The One Academy’s School of Illustration recently invited its alumni from local award-winning indie games studio, Kurechii, to share on the studio’s journey and provide insights into the game art market and industry, as well as the game art production to its students. Participants were treated to a two-hour eye-opening sharing session by P’ng Yiwei, the founder and director of Kurechii and Rachel Ho Fui Shin, a game artist.
P’ng shared how he first started Kurechii in 2009 as a one-man studio, as well as its journey of ups and downs to reach where it stands today as one of the most known indie games studio in Malaysia. Calling themselves Kurechiians, P’ng takes on the role as “The Enchanter” while Ho is “The Magician”, envisioning themselves as characters in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that go on to conquer dungeons and quests. Parallel to their roles in real life, P’ng is the supporter and guides the team in all of their projects, while Ho works her magic and conjures imaginations into wonderful realities with her art.
P’ng started making games back in 2009 after graduating from the Multimedia Design (now Digital Media Design) course at The One Academy. Having been exposed to programming, art, graphics and animation during his studies allowed him to make mini games and so on. Finding success with his first ever platform-jumping game Reachin’ Pichin that had over 500,000 players, gave him the confidence to pursue making games full-time, despite that there were not many game companies in Malaysia at the time and the perception of making games was something that is not profitable.
His next games, The King’s League (2011) was played by over one million players, while its sequel King’s League: Odyssey (2013) was the start of their transition to mobile games with the rise of 3G at that time. It had over 10 million players and garnered several international recognitions such as Best Game (IGF China 2014), Best Mobile Game (CCA Indie Prize 2014), Top 10 Overall Paid App (20+ countries including Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, etc.) and Top 1 Strategy & Simulation Game (25+ countries including South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, etc.). Along the journey, they achieved further success with Tiny Guardians (2015) and Postknight (2017), both received a number of awards, having featured and topped the charts in 125+ and 160+ countries respectively in App Store and Google Play.
Having started off with zero experience in the game business and in creating proper game art for animation, they encountered many challenges and obstacles, but they kept on experimenting. They were determined to challenge themselves to do more in terms of the art, storytelling, animations and more.
Their proudest achievement would most likely be their latest game, King’s League II (2021), having been published on Apple Arcade, one of the most prestigious gaming platforms. Kurechii was the only Malaysian studio among 100 companies including game giants Square Enix and Sega that were selected by Apple to work with as the first batch of games to be featured. They are currently working on Postknight 2 with Ho at the helm of the production.
“The funny thing about making games is that no one asked for it, yet we are trying to create a game and by doing so, also creating a lot of problems in the process, and then attempting to solve those problems to eventually complete the game to be enjoyed by players,” quipped P’ng.
On the topic of the games market and industry, P’ng gave insight to the students on what are the things that they would encounter and should look into if they are keen on getting into the industry. Some of the points were AAA vs. indie games, realism vs. stylized art styles, 2D vs. 3D, and mobile vs. console vs. PC platform.
“If you really want to get into the games industry, don’t limit yourself to just being an artist. Incorporate your sense of storytelling, user interface and gameplay into your art as well. See yourself as a player and think in a way how the player would want to consume your game,” said P’ng.
As an artist herself, Rachel Ho shared her personal experience and gave valuable advice on how to choose between industries, the pros and cons of freelancing, working for a small studio or a big company, as well as how to manage criticism, art block and burnout.
“Sometimes it takes to be away from something for a period of time in order to miss it. Eventually, you’ll pick up from where you left off after sorting out your thoughts. You’ll have a different perspective and come back stronger,” said Ho.
She also shared that the industry looks for artists who are team players, have a wide range of art styles, able to problem-solve and cope with pressure. She started posting her art online (@rachelhofs on Instagram) as a journal to see her own growth, and encouraged rookie artists to do the same too. P’ng added that he also checks out the Instagram of potential candidates when hiring because it shows their real side, working habits and art styles.
“If you’re a junior artist, I’d recommend to just show all the art styles that you have and everything you’ve produced. Sometimes they might think it’s not good or unsuitable but it might be the reason that they actually get hired,” advised P’ng on how to present a good portfolio when interviewing for a job. The fruitful sharing session ended with the audience enlightened with a better understanding of the path they have chosen.
The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, which has been practised for over 30 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science, Game Design and Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. For more information on The One Academy, visit www.toa.edu.my or call +603-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].
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