A Whanganui UCOL student is set to take gamers on an adventure through ancient China, and on a mission to colonize the solar system with the launch of two new video games.
Master of Design
student Anirudh Cheruvu is set to launch two games for Android and iOS; Eternal Vengeance - a martial arts role-playing game set in 16th century China -, and Celestial - a planet-colonizing strategy game.
Anirudh will be launching both games with events on UCOL’s Whanganui
and Palmerston North
campuses. There people will be able to play versions of the games before they are released on Android and iOS in mid-July. There will also be a tournament for Eternal Vengeance at the launch.
Anirudh has previously worked on games in his home country of India, but says these projects are on a larger scale. As Creative Director and Lead Designer for both games, he is managing two separate Indian-based development teams.
The games are owned and funded by Auckland-based company Puppet Masters Interactive Ltd (PMI).
He has been able to apply his research from his Master of Design, which focuses on artificial intelligence (A.I), to the games.
“I wanted to upgrade my skills academically as well as technically, in terms of game design. My core competency is to design games, but having academic support is helping me get new answers and put more quality into my games.”
For Eternal Vengeance, Anirudh recorded himself performing the martial arts actions, which he sent to his animators for reference.
“I learnt kung fu for about four years, and I thought about bringing my own skills into the game, but I had to learn some new styles. Most of the animations that you see have been choreographed by me.”
“What’s unique about this game is that you can use five different styles of Shaolin kung fu, including monkey, mantis, tiger, snake and crane. You can change from one style to the other, which gives a jaw-dropping combat experience.”
Anirudh says he got the idea for Celestial after watching documentaries on the evolution of the universe and space colonisation.
“I watched a documentary about Mars, and found that thousands of people applied for the Mars One project; they’re ready to leave everything and go to Mars. I found it pretty fascinating and thought this was the perfect time for me to make a game about celestial colonization.”
“I must have watched over 30 documentaries on planets and moons. I studied research papers, NASA-approved papers on different planets and space colonisation so I could give players an educational, as well as fun, experience.”
Anirudh has collaborated with a number of his fellow UCOL students on the project. Music students Jordan Rayner and Tom Duff have made the audio for both games, while Computer Graphic Design student Reuben McGinity is helping with the level design.
“I saw is as a great opportunity to get into the game developing area. It’s something I always wanted to know about. It’s a new field for me, and I’ve been learning a lot,” says Reuben.
UCOL Lecturer Gary Whiting, who is supervising Anirudh’s Master of Design research, says it’s exciting to see a student take on such ambitious projects while studying.
“When you see what Anirudh is doing in terms of the creative process, it’s quite extraordinary. The fact that he is running two teams in India from New Zealand is an interesting lesson for us in terms of how creative projects can be done.”
“His focus on artificial intelligence has been quite eye-opening. It gets you thinking about how A.I. can contribute to things in this country.
Anirudh says he has had great support from UCOL lecturers Gary Whiting and Barry McGoldrick, his investor and CEO of PMI Games Giri Tata, and his sister Pramada Lanka, who is the Assistant Game Designer for Eternal Vengeance and Scientific Data Analyst for Celestial.
Last year Anirudh won a top award at GovHack 2016 Whanganui for a third person adventure game which allowed players to discover interesting facts about Whanganui and Christchurch.
Eternal Vengeance and Celestial Launch
- Whanganui UCOL Atrium, Tuesday 27 June 10am – 5.30pm.
- Palmerston North UCOL Atrium, Wednesday 28 June, 10am - 8pm.
There will be a special prize draw, an Eternal Vengeance tournament, and game T-shirts available for purchase.