Okolie Uchechukwu, an indie game developer based in Nigeria, shares his interesting journey as a game developer and what his company CLEEC Designs has in store for us with its first game NCHE: The Escape.
Why NCHE: The Escape, what inspired your game and its name?
NCHE is a product of the inquisitive mind of a young Nigerian, who as a kid opened devices and wondered how they worked, thereby becoming the fixer in the house.
As a teen, with the help of my physics textbook, I tried to build a radio. After searching far and wide to get the components for the radio, I heard only a harsh, raspy buzz and was unable to get any station. But that didn’t deter my inquisitive mind.
As the years went by, while studying architecture, watching my friends play FIFA on their laptops, I convinced myself I could do this. With little to zero knowledge on how to get it done, the urge to create a game was born.
So, what inspired the game? NCHE is a result of an inquisitive mind that seeks out new knowledge.
What is the story behind the game?
The game is based on a comic that was created to help guide the game’s storyline. The story is based on a facility that kidnaps children in their infancy from their parents. The facility performs diabolical experiments on the children in order to enhance their natural abilities. The game is based on the challenges the main character has to pass through to escape from the facility.
The aim initially was to create a game that can be played on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC devices. But from my research, I learned I will be better served to create for mobile devices.
After researching the mechanics behind the popularly played mobile games, our game’s mechanic was created, which deviated a bit from the original storyline but helps increase playability and player retention.
I like what I see. How long have you been working on it?
The original concept art was done in 2014, so I guess 8 years. It took that long because I was still learning to program and I was focused on my career as an architect.
What genre would you categorise your game?
It is an action, first-person shooter. It is a game that combines the thrills of an endless runner, the ecstasy of blowing stuff up, and mesmerizing sound effects.
How has your experience been working on the game as a game developer so far?
So far so good, it has been fun. The thing I like most is surmounting tasks that seemed insurmountable at that point. I learned a lot through the process and it has helped me in architecture. Being able to combine design and programming in what I do, gives me an edge.
Do you have a team? Who are they, and what is their expertise?
On the project, I worked with some amazing people. The process started with a talented scriptwriter based in Abuja, Titilope Samuel. She helped visualize the rough idea I had in my head into text. She did a magnificent job.
The next stage involved working with a top-notch character designer and 2D artist, Oladejo Kazeem. He designed the characters and worked on the comic.
When the 2D art was done, I worked with Fabowore Oluwadamilola and Uchenna Orji to build the 3D assets required for the game and animation.
What has been the greatest challenge in the development of NCHE: The Escape?
The greatest challenge so far has been getting more people to know about the game project. Posting on social media doesn’t seem to be giving the needed impact. And since the game is self-funded, the marketing budget is limited. I already spent a lot getting talented individuals to work on the project.
What are some things that keep you going when things get tough?
Truthfully, I have had to quit the game project a couple of times. Getting to this stage has not been easy. The one thing that kept me going was that the knowledge gained was infused into my company CLEEC Designs, through which we have created interactive solutions for architecture, construction, interior design, and real estate firms. The solutions are available on PC, mobile, web, and virtual reality.
I always consider game project research and development. The knowledge gained will always be useful, and I hope to work on another game after NCHE.
Okolie hopes to release the game in March 2022 through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We look forward to interacting with his first-ever mobile game.