. After dinner, we went straight to the Com2Us Business Networking Party at the Grand Ballroom of the Haeundae Grand Hotel. The said hotel is also just a walking distance from our hotel.

      We were a bit late to the networking party, so we rushed to go there and arrived about 9:00 pmEdith and I then regretted having a paid dinner when we saw the variety of free food available. There was chicken, prawns, beef, burgers and lots more. We were full already, so we just tasted some of the food. 

     The networking party was a good place to meet the other exhibitors. Then they announced that there was a raffle, they gave away a large Gundam Tobot, a drone, some action figures as well as computer accessories. No one from the Philippine delegates won.  It was a fun night, after which we went back to the hotel at around 10:00 pm.

November 18, 2017 – Day 5

Official Day 3 of G-Star

    Our hotel was only a block away from the famous Haeundae Beach. So we went for a morning stroll at 8:00 am. It was freezing but the beach was nice and clean. There were a lot of seagulls and pigeons. And there was an Aquarium near the beach but it was still closed.

     Back at the BEXCO around 10:00 am, the crowd was still large. There were fewer people at the business matching so it gave us a chance to go to each Korean booth and give our calling cards, show our game and make some connections.

     We tried one of the food trucks outside for lunch this time at around 11:30 am, we chose the shortest line with barbecue ribs. The price was equivalent to P280 for a single serving. It was good though, but we had to eat at tables made out of cargo planks at the parking area. There were also some cosplayers who posed with the crowd at the food truck area.

     We also took shots at the park beside the BEXCO. When we went back at 12:30 pm, all the staff of the AKC and the ASEAN delegates were having photo shoots, so we joined them. We thank everyone for the warm hospitality. It was a great experience for us overall.

John of Indigo, An Jin of the AKC, Als, Edith, Ms. Park of the AKC, another guide and Josh of Synergy.

ASEAN Delegates

     After G-Star, some of us agreed to go to the mall for stuff to take home at around 6:00 pm. The mall was so big and stuff was too expensive, so we weren’t really able to take home anything. We had dinner at the food court and we took a taxi back to the hotel afterward at around 9:00 pm.

Mall and Dinner

November 19, 2017 – Day 6

To the Airport

     Edith and I ate at the buffet breakfast at the hotel around 8:30 am. We also had some last shots in the lobby after for checkout at 10:00 am.



     I then took Edith to the subway 10:30 am because she had a different flight and she needed to take the train back to Incheon. The rest of us would take a connecting flight from Busan airport to Incheon airport. The road to the subway led us to a strip with lots of restaurants and some tourist spots.


     At around 11:00 am, we learned that it would be a 2-hour train ride to the Busan station, so after taking her about 9 stations, I headed back to the hotel to meet with the other Philippine delegates.  After that, it was a mad rush to the airport for the 2:00 pm flight so we didn’t have time to take pictures.

      On November 22, Emman Ang messaged us via viber. He said that the AKC was disappointed with the no-show of one of the Philippine delegates. Ms. Tess Loring of DTI-EMB defended themselves that they informed the PTIC Seoul of the VISA problem. Emman said that wasn’t the point because they only allowed 3 companies per country and we asked for more slots, to which they obliged. So it was up to DTI-EMB to make sure that all those slots would be filled. The AKC even brought up a suggestion to make the accommodations partially paid by the delegates just so that they take it seriously next year. There were even some countries saying to scrap the event, in the end, there was good news: G-Star will continue the ASEAN partnership again next year.   

   The DTI-EMB asked us to attend a post G-star meeting on November 23. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a death in our family so I wasn’t able to attend. They emailed me that I needed to send them a report of the leads we got and also our suggestions for the preparations. They also asked us to send copies of the calling cards we gathered that are potential clients in the future.

     As a tip for those who would like to go to the G-Star, be prepared for a final full mobile game with a business model. A good looking game with a good gameplay is just for starters. Most of the time they don’t even look at your game.  Many things will be asked of you by the Chinese, Korean, and other Asian businessmen, which I am not at liberty to divulge. If you have no game or have a game but no business model, then your time and the foreign businessmen’s time will be wasted. As for services, that would depend on what services your firm will provide, but most are not interested in services since they have their own talents in their own county.

Article and Photos by Alstaire A. Sarthou;  Overview photo of BEXCO from the Internet



Google Developers Night 2017

28 07 2017

July 26, 2017

     We were invited to the Google Developers Night by GDAP (Game Developers Association of the Philippines) at the Google Headquarters in Bonifacio Global City about a week before the event. We were not sure what the event was about as there was no agenda about it, but we were prepared to showcase our updated mobile game if needed. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our game and also to check out the office of Google. 

     The event was scheduled from 6 pm to 9 pm; we arrived at around 6 pm but the event started around 6:30 pm and ended almost 10 pm. The Google Headquarters was a cool place, especially for creative people. You could see the artistic design influences on the detail as well as the furniture. 

      There were about 50 people invited to the event, but there were other uninvited guests and students who came but Google did not refuse them entry so the guests ballooned up to 90 people; luckily the food was sufficient for all the guests. 

     Before the talk started, I was surprised when Solon Chen, one of the board members of GDAP and the General Operations Manager of Kooapps, approached us and said that he saw our game at GameCon 2017, and said that it had vastly improved from the version he saw at ESGS 2016. He said it was a good game and we did a good job.  That was the best compliment from a GDAP board member yet.

Solon Chen

      There were two talks that night and both of them were helpful as we continue to polish our game even more. The first speaker was Derrick Mapagu, the creator of the Flippy Bottle Extreme game. This game was the first Filipino-made game that was No. 1 in the Google Play store with over 18 million downloads.  The topic was about Game Monetization.  Most game designers and players are not fans of this topic, but for the game, studio to survive, this needs to be addressed. Basically, the topic was how your game would make money. There were many ways, the simplest was selling your game at a price. If you offered your game for free, you can place ads in it or sell items within the game called In-App purchasing. We learned that players don’t like ads much; they can be annoyed by it and just drop the game but if you do it right ads can have your game make money. The information presented was really cool and it gave us ideas on how we would apply this to our game.

Derrick Magpagu

     Alvin Juban (GDAP President), Chelle Obligacion-Gray (Google Ph), Lei Bautitsta-Lo (James’ wife), Gwendolyn Foster (GDAP / Most Played Mobile), James Ronald Lo (Indigo Entertainment / Agent Aliens) and Derrick Mapagu (Most Played Mobile / Flippy Bottle)

     The second speaker was James Ronald Lo, President of Indigo Entertainment and the creator of Agent Aliens, a mobile game for Android. Agent Aliens was their first game that was their own Intellectual Property (IP). His talk was fascinating because his experience with the game mirrored ours. He introduced a demo of his game at the ESGS 2016 like us; he also got some feedback, and they had to address these in the game. He was very thankful to be invited to the event because it made people notice his game.

    Agent Aliens at GameCon 2017

     James was excited to do a soft launch at Google Play to get more feedback for his game. He promptly had a meeting with a Google representative who gave him pointers on how to get his game featured at Google. Getting featured on Google gives the game more opportunities to be viewed worldwide. The representative’s first suggestion was not to do a soft launch. If your game is not yet finished, doing a soft launch would just give a bad impression of the game. The second one was to do localization by translating the game to different languages; the players from those countries would feel the game was made for them.

