Nikhil Malankar is one of the most recognizable personalities in the Indian game development industry. He is not only the founder and CEO of GameEon Studios but also the creative mind behind their upcoming project, Mumbai Gullies, an open-world sandbox game set in the streets of Mumbai.
The India Game Developer Conference 2021, the 13th iteration of India’s biggest conference on game development, was held from 16-18 November 2021. Many well-established dignitaries from the world of game development participated and shared their knowledge with the audience.
Nikhil Malankar is also part of the organizing committee of the India Game Developer Conference 2021. In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, he opened up about his experience and hopes for the future of game development in India.
Nikhil Malankar, GameEon Studios founder & CEO on his experiences, Mumbai Gullies, and the future of Indian game development
To begin the interview, I would like to ask you about your inspiration behind game development and designing. What drives you and what are you looking for in the future of video games?
Nikhil: When I was a kid, I used to love playing video games, but eventually, this love for video games turned into a passion to mod them. I remember modding GTA Vice City and turning it into something that resembled Mumbai city. I showed this game to a friend of mine and he asked me a simple question: “Nikhil, if you can mod a game then why not make a game by yourself?”
This got me thinking that I would love to make an original open-world game based in Mumbai city. And this became the very reason for which I started my company, GameEon Studios. This dream itself has driven me so far and everything I did up to this point in my life was in order to make it come true. I feel very grateful that all these years of hard work have made me capable enough to execute on this dream game.
Personally, I think the future of video games is extremely bright. They have now started to transcend into real life and erased the boundaries of reality and the virtual world. Very soon, we will be living in a world where gaming will turn into a critical aspect of our lives and everything will be quantified digitally.
Mumbai Gullies is one of the most anticipated titles across India. What can you share about the title? Any interesting behind-the-scene story that you would like to share?
Nikhil: We just showcased our gameplay, which was revealed only to a limited number of people till this point. The response towards the game has been beyond anything that I would have imagined. It feels great to have the game being known by the masses. It has caused intrigue not just with the Indian audience but also with people overseas.
Also, we announced at IGDC that we are actually working on two titles: Mumbai Gullies Prologue and Mumbai Gullies The Final Chapter. Mumbai Gullies Prologue will actually be a shorter version of the grand vision that we have for the game, whereas Mumbai Gullies The Final Chapter will be what we have envisioned the game to be in its entirety.
Your YouTube channel is quite famous amongst India's game development community, especially for your tutorials. What is the process behind content creation?
Nikhil: I have kept the process very simple for me. I make a list of all the videos that I want to make, hit the record button by placing my phone in front of me, do minimal editing, and upload it. The intent behind my YouTube channel has always been to share my experience with the audience, be it good, bad, or ugly.
However, lately, I haven’t been getting enough time to dedicate to YouTube since my schedule is pretty tight, with production and other meetings lined up throughout the day. But now, I have blocked my calendar for specific dates and timings that will be dedicated to my YouTube channel, as I believe that my company has also greatly benefitted because of it. The motive has and will always be simple: to help newcomers learn about this industry and share my journey, which has now become somewhat of an open-source journey for all!
How has your experience been with IGDC and its relevance to not just South East Asian game development but also the global setting?
Nikhil: The IGDC experience has been amazing. I entered the IGDC scene pretty late. My first time at IGDC was actually in 2019 and I have been in this industry since 2013. However, after I attended the first conference, there was no looking back. There is a ton of value at the conference because you get to interact and network with like-minded passionate game developers and business owners.
Every year, I have seen an upgrade in my relationship with IGDC. In 2019, I was invited as a speaker. In 2020, we became the bronze sponsors for IGDC and announced the Mumbai Gullies concept at the conference. Finally, this year, in 2021, I was on the IGDC's organizing committee. I firmly believe that if you want to make a career in the game development industry, then you absolutely cannot afford to miss IGDC. And as I keep reiterating, if you miss IGDC, then game development is not for you.
How do you feel game development has grown in India and how could it evolve in the future?
Nikhil: Game development has grown by leaps and bounds. Right from something as simple as Ludo King becoming wildly popular among the masses to amazing gaming experiences like Raji, India has seen exponential growth and is predicted to grow even further. Passion projects turning into actual businesses, the democratization of app stores, along with the availability of the internet and resources to learn online have further catapulted the number of game developers in the country.
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The future, in simple words, looks bright for the country’s game development scene. I am personally excited to see and be a part of this growth journey of India's game development industry.