In Conversation with Armaan Sandhu :: Mind Behind Rainswept

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Rainswept a point and click adventure game stormed onto Steam about a month or so ago. The game developed by a one-man studio (Frostwood Studio) based in Goa, India piqued our interest. We played the game, reviewed it and we had even more questions. How in this mobile-driven world, did an Indian make a PC game? How long did it take for 1 man to make a PC game? How easy/tough was to make a PC game in India? All these and more questions were swirling in our mind, so we sent off an email to the man behind the game, Armaan Sandhu. Fortunately, he obliged.


EXCERPTS


IN: Talk us through how Rainswept and Frostwood happen? Did Rainswept come first, or was Frostwood the dream?

Rainswept came first. The decision to make a game was relatively unexpected and something that I hadn’t planned for. Once I’d decided that I wanted to make a game, I realized that the best way to do this would be to quickly get started on a title and then build the other foundations (like the company, for instance) behind it. Now that Rainswept is out and has received a positive reception and gained a decent following over the past two years, I can plan out future games or even a sequel under Frostwood Interactive.

IN: Tell us about some of the inspirations behind Rainswept. Both from and outside the gaming domains.

An obvious inspiration is Twin Peaks, the 90s murder mystery show set in the small town named, well, Twin Peaks. Another huge source of inspiration has been South Korean murder mystery films – especially Memories of Murders, The Chaser and The Montage. They have a sense of melodrama and a style that I’m a big fan of. You can see the imprints of their inspirations especially in the atmosphere and soundtrack of Rainswept.

Police procedural TV shows like Broadchurch, Luther, Happy Valley and Vera also impacted the game in many ways, especially when it comes to writing a homicide investigation with a very personal angle. Watching those also helped me identify the day to day proceedings of such an investigation, as TV shows have a much longer running time than films which allows them to dive into the depths of these proceedings. Apart from those, games like Deadly Premonition and Heavy Rain have also had an impact on the game in terms of narrative and atmosphere.

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IN: Tell us more about Frostwood. What’s the best and the worst part of working alone. How did the funding of the game happen? Why Goa?

Well, I live in Goa, and always have since I was born here in 92 🙂 The plan with the game was to keep funding as close to zero as possible. This was mostly made possible by working on software and hardware that I already had, and by moving in with my parents once I left my job to transition full time to game development. Halfway through development, I decided to launch an indiegogo campaign to raise the level of polish that Rainswept was at, and this small increase in budget allowed me to pay for some great QA, marketing and a couple of additional tracks for the song.

About working on the game, it has been a great experience for 90% of the time. Specifically, working alone can be great because all the decisions are up to you, you decide when to work on what, and how much time should be dedicated to a task. It’s completely your vision, so it’s creatively very satisfying. At the same time, I don’t plan to work by myself for future projects if possible.

There were definitely times when it got a bit lonely and I wished I had a team to share the process and the exciting times with. I dealt with this by meeting my friends at least once every week, though at times I had to skip that as well due to the workload. And most of all, having talented artists, animators and programmers would elevate the final product to another level, which is definitely something that I want for the upcoming titles.

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IN: Rainswept took roughly 2 years to be made, talk us through that journey.

Well, I’ll start much before that for some context: I’d always wanted to be involved in the games industry, but industry presence at the time (around 2010) was almost non-existent, leading me to give up on my dream around that time. In an attempt to merge art with practicality, I ended up studying architecture. A few months in, I knew I hated the subject, and at the same time grew a passion for film making. After graduation, once I got a chance to work in films, I realized I hated that process as well, and so ended up back in architecture while I tried to figure things out.

Around this time, as I was trying to plan my next step, a friend suggested I make a game. The landscape at this time (2016) was very different from back in 2010. The growth of the indie game scene meant that, really, anyone anywhere could make a game and sell it online. You didn’t need a team or a studio. So around Jan 2017, I taught myself the necessary tools, came up with a concept for the story and got started on this journey.

Overall, it has been an amazing experience. Waking up to work on something that holds real meaning to you is an amazing feeling. Most days I’ve felt inspired and motivated, and have really enjoyed the process of making the game. Earlier on, maybe the first 6-9 months of 2017, there were times when I felt tired, demotivated and burnt out. This was in part due to I was handling my full-time architecture job along with working on my game in the evenings after work, between the months of Jan – May 2017. After this, I went full-time indie and could focus on the game completely.

Meeting my friends on the weekends and going for an occasional road trip helped keep things balanced. There were still days when I’d work a bit slower than usual or just didn’t have the energy, but they were far fewer. Seeing the game grow in front of me was too exciting and staying tired for long was difficult!

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IN: What is that one special thing about Rainswept that you want people to experience?

About a decade or so back, I watched a few films and experienced some video games that really shaped the way I think, moved me emotionally and impacted my life, and have in turn inspired me to create something that tries to do as well. It is those kinds of feelings that I’d love this game to inspire in people through its story, atmosphere, and characters.

IN: What after Rainswept, what does the future hold for Frostwood?

First, I’ll start with getting the game localized into multiple languages right after release. After that, I’ll try getting the game onto consoles, and this might take most of 2019. If Rainswept gets a positive reception and there’s demand for more, then possibly a sequel! I already have a bunch of ideas where the story could go next and I’m excited to work on them. Apart from that, it’ll definitely be a lot more of story focused games!

IN: Any advice/recommendations for anyone who wants to make games in India?

Based off of my personal experience, I’d say – Just start. Don’t worry about applying for colleges or trying to join a course if you want to make games. This is what industry professionals have always suggested and it holds true now more than ever thanks to the internet.

Everything you need to learn about the technical aspects of making a game can be learned on your PC, for free. There are great resources and channels on Youtube for other aspects such as game design as well, and many channels that analyze games from an artistic, non-technical perspective.

The gaming industry in our country is slowly beginning to take shape, but it’s still in its early stages. This means that it’s harder to find a company to work with here, just because there are fewer studios here relatively speaking. This makes the presence of internet and platforms like Steam even more important, as one person or a small, possibly self-funded team can just make and release a game by themselves!

Also, really immerse yourself in games and the industry. Play a lot of games, watch videos, listen to podcasts and read news related to the industry. Not just because you need to, but because you love it! If you love games enough to spend most of your waking hours somehow engaged with them (even if you don’t have the time to play them) you’ll be well equipped to make something that will be a good cross between something you love and something that’ll appeal to people’s tastes.

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To find out more about Rainswept, Frostwood or Armaan, check out the links below. Until then, for all the Indian game developers, #FollowTheNoob.

Website | E-Mail | Steam | ITCH.IO | IndieDB | Twitter | Discord | Blog

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