     When the game was launched last January until February 2017, he got about 2,000 downloads. He did everything, social media, workers, family friends, but this was the best that the game could do. Then he was surprised when it got featured in Google Play, and it was given a 4.3 star rating. Immediately, he got 190,000 downloads in less than a one month. The game was downloaded in other countries as well; China and Vietnam had the highest percentage of downloads; incidentally, these were also the countries that he translated the game too. Of the top 8 countries that downloaded the game, 7 were from Asia.  Overall, he said to focus on making a good game first. If your game is good, everyone would take notice.

     After the talk,  dinner was served by our hosts; Jap and I then approached James to ask more about his experience, and we also showed our game. He gave us advice and feedback on how to improve our game, and he encouraged us to enter ESGS once again to market our game. He said this is where gamers, developers, and publishers take notice. One advice he gave us, which he also included in his talk: “If you can show your game without giving excuses, then you know that your game is good.”

     Towards the end, GDAP announced the different events remaining for this year. Aside from ESGS, there was G-star Game Convention, which was offering all-expense-paid tickets and accommodations for 5 companies to Busan, Korea. And some upcoming talks with people from Unreal.

     This event inspired us, and it also showed us that we still have a lot more things to consider for our game. Overall, we were excited; too excited that I already registered entering our game at the Indie Arena in ESGS 2017.

Article and most pictures by Alstaire A. Sarthou; other pictures from Chelle Grey (Speakers with GDAP and Google officer), Internet (Solon Chen) and Edward Tan (Agent Aliens)

The Crop Circle Warriors Mobile Game Production Process

17 07 2017

The Crop Circle Warriors©  Mobile Game Title Screen    

The Crop Circle Warriors© Game Map

      The mobile game test version is now available for free on Google Play.



     The creation of the mobile game was a lengthy process since we had no idea on how to go about producing and managing the game. After some seminars and meet-ups where industry practitioners talked about the ins and outs of the business, we were still not yet confident in doing a game. There were many obstacles in the creation and marketing of a good mobile game; there was the game document, programming, the marketing, managing and monetization of the game. 

     My idea for the game was just to enhance the property of Jobert and the Crop Circle Warriors® and to help promote the animation. The mobile game also enhances the original property as it demonstrates that the property can be used on multiple platforms. I’m very pleased with the quality of the mobile game; it really fits the concept and the animation show. After overcoming the many difficult experiences we’ve been through, we have learned many things and are now more confident that we can create better products for the property in the future.

      Producing the mobile game was similar to producing the animation show, e-comics, music video and 3D proof of concept – it was tediously slow. Being slow implies that producing something new is very difficult.  There were lots of mistakes and there was always a need to improve the looks, movements, programming, etc. until we were satisfied with the output based on our limited budget. The learning curve was slow and the cost of production went up.  There will always be delays in producing any animation work; I have learned to slowly accept this reality based on our other production experiences.

     Any small independent producer or creator will likewise experience delays in their production, especially if the budget is limited and more so if there is no clear concept for the characters, game or show. In our case, we already have character models based on our animation, but it took many major and subtle iterations for the final version to be officially adopted for the mobile game. If we didn’t have official character models for the animation, the mobile game would not have been even half as good.  If there was no animation series, there would have been no mobile game. It would have been very difficult to make a run and gun type of game starting from scratch – with no concept, no title, no typography, no character models, no story and most of all with no compelling reason to do it at all. I will not make a mobile game just because it is popular or trending; it is not worth the time, effort and money to do it.

Character Evolution for the Mobile Game     

     On May 15, 2017, Alstaire placed a teaser introduction page of the mobile game on the Crop Circle Warriors Facebook. I just took a look at it the next day and I was really pleased with the artwork they had produced, in my opinion, it is the best 2D artwork for any mobile game in the country. I cannot think of any other local mobile game (actual game not just a concept for financing) with that kind of standard of artwork. 

Crop Circle Warriors Mobile Game Intro

      On June 2, 2017, Alstaire posted another image – Master Zombie and the zombie creatures for the mobile game introduction on Facebook. The artwork blew me away – as it should; as the game project was way over the budget. I never saw the sketch of the said image in the sample intro they sent me months ago; Alstaire said they added it to make the story clearer. The said artwork makes me imagine the whole thing is animated and be part of an online series. But I don’t have any more budget for the said animation, even for demo purposes; it is very clear that this type of 2D artwork to be animated will cost a lot of money.   

Master Zombie and the Zombie Creatures

     One of the hardest things for any project is to look for the right people in the creative business who are motivated to do the job on a limited budget. People would just come and go or you can’t find any. We have experienced problems in looking for the programmers, artists, animators, sound designer, singer, comic artist, background artists, poster artists, etc.  Some people may claim to be able to do the job but in reality, they cannot – they lack the skill or the staying power. Some people even inquired to be a singer for our project after the music video project has been finished a long time already; apparently, the ads online for the male singer were still active. One of the singers was many months late, another one was a year too late and the last two inquired for the position two years after the project. As of August 2017, there was at least an addition of three singers wanting to try out, one was even a female but the ads specifically required a male singer.

     In our mobile game project, a sound and music firm promised to do our sound effects and music for free as their promo for us winning a mobile game sample but they never did make good on their promise. In these cases, I did not even give them the benefit of a doubt as based on our experiences it is impossible to find the right talent without them having a formal platform and track record – most are fakes. In the creative business, it takes more than just one take to deliver the right sketch, sound, song etc., so it is highly unlikely that the tryouts will be able to persist with many takes even if they have the talent to deliver what we want.  

     Producing this mobile game can help us to create other games for the property in the future such as a 2D desktop game, a 3D mobile game such as the Crop Circle Warriors: Alien Ruination or other 2D games such as the UCCW or United Crop Circle Warriors from our e-comics. There are ready-made programs one can buy for a simpler mobile game, but these programs cannot suit the game our designer wanted to show – the beautiful artwork and smooth animation movements which are in my opinion at least five times better than the mobile games using affordable ready to buy mobile game programs. 

      I did a storyline for the mobile game way back sometime in 2014 and we started doing the assets – the characters and villains first. At first, we just used the usual look at the main characters and did a poster and sample animation. But after many months of getting nowhere, we decided to get a consultant in the industry sometime in December 2014.  Some of the said drafts were animated and shown to some prospects at the Tokyo Game Show last September 2014 (See the essay on the Tokyo Game Show). Eventually, the look of the assets and backgrounds were improved by the mobile team in the following years. The mobile team had a freehand in adding assets, designing the backgrounds and the gameplay up to the official version of the game in 2017.  I only gave some comments to improve the intro after reviewing it and add some explosive devices in the city scene. Shown below are some of the first drafts for the assets and posters for the mobile game in 2014.






