Kenyan 3D games developer eyes global app stores millions

Eugene Adeli, 23, an independent developer of computer and mobile games. PHOTO | STELLAR MURUMBA

Have you ever desired to create that game that has been at the back of your mind for ages? Just as fiction readers want to write their own novels, avid gamers want to create their own games.

But, creation of any kind entails lots of hard work and commitment. Just because it is possible does not mean it is easy. Such is the case of one Eugene Adeli, a 23-year-old jack of all trades.

Mr Adeli, an independent game and software developer, is also a 3D artist and an assistant promos production and TV graphics officer at Citizen TV, a local television station.

3D in programming is the ability to give an object height, width and depth, like any object in the real world.

“I have always loved gaming. I paid close attention and detail to every childhood computer game we used to play with my cousins. I would wonder how a game could be so entertaining and imagined myself creating my own,” says the Moi University graduate of informatics.

For his second year project at the university, Mr Adeli developed a game called “Steelshot” — a first person shooter video game franchise like the famous Call of Duty for gamers.

This development sparked debate among his seniors in fourth year who could not understand how he could develop a game ahead of them, he says.

“Informatics as a course was more of theoretical than practical. No one else on campus had developed a game. For my fourth year project, my supervisor advised that I redo “The Game of Life”, a game originally done by John Conway, a mathematician.

The app was originally created to play itself and I recreated it in search of a way a gamer would play it with computer instructions,” says the self-taught developer.

In his fourth year, he met Dustin Dobson, a game producer at Electronic Arts, also known as EA Games — an American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games headquartered in Redwood City, California, who mentored him into developing more video games. The producer developed the much hyped Star Wars video game, among others.

“Mr Dobson was in Nairobi’s Komarock Estate working as a volunteer teacher at a primary school during a tour with his family. He talked about game developing and someone referred him to me. I was working on my project and a game at the time.

“He asked me to make teleportation (a statement in programming where a main character is made to disappear and reappear in another specific location) on a 2D character I was creating, which I delivered in two days and he was amazed,” he says.

On how he combines and transforms these computer graphics to reality, Mr Adeli says he does not work on the idea that first comes to mind. It only means the idea is similar to one he might come across, he says, rather he surprises himself with whole new ideas.

When a fresh idea hits you, the independent game developer advises, just sit back and relax. “You would not even know how to implement the idea until you get that wow factor,” he says.

The crucial and most important part of developing a game must be the storyboarding. This is where you put down your original idea about the game you want to design, he says. The idea should be simple, lest it bores the player.

But before this, Mr Adeli says, one should create the characters – in mind, to be deployed in a game. This is because you storyboard according to your characters.

He first sketches his characters on paper then scans them. Sometimes he gets help from artists to do that, saying that working with a team produces better results.

“Do not think of very hard things. Think simple. Have a storyline and build on the characters. I draw my characters then upload them to the software where I model the character from a 3D cube, texture it (adding colour) until it resembles what I want.

“Two heads are better than one so sometimes I get help drawing and designing my characters. Rigging then follows, which involves assigning bones to the character. For instance, if I want my character to smile, I add the cheekbone. It’s the longest part of character building.

“When your character is ready, upload it to the game developing engine and through normal models use your story bears — developed animation of every action you want to subject your character to, for instance, a boy jumping,” he explains.

Afterwards, one is required to synchronise the relationship between a character’s action and the player whereby a character will only run if the run button is pressed. “This is where your game comes to life,” says Mr Adeli.

However, the most challenging part in game developing, he says, is the level design. That is determining how the next level is going to be different from the previous one. The next level should be difficult with more obstacles.

Before the final product is launched to the market, the techie says, there is a lot of back and forth.

“Decide on the platform you want to launch your game on, for instance, Android’s Google Play Store, Apple Store or Black Berry Store, before exporting it. There will be a lot of bugs that would need fixing afterwards and one should be prepared to handle them as they come,” he says.

“C-Style Studios”, one of his independently developed games retails in Amazon at about Sh500. Mr Adeli says he was inspired by his little cousin to create the basic game that gives one control of every business in a city.

“Nightmares” is the other game he has uploaded on Amazon, retailing at $2 (Sh211). He also has three free apps on Google’s Play Store, namely, Gates, Pots and Planters and Double G studios.

Though there is limited support in terms of mentorship and resources, Mr Adeli, says creativity is the height of gaming and animation.

The past decade has seen some massive advancement in the world of gaming and animation and one can actually make a living through it by entertaining you, he states. His curriculum vitae is also created as a 3D game.

“Russian Federation gave me an offer the other day of hacking a website where they offer Sh2.5 million per page of 30 pages of a website. It did not sit well with me so I dropped the offer,” he says.

“This means computer graphics, which entails game and software developing, and animation pays well if done well. Although the support in Kenya cannot be compared with US, one can actually earn a living through it. In two months after having “C Style Studios” on Amazon, it already has over 5,000 downloads and I have received $2,500 wired in my account as profit.

“I have since learnt from my mentor Mr Dobson, in gaming, fail first and fail often. If you do not fail you will just do what others have already done. But, do not plan to fail,” he says.

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