Spotlight Interview: Lee Yan Hwa from Diceroll Studios

It is difficult to develop a game while setting up a game company. It is even harder when you are still a student managing your studies! Presenting Lee Yan Hwa from Diceroll Studios – her team persevered through time-eating anomalies and boss fights with school projects to finally emerge victorious with their beautiful and engaging game Umiro. Founded by a couple of interns of the Game Innovation Program (an initiative by the SUTD Gamelab), Diceroll Studios is about creating games that are inspired, creative, and ultimately fun. Let us congratulate them on their pioneer game achievement!

Check out their site – http://dicerollstudios.com/umiro/

 

Q: Give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your company. What is your role? What is your company about? What is your “origin” story?

I’m Yan Hwa, founder and programmer in Diceroll Studios! We started the company after completing the SUTD Game Lab’s Game Innovation Programme in 2015 and while we were still students (I’m still in university now). We decided to continue working on the game that we created during the internship. Its original name was “re:color”, but after many iterations the game has become what we know as “Umiro” now.

 

Q: What challenges have you and your company faced since it first started? How does it feel to start a game business?

Since we were still in university when we started the company, time was the biggest issue for us. We had to juggle school projects, tests and making the game at the same time and more often than not we had to give the latter a lower priority. What we thought we could achieve in a year ended up taking more than 2 years to complete!

Starting a game business definitely felt like a daunting task but I am extremely fortunate to have the guidance and support from my mother who is no stranger to all things business! My seniors in Diceroll also have never given up on me, thus I did not too.

Umiro is a mobile 2D puzzle-action game set in a stylized world. Published by Devolver Digital. 

Q: Most people are content with just playing games for fun. And the horror stories of game development are abundant in the industry. What qualities do you think is needed to start a game company in your country?

I think having ambition, perseverance and a great team are important in starting a game company and becoming successful, especially in a small country like ours. We need to cater to a global audience from day one. The Diceroll team has also been a great team to work with. Friends are a huge motivation to keep working in this industry!

 

Q: Looking forward, what is your ambition?

It’s very simple, I just want to make games that can reach a wide audience and entertain as many people as possible. They have to be fun games that we will also like to play ourselves.

 

Umiro utilizes a unique drawing mechanic to plan and guide Huey and Satura across various landscapes.

Q: What are your favorite games or examples of entertainment media?

Overcooked for co-op, The World Ends With You and Kingdom Hearts 2 for JRPG, Bastion and Osu!

 

Q. How would you respond to people who say that game development is the best job in the world since it is always fun? Conversely, how would you respond to people who say that game development is not a “real” job?

Hmmm… Game development is a great example of a hobby (playing games) becoming your work instead and the danger in that as always is that you might lose the “fun” in the hobby.

Gamers might be mainly concerned about whether a game is fun or not but as a developer you kind of have to also be concerned about ways to monetise a game, figure out how to do marketing and networking, take videos and make GIFs, and even find funding. Thus there are many obstacles in making a game that we might not have imagined when we only played games as a hobby.

As a developer, there is a different kind of “fun” in it but it is definitely not always fun. Even as a programmer, you would have to constantly figure out ways to optimise for different platforms and polish the game, thus it is a very “real” job indeed.

Journey across the beautiful but dangerous landscapes in Umiro while recoloring the world.

Q: If you have anything more that you would like to talk about, feel free to add them here.

You can find our game Umiro on the App Store, Google Play and on Steam! Check it out if you’re into a slightly different kind of puzzle game!

https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/umiro/id1354786786

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devolver.umiro

http://store.steampowered.com/app/727760/Umiro/

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