MZ Initial Form

Master Zombie

MZ Initial Form 2

Mid Boss Master Zombie

Final Boss Master Zombie

MZ Concepts

MZ_back Frog Gator Rat Concepts 2

MZ Frog Gator Rat Concepts 1

Boss Dog Zombie - Color

Zombie Dog

Zombie Dog copy

Boss Dog Zombie

Boss Rat Zombie - Color copy


Boss Rat Zombie - Initial Design

Boss Turtle Zombie - Color

Zombie Turtle

Boss Turtle Zombie

Poster Final

Crop Circle Warriors© Mobile Poster

Poster Sketch

Poster 1 copy

Poster 2 copy

Game Poster


Animated Video Presentation for the Tokyo Game Show 2014

     The consultant guided us in producing, programming and marketing the game. One of the suggestions of the consultant was to change the looks of the characters into smaller versions of them called ‘chibi’. So we set about redesigning the assets and the posters and did some backgrounds. When the assets were finished we hired a graduating student in computer engineering to do the programming to see if the trial game would work. It took many months for the student to program the first level of the game using the Unity software. However, even after many months, the program was still not yet finished and was still at the testing stage as of the 3rd quarter of 2015. The said student was busy with his thesis and other assignments. Shown below are the old 2015 models, poster, and introduction.


Title 3 Vignette Added   The Crop Circle Warriors© Vs Master Zombie Title Screen     

jobert game characters final

Second Draft of the Crop Circle Warriors© Chibi Models


First Draft of Chibi Models

Zombilord Map

The First Draft of the Crop Circle Warriors© Game Map

Metro_TrainBackground Test

game backgrounds


sewer-sample train-sample2

Background Test




Old Comic Introduction for the Mobile Game (2 of 9 panels)


Corrections (Eyes of Jobert)

pg 1 color

pg 2 color

Game Intro Page 1

Game Intro Page 2

Comic Intro

Carly’s Introduction Comics for the Mobile Game   Side to SideTitle Screen

title screen bg

IMG_6680 Testing the Program for the 1st Level




     I was getting anxious that the game could not be done because we cannot find a reliable but affordable programmer. One of the hired programmers at Top Peg Animation Studio Inc. left the company around August 2015 and he worked for a game studio; after some time he called the studio and suggested that we use the software Buildbox sometime in the last quarter of 2015. It was a fairly new software that was introduced in 2014 that the consultant was not even aware of it. After reviewing it, we were excited to use it as it was easy to use, has many features and best of all we don’t need to hire a programmer anymore. It was fairly expensive if we bought the software but its better than hiring a programmer who might just leave us later on.


     Sometime in late February 2016, another programmer came on board and tried to convince Alstaire to use Unity as it has more features than Buildbox. After some time I still decided to use Buildbox, even though it has fewer features and a lot more expensive than Unity. I was looking for reliability rather than a lower cost software. Buildbox is easier to use and we don’t need a programmer. In the game and entertainment business, it is very hard to find reliable artists, programmers, animators and other creatives who will stick around for a few months. Many just come and go looking for other jobs and projects. 

     Around mid-January 2016, I asked Grace Dimaranan to send the status report of the game production (the characters, animation actions, backgrounds, background assets and props and user interface designs. The timeline report to finish the mobile game was also submitted since some of the animations for the assets was not yet finished. Grace suggested that we can start to resume finishing the game in February but as of April, there was hardly anything done as there was a lack of competent artists to do the job. The original schedule to purchase the Buildbox software was around February but I will not purchase it until I was convinced that the production of the game can go on continuously. During this time, we just focused on finishing the 3D proof of concept – Alien Ruination video first.

     Carly – the original concept artist and designer for the game and chibi characters resigned sometime in the first week of May 2016. Although Carly was the main character designer, like the other artists assigned to the game production was also not used to animate the characters using the Spine software. We purchased the Spine software last June 2015 since it has an output for the Unity software the college student programmer was using then. Using the Spine software was faster than doing the traditional animation drawing. The Spine software makes the cut out drawn parts move in a sequence rather than drawing all the action movements.  

download (1)

   Tany (Old Model) in Spine Software

     Master Zombie (Current Model) in Spine Software 

     Finishing the game would be hard without someone with knowledge of game design and gameplay. We needed someone who can fully supervise the game. Around mid-April 2016, there was a membership meeting of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP) and Alstaire was able to casually ask about our on-going game to some of the members he knew. Their opinion was our main characters lacks “cuteness”; our gameplay is also similar to many other games and we needed something more marketable which means better artwork among other things. They also saw the first animations done by the artists needs improvement in the design and the way it was animated in the Spine software. 

     By mid-May of 2016, Grace was able to talk to Anthro, a former Top Peg artist who was based in Dumaguete and she convinced him to stay in Manila for a number of months to oversee the mobile game development.  Grace, Anthro, and Alstaire had a meeting online and were able to talk about streamlining the game.  They talked about what would be the fastest way to finish the game without sacrificing the quality.  They also discussed adding different enemies, lessening the attacks and weapons, upgrades and the new schedule which will start around mid-May 2016 and end sometime in October 2016 for the game completion. They also asked Anthro to redesign all the characters, weapons and the like. 

      It was around late May 2016 that Alstaire emailed me about the GDAP meeting and Anthro; he also attached some of the new character designs. 

Jobert Improvement

   New Character Designs for 2016

     I was surprised about the new designs since I already spent a lot for the previous designs. The change in design meant changing the posters, cover images and other collaterals that we already finished. But I have no idea about what makes a game work, so I somewhat grudgingly agreed to the new proposal and timeline. Within a span of few days in late May 2016, Alstaire sent me additional new character designs in one day and a few days later sent additional designs with a sample of Jobert with many types of movement. From there on, I was really convinced that the new designs will work, since they really look different; Jobert was cuter and the movements were faster and better than the previous chibi models. The movements of the previous chibi models were really slow and not exciting.Jobert Sprites

      Last June 24, 2016, Buildbox introduce a trial software wherein game developers can test their games using Buildbox. The said trial software has no sounds, no sample art and lacks action tools. On June 26, 2016, Alstaire downloaded the trial software and from June 28 to 30; Anthro was able to test Jobert and a bomb rat with some action movements with one of our old backgrounds. During the test, Anthro was able to make Jobert jump with just one drawing in the software, instead of the proposed animating the jump with six drawings. Other combination action movements such as using different kinds of punches successively were not yet animated until we were sure that the software can handle these kinds of actions. 
     In the succeeding months, I came to appreciate the new designs more as it really fitted the game, the concept and complimented the animation series perfectly. The increase in production cost was high, but I think the additional cost was justified as the Crop Circle Warriors brand was enhanced by the art, design and play mechanics of the game – this is only my biased opinion as the producer.
     When I asked Alstaire to ask Anthro some questions for the creation of the mobile game sometime last April 2017 – his answers were as follows:
     I (Alstaire) remembered when Anthro first came on board. He asked me if he can redesign the chibi look. He said the previous version looked like midget versions of the characters, he wanted to make them look like kids or younger versions of the characters, which was more appealing. I researched the word chibi, and it has two meanings… the Japanese sometimes use it for an insult when directed to a person, it was the equivalent of calling someone a “shrimp” or a “midget”.  The other meaning was “cute”, usually used for animals and little children. So it really made sense to make the chibi look more child-like than midget-like. He told me that, if we will be creating our first game, he didn’t want to do it just to have the satisfaction of creating a game ourselves. He said he wanted it to be epic.
  1. The most challenging thing that you encountered in creating the game?

     For me, the most challenging part of the process we encountered was making the game work like the rest of the games we play. I have worked a long time making game art for game companies, but this is my first time in creating our own from scratch. Creating game assets (or art) is easy, developing the game is not as simple as just designing. Basic game mechanics, gameplay and understanding the game engine (Unreal) were all needed to make the game work. Learning all these while creating the game are but a few examples of the challenges we encountered, which made us realize that developing a game is a world of difference than just designing the art.

