With more time spent indoors during the past few months, I have recently started gaming to bond with my children. Now that my youngest is able to independently operate the controls for first-person shooter game Call Of Duty Mobile, we have been playing as a family squad on the worldwide multiplayer platform. Together, we get excited about the acquisition of new characters, and customisation of weapons for loadouts brought into the various PvP (Player VS Player) battle modes.
What we are most enthusiastic about, is the music that changes with each new season. It is impossible to enjoy this game without the music and sounds which provide a truly immersive experience, as if we were the ones in the game!
This is one of our favourite themes: It puts us in the mood to pretend we are debonair, gunslinging cowboys, ready to swagger out the saloon doors for a good fight.
It is truly impressive to see the number of instruments (and the amount of effort) that go into performing such an epic 3-minute piece of music. This behind-the-scenes view definitely helps us appreciate music a little bit more.
If you aspire to be like one of these musicians creating your own heroic theme song, let Bloom School of Music & Arts take you on your musical journey. We offer Early Childhood music programmes to groom budding musicians, and we also have individual/group instrumental programmes (piano, drum, violin, guitar, and ukulele). Call us for enquiries, or fill up this Online Enquiry Form, and we will get back to you!
Still on the topic of games, and in conjunction with our August celebratory feature for homegrown artists, I am mighty thrilled to have this chat with Shawn Toh, CEO of BattleBrew Productions!
Singapore has no lack of talents who have made their mark both locally and globally, and I have a lot of respect for them. BattleBrew Productions is a cozy team of passionate and top-notch creators who took the serendipitous opportunity to start the local gaming company in 2017. They had a tough start, such as not having enough funds, but they rose to the challenge, and have since earned multiple awards and regional recognition for their BattleSky Brigade universe mobile games. This fun, food-loving bunch are currently not resting on their laurels, and are already brewing (pun intended) something new.
BattleBrew Production’s first game,
BattleSky Brigade: TapTap has won 4 awards:
Top 3: Big Indie Pitch @ G-Star 2018
GameStart Asia 2018 – Visitor’s Choice
SEA Game Awards 2018 – Finalist
IMGA SEA Awards 2018- Nominee
And BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner is one of over a hundred select games to be included in the recently launched Apple Arcade, an all-you-can-play video game subscription service by Apple Inc.
My kids and I have a lot of fun with BattleSky Brigade: TapTap. Our favourite thing to do is to scream in delight, and then tap my phone doubly hard whenever pirates show up. And of course, pick up the loot!
Or dance and sing along to the Smolian Disko.
This is a wonderful stress-relieving game to play when you need a breather.
Shawn exudes geniality and charisma, and in conversation, one can sense empathetic leadership. He is a do-all, and adept at his craft, and knows when to take a step back when needed. Read on to find out more about BattleBrew Production’s games and find out what it takes to be a game developer (email interview edited for clarity):
How/Why did BattleBrew Productions get started? What inspired the name BattleBrew?
Some of us were classmates a long time ago, and others were colleagues or friends we met along the way. After working a few years in the industry, we decided we wanted more creative freedom, and joined forces to start BattleBrew!
As for the name, we always fight the good fight, and good things take time to brew!
What are your games? What else is BattleBrew up to lately?
We’ve got two live games right now.
BattleSky Brigade: TapTap is a casual town-building, idle-clicker. You build up a little barrelpunk town on a floating island to your liking. Little bunny-like creatures called Smolians inhabit the town, and run about and generally do cute things. This one’s on mobile.
BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner, which is exclusive to Apple Arcade, is a shooter and then a reverse-shooter. You fly up in your little airship shooting enemies and breaking open barrels, and when you run out of rope, you turn right around and collect all the stuff you shot open. This one’s currently only on Apple Arcade.
We also have an unfinished strategy game, but it was wayyyyy too big to finish at the time.
We’re currently working on new prototyped projects, and are figuring out what we want to work on for a longer stretch, and then release it sometime next year.
What is a day in the life of a team member at BattleBrew like?
I think it depends on the team member (art/design/tech), but most folks generally come in a bit later than most other offices (10am++).
Check in on Slack (the communications/chat tool we use), some daily scrum where we announce what we’re doing and what was accomplished previously, and then the day’s work starts whether that be designing (in the game engine or balancing stuff in Excel, or drafting game design documents), or coding and building features or illustrating, modelling or animating cool stuff.
We usually grab lunch together, and then work continues until about 7pm.
Then we scuttle home. Pretty normal, really.
What elements do you think make a successful game?
Novelty is good, but at the heart of each good game is a meaningful core loop: What keeps you playing and is the in-moment gameplay fun?
Sometimes it can be simple, but it usually boils down to whether the base interaction is fun, and whether the specific fantasy of that game is convincing enough.
Even simple things like clear but epic FX (effects), and audio cues add to building that fantasy and experience, not just the mechanics of the game itself.
How does music/sound shape the gaming experience? Can it make or break a game?
Very much so. Great sound and music can make or break that fantasy discussed above.
Selling a convincing explosion, or having a rousing musical score at the right times are vital to crafting the experience of a good game.
What would you like to say to aspiring game developers, and anyone aspiring to be leading their own passions in a career?
Whilst there is value in Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It”, and it definitely helps against inertia, some measure of planning is also great. Burning out halfway won’t help anyone.
I’d actually suggest trying it as a side gig while you have something else that pays the bills if you’re not already on a direct path to what you want.
Find people and events related to that career path.
Show up regularly and learn as much as you can.
Get practice/associated work done consistently.
Over time, you’ll get noticed.
Build on what you grow.
Here are more of Shawn’s stories and experiences you can read about to recognise the challenges of working in the gaming industry (it’s not always all fun and games!):
Support local! Stay updated on happenings at BattleBrew Productions, and download their games:
Or just follow this cute Smolian on his food trail of all things yummy!
I hope you have been inspired by Shawn’s story, and you can get the courage to step out of your comfort zone to create something new—whether musically or otherwise—and eventually showcase Singapore on the world stage.
If not now, then when?
Happy National Day!