“In my childhood, we weren’t financially strong. But then things started changing when we started buying sometimes useful, sometimes luxury objects. That’s where the name ‘Possessions’ comes from…our possessions tells us what we are.” Chirag Chopra, the 27-year-old founder of Lucid Labs, the only Indian developer to make it to Apple Arcade, is a matter of fact on why his game is called Possessions.
The word ‘Possession’ has deep philosophical meaning, says Chopra, adding he decided to name the game thus because it tells us how successful or financially independent we are. “The narrative and storyline are personal to me.”
Work on the game started roughly three and a half years ago, and the team is still trying to refine Possessions. “We built the prototype in a day or two,” remembers Chopra. “We then showed it to a couple of friends and got some feedback around it. The prototype showed potential, we started working on it,” he says.
Possessions is a simple, puzzle game where you look at things from a certain perspective or a certain angle that changes the meaning behind an object. The core objective is to put the room back together by placing items in their correct place. The game is easy in the beginning but gets difficult as things progress.
“I was prototyping a lot of ideas. I was intrigued by this idea of manipulating perspective and viewpoint in order to create puzzles and intriguing storylines. Possessions was a result of one of those prototypes,” he explains.
Possessions, Chopra’s third game, is exclusive to Apple Arcade, the game subscription service where users can find high-quality titles that have a strong creative element. Though developed in New Delhi, the game is published by the Saskatoon, Canada-based video game developer, Noodlecake Studios.
It was Noodlecake Studios that helped Chopra get the game selected for Apple Arcade, which back then had a secret code name. The studio knew that Apple was getting ready with some kind of game subscription service but Chopta got to know about Apple Arcade at the last moment when his game was selected. “I think a month from launch, we got this information from the publisher and a few other people from Apple that we are the only team from India to get into the Apple Arcade programme,” recalls Chopra.
For Chopra, Apple Arcade has given artistic games a new lease of life. For just Rs 99 a month, Apple Arcade introduces people to a world of artistic games that you may not have found otherwise on the Apple App Store. That, according to Chopra, is a big pull for Apple Arcade in India where people are yet to appreciate indie games.
“In India, thanks to Apple arcade, people don’t have to really worry about paying $3 or $4 per game and then realising that this is not for them. Now you just have to pay Rs 99 a month and to try all the games,” he said.
Indie or artistic games have always been popular in Europe and the US where people don’t mind paying a couple of dollars. So it is no surprise that Possessions is also more popular in those markets. But Chopra is confident Indians will eventually open up to those indie games through subscription-based game services. Although Chopra declined to share how many people have downloaded Possessions in India till date, he did say the numbers are higher compared to a standard standalone premium game.
“The game [Possessions] has been a turning point for us,” he says he, adding he would have never imagined the kind of financial success the title got him. “It helped take us to a different level… right now, we can focus on multiple projects at the same time,” says an elated Chopra.
But getting on Apple Arcade is anything but easy. “Apple is very strict when it comes to including games in its Arcade catalogue. And if I’m not wrong, things are getting harder by the day.”
Chopra points out that Apple’s strict submission criteria will only separate Apple Arcade from other subscription-based game services. “They have a very strict mentality when it comes to approving a game for the Arcade platform… Apple knows what sort of quality they expect from games and they won’t accept just any other game to show that they have numbers.”
Chopra recalls how the team went back and forth to make changes in the game based on the feedback received from Cupertino. Apple had given the team the set of requirements and on the basis of that changes were made. One big change that was made to the game was the inclusion of an AR mode that was missing in the initial version. “AR was something Apple was pretty excited about from the start,” says Chopra. Apple also helped Chirag and his team refine the storyline and physics.
Working remotely from his home for the past five years, Chopra says he along with three other people worked on Possessions. While Chopra and his fellow colleague worked on the programming side, the third member, a 3D artist, was hired to supply the 3D models and meshes.
“At my end, I do a lot of sketches and prototypes. Once I feel a prototype that I have created shows potential and it has the ability to extract the fun out of it, then I probably lookout for people to help me with the art or other aspect of game designing.”
Chopra says the games they like to design are in the puzzle genre, which typically requires anywhere between a year or two to develop. Although Chopra did not reveal what game we can expect next from Lucid Labs, he is doing a lot of prototyping these days. “We do have some interesting prototypes showing promise at this stage, and we hope to complete one of them in the next 10 to 12 months.”
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