  1. Why did production take too long from the projected deadline, October 2016?

     Considering we only have basic knowledge of the game engine we were using, which is Unreal. We are proud that we were able to create the game and it’s mechanics, there were even a number of game mechanics that we formulated without consulting any tutorials. We figured out some problems by ourselves, particularly Jap, our programmer, who invested so much of his brain, to accomplish it. But there is still a lot to fix and so much more to learn.

     For the game art style, I am very meticulous and the delay was partly my fault. I have a certain style that I want to implement in the game, but the other artists take too long to get the style right. So sometimes I have to do it myself.

  1. What is the most satisfying thing that you discovered in creating the game?

     POSSIBILITIES. It is not just the satisfaction we feel, but the feeling of excitement when we discover something new. The possibilities that we can use to make the game better. For example, the particles for the orbs, it is not perfect, but placing it in the game has already made the game way cooler and much more satisfying to the eyes of the player.

  1. How did you come up with the design? What is your inspiration for the design?

     For the art style, my influences and inspiration were art from Wakfu and Dragon Nest. Since it was previously created in a chibi style, I thought, why not make it into a more appealing design. This way our design has a wider range of its style and we are not limited to what chibis should look like. 

 Aside from Anthro; Jap Tolentino the programmer for the game was asked the same questions and here are his answers:

  1. The most challenging thing that you encountered in creating the game?
  • Debugging the game. As new things get implemented bugs will always show up.
  • Game optimization
  • Google Play Services
  1. Why did production take too long from the projected deadline, October 2016?
  • Learning along the way like the mobile technical limitations and applying limitations to the design of assets.
  • Remaking of assets as the first iteration contains heavy files, therefore, having longer load times
  • Figuring out solutions on how to efficiently go about implementing systems like particle effects, 2d state machines (this controls animation of characters as there is little or no examples available on the Internet)
  • Character Programming as a whole
  • Character Touch Controls
  • Music/Sound (can’t have a game without sounds)
  1. What is the most satisfying thing that you discovered in creating the game?
  • The most satisfying thing was implementing new things in the game to make it more interesting for the players
  1. What other challenges are you still figuring out?
  • Setting up Google Play achievements
  • Runtime settings for optimization

       The following is Alstaire’s essay on using a new software called Unreal Engine 4 and what happened from June 2016 to October 2017:

June 2016 to August 2016

     When it was announced that Buildbox 2 will be available for trial last June 24, we downloaded it to test if we will be able to apply the ideas of our gameplay.  Anthro was testing Buildbox and he found many limitations in the software like the use of multiple weapons per character and multiple actions. We found out that there were very little tutorials for the game we wanted to do since Buildbox was still new, no one has yet done a game close to what we wanted to achieve. Our first option was to make the game much simpler, having the player just shoot with only one type of cyber pulsar gun. Then we were already thinking that changing to another character such as Jessalaine would be difficult to do as well.
     With the limitations, one of our students – Jap Tolentino, had just finished his thesis – a 3D game much like Tomb Raider.  He had a simple background but was able to show 2 characters with different abilities. He suggested using Unreal Engine 4, since it was free and also had a visual form of coding called Blueprint; it was made for artists to use, instead of using codes which are usually done by programmers.

     The Unreal Engine has existed since 1998, many popular games have used Unreal such as Bio-Shock, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, and Injustice: Gods Among UsUnreal is basically a 3D Game Engine, but they have released a system called Paper2D, which is a sprite-based system for creating 2D and 2D/3D hybrid games entirely within the editor. And what convinced us to switch was that Unreal was made free to use since March 2015. We also asked why it was free. Apparently, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue but ONLY after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. So it was good, rather than paying for the $2,600 Buildbox price which is easy to use but very limited in what we needed.

      Last July 12, 2016, the team downloaded the said software and started testing it. Since downloading Unreal, we were all excited about the developments that we have made.  Jobert can now run, jump, punch, kick and shoot. The Bomb Rats exploded on contact and the background for the war-torn city has been placed. A health bar had also been incorporated. 

     Our only drawback was the adjustment to the new system. Since Unreal was more powerful it is much more difficult to use, especially when we tried to incorporate something new, the good news is it was doable with all the tutorials available online. Anyway, we have adjusted the milestones, our prototype target is now the end of August 2016,  just for us to settle down to the new system. 

      Anthro is using 2 monitors; the left side for the coding or programming, which Unreal uses a visual method instead of coding (expressions via typing). The right screen is to view the actual game. 

Anthro working in Unreal

Left side Unreal coding called Blueprint

Left Side: Unreal Coding (Blueprint)

Right side is the Game Level View

Right Side: Game Level View

     It’s a bit more difficult than Buildbox, but its output is much more. Anthro has already placed the first enemy the Bomb Rats, and Jobert can now kick, punch and shoot his cyber pulsar gun. The next step for Anthro is switching Jobert’s cyber pulsar gun to a cyber pulsar shotgun or a cyber pulsar machine gun. Then add other enemies. Once he finishes this, substituting Jessalaine and Tany for Jobert will be easier because it will just be the same code.

Prototype with Bomb Rats

Character Designs, FX and Animations

     I talked to Anthro about the gameplay and what I wanted to introduce in a run and gun game that wasn’t common. One idea was making a support character come in to help the player when the game level was a bit difficult. We talked about making support characters like those in the Marvel vs Capcom game, where the player calls out for help and a character comes in to shoot the enemies then flies out immediately. We thought that this was a great way to introduce the characters instead of making them playable characters. First, it was cheaper to do since we only needed to the one animation. We had a number of ideas like maybe the player can summon large weapons for one time use, like Jobert’s Cyber Pulsar Canon, or maybe he can summon Frogee Mercury in his Tadpole Ship, to blast away the enemies.

     After talking about it, he went on to designing. He designed a bunch of ideas for the game including future characters that could be incorporated.

Future Characters Based on the Comics and Animated Show

     While designing, Anthro eventually finished the animations for Jobert, Jessalaine, Bomb rats, Rhinocerats and Terragator in Spine software. I was also able to help by designing and animating some of the special effects (fx) in After Effects – mostly the teleportation, force field, items and weapon blasts.

     The character animations and fx animations were then given to Jap to incorporate into the game, and he was able to code them immediately into the game. It was very exciting to see them in action.

     During of all this, I read from the Buildbox site, that it was good to blog the game development to build a following. I decided to start a Facebook page for the game to document our progress and to market the game as well.

     I made character cards to show the character’s design changes to show the evolution of the game. The first ones I made was Jobert, Jessalaine, and the Rhinocerat. I planned to do a weekly update with these images to generate interest. This brought some of our former artists, some who are now just at home, or are working abroad, or has moved on to other companies, to comment. They said that the changes were great and they were excited to see the other characters designs.




September 2016

User Interface and Backgrounds

      We had the animations and the background, we needed a Title Screen, a character select screen, a health bar and control buttons. Anthro was in design mode at this time and he was able to do the designs in a couple of weeks. His idea for the Title Screen was the Crop Circle Warriors front and center with the enemies at the back. Initially, we only placed Jobert and Jessalaine, since we wanted to do a boy and girl player first, and Tany was still an option to do later. Anthro’s initial design was fantastic for me.

