RoundTable Games Studio Interview – Malaysian Indie Dev with Unique Horror Twist
Recently, we discovered an indie horror game with a unique twist, and it’s called Dying Flame. Imagine having a monster out to hunt you but the game takes away the one thing you’ve taken for granted in every other game; light. You have to solve puzzles and escape the clutches of this monster with a limited source of light.
To our surprise, the studio behind this indie game is a Malaysian development studio, RoundTable Games Studio. We spoke to them to learn more about their journey thus far.
Who is RoundTable Games Studio?
RoundTable Games Studio is a Malaysian independent games development studio with a focus on narrative-focused games. They’ve made their mark with their creation, Dying Flame, a horror game sensation developed on RPG Maker MV. The game itself is available on Steam with an affordable price tag of RM23.50 / USD $9.99.
The studio consists of the following members:
- Edison New Jaa Yeong – Director and Designer
- Crystal Lim – Project Manager and Designer
- Justin Oon Chun Xion – Lead Designer
- Adam Majid – Generalist
- Joel Wong – Lead Programmer
- Mandy Chan – Lead 2D Artist
How Scary is Dying Flame?
If you’re not familiar with the game, you might have grown curious as to how unique or scary Dying Flame is. We could paint a picture for you but nothing could beat seeing other people’s experiences with your own eyes. As such, we’ve included a few short clips so you can judge it for yourself. Just remember to turn down your volume a little.
Interview with RoundTable Games Studio
Given the interesting twist you have for the game, Dying Flame, how did you / your team came up with the idea?
We wanted to prove that making a horror game does not require massive investments into 3D graphics. Research quickly revealed that being able to see was a requirement to make things scary. I mean, If you can’t see it, how scary can it be?
Turns out, not too scary when you can see everything, not too scary when you can’t see anything. From there, we hit upon the idea of limiting what players could see with a light radius.
The concept of “light radius” became “a lighter,” and natural progression linked a lighter with cigarettes, and from there, we were able to create the story of personal loss, grief and addiction that is the heart of Dying Flame.
The original concept was to use the lighter as the main light source, forcing the player to strike for brief moments to see where they’re going, hint at a lot of other things lurking in the darkness and provide glimpses of the monster stalking the player as well.
From there, since the player had a lighter, it made sense that the player character was also a smoker, so cigarettes were added as a saving mechanic, which fit well with the narrative of addiction as we could draw parallels between a player’s addictive need to save the game and a smoker’s constant need to smoke.
Were there any inspirations from other horror games?
Our inspiration came heavily from several other horror titles including Witch’s House, Ib, and Blank Dream. We actually limited ourselves to other RPG Maker titles to ensure that we would keep our expectations reasonable.
We drew on their methods and techniques of making building an atmosphere of tension, and uncertainty.
But the story of Dying Flame itself was drawn from much more personal sources, namely the life experiences of the team with real life, dealing with personal loss in some form, and one of the team is an ex-smoker who deals with the nicotine craving, constantly.
Why did you / your team decide to develop the game using RPG Maker?
A part of Dying Flame’s original concept was to prove that 3D art and visuals are not a requirement for something to be horrifying. This was one of the main factors that would influence the art style of Dying Flame.
With the art style locked down, we were debating whether to use Unity or Unreal when we recalled that many of our inspirational titles were actually made with the RPG Maker engine. So in honor of the spirit that inspired us
As an added bonus, the engine was simple to deploy and employ to create Dying Flame.
Were there alternative choices of developing the game using tools other than RPG Maker?
We explored a number of different engines but ultimately decided that RPG Maker would be ideal as it fit our requirements, and allowed us to explore a number of creative options not present in many other engines.
Moving forward of course we will be using different engines and tools to ensure that we continue to produce quality games for people to enjoy.
Any thoughts on remaking Dying Flame in a more complex game engine?
One of the challenges in game development is knowing when a game is finished and needs no further. We believe that this is the case with Dying Flame, in that the game scares players, tells its story and shares its message.
Admittedly, there are a few things that we’d like to try and implement, but otherwise we’re not sure a remake is something to pursue, unless there is sufficient interest and demand from our community and fans.
What are your thoughts on the Malaysian games industry?
The Malaysian game development industry is young in comparison to those of other countries, but has a large talent pool to draw upon. As a whole, we’re warming up, and developing a presence in the global market with a variety released over the past decade.
RoundTable Games Studio Studio is one of many small “indie” studios in Malaysia that continue to develop new titles, and also upskill so that we can develop more quality titles. The focus has to be on quality not quantity as the industry as a whole matures and builds a larger global presence.
What makes RoundTable Games Studio stand out among other indie developers in the country?
RoundTable Games Studio is a small indie studio. We stand out because of our commitment to what we want to make; narrative driven games with a gameplay experience that will keep players contemplating their choices. It boils down to standing behind the message, the meaning that we want our players to understand with our games.
We delivered this experience with Dying Flame, our first game, and will continue to do so with our future games, two of which are already in development.
What can we expect from you / your team in the future?
Currently, we already have one game in development, and we hope that players will enjoy a unique puzzle solving adventure with time travel. Do check out our social media for more information on that in the months ahead.. Or behind… not sure when due to the time travelling aspect.
Where Can I Find RoundTable Games Studio / Dying Flame?
If you’re interested to give your support to RoundTable Games Studio and / or interesting in giving Dying Flame a try, we’ve included links to them right below here: