The gaming industry in Sri Lanka seems to be getting a breath of fresh air. More and more developers are joining up, with more promising games being made right here in our own island pearl. There’s a lot of passion and interest growing in what is seemingly a difficult arena to conquer. If my visit to team KodeX in Kandy was any indication, its that one can be hopeful the industry continues to grow. Unbroken, a game with an original IP, currently in development, is another effort that shows great promise.
When I first saw the teaser for Unbroken my immediate thought was, “Okay. This looks promising”. But then I noticed two things that caught my attention. One, the high graphics on the video is actual gameplay. Two, the game was made in Sri Lanka. As a fellow Sri Lankan, I was thoroughly overjoyed. I had to meet the team behind this project. And so I did.
Unbroken: Imagining a post-apocalyptic Sri Lanka
Imagine if the developed countries got together and formed an organization. This organization, dubbed Falcon, basically wants to control the world. It’s a scenario where the smaller countries fall victim to this corrupt organization. Sri Lanka is also among them. This is where the story of Unbroken begins, exactly 8 years after the invasion.
These days we see a lot of focus on stories from the ancient days. There are also stories on the present. But rarely has there been anything that portrays a future Sri Lanka. This is where Shashika Nuwan, one of the faces behind Unbroken, drew inspiration for the game.
Some time back, Shashika pitched the idea to his old schoolmate Gayan Shashika. By January this year, both of them started working on the game, while gathering their team along the way in Rathnapura. A few months later, they released a teaser to gauge the audience reaction. After an overwhelming response, the team was convinced that the game had immense potential in Sri Lanka.
From an idea to a promising product
Shashika and his schoolmate had years of experience in the local gaming industry. Before starting off with the Unbroken project, the duo had worked as 3D artists at GTS, a local game development company. They continued to be involved in the industry for a number of years, mostly in the capacity of artists. The switch from designing to developing a game came when they started pursuing their own passion project in the form of Unbroken.
For Shashika, it’s not merely enough for something to be just “made in Sri Lanka”. It should be made in Sri Lanka and be something top notch. If you put in an extra effort and create something worthwhile, you will get your ROI. But then again, top-notch graphics alone will not suffice. The team notes that much of their initial efforts focused a lot on gameplay. It wasn’t until the basic idea was built, that focus diverted towards optimizing the graphics for the game.
“A lot of people initially told us that you can’t make a game in Sri Lanka and earn a profit. But when we showed our prototype, they started believing otherwise”
– Shashika Nuwan
Of course, development is only one aspect. A project of this nature can be quite costly. Getting somebody to fund a gaming project in Sri Lanka can be a challenge, to say the least. Luckily, the team managed to get investors on board for the project in January itself. So the team actually had one less problem to deal with.
When can we get a taste of Unbroken?
Much of the current efforts involve optimizing the game. However, their plan is to release a private beta version for selected parties in 2 months time. Following months of testing and polishing things up, the team believes the game will be ready for commercial release by December this year. Following the release, Shashika mentioned that they plan to bring the PC game to other platforms like XBox and PlayStation.
Looking at the future, the team wants to incorporate a game development company under the name Game Forest. Here, Shashika and the gang will continue investing their efforts into developing more games like Unbroken.
“After Aba, the movie industry in Sri Lanka sparked an interest in Sri Lankan history-based stories. We hope games like Unbroken will have a similar effect for the gaming industry here.”
– Shashika Nuwan
Of course, this largely depends on how successful the game actually ends up becoming. But drawing inspiration from companies like Arimac and how they went about with Kanchayudha, Shashika and his team is pretty confident.