Initial Mobile Title Screen

     He then went to work on the Character Select Screen, which he envisioned to be a teleportation room like that in Star Trek. We talked about putting the character stats here as well as an option to upgrade the characters abilities. Anthro’s idea was to place a computer screen and the teleportation pod, with the ship’s window at the back to indicate that our heroes are orbiting the earth. His initial design was colorful and had a touch of technology. The write up though was too long so it wasn’t readable at all.

    Initial Character Select Screen 

     For the Health Bar and Controls, Anthro made the look close to that of the Character Select screen. His idea was like a control screen from the ship, it felt like an arcade game, and when we placed the background and character, our motivation continued to grow.

Game Screen – Jobert

Game Screen – Jessalaine

     Anthro continued on the other background designs. He did some conceptual 2D digital images on how the backgrounds were going to look.  I felt that Anthro might be tired from doing all the designs, as he tried to designate some of the work, but it was hard for other artists to match his design. We contacted Pip Gungab, a former student here at Top Peg CMA, who had knowledge in concept design, to help in some backgrounds. I tried to think where to put these beautiful conceptual 2D designs in the mobile game; after a while I figured out that I can use all of it if the player selects an environment and the image of the chosen environment pops up before the game starts.  Below are the 2D conceptual design samples for the different levels.

Sewer by Pip

Forest by Anthro

Mountain Ridge by Anthro

Cave by Anthro

     For the special effects, I used the effects we did for Jobert and just changed the colors to fit Jessalaine.

     Jap continued on the game building. He was able to figure out some mechanics in the game. The Character Select Screen was now functional (you can now select between Jobert and Jessalaine), the characters could now do combo moves (In video games, a combo is a term that designates a set of actions performed in a sequence), the player can now switch his weapon to another weapon, and the enemies now had different properties from each other (Bloodhounds take 4 hits to die while the Bomb Rats take only 1 hit).

October 2016

Voice Over, Music and Sound FX

     Anthro pitched an idea to me. He said it would be cool if we could do a “call out” when the enemies appear. Like an introduction to what creature was coming out. We thought of a close-up image of the enemy and a voice over will say the enemies name, like “Bomb Bats!” It was kind of the arcade games during the early 90s. Then I told him it would be cool if we could incorporate voice-overs for the players, not just growls but Filipino expressions. Every gamer knows this famous phrases, “Final Justice!” and “Tornado Claw!” from Marvel vs Capcom arcade game, and the “Kamehameha!” of Dragon Ball. Why not introduce some Filipino expressions, it was exciting to imagine a foreigner yelling some quotes from our game. So we wrote down some expressions such as, Astig (cool), Napakahusay (very good), Lupet (brutal), Kamote from the word Nangamote (which means No Achievement). Using a pretty good microphone which disregarded the other ambient noises, we did recordings for both Jobert and Jessalaine.

     We gave Jobert the quotes because he had the “mayabang” or boastful persona, while Jessalaine was more on grunts and shouts since she was the focused fighter.

     Back in September, I found an advertisement on Facebook. A recording studio (Company X) was offering to do the musical scoring for your game for free. The mechanics were just to like and share their page, comment a description of our game and email them the full game description plus a short profile of the developer. I was thinking that we might be able to get our game scored for free by a legit recording studio. Wow! So I submitted our game as an entry.

   Ad on Facebook for Free Musical Scoring

     We then got an email that we were on the shortlist of entries that were being considered, which we were super excited about, but we still needed some temporary music to use. The winner will be announced sometime in December 2016. We had another former student of Top Peg CMA, Amiel Justiniani, do some techno music loops, while I gathered some sound effects for the weapons from the internet. And these were again given to Jap for integration in the game.

Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit or ESGS 2016

     As an animation studio, we have done game art for clients abroad, because of this, we became a member of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP). Although we seldom attended their weekly meetings, we do attend their General Membership Meetings. We learned of GDAP’s annual game festival – Game On, and since we had a game ready to show, we asked if our game can enter the festival. Norman Lee, a professor at College of St. Benilde and the event’s organizer of Game On told us to enter. He said most of the games are in their Prototype or Alpha phases.  We were also invited to get a booth to showcase our game as well as the studio.

Top Peg Booth at ESGS October 28 to 30, 2016

     Our excitement was at an all-time high especially for those who have worked hard to make the game. We prepared for the booth design and we incorporated everything that was needed to finish the prototype game. We chose the 2D cave background for the event as it had a longer playing time compared to the city background. We were even able to add Frogee Mercury’s Support droid.

Frogee Mercury Support Droid

     Our purpose main purpose was to get feedback for our game. And feedback we got. Listed down below are the major ones that we really needed to address.

1) The game was at 183 mb file size. Due to this, the loading of our game took too long. Players were saying that when it takes too long they would think that the game does not work. Also, we learned that Google Play has a file limit allowed, so we really needed to address this.

2) Some gamers pointed out that our animation was stiff due to using cut out style of animation.

3) There is a problem with game balance. It was easier to use Jessalaine than Jobert when attacking.

4) The monster call outs are distracting and it covers the player’s view of the controls.

5) The User interface (screen designs and control designs) was distracting and confusing.

6) There was no indication of a game mission, so the player didn’t know what his objective was in the game.

7) The directional control buttons did not work with the jump button. The player says he couldn’t control the direction of the character when it jumps so it makes the player frustrated.

8) The control buttons need to be spaced better, they are too close to one another.

9) The enemies swarm the player too much, they wanted enemies to have better artificial intelligence.

November 2016

       ESGS was an eye opener for us. What we felt was good, was not good enough. With all the feedback that we received, the most important concern was the file size of our game. One of the judges for the Game On competition told us that Google Play had a file size limit for each game and ours was just too big. He said players would leave a game if downloading takes too long, and even if it downloads, when your loading time is too long too, it turns off players. So we had to re-evaluate and fix this as well as the other feedback concerns that we received.

1) Reducing the games file size. We researched on what was causing our game to have a very large file size because we saw 3D games that had lower file size than ours. 

Apparently, there are a lot of reasons why the game’s file size increases. So we had to list down each one and find a solution.

     a) The sprites (animated images of the characters and special effects(fx)) should be as small as it can be to fit the device we are outputting to. Since most of the game art that we have done, such as usually had an image of 4000 x 4000 pixels, we thought that making our image about 512 x 512 pixels would be enough. We tried lowering the image that still looked good while retaining sharpness.

     b) Gradient colors add to the file size too. Since Anthro’s designs use gradient colors, we had to redo the characters to make the colors flat while still looking good.

 c) When we render an animation image sequence from Spine, it gives a number of images in single frame animation. Usually, in traditional animation, we hold frames at 2’s or doubles. So instead of having 8 drawings for a run, Spine renders 16 drawings. So we removed the Spine software and just rendered key drawings traditionally and timed it within Unreal. See number 2 sample drawings. The old run animation is from Spine which the software will still automatically add in-between action runs. The new animation run is the traditional hand-drawn animation using Toon Boom software.

   d) 2D images with transparency also take up large file sizes. Since we had 2D backgrounds and special fx (with transparency) this was also changed. Apparently, 3D images created within Unreal did not bloat the file size, we changed the level backgrounds to 3D. The fx were also created within Unreal using the built-in particle system.

     Jap created simple models for mountains and rocks, and Anthro colored the textures in Photoshop.

