Born from a family of six, Roosevelt Mwandira is a Malawian solo game developer under the moniker, Terrifik Game Studios who has a strong desire to develop video games of many genres. He has a particular interest in horror games and throughout his career he has published various titless on the Play Store. It is his dream to one-day work full time in the games industry as he truly believes there are a lot of stories to be told especially from Africa. GIA had a chat with him following the release of his latest project – Terror: Evocation II.
Tell me more about your company and history within game development? How big is your team and when was it created?
As far as Terrifik Game Studios, it is yet to be registered as a company. It will be registered as soon as the necessary funds required to operate it are available.
My history with game development goes back as far as 2015. I first started doing game development during my 1st year of college and in 2017, I released my first game called “Terror: Evocation” on Play Store and in 2021 I released FingerBall, an online multiplayer game based on soccer.
As far as the team, it was created during the development of Terror: Evocation II around 2020. It comprises of myself as the Developer, a Marketing Manager and a Tester. It is worth noting that the other 2 individuals are my colleagues from school that currently work on Volunteer basis and lend their help whenever required. However, on the development side of the game I did handle everything alone from start to finish but at some point, I temporarily hired a Sketch Artist to sketch some of the characters and a 3d modeler to model them. I also had help doing a few edits of the story from the Tester towards the end.
What would you say are some of the major challenges you face as a relatively solitary game studio?
The biggest challenge from the start to finish has primarily been lack of finances. Doing development, I’ve had to take on multiple roles at once just to get something done. I had to learn 3D modelling due to this which took a huge chunk of development time but fortunately, in the end it was a huge payoff since the environments ended up exactly as I wanted them. Lack of finances also meant the game studio lacked structure which means I had to count on mostly myself just for the development to stay afloat. Doing too much work because of lack of funds not only affected my quality of work at times but it overall affected the duration of development. In the end, a lot of Ideas where not Implemented and will be implemented slowly post launch.
Development of Terror: Evocation II was done on a low-end laptop which significantly negatively affected my work hours and results.
Getting the right exposure to the right audience is also a huge challenge since as a Company we haven’t made a name for ourselves yet.
Are there any local studios you look for to collaborate with or be inspired by?
Although I don’t have a name, but I hope to collaborate with other talented studios in Africa that can help me with animations and sound design.
I am also open to collaborate with any studio willing to publish the game on other platforms or help fund the game for a percentage.
Did the release of TERROR EVOCATION II meet your expectations and if not, what challenges posed caused that to happen?
Can’t say for sure but for now I would say it exceeded my expectations as it was covered on YouTube from various channels, the most viewed video having over 18K views. However, most of the traffic I have received from this has mostly been from non-English speaking countries who are complaining that they don’t understand what’s going on since the game is only in English. I have been able to maintain most of my users from the West like the US and the UK. After 4 weeks since release, I currently only have 500+ downloads and I believe I will get more once I add more languages and it gets more exposed to the West which is my target market. Since there was no marketing strategy, I can’t say am disappointed with the results as believe It will slowly be discovered as I add more content.
The target market for Horror games is the west and Terror: Evocation II is yet to be discovered that side.
Making updates as a Solo developer has been challenging as frequent updates are required for the game to maintain its relevancy.
What lessons from TERROR I did you learn and iterate on?
Most people liked the African setting of the game which was unique to gamers in the West.
Most traffic for Horror games comes from the West and conveniently it is also the most profitable market.
It was a great foundation for my game development career.
It had a good story that I have easily expanded in the sequel.
Most importantly, it showed me what it was missing and what I can add and focus on in a Sequel. e.g. lack of combat, enemies, weapons, map etc.
What were the elements of the launch you were happy with?
Having the game featured and played on YouTube by people around the world. Most of the feedback is positive, even received a few fan mails.
You’ve been vocal about monetization before, what models are you keen to explore in that area and how would you gauge a successful implementation in your games?
Besides Ads in the game, I am currently working on In-App Purchases to buy in-game Items which will available in the next update.I plan on adding new items such as Crossbows, traps, holy water etc. These Items will give more room for Reward Ads.In future, I plan on releasing a premium DLC expansion which will introduce a new story, level, enemies and weapons. This expansion will be accessible like a separate world besides the base game and will not affect anything else outside of it. It will be downloadable within the game itself and users will be able to access it after purchase.
What is next for you?
I have so many plans for Terror: Evocation II and there is a tremendous amount of ideas and content to be added. For now, before thinking of the next game I plan on improving, polishing and growing the game as much as possible while exposing it internationally as much as possible. I have no doubt the game will grow a decent fan base once my true vision for it is executed.
If you could impart a word of wisdom to new budding local developers, what would that be?
If you are an African Developer and you are making a game about Africa or the culture, make sure your game is not just relatable to Africans but to the whole world as well. Make Africa interesting to gamers of all backgrounds kind of like how Samurais are interesting to everyone even thou they are Japanese culture.
This is a tough industry to get into and you need even tougher skin to make it. It is almost impossible to finish a project yet alone make it if you don’t have unrelenting passion.
Don’t start making games with getting rich as your number 1 goal. I’d say chase success not money as money almost always comes with the success.
Where can one find and experience TERROR !! and where can they go to learn more about your studio?
Terror: Evocation II is available for download to at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.TerrifikGameStudios.terrorevocationii
It is also coming soon to iOS devices.
Links to my old games:
Terror: Evocation 1: https://m.apkpure.com/terror-evocation/com.TerrificGames.Terror