Middle Eastern promise

The Middle East is a part of the gaming world conspicuous for its lack of releases. One studio looking to change that is Semanoor International. Leo McCloskey talks with Ahmad Jadallah – the man at the head of Saudi Arabia”s firstВ FC0-GR1 videogame in a generation.

Unearthed insight 1

Ahmad Jadallah faces a formidable Windows Server 2008 ClГ© challenge. Not only is he the Director of Development for Games and Media in a country that traditionally doesn”t create games, but the fledgling studio he heads up – who are behind the recently released Unearthed: The Trail of Ibn Battuta – are hardly playing it safe.

“We could have easily developed a first-person shooter – that would have been the hundredth FPS to release this year alone,” he says. “That would have been yet another FPS on the market. There is nothing wrong with this product but we tried to pick a genre that is not convoluted – we only have two entries in Uncharted and Tomb Raider – you”re the third of three products, not the one hundredth of one hundred clones that will be available.”

There”s an element of sense to the logic that Semaphore, Windows Server 2003 ClГ© the gaming subsidiary of Semanoor International, would choose to place its first ever game into a genre with a little bit of elbowВ HT0-201 JK0-018 room. There”s also the matter of the two figureheads of the genre being beloved, multi-million-selling franchises with wallet-busting production values and a marketing budget to match. Like the aforementioned pair, Unearthed is a third-person action-adventure game with a cinematic bent. “We are huge fans of the Tomb Raider

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and Uncharted series, and we often think of what we”re doing as the ultimate form of fanboy-ism,” Jadallah explains.

As Jadallah sees it, there”s no reason why a debut of Unearthed”s

ilk shouldn”t be an ambitious one. In fact, storytelling is at the heart of Semaphore”s philosophy. “We have a lot of great stories to tell you – you being the whole rest of the world –

besides things that go beyond the traditional “1001 nights” treatment and the Disney version of Aladdin,” he says. The studio is well aware of the stigmas that the western world might attach to terms like “Arabic” or “Middle Eastern”.

“One (forum) comment in particular that caught my attention said that for the first time they”re looking at a person who”s name is Faris Jawad and he”s not the villain in a Call of Duty game being gunned down. Instead you”re playing him as the main character.” I relayed Jadallah”s point to a friend shortly after the interview. His response: “What about Prince of Persia?” Granted, the friend in question isn”t an avid gamer – but he pretty much made Jadallah”s point as succinctly as you could ask for.

Unearthed insight 2

“We”re trying to present everybody as having all these different shades of grey,” continues Jadallah. “You have good people and bad people on every side and it”s always about the general makings of storytelling that we”re trying to utilise. We have a lot of figures in our history who are real-life and have a lot of extraordinary stories to tell. We tried to present those figures and online slots create new ones for the modern-day gamers in this region.”

In an attempt

to minimise stereotyping, Semaphore recruited both established US television actors and untapped local talent for the game”s voice-over work – but steered clear of British actors for very specific reasons. “One of the things that we faced when casting those actors is that usually in western media and movies and TV shows, they would always, for some reason, typecast Middle Eastern characters as British speaking. Whenever you see an Arab person or a Persian person he would naturally be talking in a British accent.”

Jadallah has a point, although besides keeping stereotypes to a minimum, keeping the game accessible to a wider audience remains important. “We find a lot of people who are familiar with those (US) accents will accept it much more than if we just brought an Arab person and asked them to aurogra vs viagra portray an English or an American accent casino online – and that”ll make for a broader appeal,” he says. “For the Arabic version, because we don”t have an Arabic game industry, per say, we use people with experience in the theatre and television and movies. So they are known figures locally and people relate

to them but they haven”t done anything like this before.”

