‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’ by Nodding Heads Games is set to usher in fresh Indian flavours

2016 has been a splendid year for gaming, as a whole. From brilliant releases to eSports flourishing, the industry was lit with events and disappointed the enthusiasts very little. While the global industry was on an upward surge, the indigenous gaming sector experienced rapid growth as well. Scores of new developers and studios have sprung up and the quality of content is being polished for good. A recent announcement from the freshly created indigenous, indie studio, Nodding Heads Games looks to be keeping in tandem with some of the good games that came out in the past year from the indies of the country. The studio announced their debut game titled ‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’ which adheres to a traditional Indian theme. For now, the studio has just released a teaser, giving us a glimpse on what to expect.
AnimationXpress spoke to Nodding Heads Games, co-founder and game designer, Avichal Singh and co-founder  and artist, Shruti Ghosh, in order to get some anecdotes from the studio’s plans on the game. “We wanted to make a game that represents lores, myths and stories from India. Right after our visits to Rajasthan back in 2014, we were so inspired by the splendid beauty and grandeur of monuments from the medieval era of Rajasthan, we decided to make a game that portrays this timeless and unique beauty to the world. Our alternate universe is loosely inspired by epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. By combining these two, we were able to imagine a game of grand scale. Set in Ancient India, Raji, is a young girl chosen by the gods to stand against the demonic invasion of the human realm, her destiny to rescue her younger brother and face the demon lord Mahabalasura.” asserted the duo. However, to create a game on a backdrop which is even loosely based on mythology, strong research is needed to bring in the whole essence of these ancient stories to the game. Singh said that they have done thorough research on the subject before starting the project. A team of five members, who are former employees of EA, Zynga, Rockstar, Ubisoft and The Chinese Room, have been working on the game since November, last year using Adobe suite, Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max, Marmoset Tool Bag 3, Quixel Suite 2. Raji game setting “Visiting Rajasthan has contributed to the artstyle, music and attire of the game. We plan to go to Rajasthan again, covering more locations, we want to go back so badly! Adding to that, our artists visited Bali, Indonesia. We gathered references for our character artstyle, saw some fantastic temples, ruins and statues. We’ve analysed concurrent games that fall close to our game and done all the ground work from moodboards for architecture, colours and characters henceforth. Also, our artists have been heavily inspired by the old Pahari paintings hence our artstyle is hand painted which we thought would do justice to tell a story of such epic scale. We choose Unreal 4 engine to aid to the output we want to achieve for our game’s look and feel.” The claims of the studio about their research reflect pretty well in the teaser. It was short, but gave us a vague experience of being in a location as mentioned above. The music in the trailer (and hopefully in the game) perfectly complements the setting. The music has been created by Linus Jelos, who was in India back in 2014. Singh added, “I was in Jaisalmer at the same time and Linus was at Pushkar, where he learned traditional instruments from a constructor, musician, and teacher who goes by the name Master Kistoor.” In a country where mobile downloads are soaring in the charts and hence mobile content getting more priority, it is good to see more games targeting other mediums. “We are planning to release the game on Windows. Consoles are one of our first stretch goals when we go live on Kickstarter.” said Singh Raji will not be the first games loosely based on Indian mythology, Ogre Head Studios’ hack-n-slash Asura is also set to debut this year, which has a similar backdrop. Nodding Heads Games is planning to initiate the Kickstarter campaign very soon to crowd-fund the project. However, 2016 saw a sharp decline in Kickstarter pledges for videogames, we hope this game makes it to its desired goal as we would definitely want to see how the studio manages to pull off the settings.