      After this Jap put the models together to create the levels. Our first idea was to create just a linear level, meaning the player just moves from left to right on the flat ground. Jap’s level design made the levels much more dynamic and fun.

2) The animation was too stiff.  Another comment was that our character animations were too stiff. We said it was cut-out animation style. They said that the images were beautiful 2D, and it deserves some good animation to sell it better. Since we had to redo the character’s colors we also redid the animation to make it more fluid. And now the new animations look smooth, and we even got a compliment from a concept artist that our game had a good design and nice animation.

3) It was easier to use Jessalaine than Jobert when attacking. Another comment was concerning game balance. Some players said it was easier to use Jessalaine’s swords (because Jess can hit multiple enemies) than Jobert’s guns (because Jobert’s gun hit one player at a time). Also, Jessalaine’s animations were much better than Jobert’s. Since we are redoing the animations, we also decided to give the character better combo moves and doing the animation traditionally was easier than in Spine.

     We also made Jobert’s weapon blast better than Jessalaine’s and we also gave Jobert a bigger bullet when he shoots. Anthro did some concepts for his guide in animation.

Some of the Many Moves

   For Jessalaine, we had to tweak her swords by making the sword’s damaging area smaller, then we also tried it a bit bigger until we got the right size for balance.

4) The monster call outs were distracting and it covers the player’s view of the controls.  This was an example of an idea which sounded good to us, but a lot of players complained about. So we had to remove this and we are hoping that we could find a way to bring it back.

December 2016

5) The User interface (screen designs and control designs) was distracting and confusing. A programmer who tested our game, asked if we wanted good feedback or if we wanted a straight hard-nosed opinion? We told him to shoot away because we really wanted the game to be good. He said that the interface and the experience needed tweaking, the design was a bit distracting and he said to minimize the detail and focus more on what felt “user-friendly”. 

     So we designed the screens as well as the controls. The Screens were now simple and easier to navigate. Below is the old character select screen…

Old Screen

New Screen

     We also changed the 2D backgrounds to 3D. The conceptual 2D background designs that Anthro did were just used as guides. I felt that these still could be used within the game. So we placed them on the Level Select screen.

     During this month, Jessalaine’s combo animations were also improved. Here are Anthro’s sketches for Jessalaine.


     Jap was also able to do new fx such as flying orbs, force fields and hit fx using Unreal’s particle system.

     Although sometimes bugs would occur in coding, such as the player will suddenly be stuck in an animation loop when playing. So it was really a process of learning to pinpoint the problem in a now convoluted image of visual coding.

January 2017

6) There is no indication of a Game Mission.

      The game didn’t have an introduction or any story trailer. What will be the motivation of the player to play the game? We already had an intro from Carly’s design sometime in mid-2015; the new intro was still based on that but with Anthro’s art style. Anthro first sketched the all the images and we made an animatic with timing and sub-titles.

7) The directional control buttons did not work with the jump button. The player says he couldn’t control the direction of the character when it jumps so it makes the player frustrated.

8) Fix Control placements (Jump button is too close to the attack button) The control buttons need to be spaced better, they are too close to one another.

     Jap was able to fix a bug in the coding. The vertical jump now works with the directional buttons.

      Most of the comments of the playtesters were that the art was good but sometimes it was distracting from the game. The original buttons that Anthro designed were good, we even put an animation where the buttons would appear mechanically; it was too good that it distracted the player from focusing on the gameplay. So we simplified the designs for the health meter and the buttons.

     Another comment was the spacing and size of the buttons, which we have also implemented.

Original Layout

New Layout

     The buttons are a bit transparent with just simple shapes and letters to indicate the buttons use. J=jump, A=attack, and S=special. There is also a space for another button, this will be the switch button which the player uses when he has more than one weapon available. We have also a different design (using images instead of letters) for the buttons, but we will test this first.

     A problem with touchscreen controls is that the player doesn’t have tactile feedback, which means he can’t feel the buttons while playing. One aspect of the controls that we would want to implement was to enlarge the area for the buttons. So that the player has a better chance of pressing the right button without looking. Jap is still figuring this out and we may implement it in the game soon. This was explained in a Game Developers Conference that we watched on Youtube.

Level Design Additions

     With Jap discovering new stuff in Unreal, he was able to add items like the orb and some special fx using the particle creator of Unreal. Orbs that drop out of the enemies when killed now flies toward the player for him to absorb. Which is nice visual in the game. He also added traps (platforms that fall off) and some interactive elements such as the JUMP BOOSTER that lets the player jump over tall cliffs.

Jump Booster

     Other gameplay elements that were added are the Stage Clear screen when the player finishes a level.

Free Musical Scoring Update

     Company X emailed us that we won the contest and they were willing to produce music for the game. We submitted a Non-disclosure Agreement to them and they said they will submit the music in 2-3 weeks. We were really excited about this, but we were also a bit skeptical, due to the limited updates from them.

Google Play Developers Console

     We finally registered as a developer for Google Play. We figured that creating the game for Android was more budget friendly because you only needed to pay a one time fee of $25. Compare that to the App Store for iPhones, they charge an annual fee of $99. But we were also thinking of making the game available for the App Store and even for Steam (PC) in the future but we need to finish the game first.  

     When we first opened the Developers Console, we needed to fill up information that was needed for the store. With the number of stuff needed for this, we had to list them down so we can update this while also finishing the game.

     What we did first was the Store Listing, this included the description of the game, graphics assets, the rating for the game, trailer and the links to the developer’s website. I typed in the description and then I gave Jap the job to update the graphics assets as well as answer the questions needed for the content rating.

The Store Listing in the Developers Console

February 2017

     Company X emailed us that the music was done and that they just needed to meet for the contract and transfer of the music to us. We sent all the info that they asked for the contract but we didn’t receive any confirmation from them. The last email was from the owner and he said he was from Las Piñas and that we should meet. My last reply was to tell us when and where. We haven’t received any email since then.

     Edward – our producer cannot use Upwork freelancers as the game was taking too long to be finished and was constantly being modified; this could cost a lot of time, money and misunderstandings to use Upwork freelancers. So we hired Charles to do music for the Ridge level and some Title Screen music. Charles was the freelance guy who made the musical effects in our television episodes and he is based in Davao. 

9) The enemies swarm the player too much, they wanted enemies to have better artificial intelligence.

     There were too many enemies when we showed the game at ESGS. And the play testers said that the last part of the level was too difficult with all the enemies that needed to be eliminated. Jap was able to fix this problem easily in coding. He also made a better Artificial Intelligence for each type of enemy. Like the Blood Hound would attack when the player is close to him and the Bomb Bats would swoop down to the player when it gets close. Enemies are now more controlled and are distributed better throughout the level.

   Aside from the ESGS feedback, we also figured out some problems or solutions on our own to make the game better such as:

a) Dual paths implemented on the Ridge level.

      We have created dual paths on the level where the player can choose to go under the mountains or over it and he gets two different enemy experiences in the game.


Game Intro Backgrounds

     At this time, Anthro has finished the sketches for the backgrounds that would be used for the game intro. The game intro was similar to the original one we made, but with updated art. This will also be animated in After Effects but more with a webcomic feel.

     Anthro, together with some of the other artists, started coloring them and we got some cool looking backgrounds. Anthro gave a guide for the artists so they wouldn’t get confused with the details, by separating flat colors.

