When the team behind Koombiyo first released the tv series, little did they know how popular it would become. From the countless fan pages and groups, to conspiracy theories and even a dedicated comic series. Now, there’s even a PC game on the way thanks to KodeX, a Sri Lankan software developmemt startup. Yes, that’s how popular Koombiyo has become.
But we’re not going to talk about Koombiyo, rather, its all about the team behind the game and their story. We at ReadMe met with KodeX recently to talk all about their gaming efforts and everything else the team has been up to.
Back in 2014, a group of students attending the same class at the Java Institute in Kandy decided to start their own company. These group of 7 people, led by Kanchuka Samarakoon and Padhmaranga Madhurshika, called their startup KodeX. Today, this startup mostly focuses on website development, standalone software, mobile apps, and other technologies.
Early days for the company involved building management related standalone softwares for different entities such as factories and offices. Each scenario called for different needs in terms of software. But as time went by, the company moved on to developing websites as well, mostly for clientele around the Kandy area.
Following up standalone software and website development, their efforts eventually kicked off into mobile apps. It wasn’t until then did they start thinking serious about gaming.
Kanchuka shared how the initial few games they put out on mobile didn’t receive much response from users. But things started to pick up for KodeX when they decided to play on nostalgia. They started putting out games that resembled Dave and KITT from Knight Rider. Their main idea here is to develop mobile games that cater to popular things followed by people. Be it an old PC game, a beloved TV series, if there’s room for a mobile game they will put one out there.
But its not all about websites and mobile apps for the young team. Recently they’ve also gotten into IoT as well. Speaking to ReadMe, Madhurshika, team lead at Kodex said they are currently working on an IoT project for a New Zealand company. A system is being built where it would allow an ambulance and a hospital to communicate with each other. The idea is to make the process faster and more convenient, even during emergencies.
But its not going to stop at IoT either. The team also stated that they will be getting into AR and VR in the near future as well. But what makes KodeX unique and interesting isn’t merely about the projects the company is involved in. What makes this 7 man team more unique is the fact that they’re still undergraduates in their 2nd year.
This young team had always wanted to get into the gaming industry. Despite the odds of success in a country like Sri Lanka, KodeX was determined to enter the arena. So, the team first started conceptualizing a PC game based in Kandy. At the same time, the idea of developing a game around something everybody was familiar with, was intriguing to say the least. Ultimately, the team decided it made sense to go this route since its their debut in the gaming industry.
Back in January, the team met with the producers of Koombiyo. This was to talk about the possibility of them building a PC game out of the show. This would be the first time a game is being developed based off a Sri Lankan TV series. Koombiyo has undoubtedly won the hearts of many. While the project only kicked off in January, the game is actually nearing completion. Lakshan, System Administrator at KodeX, mentioned that it should be out very soon and that the game will be available in all 3 platforms. Windows, Mac and Linux. That’s certainly something you don’t hear everyday.
It’s been only 3 months since the project started. But the team is actually at the final stages of development. So how have the team come about in building this game? It all essentially comes down to delegating each element of the development process.
First, it’s all about the story concept. This is where Lakshan comes in. The story and flow of the game is finalised before kicking off the actual development. Its Lakshan’s job to ensure the dev team closely follows the storyline. Once the story is sorted, Pubudu ensures all the relevant characters are designed and developed. From Jehan, to Hiruni and Tiran, you could pretty much expect to see all the noteworthy characters from the show.
But the most challenging component of the development process is building the environment. This becomes particularly challenging when the game is open world. The main map in essence, is Colombo. Developing the environment primarily involves visualizing elements from the TV episodes and a lot of Google image stalking.
As far as the accuracy of the map goes, the team will be only be sticking to the vital elements. You might think it would make sense to physically visit the locations in order to accurately map the environment. While this is true, it would also mean that the team will be travelling back and forth to Colombo on a regular basis. This would make an already daunting task, even more challenging.
Like any startup, efforts are not without their share of challenges. According to Madhurshika, it comes down to 2 main problems. One, is the lack of technical expertise. The other, is the lack of knowledge and confidence in the investing community about the gaming industry.
Developing a full scale game is undoubtedly hard. Developing a game in Sri Lanka is even harder. For one thing, it costs a fair bit of time and money for a gaming project to see the light of day. As such, its proving to be difficult to get individuals and companies to invest in the gaming industry. The KodeX team highlights how access to better technologies like motion capture would allow them to provide a much richer gaming experience to users.
Of course, Koombiyo is just the beginning for KodeX. Moving forward, they hope to take all the feedback from the game and work on improving the user experience towards their next gaming project. Right now, the team is undecided on what the next gaming project will be exactly. They did say that they might always go back to that original Kandy based idea though.
While they set foot into the world of game development, KodeX will continue working on their websites, IoT projects and mobile apps as well. Here’s us wishing the boys from Kandy all the very best for the future ahead.
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Uditha Bandara is a corporate trainer and a consultant specializing in Mobile Application development for Android and IOS. He was South East Asia’s First XNA/DirectX MVP (Most Valuable Professional). He has conducted sessions at events and conferences in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India. -http://uditha.wordpress.com
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