In that respect, Unearthed”s Arabic speaking talent shares a similarity with the game”s developers. “When we started (production) in 2011, we started not from casino online zero – stating that we started from zero would be an overestimate. We started way below that,” Jadallah explains. “We have cost of viagra at cvs to try. If we don”t try now we”ll never make it later on when the cost of entry is even higher and more difficult. So what we”re trying to do is not just develop simple casual games and release them, but do something more brave and more relevant in terms of culture – which is always difficult when you”re pitching to a publisher.”

Challenging as it may have been, Unearthed finally landed on PlayStation Network last week. Early reviews have so far been, well, hard to find. In fairness, releasing a game in the shadow of Remember Me, The mail order pharmacy canadian Last of Us and E3 2013 might not be ideal. Addressing the challenge of “standing above the noise,” Jadallah notes: “We”re not here to compete just yet, we”re here to hopefully make a noise and a good product that will be a solid foundation for online slots the future.”

unearthed insight 3

Ahmad Jadallah is a man making games in a country that traditionally doesn”t make games – but that”s changing. With one already out, Jadallah expects future releases to grow

the Middle Eastern games industry further. “Just being justin-bieber-news.info turned himself in to Toronto police in January to face the charge, drawing a crowd of jostling journalists and deliriously screaming fans. a cialis for daily use clone

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won”t cut it – we”ll have to use our own spin and unique twists – starting with episode two. Episode one is laying the foundations, [in] episode two we won”t have to worry about developing a cover system and shooting and climbing and all these basic things. Now we can innovate and bring more of the creativity into the product.”

“What we”re looking for is establishing ourselves as the pioneers of developing and kick-starting the industry in the region – not just developing a single product,” he continues. “We want to develop an ecosystem where you have the funding arm, you have the technical expertise and in-house knowledge. I would say that about eighty percent of Unearthed was actually developed in-house in the company in Saudi Arabia and in our offices in Jordan and UAE in Dubai.”

The wider significance of building games in the Middle East isn”t lost on Jadallah. “We revert to outsourcing only when there are certain bottlenecks or certain expertise that we lack,” he says. “Even then we learn so that we can transfer the knowledge – it”s not just reliance on outside development.” Keeping things in-house brings its share of challenges. Parent company Semanoor isn”t small, with over two hundred employees across seven offices worldwide. Their speciality, though, is in e-learning training software. Unearthed”s development has relied to an extent on a slowly revolving door of sorts, with Semaphore pulling support from different areas of the wider business as required.

Ahmad Jadallah seems keen to stress that Unearthed represents a means as much as an end. “The game is not representative of everything we can do – there are technology limitations,” he points out. “We are using the Unity game engine which is a great tool but a lot of people would say that typically it has been used to develop mobile games and more kind of casual experiences.

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What we”re developing is more single-player, story-driven, multi-platform, so it pushes the engine to its maximum extent. We”re always looking at improving our pipeline – working with viagra online no prior prescription the Unity developers and manufacturers so that we can show even better products later on.”

Pre-production has already been completed on the second episode in the series. With part one”s release, Jadallah expects a more static team to be in place – with the hope being to create jobs for more local talent. “We are planning to expand the Semaphore team and we”ll have a more established and more defined team to work on the project – and to recruit others from the industry – people who always wished something like that would exist for them as an opportunity. We are trying to bring this opportunity to the local talent.”

Regardless of how much coverage Unearthed receives – or how positive the reception is – Semaphore”s inception and subsequent release of the game marks a huge step for Middle Eastern games. Stacking Unearthed up against Tomb Raider and Uncharted will result in inevitable comparisons, but that

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doesn”t phase Jadallah. “That”s not the whole point of the game to begin with,” he cialis can ejaculate says. “Others who are excited about it look at it in the respect of kind of paving the road for others to follow and bring more focus and attention to the region. They are determined to support it – to what extent, we”ll find out.”

Leo McCloskey

Author: Leo McCloskey

Leo owns a full set of Winnie the Pooh cuddly toys and has watched all of the first two series of Glee, yet is totally married to an actual woman. The adjoined picture was his first ever selfie.

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