Chennai-based Nextwave Multimedia launches ‘Bowling Wizards', a big game for mobile platforms. We catch up with the company's directors P.R. Rajendran and P.R. Jayashree and their team
There is an air of expectancy at the office of Nextwave Multimedia in Nungambakkam.
The non-descript two-storeyed building situated on a surprisingly silent lane of Dr. Thirumurthy Nagar is home to a small team of designers and developers whose Apps (applications) have been creating ripples across mobile platforms — such as Apple's iOS, Nokia's Ovi, and Google's Android. The company's catalogue of over 80 games feature some with more than a million downloads.
Earlier this month, Intel's Appup developer programme inducted Nextwave and Rovio (of Angry Birds fame) into their ‘Legends' programme. The company's comic creator App ‘Comics Head' — that allows its users to create comic panels — has won rave reviews and even has a fanpage from Italy on Facebook.
Rajendran hopes that this Christmas season turns truly special for his company. Over the last week, they have premiered two Apps in the Apple and the Android universe — a game called ‘Bowling Wizards' and the re-vamped and repackaged version of comics' creator in ‘Comics Head'. He knows they could just be “one big hit away” from breaking into the big league.
A good role model is in the form of Rovio Sofware, a company no one knew anything about until a group of really miffed birds took their fight up to nasty pigs.
Services to development
Nextwave Multimedia was a services company for more than 10 years before focussing their efforts into product development. “The Apps store environment created by mobile OS companies provides an incredible opportunity for small players such as us to make it big,” Rajendran says. “No one knows where the next big thing is going to come from.”
When the company put out its Comics Creator as web service four-and-half years ago, they did not really think they would one day end up being a product development company as much as they were a services company.
But today their catalogue of games earns them a steady revenue from different platforms. Typically an average game with less than 10 levels of gameplay, which could sell at around US $ 3 on most marketplace, will take around two months to develop from the concept to deployment.
However, Nextwave is aiming bigger. “We want to put out a game that comprises a much bigger universe and will engage the users over a long duration of time.” He hopes that ‘Bowling Wizards', a bowling game that combines the classical bowling gameplay with an engaging storyline, will help them do that. They hope to put out more than a hundred levels across various settings.
The progress of the game from being a concept to the stage of execution is fascinating. After the concept is finalised, the game starts off with the sketching of the lead characters. Once the character designs are finalised and pencilled by the artists, a computer designer steps in to digitise and finalise the look and the feel of the characters on the computer. Simultaneously, a group of designers creates the level designs for the gameplay in a 3-D universe. And at the very final stage, the programmers code the game and test it, before publishing them across the mobile platforms.
If the previews of the two Apps — Bowling Wizards and Comics Head — that I saw are anything to go by, it will not be an exaggeration to say they might just have two killer Apps especially on the iPad that just seems to be the perfect handheld gadget for this.
Being a respected multimedia publisher also means they get access to mobile devices much before they reach the consumers. Nextwave's team of developers is already creating Apps for the upcoming Windows Mobile platform and have already seen how the phones have shaped up.
As I get ready to leave, I ask the directors if they feel the ever-growing Apps marketplace across mobile platforms makes it tougher or easier for companies to survive. “Compared to what we conventionally had, the fully automated online Apps market offers equal chances for small and big companies. Only the users influence the success of an App,” says Rajendran. Jayashree goes one step further: “This way, at least we have a fighting chance.”
THE BIG TWO
Comics Head (publishing)
Create your own comics and photo-journals using the App. It comes pre-loaded with a set of properties, including characters and settings. “If you have an idea, the App can help you tell the story,” according to Nextwave's publicity material. Facebook page: www.facebook.com/comicshead
Bowling Wizards (game)
The wizard world is in a crisis. The evil lord has cast a spell on the ‘pines' (wizard talk for bowling pins) and has enslaved them. It is now up to the gamers to free them from their spell. The bowling game is set across several worlds. It is Nextwave's foray into the big gaming league. Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/bowlingwizards