     Some backgrounds had flat green colors, there was for the monitors’ screens. We planned on putting different videos or news feeds about the attack on the city.

     Here is the background combined with the characters, with smoke effect added in compositing.

March 2017

Jessaline Animation Completed

     The new Jessalaine combo attack animation was completed in coloring and Jap placed it in game.

     For the prototype that we showed in ESGS 2016, she had only 2 attacks, one sword strike, and a charge attack. This time when you press the attack button she does a single strike, but when you keep on pressing the attack button, she does different strikes and spins that enables her to hit many enemies both at the left and right sides of the screen.

Some of the Many Moves

Google Play Developers Console Update

     Jap updated our store listing with new graphics as well as other information needed for the game.

     For the content rating, Jap had to answer questions about the game such as: was there violence, the rate of the violence, was it against people, animals or monsters? After the questionnaire, the game got a Teen Rating for the US, a Mature rating in Australia, for 10 years old and above in Brazil, a Pegi 7 for Europe, a 12 and above for Germany, a 7 and above for the rest of the world. From here we can see that the game might not be that marketable in Australia because of the mature rating, but of course, that is just speculation.

     After filling everything up, we decided to make the game available at the Google Play Store. So we could see the store listing if there would be issues in downloading, and also for playtest.

Google Play Store

     We’ve uploaded the Alpha (1st working version of the game) at the Google Play Store for playtesting, these were the information that was placed in the Google Play Store.

      We also invited playtesters by sending the link to the game to their emails. Jap sent it to some of his friends, we also sent it to some games and GDAP members, but we only had a few people who tested it.

April 2017

Level Design continues

     With Jap learning more about the capabilities of Unreal, he was able to place new stuff to make the gameplay better, as well as fix the bugs. The elevator in the mountain ridge was added, it gave the player breaks from running, so it was less repetitious.

     A Game Character Concept Artist – Niles Arguelles, who we hired to be a teacher for our school noticed us while we were working on the game. He said the game reminded him of a game that was being crowdsourced at Indiegogo called Indivisible. It was an RPG game with 2D Animation. This was a game being done by a gaming studio in the US that created the Skullgirls fighting game. So we were proud that our game was compared to this; he said the quality was similar.

Game Intro Compositing

     All the elements of the game intro were finally finished. So Anthro composited the game himself, including placing special effects (I also gave him some suggestions) and the sound effects and musical score. When we finally viewed it, I got very excited because I can see that we had a great product. I recommended changing the music in the middle to last part of the video. I said the music of the TV or web animation trailer would fit it better for excitement, in contrast to the suspenseful music at the first half.

Game Intro Progression

May 2017

    During this time, Jap was still fixing some bugs.  This is why playtesting is very important because we wouldn’t be able to see all the errors in the game if it wasn’t played frequently. Jap fixed the artificial intelligence (AI) of the Bomb Bats. Before the bats just flew at a specific path. Now the bats swooped down towards the player when the players reach a certain distance from the bat. For the Bloodhound, changes to the AI were also fixed. I noticed that the Bloodhounds didn’t attack the player at once; now the hounds immediately attacks when the player is adjacent.

     The Mountain Ridge was now complete. Details for the text that appears during the game end levels including the sound effects were polished. Button controls were also polished.

     We placed the Game Intro on Youtube, Facebook as well as the Google Play store listing.

June 2017

      We updated the Title screen for the game, Tany is now included.

Moleth’s Lab

     For the in-app store in the game, where the players can purchase weapons or even new characters in the future, it was usually depicted as just a gallery of items to be bought. Our idea was Moleth was building the weapons and not selling them. So we made it that he was telling the player to collect orbs for him so he could create weapons that the player can use. For our In-app purchase, we plan on the option of a player to purchase the orbs so he can have the weapon at once compared to playing the game longer to collect those orbs. We also designed a new look for Moleth, as the Akalan’s police chief of engineering.

     We reused the background here from the first User Interface that we did.

  Old Moleth Lab

Old Models for Moleth and Frogee Mercury  

     Jessalaine’s sword reach was increased because we felt Jessalaine had a harder time than Jobert because she to get close to the enemies. Jobert’s attack was also fixed by adding 2 shots on his 2nd and 3rd combo. We did this to balance the game, so no character was easier or harder to use in the game.

July 2017

 GameCon Exhibit Testing of the Mobile Game

     Excited by our good showing at GameCon 2017, we went back to the development. One of the things I noticed was when one plays the game in a large room, the voice overs aren’t very clear. In my opinion, this is one of the features I really like for our game, because it gave a feeling of accomplishment when the player defeats the enemies. This is also what makes it feel different from the other similar games. So I asked Jap if it would be possible to put the words when the voice says those words. He said yes; it is just the same as the callouts before. So I looked at other games that had these words and we worked on the design. And here is what we came up with….

     And how it looks in the game.

     Another thing we noticed during Game Con, was that the players were using the joystick instead of the buttons in the controller while playing. So Jap suggested that we change the Directional Button (Left and Right Arrows), into a joystick.

     We also placed a tutorial on the City stage… This “tutorial” dialogue helps the player with the mechanics of the game at the start.

     The “Weapon Support” game mechanic has also been placed in the game. This support can be picked up in-game or bought as in-app purchases. When you get these support, a button will appear, and you can use this support at any time in the game, but only once until you get another support.

Level Design

     Since the game has been polished and we now know how to proceed with the other locations, the rest of the levels have now been started. Jap has shared on how to create the levels to the other artists, so the level designs are now being done by three other artists. Anthro also has shared the texture coloring job with another artist as well. And after a few days the first stages of each location has been finished, even though these don’t have textures yet, they already look great.

Sewer Level Design by Melvin

     For the new levels, we added secret areas where the player can get more orbs. And we added water animation (Sewer and Forest) as well as smoke animation (City).

Sewer Textures by Marlon

     The textures are then painted in Photoshop, this then will be added to the 3D models.


Forest Level Design by Nathan

     For the forest level, a layer at the back will show trees and the trunks at the front will have leaves added too.

City Level Design by Jap

 August, September, October 2017

     Aside from finishing the other environment levels, improving other outputs and creating new animal zombies, we received an unexpected comment from a user via the Google Play Team last August 14, 2017 – shown below. The suggestions were very helpful and we will implement it in our game to be shown on our Facebook page and in this blog under the month of August. The user seems to be a very seasoned player or a professional game tester, as he or she knows how to make the gameplay much better than a casual player.


     We wanted to let you know that a user wrote new beta feedback for your app. You can write a private reply to the user’s feedback on the Google Play Developer Console.

New beta feedback on Aug 14, 2017 at 6:00 AM GMT
Congrats on finally releasing the demo! The buttons are very responsive 
and can offer fast-pace combat! The demo is long enough to replay again 
and expect the full release!  A few suggestions: • I would like to let 
the prologue play, but leaving my phone idle too long shuts down my screen.
Please let the prologue be Press to Continue instead. Add a Skip Prologue 
button as well, if you're going to follow this. And place a Play Prologue 
button on the Main Menu screen as well so I don't have to start up the 
game again just to watch the prologue/opening  • Please put the joystick
/D-pad in one place. The D-pad relocates, might make platforming segments tricky.
• (For dyslexic players) Replace the J, S, D, A Buttons into images/icons.
Might help dyslexic players know what a button's function is.  Optional/ 
Cosmetic Only: • Make Jezzelyn's Blades and slash effect glow • Makes the 
Crop Circle in the Loading Screen spin slowly. Makes the loading screen 
dynamic.  More power! Can't wait to unlock Tani,  see more enemies and 
play the story!

