Game development and the cloud

Sherman ChinBCN has partnered with the Cloud South East Asia event to interview some of its speakers. In this interview we speak to Sherman Chin, Founder & CIO of Sherman3D.

Cloud South East Asia: Please tell us more about Sherman3D and your role in the gaming industry.

Sherman Chin:  I started game development during my college days when I did game development as hobby projects. I then graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Computing from the University of Portsmouth, UK, and was the recipient of the 2002 International Game Developers Association scholarship. I formed Sherman3D shortly after and I oversaw the entire game development pipeline. Though my experience is in programming, I am able to serve as a bridge between the technical and creative team members.

I worked on over 20 internationally recognized games including Scribblenauts published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Nickelodeon Diego’s Build & Rescue published by 2K Play, and Moshi Monsters Moshling Zoo published by Activision. Sherman3D is the longest lasting Malaysian indie game development company incorporated since 2003. With Sherman3D, I am the first Malaysian to release a game on Steam, the largest digital distribution platform for games online, after being voted in by international players via the Steam Greenlight process.

Within the gaming industry, I also worked as a producer in Japan, as a project manager in Canada, and as a COO in Malaysia. With over 15 years of experience in the gaming industry, I am currently the external examiner for the games design course at LimKokWing University and a game industry consultant for the Gerson Lehrman Group providing advisory services for international investors.

How has technology such as cloud supported your growth?

One important aspect of cloud technology is how ubiquitous it is. It allows my international development team to work online from anywhere in the world. This has helped us tremendously as we move our development operations online. We have our documents edited and stored online, we have our project management online, we have our video conference sharing sessions online, and we even have our game sessions online.

These online activities are made possible with cloud technology. More directly related to our product, Alpha Kimori was initially coded as a 3D tech demo for the supercomputing grid, which was showcased at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2003.

I continued work on Alpha Kimori as a 2D JRPG that was then featured on the OnLive cloud gaming service for PC, Mac, TV, and mobile. OnLive streamed our game on multiple platforms with minimal effort on our part. Thanks to OnLive, we reached a bigger audience before finally making it on to Steam via the Greenlight voting process by players who wanted to see Alpha Kimori on Steam.

Do you think cloud has an important role in the gaming industry and do providers give you enough support?

Yes, cloud does play an important role in the gaming industry and providers do give enough support. OnLive was extremely helpful for example. It was perfect for an asynchronous game such as Alpha Kimori which had a turn based battle system. Unfortunately, synchronous realtime games have a more difficult time adapting to the slower response rate from the streaming cloud servers. In order to boost response time, servers have to be placed near the players. Depending on the location of the servers, a player’s mileage might vary.

As broadband penetration increases, this becomes less of an issue so early implementations of Cloud gaming might have been too early for its time. I do see a bright future though. We just have to match the optimum sort of games to Cloud gaming as the technology progresses.

What will you be discussing at Cloud South East Asia?

At Cloud South East Asia, I will be discussing how asynchronous Japanese Role Playing Game elements are suitable for Cloud gaming as they require less of a response time compared to synchronous real time battle games. I will also do a post mortem of Alpha Kimori on the Cloud gaming platforms it was on.

Cloud technology was not always a bed of roses for us and we had to adapt as there were not many precedents. In the end though, each cloud gaming platform that Alpha Kimori was on helped us to advance our game content further. I will also talk about the auxiliary resources on the Cloud for game design such as the amazing suite of free technology provided by Google. I will also talk a bit about the sales of Alpha Kimori on Steam and how Cloud technology affects it with features such as Steam Cards.

Why do you think it is an important industry event and who do you look forward to meeting and hearing more from?

Having its roots in Japanese Role Playing Games, Alpha Kimori was selected by the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) committee for its Indie Game Area in September, 2015. Sherman3D is once again honoured to be the only Malaysian indie team sponsored by TGS and as such, we view TGS as an important industry event for us. It will help us penetrate the Japanese market and we look forward to meeting and hearing from potential Japanese business partners willing to help us push the Alpha Kimori intellectual property in Japan.

What is next for Sherman3D?

Sherman3D will go on developing the Alpha Kimori series and licensing our Alpha Kimori intellectual property to other developers worldwide. We want to see our Alpha Kimori universe and brand grow. We are also working on the Alpha Kimori comic and anime series. Ultimately, Sherman3D will spread the Great Doubt philosophy in Alpha Kimori where it is not about the past or the future but our experience in the current moment that counts. Only from now do we see our past and future shaped by our own perspective because the truth is relative to our human senses. Attaching too much to anything causes us suffering and accepting the moment gives us true freedom as it allows us to love without inhibitions. Sherman3D will continue to spread the Great Doubt philosophy in its endeavours in the entertainment industry.

Learn more about how the cloud is developing in South East Asia by attending Cloud South East Asia on 7th & 8th October 2015 at Connexion @ Nexus, KL, Malaysia.

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