BREAKING into any industry can be difficult. Without any insider knowledge or proper platforms, it is hard to get a head start and make your mark. In an industry like the local gaming scene, this sentiment rings true.
“There weren’t as many opportunities (when I started). Upon graduation, I realised there wasn’t much opportunity to build games in Malaysia, especially in Penang,” said Jeremy Choo, who began his career as a gaming programmer.
Hence, this gave Choo the inspiration to start Ammobox in hopes of creating more opportunities for future gamers. Ammobox today has managed to gain a significant amount of following in the industry.
Their newly released game, Eximius is one of the few games to combine tactical First Person Shooter game play with a high-level strategic decision-making of a Real-time Strategy (RTS) game.
What is the creative process behind Eximius?
Eximius combines two of my favourite genres – first person and real-time strategy. I have always been a fan of real-time strategy and wanted to create a highly strategic first-person shooter game where players don’t mindlessly go around and shoot.
So, Eximius offers a lot more teamwork and team coordination. For instance, in single first player shooter games like Call of Duty and Crisis, players are playing in scripted events.
In Eximius however, we wanted to create a situation for players to be in a bigger element.
You still have the fun and an army that is pushing through to fight the enemy. But the entire backup you are getting is controlled by another commander.
The superior single-player action in a multiplayer environment is what we are trying to achieve.
How would you describe the difference between Eximius 1.0 and the 2018 Early Access version?
Eximius 1.0 is a much more polished version of the game. Many parts of the game from Early Access were rebuilt from the ground up with the participation of our community.
We play with those players. Eximius 1.0 also has more fit customisation, extra features and double the content than the Early Access version.
Were there any issues since Ammobox first started?
First and foremost would be investor confidence. It is generally hard to project confidence to investors or publishers for a new studio and from a region that doesn’t have a lot of IP being developed. They will think twice about investing because they have never seen games of high quality from this region.
So until they see the end product, they will assume that nobody here is capable of doing it.
This prevents us from getting the necessary resources, which then affects the quality of the game.
So, a lot of the time we have this issue which is a very chicken-and-egg issue.
We are working with very limited resources and our end product is the result of limited resources.
A second issue would be the talents. Years ago when we started, the games development ecosystem here wasn’t very geared towards creation of online PC or console-based multiplayer games. And a game like ours requires a different set of skills compared with mobile or casual games.
Finally, would be the strength of our currency. Due to this, we can’t outsource our work to anyone outside our region.
How can Malaysians support the local gaming scene?
Local players tend to only play the biggest games. They tend to avoid trying out new games. Hence, indie games are not very popular among local mainstream players.
In fact, one of the popular mindsets is that they will only play the game once it has gone viral. Whereas players in other countries are more interested in being a part of the games’ success.
One day, they can look back and say they were there before it became viral. I think this reflects the mentality among Southeast Asian gamers.
They are very much into hyper-popular games. How they discover games is very different. Therefore, we hope Malaysians will explore other options and not limit themselves to only the mainstream ones.
What do you have in store for the future?
We want to support our current game and complete all our content roll-out first. We definitely want to have longer support for the game to further improve its performance. And depending on how well the game does, we would be open to developing more games.