The Google Play team

New Buttons

    Control Buttons that indicate the abilities of characters we’re already done before, but we tried to do more detail into these. During ESGS 2016 many said that too much detail distracted them from the gameplay. So we simplified the buttons with letters, J for Jump, A for Attack and S for Special.

ESGS Buttons

Simple Buttons

     However, a feedback letter sent from Google surprised us. It says our game was good but said we needed to fix some stuff, one was the control buttons. The letter sender said that, for the sake of some dyslexic players, we should use images instead of letters for the buttons.  So we did some silhouettes of powers of each character.  Below are some of them.

Final Buttons

Improving the Blades

As suggested by the user in the letter to Google Play, we improved Jessalaine’s blade.

Old Blade


New Gradient Blade

Loading Logo and Menu Screen

     The crop circle loading logo on the upper right-hand side is slowly circulating when starting the game and entering into a new level.

Additional Enemies

     To make the game more interesting, additional enemies were added. We also made this new enemies’ abilities different than those that were already introduced.


  • Gameplay – the war hogs just run into the scene and run over anything in its path.
  • An option that we discussed is each color can have different abilities.
  • For example:
    • Light Brown is running forward and can be killed with 4 shots
    • Blue shoots electrical bolts upwards but can be killed as the light brown
    • Dark Brown is indestructible
    • Gray can run faster than the others
    • Red blows up when killed


  • Gameplay – They can drop from trees or run toward the player then burst into an electrical wall.


  • Gameplay – these creatures walk into the scene then shoots their spikes in a pattern.



  • Gameplay – flying creatures that shoots globs of acid from their mouths.

Recoloring of red blood-like liquid of Bomb Bats and Bomb Rats

      Our producer wanted less realistic red blood color to be changed to orange color. 


Sewer Levels done

All the levels have been finished.

  • 1st level is a straightforward sewer
  • 2nd is going downwards
  • 3rd level is a large cylindrical tunnel with gaps
  • 4th is a combination of 2 and 3
  • 5th is the way up back

 Original Color

Textures for the sewer have also been adjusted to be darker with more detail

 New Color

Forest Levels Done

All the levels have been finished.

  • All levels are just straight path from left to right.
  • There are a number of hidden areas here

 Initial Look

     Initially, the textures were sharp, the model boxes were too prominent, we softened the edges a bit and painted edges.

 Adjusted Edges

Cave Level – Model

     The levels of the cave are still being finished, but most of the models are already done. Textures are still being finished

Master Zombie (MZ) Lair – Model

MZ Laboratory

     This is where the player faces Master Zombie (Human mode)


     This is where the player faces Master Zombie (Crawler mode)

Elevator to Mountain Peak

     This is where the player faces Master Zombie (Flier mode)

Hidden Levels and Crates of Power-Ups

  • We’ve incorporated hidden levels throughout the different areas that the player can access and get new weapons or power-ups.
  • These crates are the containers of orbs, extra lives, weapons and power-ups.

Jobert Cyber Pulsar Shotgun

  • The cyber pulsar shotgun is now available in-game

Cyber Pulsar Shotgun

Special Weapon – Cyber Pulsar Mini-Canon

Tany Animations

  • Tany’s Idle and Run animations are now in the game

New Tutorials

 Original Tutorial with Frogee Mercury

     To make the characters be in-sync with the series, we’ve assigned a specific job for the non-playable characters. Frogee Mercury – gives Intel about an area or enemy.

     New Tutorial:  Barto – gives tips on using a characters Skill to surmount obstacles.I also simplified the text, instead of a step by step instruction, I just gave a tip.

    New Tutorial:  Moleth – gives tips on using Gadgets that are available at different levels


     Learning from Google Developer’s Night talk of James Lo, creator of Agent Aliens; Google features games in their store that accommodates different countries. So we decided to include the five other languages which are some of the top localization countries, aside from English. 

     Google Play has a built-in link to a translation app, I was going to have our store translated, but I learned that some languages had a minimum number of words for a certain price. So I needed to gather all words in the game that need translating so that we meet the minimum words for the value of translation.  We edited the introduction, narrative in the game and included the music video lyrics for translation sometime in early October 2017.  We will test these languages first before adding more. After two weeks of sending the narrative with images, they requested for the screenshots of other areas not given to them like the Moleth’s lab, achievements page, setting, and credits. 

      As of mid-October, we are cleaning up and finalizing the texturing of various environments, doing the animation movements of the creatures and Tany, testing the final creatures in the game,  environmental music, fixing the look on the achievement page and fixing other small details before we launch the full game this October.

November 2017

Launch or Liftoff 
      The full game was launched November 10, 2017. Even after the launch there were still many things to fix, improve and complete in the mobile game. Jap, our programmer seemed to be stuck in how to solve the localization of the game without getting too much memory. With our full game, we were able to showcase it to foreign business people at the G-Star 2017 at Busan, South Korea in November 2017. From there, we learned a lot what the different markets wanted and we started to incorporate those into our game. There was a seminar in January 2018 regarding gaming at Saint Benilde and a GameCon event in February 2018, the comments we got from industry people and casual players were noted to improve the game further.
     The problem of localization was solved only around late-January 2018 when Faith Dimaranan, a student in Game Design went on board by mid-January as an on-the-job trainee. Faith improved the game a lot in terms of streamlining or optimizing the program and gave some suggestions to improve the looks, movement, and gameplay. The improvements are still on-going as of February 2018.
     Some of the improvements are shown below:

            Tany: Base programming, animations, hammer attacks, idle, run, jump, special attack visual effects

  Shock Monkey: Programming, animations, attack, idle, walk, death

Caves Level Texturing 5-1 to 5-4

             Master Zombie Level Texturing 5-5

December 2017

            Achievements User Interface (UI)

Moleth’s Shop UI, Programming

       Torn City Level: Changed Background (for game optimization)

January 2018

  Master Zombie Level (Top Floor), 3D model

Survival Level, Torn City, 3D Model, and Texture, Sewer -3D Model and Texture

            Character Select UI – Redesigned

Map Select UI -Redesigned

       Character Upgrades -Removed combined with character select UI

Master Zombie Form 1 -Programming, visual effects, animations, idle, attack 1 and 2, laugh, death


   Master Zombie Form 2 – Programming, animations

  Game Camera – Made a more dynamic camera

  Tutorial Level – Textures, training dummy

Faith Dimaranan contributed the following in January 2018:

            Game Localization, Game Dialogue System, Achievement System, Enemy Spawner Optimization, Save and                    Load Game Optimization, Character Upgrades Optimization, Game Tutorial Level Design and Programming.

February 2018

GameCon 2018




               Tany – Final programming, animations, stick attack animations, special attack projectile



            Jessaline – Animations, Dagger Attack Animations, Dagger Projectiles


          Fix game bugs 

Article by Edward L. Tan and Alstaire A. Sarthou
Pictures by Edward L. Tan (up to first prototype of the game only) and Alstaire A. Sarthou