Stressed out undergrad develops game inspired by Taichi; wins international competition

He's an entrepreneur behind the 3-person team of Deck Head Games, the creators of the Kickstarter game that was funded in 24 hours.

And today's he also the creator behind TILTOFF - a game that snagged him an international accolade for Game of The Year in 2017's The Rookies international competition by software developer Autodesk.

TILTOFF is a game of balance, and playing it can help you achieve a sense of balance in your day-to-day.

A Post-Exam Life That Was Out Of Whack

"I wasn't getting enough exercise, fruits, and water. All this led to extra stress and I couldn't focus on tasks very well," Timothi shares. "So I sought to better my work-life balance."

An unexpected source of relaxation came in the form of TaiChi, and although he didn't start practicing it full-time, Timothi found attempting movements "better than meditative yoga".

He found it interesting that some forms made him feel "as if he was rolling a ball around," and that in turn became the basis for TILTOFF.

Creating the platform on a whim, it took him 3 weeks from conception to publishing.

The original prototype only had players roll a ball around to tilt and balance a platform, but a friend's comment motivated him to add falling objects to make it harder.

"It led to a brain blast," Timothi says.

"Falling objects makes it more interesting and illustrates the concept of balance better as it's not just you causing imbalance, but also the external inputs from life."

Juggling undergrad studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (California) and TILTOFF turned out to be not difficult at all, he adds.

"When I create a game, it is a self-defined project, and I always strive to make them fun and relaxing. […] I also get into a focus zone easily and my mind automatically knows what to do without me having to think much. Here, I feel relaxed and satisfied."

"It's that sweet spot between difficulty and skill. In game design, we call that 'flow', or 'cognitive flow', from a psychology standpoint."

A College Business

Photo: Kickstarter/Deck Head Games

Before TILTOFF, Timothi had also launched Deck Head Games with 2 classmates, James Collins and Aimee Zhang.

"It was a final project for a class, and I was grateful for the chance to develop Ducklings with them [but] at the end of it, we weren't too satisfied with the polish of the game. We knew we could do better."

While they promised to work on it together outside of class, the reality of responsibilities was a depressing factor.

The turning point for them was when professors invited them to join a special class.

Its focus? To develop games to market-ready states.

Ducklings is about being parents to 3 ducklings, and having to deal with the ups and downs of shielding them from harm.

"We ran into many problems during development, not knowing if the market was ready to accept an emotion-driven game. People said our game was too emotionally charged and risqué, we should alter it towards humour and cuteness."

This perspective didn't sit well with them, so they enrolled in the school's New Venture Seed Competition where pitching Ducklings helped hone its development.

"The game was headed in the right direction. It just needed more maturity and confidence from us, the developers," he stated.

What began as an assignment has now become a Kickstarter project with almost 300 per cent funding.

Reflecting on the experience, Timothi comments how their share belief of "bridging the gap between parent and child" gave birth to Ducklings.

"That, and the effort we put in to dispel our doubts, helped us pave the road to a successful debut Kickstarter, and the beginnings of Deck Head Games as a college startup."

Future Entrepreneur For Games

With a vested passion in gaming entrepreneurship, Timothi reveals lofty aspirations of owning his own studio/incubator in Singapore in the future.

"I have every intention of working with Pixel Studio (IMDA gaming incubator), but I want to focus on pushing the boundaries of interactive entertainment."

"Using a modified incubator/accelerator model, I envision a programme - 'CombineSG' - that allows for rapid iteration of innovative experiences via play-testing with the public. From here, we can work on improving public perception on gaming as a career."

Photo: Kickstarter/Deck Head Games

The accolade shows him that his passion is recognised, and "is a step forward towards" realising his dream of creating works of entertainment that touch people's hearts and inspire them to create their own successes.

With Gentlebros and Rotten Mage laying foundations and elevating perceptions with their successes, Singapore is almost 'there', he says.

"Every time I return, I feel a yearning to step out from being consumers to become worthy creators who turn ideas into a living."

Our market might be small, but our potential is in leveraging our global connections, he says.

"I dream of a future where Singapore is home to bleeding edge technology, where designers can create interactive pieces that push the boundaries of our understanding of human-computer interaction."

More about

Game
Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.